By on June 12, 2014

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There has been no shortage of words written about the Honda S2000 on the internet. In fact, when a RRR request came in from Ryan in the ATL for his new-to-him 2000 AP1 S2K, my first thought was, “Why? It’s been done to death.”

Okay, that’s a total lie. My first thought was “Hell yes. When and where?

You see, the S2K and I have a bit of history. There are a lot of pictures on the Internet of me driving various S2000s, and nearly all of them look something like this:
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My good friend Marc and I campaigned an S2K in SCCA National Solo for a little over four years. I had some really good results (and some really bad ones) but most importantly, I always had fun behind the wheel. The S2K, especially in its original AP1 format (available beginning in the 2000 model year through 2003), gives even the best drivers fits. In order to get a winning run out of one, the driver must constantly be at the threshold of disaster, trusting both his car and his reflexes to the nth degree. On an autocross course, that can mean a trophy-winning day just as easily as it can mean a day with all dirty runs. High risk, high reward.

On the street, it can mean you’ve found yourself neatly wrapped around a tree, and the low acquisition cost of the S2K meant that younger, aggressive drivers often did. As a result, Honda made several changes to the car for the 2004 model year (AP2), including a more stable suspension, bigger wheels with wider tires, and a slightly longer stroke. The downside of this, in the eyes of many, was the lowering of the redline from just under 9K to 8K. This led to nearly endless bench racing debate on S2K forums about which model was better, a debate that was effectively squashed when Honda released the eye-violating, lightweight Club Racer edition for the 2008 model year. The CR won nearly everything it entered for the next several years, and is still the dominant car in several SCCA classes today.
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I realize that for most of you this is remedial knowledge, but ponder this for a moment: the S2000 has now been discontinued in the US for seven model years. If you’re a young man leaving college today, the S2K has never been available for you to buy as new car since you got your license. It has been gone nearly as long as it existed.

While its main competitor, the Mazda MX-5, continues its run into a highly anticipated fourth generation, the S2000 is as dead as John Cleese’s Norwegian Blue. It seems like it was born from a Honda that no longer really exists. Perhaps that is why the S2000 continues to command such exorbitant prices on the used car market. What other modern non-exotic still retains fifty percent of its original value fifteen years later?

Now, let’s meet Ryan. Ryan is a young IT professional from Atlanta. His last car was a 2014 Camaro SS that he bought when GM bought back his 2013 Camaro V6 under lemon law circumstances (heads replaced three times, followed by an entirely new motor). Unfortunately, the SS just became too expensive to own and operate in the city, so he recently set out to find another car that would satisfy his requirements of being inexpensive, small (he owned a MINI before the Zetas), fun, and big-city friendly.

Other options included the NC Miata, NB Mazdaspeed Miata, 350Z, and RX-8. Although he had an FC RX-7 in high school, he didn’t want the hassle and poor gas mileage of the Renesis. The 350Z was a bit of a tight squeeze, and the extra HP of the S2K over the Miata was just too much of a temptation to ignore.

As a result, Ryan says, “I went on a mission to find the best S2000 I could afford.” After several searches, he finally struck gold—or more appropriately, Silverstone, the gorgeous dark grey of his new ride.

“It was a one-family car. The uncle had been the original owner, and after fourteen years, he gave it to his nephew. The nephew sold it to me three months later to pay for a wedding.” Ryan had owned it for all of three weeks when he made the ill-advised decision to let me review it.

After meeting Ryan for a quick and delicious lunch at the Lazy Goat in Greenville, SC, we made our way down to the parking garage where I got my first look at Ryan’s new baby.

