Before I was involved in the magazine world firsthand, I had a subscription to everything import related. Every month I’d receive a stack of magazines, and I’d read through them at least two times in anticipation of the next issue. One thing that sometimes bothered me about magazine project cars was a lack of closure in some instances. A build would start up, gain some momentum, and then never appear in the magazine again. A reader would often write in asking about the build status to which the editor would reply with a witty story about how it fell between the cracks and someday things might pick up again. After I’d completed three project cars with American Honda, it seemed that my personal project was to be sentenced to solitude in the editorial black hole that swallows personal time, projects, and anything outside the immediate atmosphere of deadlines and feature stories. Well, maybe not.
Basic bolt-ons and Hondata K-Pro, minor aero changes, a few interior tweaks, and a nice suspension package made the car a little more exciting to look at, and much more fun to drive. Always a fan of the sporty, high-revving two-seater, I’ve been extremely happy with the car overall. However, I never actually ended the build for two reasons: The first is, working on the project TSX and CR-Z at the same time while still running the magazine left the S2000 to weekend duties. After the TSX was returned to Acura, and the CR-Z is complete and about to go back to Honda, the S2000 is once again in the picture. Beyond that, quite frankly, I just want more. I’ve grown restless with the AP1 in both the aesthetic and power departments, and it’s time to jump back into the build and change direction a bit.
Downforce Fenders and Side Splitters
Random bouts with daily driving have wreaked havoc on my front fenders, and instead of replacing or repairing them I’m taking the opportunity to move on to wider arches and, appropriately, wider wheels. There’s a number of aftermarket, Japanese market fenders available, but the cost, availability, and the fact that they stick out (no pun intended) like a sore thumb drove me away from the very thought. Instead, I wanted something well-made, wider (obviously), and able to mount up like a factory fender. My search led me to Downforce of Anaheim, California. The name should sound familiar to any S2000 or NSX enthusiast since the company has been offering top-notch carbon-fiber goods for both of Honda’s flagships since 2004. Downforce’s DFR fenders couldn’t be any more perfect for my needs. They add 30mm of clearance, use all factory-mounting points (which are reinforced), are 12 pounds lighter than stock, and to the average passerby, look completely stock (no need for bumper extensions). Carbon-fiber reinforcement is used to ensure the fenders stay nice and straight, and won’t crack or warp like many of the much more expensive overseas offerings.
The profile of the S2000, in my eyes, is downright sexy. However, its smooth lines and classic styling is slightly broken up by the lack of a side skirt or similar cap under the door. Instead, Honda chose to leave part of the underbelly exposed, and I’m not a fan. Downforce offers an elegant solution in its carbon-fiber side splitters that bolt right underneath the rocker and “cover the gap,” so to speak. These Hexcel carbon-fiber splitters feature a UV coating that offers protection from the elements, and they add a little more girth and a lot more aggression to the S2K’s flanks.
Wheel choice can be incredibly easy or entirely too complex. I’ve got more than enough on my plate, so rather than spending a day trying different size wheels on my car with the help of local friends, I ed Mike Chang of Evasive Motorsports. He’s been around countless S2000s, both street and track prepped, and he advised going with a 17x9.5 +35 or 40 to fill the Downforce fenders without worrying about running ridiculous camber settings or the unthinkable—stretching tires. Finding a set of wheels in stock in that particular size proved to be a little more difficult than I’d prepared myself for, but thankfully, SSR Wheels came through with a custom order of 17x9.5 +40 Type F rollers. I’d fallen in love with this wheel and even opted for a set on the CR-Z project car. This set was smaller and wider, and I chose the flat black finish. The great thing about the SSR Type F, beyond its sultry silhouette, is the fact that they’re very competitively priced, and they’re extremely lightweight. At just 17 pounds each, they feel like 15-inch wheels compared to the current old-school Blitz wheels I’ve been running.
To complement the new rolling stock, I needed more than just a “decent” set of tires. Far too many enthusiasts rely on whatever is cheapest, and it’s a shame. A car’s performance is only as good as its tire, so I ed the best: Falken. Its Azenis RT-615K has reached legendary status, and you’ll find more feature cars rolling on Falken than any other manufacturer. The RT-615K is completely at home on the street in wet or dry weather, but is packed with the technology to hold its own on a road course. It’s literally designed for the best of both worlds. A full set of 255/40-17s were selected and are begging to be mounted on the new wheels.
Of course, the next step is to get the tires mounted, the fenders and front bumper painted, and mount the side diffusers. And how about the power department?
The S2000 is downright fun right out of the box. Even in stock form, you can’t help but crack a little smile when you really lay into the car through a sharp turn, or “accidentally” lose a little grip from the rear tires during spirited driving. A naturally aspirated, high-revving motor is exactly what Honda intended, and it should really never be altered from that original plan, right? Probably, but I don’t care enough to stick to what someone else tells me is the “right thing” to do with my car, and the thought of boost has been eating away at me for quite some time. The factory bottom end seems to be good for a decent amount of boost, and I’d like to explore it further. Talks with a certain very well-known turbo specialist have commenced, and with any luck, the boosted portion of this project may happen in the not too distant future.