Road trip: Cornwall in my new-to-me EK9


Jul 5, 2021


In August of 2021 I purchased a 2000 Civic Type-R in the UK. You can read about that here. I bought the car remotely with the help of a friend, who stores the car for me and keeps it registered, insured, and in good running order. The Civic won’t be legal for US import until 2025 so the intent is to use the car for European adventures in the meantime.

I started planning the first trip shortly after purchase, targeting something in late summer/autumn of 2022. It made sense to align the visit with an item that has always been on my must-see list: the Goodwood Revival. This helped pin down the dates for the visit, and I set about drawing an itinerary that threaded from Stratford-upon-Avon (where the car lives) down to Cornwall, then back toward Chichester for the Revival. Why Cornwall? Simple really - it was generally in the right area, and a good friend of mine grew up there and recommended it.

The route



My wife and I do a 2-week international holiday each year, but for this trip the budget was less - about 10 days total. The US is not a world leader in holiday leave, and being fairly new at my job, this was the best I could muster. Here is our itinerary from the trip:

Days 1-2: London
Day 3: Stratford-upon-Avon
Day 4: Stratford-upon-Avon to Bath
Day 5: Bath to Fowey
Day 6: Camel Trail by bike
Day 7: Cornwall loop
Day 8: Fowey to Chichester
Days 9-10: Goodwood Revival

Days 1-2: London

The tone of our trip, particularly our opening leg, changed drastically when Queen Elizabeth II died a few hours before our departure from the US. We arrived to a somewhat muted London, and our hotel, next to Buckingham Palace, offered a front-row view to the tributes and special activities. Arriving around 1pm on Friday, we spent the afternoon walking and visiting the sights. In the evening we met friends for dinner and drinks.

On Saturday we visited Camden Market and Regents Park, met our friends again for dinner and caught the final performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theatre. I’ve never seen Shakespeare in a modern adaptation and it was fantastic, so much easier to understand and enjoy the quality of the writing. In the US schools we usually read these aloud in class and try to decipher what old Bill was trying to say, with mixed success.

Day 3: Stratford-upon-Avon

On Sunday we set out on a combination of trains and buses from London to Stratford-upon-Avon to reunite with my friend Chris, and finally meet the Civic.

What a pleasure to finally see the car and appreciate its condition! The previous owner Mo loved the car and it’s apparent in the quality of his care. With 150k kilometers on the clock, the car is clean, complete, and very stock. In preparation for the trip, and based on feedback from Chris, we swapped the Spoon N1 muffler for a stock piece, and pulled the BC coil overs in favor of a stock setup. I prefer the balance of these cars in original tune, so I wanted to experience the car “as Honda made it” and make sure that my wife and I would be comfortable on this trip. The car retains a Mugen header, and the driver seat rail has been swapped for something lower - more on that later. The stock wheels are fitted with slightly lower-profile tires (195/50), so the ride height is a touch low and the speedo’s as honest as a used car salesman.

We took the car for a very quick spin around the block, then put it away and went into town for some sightseeing and dinner.

The next morning we set off on the first leg of the road trip.

[I am editing photos each evening so I will try to have one update per day]
Last edited:
Day 4: Stratford-upon-Avon to Bath

On Monday the road trip began in earnest. I drive a RHD car at home in California (R32 GTR) but I always have some nerves about switching to the other side of the road. I’ve driven in Japan and Australia and it requires deliberate thinking to override a lifetime of habits and muscle memory. The unofficial trip mantra was “left is safe, right is dangerous” as I approached junctions.

On Chris’s guidance we skipped the motorway and instead followed the Foss Way (A429) south through the Cotswolds. After the first few miles we stopped in Lower Slaughter for a short walk and look around - beautiful little village. Nice backdrop for some Civic photos, too.

We carried on through the farms and rolling countryside, hitting a bit of traffic due to construction. We became familiar with what would be our constant companion on the trip: tall hedgerows flanking the road, blocking some lovely views. Cheaper than fences and probably a bit easier to maintain? Can’t say I loved them, made the driving feel a bit claustrophobic particularly once we got to Cornwall and the center line disappeared.