I couldn’t believe it. The car looked as through it had somehow been sent from 2000 to 2014 through a wormhole in the space-time continuum. 46,000 miles on the clock. Original shocks. Only one ding—a minuscule dot on the passenger door—and nary a scratch to be seen. No curbing on any of the wheels. The interior was showroom quality. My only complaint? The BF Goodrich g-Force Sport Comp 2 tires it was sporting. There are lots of great tire choices for an AP1—that isn’t one of them. “Please get a set of Star Specs or Ventu R-S 3s,” I offered kindly. “You’ll thank me later.”
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As we wound the car up around the wonderfully curvaceous roads of Greenville, the roadster came to life. The engine felt as fresh as that of any S2K I’ve ever driven, and the familiar sound of the short-stroke four cylinder rang out through the stock exhaust as I found the maximum power of the car between 7-8k on the tach.

AP1s have a few known trouble areas, and the clutch and differential are right at the top of any pre-purchase-inspection list. A telling sign of an AP1 that’s seen import racer duty is a worn second-gear synchro. No such troubles here—Ryan’s car snapped through the pattern flawlessly. I was concerned when Ryan told me that he had to replace the rear tires when he bought the car—that meant it had already burned through the original Potenzas and had now burned through a set of BFGs in the rear. However, the diff appeared to be no worse off for it. I didn’t launch his car at any point, though, and I recommended that he be gentle with it, as well.

The best gear of the AP1 is third gear. The motor was happiest here, as the worries of low-end torque disappeared and it simply sang along the road. However, the true magic of the S2K AP1 lies in the gearbox. The pedals are neatly arranged so that even your size-nine-footed author can easily heel-toe his way into a second gear downshift around the tightest of corners. Ryan mentioned that he found it difficult getting the car into first gear under any type of motion.

At the mention of this foible, I shot the car down a side street into a narrow lane with 15 MPH turns. Rev matching an S2K into the low cog takes practice—approximately four years of it, at last count, for me—but it can be done with ease once your ear becomes accustomed to the right sounds. Just getting used to the fact that 8,000 RPM is not only safe, but actually where the car is happiest, can be quite a challenge. The car did exactly what I asked it to do, rotating slightly under throttle after the downshift and correcting.

Unfortunately, my confidence to push the adhesion limits of the car was severely limited by the BFGs. The total lack of feedback from the tires made it difficult to know where the breaking point was, and I certainly wasn’t willing to find out we had passed it in another person’s car on a public road. The AP1 really needs a proper suspension and tire combination to reach its full potential as a driver. Without it, the car feels soft and unpredictable. The good news is that a set of Koni Sports, Hankooks, and a bigger front sway bar are all that’s needed to correct this issue.

And that’s the great thing about the AP1. It’s a blank canvas, but the paint by numbers sets are easy to find and readily available. All the engine tuning and suspension research has been done and done again on it, and the sticky topics are right there on the forums for you to read and duplicate. Provided you find a good early example that hasn’t been thrashed, it’s a hard deal to beat for an enthusiast. Buy a good example for $10K, put another 2-3 into it along with a good rollbar,and you’ve got a car that can run around any road course with nearly anything out there. Ryan said he hopes to get into autocrossing, and I gave him the names of some great S2K drivers in Atlanta who I know will be glad to help him get started.

Despite all the fuss made about Miatas by enthusiasts here and elsewhere, I think I’d make the same call Ryan made—the S2K simply does everything a Miata does and then some. Even at fifteen years of age, the design is a head turner. It has aged much better than other competitors that came later. For whatever reason, it appears to have been abandoned by the import racer types in favor of other cars. Their loss is your gain. Go buy one—you won’t be sorry.

Thanks to Ryan for not only supplying his car but for driving two hours to meet me. Congrats on a great buy!

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93 Comments on “Reader Ride Review: 2000 Honda S2000 “AP1″...”


  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Dammit, Bark, we need to keep this car a secret…at least until I find another one as good as my last one!

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      it’s a shame the commenting system here doesn’t allow ‘likes’

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Yeah, let’s not ruin this car like air cooled Porsches.

