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Honda Accord Type R: Buying guide and review (1998-2003)

Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R
By the late ’90s, Honda was encamped deep in enthusiast territory. The NSX had transformed perceptions of the marque; the Integra Type R had blazed its way into our hearts with its combination of fizzing VTEC engine and peachy road manners; the Accord itself was a front-runner in the BTCC, and now there was a road-going version to provide Type R thrills in a four-door saloon.
As evo Magazine’s John Barker wrote at the time, the ATR was a genuine attempt to capture the thrills of the racer in a road car. Much sanitised and oodles more practical, of course, but spirited, rewarding and focused enough to make a plausible connection between racing and the road.
Today, with decent examples available from as little as two grand, it’s one of the most affordable ways to own a genuine piece of Type R engineering brilliance. And with numbers declining as unloved examples are cannibalised for parts, the best are starting to become sought-after.
Which one to buy? 
Rear aerofoil aside, the hot Accord was actually a fairly subtle machine for a road-racer, with a tasteful bodykit, handsome five-spoke 17-inch alloys and discreet Type R badges. Underneath, though, it certainly meant business. Extra bracing stiffened the shell by 40 per cent, the double-wishbone suspension was lower and firmer, and the brakes featured NSX-spec discs. 
The 2.2-litre all-alloy four with its VTEC trickery revved to well over 7000rpm and produced its 209bhp without the aid of turbocharging. It drove the front wheels via a close-ratio five-speed manual gearbox with a helical limited-slip diff. To help save weight, a good deal of soundproofing had been discarded, along with the sunroof, while new kit inside included body-hugging Recaros, a leather-trimmed Momo wheel and a titanium gearknob. We loved it.
There was a mild facelift in 2001, distinguished chiefly by a slatted (as opposed to mesh) grille. All ATRs came well-equipped as standard; of the options, air-con is probably the most desirable.
Performance and specs
Engine In-line four-cylinder, 2157cc
Power 209bhp @ 7200rpm
Torque 158lb ft @ 6700rpm
Gearbox Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive, lsd
0-60mph 6.1sec (tested)
Top speed 142mph (claimed) 
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2675mm
Length 4585mm
Width 1750mm
Height 1430mm
Weight 1306kg
Common problems
• There’s nothing difficult about servicing the Accord Type R, and parts are easy to get. The engine is basically bulletproof, if properly serviced.

• The main recurring issue is failure of the hydraulic cambelt tensioner. The clue it’s on the way out is a diesel-like rattle between 2000 and 3000rpm. Ignore it and you could face a top-end engine rebuild. Specialists can offer a mechanical tensioner, which fixes it.

• Check the car’s history to see if it’s had a cambelt and balancer belt. If it hasn’t in the last couple of years, budget to get it done. Tensioner and belts cost around £420 fitted. If you get the two pulleys done at the same time – and a lot of people do – add about another £200.

• The EGR valve can get sooted-up, causing poor running, but cleaning it is a DIY job. The engines use oil, so check the dipstick – and the exhaust for smoke. The previous owner should be aware of the need to check the oil regularly. Also check for oil leaks from the sump – there’s no gasket.

• The single most common issue with the gearbox, particularly on pre-facelift cars, is the synchro on fifth gear failing. There was a recall where Honda fitted carbon-lined synchros, but proof the work has been carried out can be tricky to come by. 

• It’s vital to make sure every gear selects smoothly. If it’s tricky to select fifth and the gears crunch, the synchro is on the way out. Check reverse, too. A rebuild could cost c£800, so if it’s crunching, walk away. 

• With the suspension you need to check the usual wear-and-tear items. Start by looking for worn bushes, creaky springs and leaky dampers. 

• It should steer and handle with real precision. If it feels loose, it’s bushes and dampers. For replacements, Tein or BC Racing are recommended – they’re comfortable but they do what they’re meant to do. 

• Anti-roll bar drop-links sometimes break – listen for a telltale knocking noise – but they’re not expensive to replace.

• Rust is starting to become an issue. Look in the usual places – around the rear arches, etc. Of most concern, though, is the upper bulkhead between the engine and the cabin. 

• It’s an inherent design problem, where the wheelarch meets the bulkhead there’s a water trap. So check at the back of the engine bay, looking down, then get into the driver footwell and look up behind the pedals using a torch. Pull the carpet away to see the metal. If it’s rusty, a proper fix is a dashboard-out job, and probably around £600-700 to fix.

• Also check the headlights for hazing; some of it can be polished out but it eventually becomes an MOT failure; you have to buy a whole unit, which can cost hundreds.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• accordr.org
• type-r-owners.co.uk
• hond-r.com
• vtecdirect.com 
• tdi-north.com 
Summary and prices
In the bargain basement you’ll find cars with 150k-plus miles, multiple owners and shady histories for as little as £1200, but £1500-2000 is probably a better starting point for average- to high-mileage cars with some history. £2000-3000 should buy an honest car with a full history, and if you can stretch to £3500 you’ll have your pick of cars that have clearly been cherished. At the very top end, a 60,000-miler in immaculate condition with just one or two owners might fetch £4000+.

Words: Peter Tomalin
Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R Honda Accord Type R
Last updated: 22nd Apr 2016
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Honda Accord cars for sale

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Honda Accord
1950 2490 GBP
  • Honda Accord

    £1,950 £1,950

    Full service history TRADE IN TO CLEAR.... 3 Previous owners last owner for the last 10 years Very good condition apart from a deep scratch along the passengers side car drives really good.

    • Mileage: 113000 mi
    • Engine size: 2157
    For sale
    Newmachar Motors
  • Honda Accord

    £2,490 £2,490

    Climate Control, Air Conditioning, Multiple Airbags, ABS, Traction Control, Multi-function Steering Wheel, Adjustable Steering Column, Height Adjustable Seat, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Alarm, Immobiliser, Metallic Paintwork, Front Fog Lamps, CD Player, Alloy wheels, Comprehensive history We Have Taken This Honda Accord Type R In Part Exchange. These Fantastic Cars Are Getting Rare. Lovely Condition For It Age And Mileage. Fantastic Service History With 9 Services Recorded. Brand New MOT With No Advisories. HPI Clear, With Certificate. Great Finance Deals On Offer. Ring To Arrange A Test Drive. Part Exchange Welcome. Open 7 days a week. All major credit/debit cards accepted.

    • Mileage: 107031 mi
    • Engine size: 2157
    For sale
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