As a self-proclaimed Honda fanatic, I find it hard to think of many cars I’d rather own than the late and great S2000. I know that’s a bit of a bold statement, but just hear me out for a minute. It’s got all the right stuff: rear-wheel-drive layout; it’s small and nimble with quick turn-in response, and the naturally aspirated motor is one of the finest 4-cylinders ever built. While some say the S2000 is snappy and difficult to handle on the edge, others say it’s simply a car that you must be awake in order to drive. No matter what your opinion of the S2000, you really can’t argue that it’s a great platform to build upon regardless of what your end goals are.
John Gamboa of Fremont, California, feels the same way, as is evident by his lovely example of what can be done with an AP1. Although, let me put this out there now: John did not build this car from the ground up. To be completely fair, he openly admits that he bought this car from a friend in South Florida, largely in the same shape as you see here. Now before you go and shout “blasphemy,” take a chill pill and keep an open mind because there’s nothing wrong with buying a built car. It’s often cheaper and less frustrating than building it yourself.
“I bought the car in November of 2012 from a good friend of mine who I now look up to as an older brother,” John told me. “But, please, don’t have the misconception that I’m someone who bought a car not knowing everything that’s on it. I have been in the automotive community [for years], with many previous builds under my belt. I used to live in South Florida, and I am still active there, even though I now live in the Bay Area.”
You see, John owned an AP2 S2000 leading up to the acquisition of this AP1, and the decision to buy an already modified car was not based on anything other than happy circumstances. The idea of modifying his old S2000 had been floating around in his head for quite some time, and after stumbling across this car online, he began to rethink the entire approach.
Instead of waiting for months upon months for rare parts from Japan to get stateside (a scenario all of us are familiar with), John found a car with a unique character that simply spoke to him. The fact that it just so happened to be for sale when he was ready to buy was simply another fortunate coincidence.
This S2K is fairly modest in the performance upgrade department, sporting a set of Bilstein coilovers, Nitto NT555 tires with Advan RS-D wheels, and simple engine bolt-ons. The engine, however, is not original. John popped the AP1 motor and replaced it with a low-mileage F22C. It’s more of a cruising car rather than an all-out track monster; John has kept everything civil so he can still enjoy it on a daily basis. Too often, it’s easy to go overboard, and before you know it, the car is a garage queen that’s barely driven.
The exterior has been done up very nicely from top to bottom, with the most immediately noticeable upgrade being the custom Apex Blue paint. Reminiscent of Laguna Seca Blue, this paint is just different enough to make you stop and look twice. A Sorcery bumper with a carbon-fiber under plate resides up front. John told me this particular piece is quite rare in the S2000 community, but oh how proper it looks. The Spoon front fenders flow nicely into the rear ASM rear over fenders, and a Top Secret diffuser finishes off the back end. The S2000 is a convertible, but it seems so rare to see a modified example without a hardtop of some sort. Mugen is the weapon of choice in this case, painted gloss black for a nice contrast against the bright blue body. The sum of the aero parts and blue paint gives John’s S2K quite an exclusive look, which isn’t easy to achieve these days.
It’s not too often that we see a complete interior swap, but in the case of many Hondas (like the S2000), it’s not an irrational idea. The cabins are (largely) the same between generations once stripped down, so the AP2 interior in John’s car looks and fits like it came straight off the assembly line. A pair of Bride bucket seats holds driver and passenger in place, while also adding some much-appreciated style points to the mix. A Personal steering wheel with Works Bell quick release is almost expected and looks right at home with blue stitching to match the car’s exterior. John has a modest stereo in place, because after all, he drives this thing on the regular.
When it’s all said and done, John is extremely happy with his choice to buy this car, and we can’t blame him. If the car you plan to build (basically) pops up for a fraction of the price, would you really say no to that opportunity? Hardly. With good looks, functional performance, and the added bonus of not having to spend years of your life piecing it together, it’s an easy choice.
Specs & Details
2000 Honda S2000
Engine Honda F22C 2.2L inline-four
Engine Modifications Password:JDM dry carbon-fiber ram air induction kit, cooling plate; HKS Hi-Power dual exhaust; Mishimoto radiator; Moddiction titanium bling bolts; GladFab battery and fuse box cover kit, brake master cylinder cover kit; ARC Magic oil cap
Drivetrain ACT Stage 2 clutch; T1R half-shaft spacer
Suspension Bilstein PSS coilovers
Interior Bride Cuga carbon-fiber seats (L/R); Cusco 6-point rollcage with harness bar; Takata harnesses (L/R); Works Bell quick release and short hub; Personal black suede steering wheel with blue stitching; Zoom carbon-fiber rearview mirror; Pioneer DEH-X3500UI head unit; JL Audio C3-600 component speakers
Exterior Custom Apex Blue paint; Mugen hardtop; Sorcery front bumper with carbon-fiber under plate; JDM AP1 headlights; INGS +1 1500mm carbon-fiber spoiler with Robbie Harper 275mm titanium wing stands; Top Secret carbon-fiber rear diffuser; Spoon front fenders; ASM I.S. Design rear over fenders
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Advan RS-D wheels 18x9.5-inch (F&R); Nitto NT555 Tires 225/40R18 (f) 255/35R18 (r); StopTech OEM Replacement Drilled & Slotted Rotors, stainless steel lines