    • 0 avatar
      Neutron73

      I have to take exception with this particular sentence: “On the street, it can mean you’ve found yourself neatly wrapped around a tree, and the low acquisition cost of the S2K meant that younger, aggressive drivers often did.”

      Low acquisition cost? On what planet were you on when you could acquire a brand new S2000 from 2000-2003 at a “low acquisition cost”? That car had a ridiculous markup as soon as it hit the dealer floor from the already high 30K MSRP it debuted with. Point in fact: Pacific Honda here in San Diego had a “dealer added market value markup” of 35K on the car, so in essence, a new S2000 (if you were stupid enough) would cost you 65K out the door…STOCK.

      Maybe low acquisition cost for rich kids….

      • 0 avatar

        Honda Financial was willing to put 620 FICO scores behind the wheel of an S2K all day long. Can’t speak for SD but in the Midwest they were available for invoice all day long, and the lease deals were especially good.

        And yes, rich kids bought them in spades. They made S2Ki unreadable.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          True… CA, FL, and TX dealers marked them up like crazy. Everywhere else it was MSRP or less, and easy to buy. And they went through a used phase where they could be had under $10k, though now that has ended and values have shot up as supply of good ones has dwindled.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Similar years 2006 Solstice and S2K result in the same 50% retained value after a quick search on ebay. Both cars are good deals and fun to autocross.. I picked the similar Sky 2.4l with HahnCraft turbo kit already installed. With 13 psi in SCCA SM class(turbo, seats, Braile battery) would have been FTD if the stock clutch could hold the double power being put out of 350 hp/400trq.

        Not very practical but fun for Sunday races and then cruising for ice cream later.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Wrong, as always.

          A 2006 S2000 commands roughly double what a 2006 Solstice does according to KBB. That means your calcs were ether.

          The Solstice and Sky were failures.

          Cheaply made, slow and relatively poor handling according to Edmunds:
          http://www.edmunds.com/pontiac/solstice/

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Let’s go to the tape. Honda S2000 convertible with manual is much rarer and commands up to almost double the premium vs a same year Pontiac Solstice in automatic or manual transmission. Seems to be a 25% price increase on average.

            MY06 Pontiac Solstice Convertible

            Sub 55K, clean

            05/30/14 PA Regular $10,500 18,760 Above GRAY 4G M Yes
            05/29/14 CINCINNA Regular $11,800 22,825 Above WHITE 4G 5 Yes
            05/27/14 OHIO Lease $8,300 31,825 Avg GREEN 4G A Yes
            06/11/14 HRSNBURG Lease $8,200 32,267 Avg BLACK 4G 5 Yes
            05/21/14 SF BAY Regular $9,300 34,565 Avg BLACK 4G 5 Yes
            05/15/14 PALM BCH Regular $7,500 38,708 Avg GREEN 4G A No
            06/06/14 PA Regular $9,200 42,408 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            05/13/14 ORLANDO Regular $9,800 48,323 Above GRAY 4G 5 Yes
            06/11/14 KC Regular $8,600 52,249 Avg RED 4G 5 Yes
            05/27/14 OHIO Lease $9,100 53,270 Avg BLACK 4G 5 Yes

            High Miles/Rough

            05/21/14 CEN FLA Regular $4,500 88,776 Below BLK/SLV 4G 5 Yes
            05/30/14 FT LAUD Regular $5,900 88,986 Avg RED 4G A Yes
            05/29/14 TX HOBBY Regular $5,900 93,790 Avg BLACK 4G S Yes
            05/28/14 NJ Regular $5,700 108,876 Avg BLUE 4G A Yes
            05/14/14 DALLAS Regular $4,800 109,923 Below SILVER 4G 5 Yes

            MY06 Honda S2000 Convertible (all entries)