Just south of Cirencester I glimpsed something alien in the farmland - it looked like the tail fin of a 747. That didn’t make sense, but just as I shrugged it off, we rounded the bend and found a conga line of disused commercial jets. This is the Cotswold Airport. I’m not sure why these jets end up here, but I know a good photo opportunity when I see one.

We skirted Chippenham and entered Bath, our destination. The rest of the day was spent on foot, admiring the unique architecture and touring the Baths themselves. I’m no student of history, so my main takeaway was “this reminds me of Italy.” Nice place, we’ll plan to return some time to spend more than ~20 hours.

Day 5: Bath to Fowey

Tuesday was wet. I don’t think Mo drove this car much in the rain, because the wipers seemed to be toast. They did a nice job of smearing and streaking water on the front glass, but did eventually saturate and wipe enough to see which way I was going. I was really missing the rear wiper from my Skyline, I know they don’t look cool but you can’t argue with the utility.

We left Bath, and with it the center lines for many B-roads and lanes. It was raining steadily as we entered Cheddar Gorge from the east side and cliffs grew up on either side of the little Civic. We stopped for a quick look and some photos, but kept moving primarily due to the bad weather. I don’t want to diss anyone’s rock formations, but the gorge didn’t quite take my breath away - probably a result of living near Yosemite. If you’re into tall rocks, I recommend it.

Originally we’d planned to stay off the motorway as much as possible, but a vote was taken in the car and it was unanimous that, given the conditions, we should hop on the M5 and maximize time at our next stop. We made the Civic’s first gas stop near Exeter before driving into Dartmoor from the south side, heading for Widecombe in the Moor. There we planned to eat lunch at a pub recommended by my mate from Cornwall.

I need to interrupt the account at this point to explain that all of our real-time navigation was handled by Waze. I needed three things for this trip: good routing, notifications for traffic cameras, and accurate real-time speed. With the speed cameras I was not willing to trust the Civic’s cluster, which required kph-mph conversions on the fly, compounded by an almost 10kph deviation due to the small tires. Waze delivers well on the second and third points but the first… not so much. Waze will have you drive across someone’s garden to save 8 seconds, so if you are puzzled by the route we took, this is the explanation. Looking back and trying to trace our exact routes in retrospect, I can’t even find the roads we took in Dartmoor.

So with Waze leading the way, we turned off the A38 dual carriageway and promptly navigated a series of extremely narrow 1.5 car width lanes up into the cloudy, wet moor. It was wonderful scenery up here, moody, extremely lush, with rock formations and cows in the road. I found it the most similar to some of Iceland, but with trees and less black / volcanic rock.

With the navigation saying we were nearly to the pub, we hit road closures and traffic policemen waving us off, deeper into the moor. Waze tried to bring us around another way, but it was clear that something had closed the road just ahead of our destination. We stopped to admire the sheep rocks and found the explanation for the closures:

What luck is this? We came to Widecombe on the day of the annual fair, a Tuesday in September of all times. You can’t pass things like this up, so we found the parking area, left the Civic, and rode a coach in to Widecombe on the Moor to soak it all in. We arrived just in time for the Back Beach Boyz' set.

We were able to eat at the intended pub in the end, a meat pie and a beer in the rain - perfectly English. We enjoyed the workhorse and sheep herding demonstrations, and I met some cows. I am certain that we were the only foreign tourists at the event, a happy accident.

After the fair we were meant to drive west across the moor, through Tavistock. Unfortunately Waze, perhaps inspired by the strange road closures, decided that the optimal exit route was north, hitting the A30 at Whiddon Down. Failing to zoom out and check the overview of the route, I followed Waze’s commands and we funneled through a series of lanes, each one somehow narrower and dicier than the last. Studying the map now, I cannot tell you what route we took, only that the final stretch was an absolutely goat road. A single tractor’s width, mostly dirt, with earth and thick brush on both sides, well-worn tracks and a pronounced crown in the center. It is a miracle that we didn’t encounter an oncoming vehicle - I imagine the locals know it’s unsuitable, and no other nav software dares send people on it - because for two eternal miles there was simply nowhere to pull aside and enable a pass. Dragging the front lip along, the mood in the Civic really soured, and I used some of my most colorful words to praise the great work by my friends at Waze. It was brutal, the absolutely driving lowlight of the trip. Do not use Waze in Dartmoor.

