There’s no denying it, the redheaded stepchild has been the butt of many jokes over the years. They never seem to get the respect that their bigger, more accepted siblings get in life. Seen the world over as the end result of botched breeding, these bastards wander through life as unloved outcasts, forever trying to prove their merit. But not all of the unloved are willing to accept this predestined predicament. Some strive to dispel all of these misconceptions through hard work and creativity, instead of giving in to society’s ostentatious notions of hierarchy. Kazuo Miki’s EP3 Civic is a model paradigm of what happens when something unloved by most is placed on a pedestal by a true enthusiast who sees great potential in the platform, even when everyone else sees a complete disgrace.
Let’s be frank, the “EP” chassis was seen as a complete debacle from day one by many in the U.S. Its minivan-like styling, bizarre shifter allocation, poor steering response, and cumbersome weight left us pining for its predecessors. But while most were busy bitching here in the States, over in Britain the EP3 was a smash hit. Critics and commuters alike rallied behind the chassis, giving it great praise and handing it multiple “hot hatch” awards from the likes of Top Gear. Surely this had to be a sign that the EP3 Type R was destined for greatness, much like its predecessors. The Brits loved the car entirely, and they bought a lot of them. But what most people don’t understand is that the Brits weren’t even getting the good stuff. They just thought they were…
Meanwhile, back in Japan, the real Type R was received with mediocre fanfare. It had all of the Type R goodies you’ve come to expect in a Honda. A helical limited-slip, red Recaros, high-compression pistons, a sharply tuned ECU, a better flowing intake manifold, and championship white paint made it all seem like nothing were amiss. But in Britain, none of these items were available on their version of the R, and they honestly didn’t seem to mind one bit.
Kazuo Miki of Osaka, Japan, was privy to all of this information way before we were even aware that Honda was working on a new chassis design. He patiently waited for the car’s unveiling, and in turn fell in love with it the moment he saw it. From there he went and did what very few people do normally; he purchased an unloved chassis, modified it, and then promised to hold on to it until his dying day. In a culture where we change our cars more often than we do our bombachas, this seems to be a bit of an anomaly. So I decided to pester the poor lad with a few questions about his decision to become an “EP3 lifer.”
From what I gather, Kaz has an astringent desire to stand out from “the scene.” He sees plenty of S2000s, FD2s, and NSXs on a daily basis, and quite frankly, he is not interested in doing what everyone else is doing. His daily grind tells the tale really. Working as the overseas marketing manager for J’s Racing has its perks, and one of them is being able to see trends forming way before we even get wind of them here in the U.S. Everyday this man sits across from the guys who design the parts that we would trade a slew of our vital organs to obtain. Kaz is a cornerstone in the marketing bridge between America and Japan for the company, and he sees it all. So what does this all mean for his build, you ask? Well, naturally Kaz decided to do what any sane Honda enthusiast would do in his position: he modded his car with a slew of J’s Racing parts!
Over the following years, every imaginable EP3 part that J’s Racing makes eventually found its way on to Kaz’s car. Everything from aero parts to titanium exhaust components found themselves snugly fitted to the little redheaded bastard. Once his brand-loyal options were exhausted, Kaz decided to outsource a little by throwing on a few select goods like Swift springs, a Personal steering wheel, and some venerated gold Volk CE28Ns all wrapped in Potenzas. Add a Carrozeria navi for shits and giggles and you now have one sweet little Civic. Say what you may about the chassis itself, but there is no denying that this is one clean little hatch you have in front of you.
I think I now know what Kaz’s goal was all along. There was no epic struggle to break the mold, or change the American public’s opinion of the EP3. He just wanted to show all of us that potential can be found in even the most despised of chassis, you just have to believe in it and show it a little love. And even though its bigger, stronger brother may seem more aesthetically pleasing to some, and its younger, lighter siblings are still the most widely tuned, this redheaded stepchild of the Honda family still ought to have a spot in the family photo album.