            05/29/14 FRDKBURG Regular $20,000 33,771 Avg BLUE 4G Yes
            04/17/14 TX HOBBY Regular $15,000 40,210 Avg YELLOW 4G 6 Yes
            06/11/14 MINNEAP Regular $17,800 47,348 Avg WHITE 4G 6 Yes
            04/15/14 NJ Regular $21,000 52,505 Above Red 4G N Yes
            05/21/14 SF BAY Regular $14,100 78,276 Avg GRAY 4G M Yes
            04/30/14 SAN DIEG Regular $11,300 116,158 Below BLACK 4G 6 Yes

          • 0 avatar

            The S2K was also a lot more expensive than a Solstice. A better comparison is the S2K and the Solstice GXP Z0K, which was a complete unicorn and only really available as a 2008 model (although GM contends that there are 2007 VINs, which allowed ’07 GXP owners to put the Z0K kit on their cars for SCCA comp). The Kozlaks, in particular, were quite quick in theirs. The problem was the short gearing—too many 2-3-2 shifts.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The S2000′s had a starting MSRP that was about $10k higher than the Solstice. Not really comparable; the Solstice’s main rival was the Miata.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            As PCH mentions the orignial price differential. Today available to buy on ebay, 8 years old they are both retained half their value. Maybe the AP1 commands a premium unmolested. There was no Kappa platform before 2006, so the S2K had half decade to evolve.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            The Solstice/Sky turbos had the bones to be competitive with the S2000 (nonturbo was an oversized Miata wannabe), but in typical GM fashion the body was garbage and the suspension and drivetrain didn’t get reasonably sorted out until the day before it was cancelled. An ’09 turbo hardtop would be the only one worth looking for.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @NormSV650

            Pound for pound an 06 Solstice vs an 06 S2000 of similar miles/condition and the Honda stomps it. I don’t know which auctions you are looking at, but I posted some results of the real ones. Can you be certain the cars in question are not salvage/reconstructed titles, TMU, theft recovery or some other kind of blemish?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Slow and relatively poor handling.

            Huh – I guess all that success in SCCA Pro Solo nationals and the championships the Solstice/SKY took was a fluke.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=scca+pontiac+solstice+champion&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb#channel=fflb&q=scca+pontiac+solstice+results&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

            Yup – slow and bad handling. Yup yup yup

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            The problem with the Solstice and the Sky was the horrible transmission – it was straight out the S10 pickup. I looked into getting a Solstice Coupe (super rare hatchback version) and quickly learned like most GM products you should run away. I really wanted a hatch so the Miata never made my list. Avoiding the RX-8 was a non-brainer as feeding it gas and oil all day doesn’t sound like fun. So I picked the 350Z. I’ve owned several Hondas and my main gripe was the always the lack of torque. And as mentioned the only way to have fun with the S2000 was pushing it to red line constantly.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Congrats on the car Ryan. Is this your daily driver or do you have another vehicle as well?

    I want to sell my motorcycle for a S2K for the longest time. I have no space for 2 cars, perhaps when I move out of NYC. They are so pricey and a lot are abused and riced out. I will probably end up getting one from another state to get a clean one.

    Ryan any mods planned? I feel like I would add an intake to hear VTEC in its glory and stickier tires. Maybe suspension down the line after research.

    • 0 avatar
      renobles

      It’s my daily driver. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to say, sorry, I’ve only got two seats…

      There are definitely some mods on my mind. I’d love to be able to hear it some more via either an intake and/or an exhaust. Stickier tires are high on the list as well. After I learn to really drive it, some suspension changes are likely on their way. Otherwise they will mostly be daily drive enhancing mods. Such as, full length floor mats, better door speakers and deadening, rear speakers, seat lowering, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        On the stereo, be sure to get the Modifry kit, so you can put in a new head unit but keep the left side stereo controls.

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        Nice unmolested car, very well done. Please enjoy the car and resist the urge to rice it or race it.

        if you want to race go karting, way cheaper, more fun and it doesn’t beat your mint condition daily driver all to pieces. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      I have a 2006 as my daily driver (I bought used in 2008 for $24k CPO with extended Honda warrantee, and I could still probably get $19K for it on Craigslist, even though the odometer now reads 130K instead of 30K). And my previous daily driver for the commute was a motorcycle (Concours 14).