Mercifully we spilled out onto the A30 and things improved from there. The weather cleared and we had lovely open views of the Cornwall landscape. At Bodmin we turned south and at last landed in Fowey for the evening. This was our hub for the Cornwall portion of the vacation - three nights here. Unfortunately parking was not available at the hotel so we had to use the public parking lot about a half mile away, atop the steep hill. I was nervous about parking the car overnight in an unsecured location, but it is very much a tourist town, and we had no issues.

Great updates and pics...look forward to next instalment!

A few people put 50 profile tyres on as they are two thirds the price of 55' doesn't sit or look right though imo...
Day 6: Camel trail from Bodmin to Padstow

[disclaimer: limited Civic content]

On Wednesday we woke up to clearer skies and some really lovely views of Fowey Harbour. More accurately, lovely views of Polruan across the water.

(side note: I saw a lot of tuned T6s and Ford Transits on our trip, they look like a lot of fun)

After a stop for wiper blades, microfiber towels, and glass cleaner, we parked the Civic in Bodmin and traded four wheels for two. We hired bikes to cycle the Camel Trail from Bodmin out to Padstow on the northern coast. The ground was wet but we had clear skies and beautiful weather for this scenic ride, another recommendation from my Cornwall friend. The leg between Wadebridge and Padstow was especially breathtaking.

In Padstow we had Fish & Chips at Stein’s, then walked north to St. Saviours Point. Remarkably we seemed again to be the only foreign tourists, though I sensed that most of the people about were British tourists on holiday. We were on the younger side of the crowds, I think the kids have gone back to school so there were fewer families. Padstow was beautiful, huge vistas with the tide way out.

The ride back to Bodmin called for more exertion than expected - I think it’s about 23 miles round-trip, which is a fair shake with a heavy hybrid bike when I'm on holiday. We made a pit stop at the Camel Trail Tea Garden and tried cream tea for the first time. High marks for that one, a hybrid between extremely heavy cream and butter on scones… delicious! It was the energy we needed to get back to Bodmin.

We made a petrol stop on the way home to prepare for the next day's drive. After a shower, we enjoyed dinner at Appleton’s Bar and Restaurant. This was our best meal of the trip, every item was delicious and we enjoyed the huge roster of negronis.

Day 7: Cornwall loop
[part 1/2, split up due to image limit]

Thursday, our busiest day, started with a hiccup. Slight damage to the SD card made it unrecognizable to the camera, and I would not be able to take photos. After a bit of a scramble, we found a new card at HBH Woolacotts in Bodmin, but lost an hour in the process.

With urgency we began our clockwise loop of the peninsula, starting with Lizard Point. We took half an hour to hike around the most southerly point of mainland UK, spotted some seals, and walked around the Lizard Lighthouse. Nice sights and friendly locals.

(two seals in the water there)

We grabbed a couple of Cornish pasties and drove around to Marazion for a date with St. Michael’s Mount. The castle is an amazing sight, accessible by land only when the tide goes out. The castle is a bit of a hodge-podge of collected “old stuff,” worth a quick look but you won't miss much if you skip it. The island and the grounds offer views of Penzance, Newlyn, and Mousehole further down the peninsula. The beach is there if the weather is warm, it was a bit chilly so the bathing suits did not come out.

From there we rolled along to the Minack Theatre. We didn’t have tickets for the evening’s show, but you can purchase admission to the grounds and grab something from their cafe. This must be one of the most picturesque theaters on earth. I imagine it can get drafty in the evening, pack a a blanket and layers if you go for a show. The road up is also quite tight… but nothing is scary after the Dartmoor fiasco.

