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Road Grime: The Re-Awakening of an S2000 Enthusiast.

  • Posted: 11-09-2016 05:22 PM
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My love affair with the S2000 began in 2003. At the time, I was busy with my H22A-swapped 1994 Honda Accord Coupe, but one day while the car was under the knife for a sway bar upgrade, I ventured into the dealership to take a look at what many considered to be the ultimate Honda tuner platform at the time, the Honda S2000. More than i remember the car, I remember being drunk on VTEC and 9000 RPM. NINE. THOUSAND. VTAKKKK. OMG. I was seeing red, and it wasn't just that beautiful red valve cover. After that test drive, I vowed that one day I would have one of my own.

Well that day came in February of 2013, when I found what I then believed to be the perfect S2000. It was a 2006 model, finished in the coveted Grand Prix White. And with an all black interior, this color combo made for a car that was 1 of ~450, otherwise you'd be looking at easily sullied tan, or something involving red leather (yikes). It had 15,200 miles on the odometer, and the owner alleged that the car had never been driven in the rain or on the freeway (testify...I had to install the wipers before I drove it home). It was about as close as I had seen to a brand new S2000 in a few years.

It didn't take long for the dark side to take hold. I became the automotive enthusiast equivalent of Gollum. It was all about preserving the car, and I would go to great lengths to do so. 

 

For example, going for a "relaxing" Sunday drive. The freeway was a delicate balance of maintaining <65mph (<3500 rpm for sustained periods), while staying in the right lane dodging 18 wheelers and whatever debris they'd be flinging up. Upon my return, I'd then spend a few hours detailing the car- sometimes at night with a variety of LED lighting equipment tethered to my body like some sort of deranged human Christmas tree. I can only imagine the bewildered looks on my neighbors faces as they watched me working feverishly in the driveway at 9:37 on a Sunday night.

I'm not sure at what point exactly i stopped enjoying the car, but it happened. Once you start looking at the car as a stock portfolio, this is inevitable. 

  • Mods? Nope. The car is worth more if you keep it stock.
  • Track days? LOL
  • Dinner and a movie? Theft risk...
  • Valet? No way, Jose. 

This was the perfect S2000. And I despised it. After much deliberation I decided I was a passionate car enthusiast but also a driver. I told myself I'd have to postpone my career collecting cars that I don't drive until after I become a millionaire. 

The pristine Garage Queen needed a new servant to rule. So up for sale it went, and within 24 hours, it had found a new victim. FREEEDOM!!!

I'm picturing William Wallace here. War paint, kilt, sword, the whole nine yards. My search for the right S2000 had begun. After several long, bloodshot eyed nights in front of the computer screen, I decided on a 2003. In my humble opinion, this model year was the zenith of AP1-dom. The 2002 model year had brought with it some improvements to make for a bit better road car, such as 2 additional speakers (for a whopping total of 4) and the soft top's plastic rear window was ditched in favor of a glass unit replete with Defroster!

More importantly, through some minor suspension tweaks the handling balance had been dialed back from criminally insane to mildly psychotic. The ECU received some revisions to the fuel and timing maps for a tad more power, and the gearbox received fortification by way of upgraded synchros. While piston oil squirters had been employed since the inception of the F20C, Honda upgraded their banjo bolts from a 2 hole to a 4 hole design midway through the 2002 model year. The Achilles' Heel(toe) of the 2002 F20C engine was the use of steel valve guides. These were problematic, and in 2003 Honda went back to good old Bronze.

Thus, the 2003 is the one to get!

To be continued...as I find and adopt a more fitting enthusiast S2000, so as to rekindle my love of the platform!


About the Author

David Walker Since childhood, David has been fascinated by machines, particularly those that move from A to point B a little faster; be it land, water, or air. David attended a technical school and studied automotive technology with a focus on engine machining and assembly.

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