      Coming from a motorcycle, the thing is downright luxurious: there are, you know, actual seats! a stereo, and you don’t have to wear a helmet and crash suit (the heated vest, however, is still useful for top down winter driving). [1]

      The quality of the materials is actually very good (I liked the plastics and touch points better than the plastics on the SLK250 I rented a few weeks back).

      If you can, I’m partial to the 2006+ as daily driver if you can find one in good shape: the stability computer is a really nice thing to have, especially when the road is wet. The car really does actively want to kill the driver, and I think they restored some of the original’s evil when they added the (fully disableable) computer choke chain.

      So if I were you, I’d start looking!

      [1] Coming from, say, an actual sensible car like the GF’s Crosstrek, its cramped, noisy, harsh, and the designers clearly viewed the passenger seat as a concession to left/right weight balance, no more. Passengers have no more space than the driver, but only 1 climate control vent and inaccessable climate controls. But you’re coming from a motorcyle, and its a fabulous upgrade from a motorcycle.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        I could not write a more concise view of the S2000.The comment that the passenger seat is just a concession to left/right balance, didn’t come from a Honda engineer, it came from one of your passengers, if they’re like those who rode with me in mine. The S2000 might be one of the most selfish car purchases I can think of, in a good way. If you need to stay on good terms with your passenger longterm, the Miata is your car. The comparison of the S2000 with a motorbike might seem silly only until you’ve completed 50 or so miles on back roads in one: the quick steering, the toggle switch-like shifter, the hard ride all with bring that out, to you. As for condition, I remember sitting in a Honda showroom a year ago, and seeing a CPO 2009 S2000 waiting for its Kentucky-based new owner to arrive and pick it up, a nice one, as has been mentioned, is rare and worth travelling to find.

        • 0 avatar
          Nicholas Weaver

          Fortunately for me, the GF vetoed the Miata as an option because its “too girly”. So I had no choice but to get the S2000… Aww, poor me.

          • 0 avatar
            snakebit

            OK, you found an area where we disagree. Very lucky for you that you could afford a nice S2000, some can’t. In my case, if I couldn’t afford one, and I could find the right Miata, and my GF nixed it solely because she or her girlfriends thought it was a “girly” choice, we would have a discussion, at the very least. My feeling is that I’ll help her buy whatever car she wants, but if she has any questions pertaining to manhood or my choices in cars, she’s on shakey ground. For your part, you weren’t contemplating buying a former Mary Kay Seville, you were in the market for a real sports car. To be fair, my wife knew years ago that choosing a car for me was my choice alone, and I was never going to ask for her opinion about what I would drive to work. It might be a family decision to some, but not in my family.

          • 0 avatar
            Nicholas Weaver

            Oh, there are an exception for the “girly” factor if I went with a miata: a full roll cage. :)

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “if she has any questions pertaining to manhood or my choices in cars, she’s on shakey ground.”

            WHY don’t women get that some motorized chairs make a guy’s manhood swell, whereas other motorized chairs make it fall off and get kicked under the brake pedal?

            Of course, that’s about the only reason men ever learn to sew.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Miata, while a great car, always was the butt of female related jokes.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            In my book, anyone who insults male Miata owners as girly isn’t a real car enthusiast.

            You don’t need 400 hp to enjoy driving, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who buys and enjoys an S2000, Miata, Elise, Boxster, or even Toyobaru.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    What a fun, fun car. I’ve had two friends who owned them for several years each, and, luckily, thought letting me drive them a lot made sense.