[continues in next post]
Last edited:
Day 7: Cornwall loop
[part 2/2, split up due to image limit]

We planned to skip Land’s End, having read that it was a tourist trap, but the Minack Theatre is just around the corner so we popped in. After all, we'd come this far in the little Civic. Arriving just after 5p, the shops had closed but the experience was better for it - very few people, cheap parking, and nice dusk lighting on the cliffs. I agree that the Land’s End attraction has perhaps been over-developed, but if you don’t believe me, come see (ride?) the Wallace and Gromit Grand Experience and let me know what you think.

This was as far west as we could go, so we turned north and followed B3306 along the coast all the way to St. Ives. This was the nicest piece of driving on the trip - fewer hedgerows afforded better sightlines for quick driving and views of the ocean. The golden hour lighting made for an experience that I will not forget.

We made a few stops for photos, first by the Land's End airport, then near what Google maps calls the Carn Galver Engine House.

We arrived in St. Ives, stashed the Civic in public parking, and walked into town for dinner. I had my… fifth? fish and chips of the trip at the Queens Hotel, where the waitress urged me to try “brown sauce” and provide feedback. Not terrible, I’d describe it as similar to A1 steak sauce, but without the tang. So just kind of a brown… sauce. She said she can’t stand it. For chips this American will stick with ketchup (please, no mayo on the fries).

I learned on the drive home that Cornwall isn’t big on lighting on its roadways. It was a long and dark 1.5 hours back to Fowey, for our last night in Cornwall.
As far as car collection trips go, this is certainly up there with the best!

Cant wait to see where else you take this prior to importing it in a few years
Day 8: Fowey to Chichester

Friday was a straightforward driving day with a single constraint: we had tickets to enter Stonehenge at 2:30p. In my planning Google reported this as a 3-hour drive from Fowey, so we slept in and passed a leisurely morning in town. The snag about planning this trip during the California evening is that all of the travel time estimates are delivered in the UK’s wee hours, and don’t reflect traffic conditions. When I finally checked on Friday morning our 3-hour drive was looking more like 4 hours, and we needed petrol to boot. We were immediately late. We did make ourselves slightly later with some glamor shots on the way out of Fowey.

A stressful drive followed eastbound on the A30, and then the A303. What a strange route this is, this single A-road transitioning from a dual carriageway to a single lane, then roundabouts, through towns at 30mph, passing lanes, more towns, dual carriageway again. Chris and others we spoke to confirmed that apparently this is actually the most direct route from London to the southwest, and that going left-right across the UK is generally challenging.

We arrived fashionably late to Stonehenge, but within our time slot. The visitors center is nice, perhaps overkill in its merchandise selection for what is a ring of old stones, but try to convince me there is a better way to remember your visit than a rousing game of Stonehenge Monopoly. We had another day of wonderful weather and, since we arrived at the end of normal daytime visit hours, we had the site almost entirely to ourselves.

Our long run of hearing only British accents was shattered when a couple from Philadelphia asked us to take their photo. Overall I give high marks for Stonehenge, two rocks way up with another rock stacked on top of them.

Security shooed us back to the bus and we hit the road again. We looped through Friday evening Salisbury traffic - caught a glimpse of a huge handsome steeple - and then it was the A27 to Chichester. We made one last fuel stop, where a guy in high-vis complimented the Civic in an accent so thick I had to ask him to repeat himself three times. Nice chap. We caught some of the outbound traffic from the first day of the Goodwood Revival on our way into Chichester, most interesting for me was a Jaguar Project 7. Not sure we got those in the states. Chris arranged an AirBnB so close to the track that the air was filled with the sound of the day’s final twilight race.

With this the Civic was allowed to rest, having delivered us safely and comfortably on our Cornwall tour. It would sit the next two days.
Days 9-10: Goodwood Revival

I’m going to have to write a standalone report on the Revival. I am lucky to attend the Rolex Motorsport Reunion at Laguna Seca every year, but the Revival is simply on another level. The costumes, the commitment to theme, the level of racing are unmatched by any other event I've experienced.

