Our Cars : Keith’s Civic – and out with the Mondeo

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams moves his Bangernomics Mondeo on to pastures new and replaces it with something a little more British-built. It’s a tad nicer to drive, too…

Okay, so it’s best to start with a confession: I struggle with Bangernomics. I love running old cars, but my problem is that I have to love them – and, if I love them, I want to spend money on them. And that defeats the idea of Bangernomics. Yes, the Mondeo has been sold – not because it was rubbish, or because it wasn’t great value, but simply because I didn’t care.

That’s why it sat languishing in the work car park, being unused. Then the MoT ran out and the bonnet cable snapped, so I decided, that rather than fixing it in order to live on for another year being ignored, I’d sell it to someone who might make more use of it than me. After all, it’s an honest family car that drives way better than the number on its odometer would have you believe.

I posted it on Facebook and, within days, a deal was struck with Neil Turner (below). He’s a chap that’s been in the AROnline universe since the beginning – he came to the first social event hosted by us back in 2002, and has kept in regular touch since. He’s a Montego nut and, back in 2000, completed the epic Cape to Cape (north Norway to southern Spain) run in his Montego estate. You can read all about that on the MG Car Club website (broken images, chaps!) – it’s a great read.

Mondeo out, Civic in…

Days after Neil had trailered his new car away, it was MoT’d, freshened-up and beginning a new life. I hope Neil will keep us posted to see how it’s going. Maybe he’ll work out better at Bangernomics than me. Next time, I’ll buy a car I care about – like a Citroën Xantia or Rover 75.

With the Ford gone, I decided to stretch the budget a little further and, once again, put a shout out on Facebook. I need a new car, and have no idea what to buy. And once again, an AROnline old hand, Russell Gowers, jumped into the fray. Long-time readers might remember his hilarious Cold Car Caper (which he blogged in December 2007 – about halfway down the page). He said that he was selling his Honda Civic Type R, and would I be interested?

Given it was in budget, of course I was. However, I had other irons in the fire, so didn’t jump in with both feet. Other serious considerations included a Volvo V70R (300bhp!), Jaguar XJ6 (X350), and a Citroën C6 (aaargh!), but in the end, I went for the Swindon-built Honda (after making Russell a stupid offer that he rightly refused). And you know why? Because I wanted something ‘sensible’ to run!

So, what have I bought?

Well, it’s different, that’s for sure. Back in the day, I remember reviewing these as new cars, and loving them. Type Rs are idiosyncratic beasts to say the least and, allied with the spaceship-like interior and exterior styling of the FN2-generation car, you have to say that it’s a very Marmite car. And yet, despite that, I do really rather like it.

I’ve had it couple of weeks now and, with 128,000 miles on the clock, it feels solid, while, as far as I can tell, every single gadget still works on it – from the sat-nav’s digital display to the reversing camera. There are no rattles and creaks whatsoever and, although some might say that the plastics feel a tad brittle inside, everything is solid, and feels built to last.

Interestingly, I can’t help but feel that under the 21st century styling and layered dashboard, it shares its DNA with the Rover 200/400 (R8) – one of my favourite cars. That’s down to the way it sounds when you start it up – the joyous way it revs, and the way it feels utterly dependable, without the layer of guff you get with more ‘premium’ cars. On the motorway, it spins over at 4000rpm at 80mph – but, because its engine is so smooth, it really doesn’t matter.

Actually, the more I drive it, the more my mind is cast back to Staples2Naples 2004, and the trans-European run in a Rover 216GTI that made lifelong friends of Alexander Boucke, Declan Berridge and me. Let’s hope this one makes even half the impression that the wonderful old R8 made!

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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15 Comments

  1. Really like this era Civic and I would definitely say it is a successor to the R8 216/416 GTI.

    But I don’t think that the quality of some of the materials used in the interior are as good as then R8

  2. Pleased to say that the Mondeo is still going well after a few little repairs, in fact it running excellent!!

    I also managed to get a front wing in the correct Ink Blue for £40 delivered off ebay which will make a big difference to the otherwise decent paintwork.

    • Careful to make sure the seller uses a good courier!