    Since I have no track/autocross aspirations, I give the nod just slightly to the AP2, but really, why didn’t I buy the 20,000 mile version when Friend 2 moved on to a different toy?!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Rear tire wear doesn’t indicate much of anything on the S2k: it’s a consequence of the aggressive alignment specs. If you’re going Konis, get the autocross-revalve versions; otherwise just go ahead and pick up a set of Bilstein or KW coilovers.

    ALWAYS check the oil when you stop for gas, until you have a good handle on how much your car uses. Some will burn oil, some won’t. Probably depends on how many trips to 9000 the first owner made on the way home from the dealership. About the only ways to kill the engine are money shifting, and letting the oil run low.

    I had a lot of fun with mine over the years, and ultimately decided to sell it so that it could be driven as intended rather than sitting around in my yard most of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      This. The rear toe specs plus being RWD happen to make the rears wear at around twice the rate of the front tires. Plus, since the car has a staggered setup, you can’t rotate them either to even out the wear.

      Don’t think about zeroing out the toe to save the tires either, at lieast not in an AP1 – it’s designed to keep the car facing the right direction on the road.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    When I was in high school this one of the cars to own in the view of the general young populace. A few lucky kids with parents who had enough money got them, and drove them like total boy-racer douchebags. I remember screwing around with a few of them in my old Chevy.

    Thank god that whole F&F fad is long gone now. A “AP2″ with a hard top wouldn’t be a bad ride. I’ve seen a few like that, they look sharp. Shame Honda has nothing to offer like this anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      OEM hardtop is definitely a good look for the car, and helps dampen road noise too. It is also the only car mod I ever got a 100% return on when I sold it.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    2 time S2000 owner here.

    Bark is spot on about the tires, though as someone who tracks and autocrosses I would say it depends on your driving style – RS-3s prefer a bit more slip and to be driven with more aggressive slip angle, while the Dunlops (they’re on ZIIs now, ZII Star Specs are supposed to come out this summer) prefer a much tidier line and driving style and have a much finer sweet spot. The Dunlops are a better autocross tire, while the RS-3s handle heat better as a track day tire.

    I’m going to throw a third suggestion, especially for a DD: Bridgestone RE-11A. It has 99% of the grip and heat tolerance of the first 2 with much better wet weather behavior and on-street driving manners. You’re not going to podium at SCCA Nationals on them, but they’re still an outstanding tire.

    Also, Marc should try and find any version AP2 wheels and get the tires in those sizes – it really enhances the look of the car, I have 04-05s, but I’m partial to the 06-07 version. The OE front lip and rear spoiler is a great low-cost add-on as well.

    All that said, I’ve loved both of my S2000s. I actually preferred the AP1 I had previously, but I will say the AP2 is much more predictable, faster, and safer feeling at the limit. But I do miss the 9000rpm motor and the rear end that steps out if I so much as look at it wrong. It’s an outstanding buy, I hope he takes care of it.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      One option for rollers are the 16″ Japanese BBS wheels, but those are almost unicorns and serious $$$$. I had a set of those shod with RE-11s for a while- huge difference versus the stock AP1 wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I’m running the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Positions on my 350Z. They are not a performance tire but seem to hold up to track abuse (HPDE) pretty well. They aren’t crazy money either. Given I live in Florida having good wet weather grip is paramount.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I’m surprised with the power and the weight of the Z that the S-04s hold up, usually tires in that class don’t do to well, especially in Florida heat. I’ve heard great things about them as a DD tire though.

        I’m in the mid-Atlantic and have had issues with that similar tires getting greasy as hell at autocross, I wasn’t willing to give them a chance on track and find out if they chunk. Where are you tracking? someplace slower like PBIR I could see it, but not someplace like Sebring.

        I have a beater to drive when it gets wet out, so I’m not too worried about wet weather handling.

    • 0 avatar
      DrGastro997

      I envy you very much. I love my new and older 911 but when I drove a relatives S2K I was immensely impressed with excitement. That is an amazing piece of Japanese engineering. It is one of the best coupes I’ve ever driven thus far!