Day 11: Chichester to Heathrow

All good things must come to an end, and for us the holiday wrapped up with one final drive from Chichester to Heathrow. We waved farewell to the Civic, filthy and with 800 new miles on the odometer to show for our wonderful adventure. Chris treated the EK9 to a thorough cleaning and tucked it safely back into storage.


We had a brilliant time in England. As you can see in the photos, we enjoyed excellent weather and all aspects of the trip exceeded expectations. I had real concerns that I had stretched too far with the itinerary, and at any given time we were one tire puncture or mechanical issue away from tossing my carefully-laid plans out the window. But in the end the Civic proved to be a great fit for our journey, blending small size with accessible performance, decent comfort, and even some utility to haul our luggage. My only regret with the trip is that we didn't have 2-3 more days to relax. I'd have liked more time near the Cotswolds, and a day or two more in Fowey. We used it as our base of operation but didn't actually get out on the water or take the ferry across the harbor.

I found the Civic very much in line with my expectations. having never driven an EK9 before. A few years ago I owned a '00 Integra Type-R, and the experience behind the wheel is very similar. I was struck by how much pokier the Civic felt than my Integra. I understand that the B16 is smaller than the B18, but the 'delta' behind the wheel felt bigger than what the numbers on the spec sheet would suggest. My DC2R had a more complete intake and exhaust system, along with an Apex'i VTEC controller that shifted the crossover point down, so I am comparing apples and oranges a bit. It is also worth noting that I drove the Civic as if I was in a foreign country with my wife in the car, and with very much to lose if something went awry. That is - conservatively. But when 6000 RPM finally rolled around the engine came into its own, and everything else about the car dynamically - steering, brakes, handling, ride comfort, shifter, clutch - was just as good as I remembered. I would certainly like to find an intake and exhaust arrangement that provides some more sound, my DC2R had a Toda header and Mugen twin-loop exhaust and that was just about perfect. I've gone looking but it seems an EK9 twin-loop muffler is a hard thing to find.

Gripes? Not many, but a few. At some stage the driver's seat rail was swapped for something else to lower the seating position. The new mount also changed the angle of the bottom pad so that my hips were noticeably higher than my knees, which made for a tiring driving position, braced against the dead pedal constantly. A stock rail has been delivered to Chris to fix that. I also don't like the smaller-than-OE tires, the speedo is way off and I'm losing a bit of ride height and compliance in the tire sidewall. I don't like tint on my cars, and the tinted rear glass was a pain, particularly in the dark and when it got soiled with road grime. Are these cars tinted on the rear side glass and trunk glass from the factory, was that an EK9 thing? Cruise control would be nice.

So what's next? I came home with a shopping list and I've started ordering parts, but the car doesn't need much. It's actually extremely convenient that the car is in the UK, parts availability and pricing are way better than what I can find in the US. But it will be a long while before I see the car again. Next time we will take it further. I have never been to the Nurburgring. I've also never been to the 24h of Le Mans, and next year the Hypercar class will debut... could be worth a drive. We'll see what works.

Thanks for reading through if you've made it this far, and thanks to the forum members who provided insight and guidance back when I was in my planning stages!

Ending with my favorite photo from the trip:

Great trip write up and some great pictures.
I'm really pleased you you had a great time over here with our small roads, warm beer and fish n' chips ......more importantly even more pleased you liked the '9....such great fun to drive, puts a smile on my face every time!

In answer to your question, yes the standard EK9 came with tinted rear qtrs and boot glass...however if you got the EK9 Race Base, which came with clear glass, steel wheels and a bog standard interior/steering wheel out of the factory......reason being they usually got pulled apart for racing kit to be added, hence now an original one is a rare thing.....personally I prefer the look of standard 9 on all counts, but super rarity of Race Base is a lure for some...

Yes, Mugen Twin Loop for the 9 stopped production long time ago, think I got one of the last new old stock ones for sale in the UK about 6yrs ago...b pipe and back box, love the sound.

Look forward to your next trip!