Oh, the Honda S2000. What can I write about this wonder vehicle that hasn’t already been declared by another automotive publication? Back in 1963, when Honda took a second foray into automobiles, they produced the S500 roadster. It was a neat little car powered by a 531cc dual-cam inline-four-cylinder engine. That doesn’t seem like a lot of displacement, but with a curb weight of just 1,500 pounds, the 44 horsepower engine took the little rear-wheel-drive sports car up to 80 mph. After several years and some displacement upgrades, the S800 was retired from production in 1970, marking the end of Honda’s S roadster lineup for almost 30 years. Until 1999, when the Japanese automaker unveiled its reinvented convertible sports car, the S2000.
A bright addition to Honda’s sporty lineup at the time, this new version carried on its ancestors’ lineage by absolutely flooring everyone who tested it. Its powerplant broke the record for having the highest horsepower-per-liter of any mass-produced, naturally aspirated car ever released — 124 horsepower per liter. Above that, it’s a car whose owners can’t seem to get enough of owning. Find an ex-S2000 owner who sold their beloved roadster, and I bet they’ve either already bought another, have been looking to buy another, or regret every second of selling it. It just has an unexplainable charm, and we’ve published some stellar examples of it right here on Front Street. Sit back as we dig through our archives to bring you a collection of some of our favorites.
This list is organized in no particular order, but if it were going to be ranked, ASM Yokohama’s flagship time attack racer would likely be leading it off regardless. I had the unbelievable pleasure of seeing this car in real life during my trip to Japan for Tokyo Auto Salon in 2018. It was an experience I will never forget. I disclose the whole scenario of me physically running to catch a glimpse of the shop in my original article. However, I did not get to see the car driving in anger at a track and claiming records — the car’s entire purpose for existence, of which Tokyonür recorded with precise accuracy. It is currently the fastest naturally aspirated S2000 ever to lap the legendary Tsukuba Circuit and has completed its duty numerous times over the years. More recently, the rumor mill has been buzzing that the car is no longer competing, so we may never hear its highly-worked engine scream again. Still, whether or not it ever makes another pass, I’m just ecstatic it graced the website, and I hope you feel the same way.
Evasive Motorsports S2000: Street Spec (one of a few)
This one was tricky, but I ultimately decided to include it in this list because of how well the team at Evasive Motorsports built it in this spec. At the time of my original feature of the car in early 2018, this was still a no-expense-spared customer car. Evasive upgraded this S2000 using premium materials throughout its design, incorporated purpose-built composite aerodynamic pieces from Voltex Racing, lightweight Titan 7 Wheels, and an HKS supercharger system. It was, essentially, the epitome of a street/track S2000 build until it began the second phase of its life under Evasive’s ownership…
Evasive Motorsports S2000: SEMA Spec (the same car)
Like a thriving butterfly fresh out of its cocoon, this S2000 emerged at 2018’s SEMA Show wearing a beefier, more extreme Voltex garb than it had worn entering the year. After being finished only days before its big unveiling on the world’s stage, the S2000 donned ultra-wide, dry carbon fiber panels at every corner. Each section hand-applied by Akihiro Nakajima of Voltex Racing himself after a direct flight from Japan to Los Angeles. Not only was it more aggressive-looking, but the car also packed a heavier punch utilizing a larger HKS supercharger than the previous iteration. To better navigate the power, a Samsonas sequential transmission also replaced the factory gearbox. This superb display vehicle hasn’t seen competition yet, but it’s going to be a serious contender once Evasive takes it for a maiden track day voyage, and we can’t wait for that day.
Top Fuel S2000RR
The Top Fuel S2000RR is an easy choice for me to include on the list, and another example I had the opportunity to see in person during Tokyo Auto Salon in 2018. Yet, another that I did not get to see in a blur of motion trimming down lap times. While the ASM S2000 might push the limits of what is achievable in a naturally aspirated trim, the S2000RR crushes these limits using a combination of turbocharged air and nitrous oxide. However, similar to the ASM car, this one has a knack for breaking its own set of records. Currently, it’s the fastest S2000 and the 3rd fastest road car overall at Tsukuba Circuit — it’s the king of the hill. It’s the first car equipped with the illustrious Voltex Circuit Version III widebody. The same kit as pictured on the Evasive car above, except that this legendary vehicle exercises every single millimeter of the kit’s wind-tunnel-tested downforce-enhancing aerodynamic trimmings on track. For this reason, and many others, it had to make this list. Oh, and it’s going to be up for sale.
Rywire’s Casale Design Custom Widebody Mugen S2000
When Rywire gets an idea to build and display a vehicle at the SEMA Show, he goes all-in! For Ryan Basseri, a legend of the Honda world and founder of the premier wiring solution, Rywire Motorsport Electronics, not just any parts will do. What began its time with Rywire as an already impeccably modified AP1 S2000, Ryan enhanced its electrical system using one of his custom Mil-Spec Tucked Wiring Harnesses and an AEM Performance Electronics Infinity ECU. The wiring master reworked the 2.5-liter stroker motor’s fuel system by adding secondary atmospheric injectors on the Kinsler individual throttle bodies, and upgraded the cooling system by using customized cores from CSF Performance, too.
However, I think I’m just as enamored with this car because of the extensive work performed on the exterior. The authentic Mugen SS Aero kit would have been a terrific upgrade itself, except the external amplification didn’t stop there. Casale Design built a completely custom clay-molded widebody kit for the car, infused it into the lines of both the S2000 chassis and the Mugen kit, and still exceeded all expectations. Casale documented the whole process in detail on his website, and the final product showcased in 2017 was breathtaking. If you’re wondering what Rywire and Casale will work on next. They happen to be building another groundbreaking S2000 with our parent company, Turn 14 Distribution, nicknamed the #EVS2K for its electric drive unit. Look out for a feature on the electrified car right here on Front Street in the coming month and follow the build’s progress on the Rywire YouTube channel.
Schmuck Built Twin-Turbocharged J32A-Swapped S2000
Finishing off our list is this spectacular J32A-swapped S2000 built by our friend and fabrication expert, Jason Schmuck, of Schmuck Built. While the purists angrily attempted to scroll past this, we guarantee they stopped to admire the incredible quality with which he constructed it. The mirrored Garrett turbochargers flank either side of the J32A engine in artistic symmetry. Vibrant Performance clamps, fluid delivery solutions, and other various products are found throughout the bay. However, it’s the company’s titanium tubing that becomes the focus as it elegantly facilitates the customized exit of exhaust gas out the fenders. Simultaneously, Vibrant’s cores help develop the front mount intercooler and elaborate rear-mount radiator setup. This car exudes a level of cleanliness and attention to detail that is only achievable with countless hours of painstaking labor. He put in the time, and this car is the ultimate reward.
I could continue discussing the remainder of the magnificent S2000 builds we’ve showcased on our website forever, but that’s where I’m going to end my dig into the archives for today. Take a look at the gallery below for some more images of cars on this list and quite a few honorable mentions. Drop us a message if there’s a particular S2000 we missed that you’d love to see us feature.