  • avatar
    ChiefPontiaxe

    I bought my Honda S2000 in Oct. 1999- I was one of the few people at the time who didn’t pay a dealer markup. It was a great car- sold it in 2005 for 2/3 of my purchase price (with 20,000 miles) when we were expecting our first child. Oddest thing about the car is that it did not have a clock (not even in the radio). Also, the space saver spare tire is for the front wheels only. If your rear tire is flat, you put a front tire on the rear, and then put the spare on the front. Never had a flat tire in it though. Thanks for the memories. BTW I replaced the S2000 with a Jaguar X-type wagon, which was even more of a head turner.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      This isn’t unique to the S2000; my understanding is space saver spare tires should never go on the drive wheels. All the 15 year old Corollas limping around with space savers on the front? They should have moved a rear tire up and put the spare on the back.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      That was to save the rear diff – a tire size differential that large would do wonky things with it and wear it out in short order.

      • 0 avatar
        pfp63

        Just how quickly? Last October when I was out of town, my daughter flattened the right rear tire on my ’00 S2000 and the temp spare was put in that position. I don’t think it was driven very far like this (under 10 miles) until the new tire was installed. The tires only had 4000 very easily driven miles on them so I didn’t replace the left rear tire. However, since this incident, the car is behaving strangely, even after having the alignment checked. When I accelerate, the car pushes to the left and when I take my foot off the throttle it pushes to the right. If I coast it tracks straight. The car only has 30,000 miles on it and the two previous owners were older gentlemen. Hell, when I went to safety the car I had to replace the tires because the fronts were OE! (date coded 1999) and the rears were date coded 2001. I have only put 5000 miles on it since June 2012. Any thoughts?

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Mismatched tires will do really wonky things to this car. 10 miles on the spare wouldn’t be enough to damage anything, but only replacing one rear is a bad idea. Check your tire pressures first, but you’ll probably just have to bite the bullet and pony up for matched rubber.

          How exactly did the flat happen?

          • 0 avatar
            pfp63

            She backed the car out of the garage and scuffed the sidewall up against the flagstone step. It took about 10 minutes for the tire to flatten.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Don’t lean on the car!!

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    To quote Regular Car Reviews,

    “The S2000 has a special ability, and it can do one thing that no other car can do. The S2000 can make an MX-5 owner clam up for five minutes.”

    My coworker’s father in law had an S2000, and he sold it recently. I used to not have much of an opinion about these cars, but my opinion changed quite quickly when he took me for a spin. If you can find a good example, keep it and treasure it.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    Where I live (SF Bay Area) $10k will only get you a clapped out S2000, or a salvage title vehicle. You’re looking at above $15k for anything with fewer than 60k miles. Kind of helps explain used miata popularity.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    What do the B&B think about the electric power steering on the AP1? And what’s up with the clutch valve?

    -I’m asking for a friend

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I never had any complaints about the steering. The electric assist is actually built into the rack itself like the NSX, rather than the usual lazy “hang a motor on the steering shaft” EPS setup.

      The clutch delay valve was implemented on the AP2, to give the transmission a few extra fractions of a second to get the internals rotating at the proper speeds. Some people don’t mind it, some people hate it and swap out the slave cylinder for the AP1 version.

    • 0 avatar

      The AP1 steering rack is wicked fast. They slowed it down considerably for the AP2. Good if you can control it, bad if you can’t.

      Bypassing the CDV is illegal in all forms of Motorsport, so don’t do it if you ever plan to compete with the car.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      They all have EPS, and it works brilliantly. It’s electric assist, not drive by wire, so you still get a good amount of feedback.

