Recognize the badge but don’t know what car this is? The real Honda heads will know right away but for the rest of you, this is an FN2-chassis Civic Type R. The three-door hatch was never sold in North America but manufactured by the Brits for the European market from ’06 to ’10. It follows the same formula as the EP3 Type R hatch before it with K20 power in a compact package, but the FN2 has a more mature and refined style. With that said, we happened to come across this meatball in the spaghetti from a little place called Italy. While the country’s tuning scene is small and highly regulated, this particular Civic Type R has a few surprises up its sleeves.
The owner Paolo Baresi is somewhat of a rare breed in his hometown of Brescia, an hour east of Milan. He’s a hardcore rally enthusiast but unlike the rest of his countrymen, he’s not into Peugeots, Citroens or Subarus. He lives and breathes Honda, plus it runs in his family, too. His father used to compete in hill climb races using an EG6!
With rally and Hondas in his blood, Paolo picked up an EP3 hatch to build strictly for rally racing. He fell in love with the car’s ability to handle and its tunable K20 platform, which convinced him to pick up this FN2 for a daily-driver.
Now we should note, Italy has one of the worst laws when it comes to modifying cars. You can’t do any engine swaps or even swap coilovers. It’s worse than California or whatever state you think you have it bad. So with this in mind, Paolo kept most of the modifications as “street legal” as possible.
To start, the Italian fitted the exterior with a proper Mugen makeover including the bumpers, front fenders, rear wing, carbon hood and 18" forged wheels. From there, the rest of the focus went under the hood. The motor was strengthened thanks to Wiseco pistons and Eagle rods which also raised the compression ratio. Then, the valvetrain received upgrades in the form of TODA cams and valve springs while a new intake manifold, throttle body and Mugen airbox improved overall airflow. For maximum gains, custom titanium exhaust was handcrafted from scratch and the stock injectors were swapped out for uprated 410cc.
Paolo finished his ride with a simple clutch and flywheel upgrade mated to the factory six-speed along with a custom pair of Brembo brakes for the front axles.
The FN2 is one of the last great Civic Type R hatchbacks offered by Honda—that is, until the next generation is unveiled at this year’s Paris Motor Show (you’ll hopefully have seen this by press time)—and Paolo has made it even better. While he didn’t go balls-out with any custom turbo setups or engine swaps, he installed the cleanest parts and turned the power up in a country that’s tough on tuning.