Hammond drives the icons: Honda Civic Type R

I guess anyone over 40 is going to have trouble with the idea of a ‘classic' Japanese car. If you were brought up on a diet of Escort Mexicos, Golf GTIs and Manta GTEs, you're likely to believe that a small Japanese car is tantamount to a utility item. As glamorous as a toaster. The Civic Type R blows that preconception out of the water. The second generation - we have a late one here - arrived in 2001, into a world where the hot hatch was on hold, in favour of more tepid models designed to sneak under the insurance radar. And suddenly there was this. A precision tool, with clever VTec and a Japanese cool it still oozes today. There's no escaping its R credentials - the letter is emblazoned on the grille, skirts, bootlid, bucket seats and pretty much anywhere there's room to put it. So it's shouting a bit about its potential. And in no way does it fail to deliver on that. The 2.0-litre, 197bhp and - most importantly - naturally aspirated engine puts the power through a snickety six-speed 'box to the front wheels, and changes happen via a manual gearlever, which pokes out of the dash like a prosthetic arm.