      I’ve ordered body panels before off ebay only for DHL to throw them about and use them as a trampoline. Sadly had to get it delivered to work and someone else had signed for it before I could reject it, was a nightmare to get the seller to take responsibility for the damage, had to return at my expense.

  3. I saw that mondeo in the flesh and it amazes me that what is let’s be honest, a pretty average family motor with that many miles on it is able to go on and start a new life with somebody else. Not that many years ago your average family car would have gone to the great scrapyard in the sky with nowhere near that sort of mileage, and more impressive that apparently it drove quite well too. Who needs scrappage schemes!!!

    • Exactly, a ten year old car now should be reliable and largely rust free if looked after properly. I could imagine if this blog was around in 1987 that a 1977 Ford Cortina would probably need a lot of work done on the body to pass its MOT, and mechanically would be starting to give up.

      • My old man was running a 1975 Mk3 2.0 E Cortina Estate up until the body feel apart in 1989 – the engine had over 200K on it and was being run for many years afterwards in a variety of banger racers.

        However my brother has just ditched his SAAB 93 after 6 years with it having 80K on the clock due to it packing up, while my old neighbours XJ gave up the ghost at 100K.

  4. The Mondeo in Mark 4 form has proven itself as a reliable, very comfortable car that makes long journeys effortless. I’m sure Ford’s long partnership with Jaguar and Volvo paid off as their cars became a lot quieter, more reliable and more upmarket looking.
    Yet the Civic is a radical choice and more exciting, and it’s British. Even a ten year old looks space age compared with most of its rivals, and in Honda fashion will probably last another ten with few problems.

  5. What is that screen to the lhs of the wheel and above the hvac controls?, it looks like some sort of Linux boot screen/diagnostics is running which isn’t what I’d expect to see..

    • That’s the satnav/radio display (“i-MID” in Honda speak). The small text you can see in the photo is probably just some kind of satnav disclaimer.

  6. Nice looking car in good fettle by the looks. I notice the front & rear reg plates differ? I always thought these Civics looked a bit like fair dodgem cars from the front due to the headlamp & grille shape. The color red suits it too

  7. A Honda Accord of the same vintage, while not as radical to look at, would be an ideal car for long journeys, comfortable, powerful and with plenty of space. Also they never seem to go wrong and can do 200,000 miles if serviced properly. No wonder Americans were so keen on the Accord, as well as being built in America from 1982 onwards, it offered similar performance and space to their full sized cars, but with far better fuel economy and total reliability.

    • The Toyota Camry was another favourite in Australia as well as the USA.

      These can d0 300,000 with just a little TLC.

      • The Camry was another car that seemed to do well in America, due to being big enough to carry a family of five and their luggage around, but having relatively low fuel consumption and excellent reliability. Also, like the Honda Accord, Toyota were keen to promote the car being made in America, which helped sales.

  8. We’re on our second Civic, both of this generation – we’d still have the first if someone hadn’t driven into it. I think they’re a brilliant design, like little else inside and out but neat, cohesive and (with a couple of exceptions) clever and practical. The dashboard takes a little getting used to but the design lifts all the controls up so you don’t have to look down too far to change anything. The same with the sat nav screen (with the yellow ‘warning’ text in the photo above). That and the speedo are just below where you’re looking at the road and right at the back of the dash so reduce the amount you need to refocus as much as possible. The sat nav’s graphics are a bit dated now and it doesn’t have a fashionable touchscreen but I’m not convinced that would make the design any better. Touchscreens seem the antithesis of good dashboard design – there’s nothing tactile about them meaning you can’t rely on muscle memory to do simple things with them while driving. The new Velar’s looks gorgeous – and I’m a fan of new technology in a car – but I think having to concentrate on where you’re putting your fingers is an unwelcome distraction. And they need to be within reach, whereas the sat nav screen in these Civics isn’t but is in a better location for viewing as a consequence.

    The latest Civic (and, to a lesser extent, the one just discontinued) seems to have lost all of the innovation – no clever dashboard, the very handy magic seats have gone, the arrangement of long front doors and short backs has gone (good in car parks when you’ve got kids) and still no hybrid (as a hatchback at least). It’s basically become an ugly Golf, which seems a shame.

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