      As I said above, I’ve had both generations, so I believe I’m qualified to answer this. The AP1 has a faster rack and 00-01 has the stiffest front sway offered over the whole production, leading to absolutely surgical turn-in. The AP2 has a slower rack, and while it’s still quite good, and at least on par with the FR-S or RX-8, it leaves something to be desired on turn-in. The AP2 makes up for it by having a larger margin for error in steady state cornering and putting the power down, making it easier to drive fast and less likely to get you in trouble. The CR is the best of the bunch, having the AP1 steering rack with the AP2 rear suspension design.

      The clutch delay valve is only on AP2s. It lets the clutch fluid only flow at a certain rate, which can initially be disconcerting on full throttle quick shifting, but you get used to it. Honda did it to prevent super-hard launches and clutch dropping, which had a tendency to grenade AP1 rear diffs.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      I have no complaints about the EPS in mine. It is linear, has good road feel, and is very precise. My only steering related complaint concerns the steering wheel itself. 1) It is not adjustable for rake or reach. 2) With only 40k miles on the clock the leather has become very shiny and vinyl-ly feeling. 3) It has an oddly egg-shaped rim, with the narrow end of the egg falling where my palms tend to rest, which feels odd after a few hours in the car. But these are minor complaints with a car that is otherwise a sweetheart of thing.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    “What other modern non-exotic still retains fifty percent of its original value fifteen years later?”
    1993 RX-7s. They were selling for just under $15k in 1998, and nearly twenty years later they’re still selling for about $15k.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    As a former Miata owner I can tell you why I bought a Miata over and S2000. Price. I bought a nice low mileage NB for $5000. I couldn’t get an equivalent S2000 for twice that.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Agreed. I haven’t driven an S2k, but I owned an NB and currently drive an NC. For the extra 10-15% performance boost the S2k offers, how much is useable for a guy that drives on public roads and how much is that worth?

      I think the S2Ks are great cars, but it seems like the performance delta between a Miata and an S2K essentially exists on the race track and not on public roads. Plus, I bought my NC brand new and I have the option to buy a new ND when it arrives. A Miata buyer can also find garage queens at reasonable prices since many Miatas are 2nd or 3rd vehicles and most were never driven in anger. On the other hand, as this article and every other S2K post points out, many of the S2Ks have been abused and the population of viable S2Ks is diminishing daily. For this and many other reasons I won’t explicate, I don’t think the S2K is worth the premium asking price.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      And…my guess is that a $5000 NB with $5000 in aftermarket goodies could run with, or outrun, the equivalent $10,000 S2000.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        In autocross, absolutely. On a racetrack? Not without boost, which is eating most of your budget without touching supporting mods.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          $5,000 NB with $5,000 in mods versus $10,000 S2k on the racetrack:

          My bet is that the ultimate determining factor is driver skill with the penultimate factor being track layout.

  • avatar
    wmba

    These things listed for almost $50 grand here in Canada, due to our 70 cent dollar back then. The value equation was about nil, so few were sold.

    The original engine had an 84mm stroke with 87 mm bore, same as the current Ford 2.0 Ecoboost, so it was hardly short stroke. In fact, the amazement was that it held together as a daily driver, since peak piston speed was the same as a F1 engine. When they turned it into a long stroke 90.7 mm for the 2.2, it had to be rev limited.

    CAR magazine found it way too tail-happy back in 2000, so I mentally crossed it off my list at the time, and Bark M is saying the same thing. Too easy to get into trouble with. But nice.

  • avatar
    Virgil Hilts

    I love my AP2.

    Saturday I will hate my AP2: I will be driving it 440 miles to Tucson. It is the worst highway car ever. At least I will get to see how it drives with the top up…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Your comments about tree wrecking are definitely true.
    Over the years, I’ve seen many of these on eBay as salvage, often badly balled up.

  • avatar

    Nice review of a really nice car. One of the better looking cars as well. A shame they quit making it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I never liked the digital instrument cluster—or at least not the way that Honda implemented it—but other than that, these cars are beautiful pieces of precision machinery.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Kyree,
      That’s the one aspect of my S2000 that I didn’t like, either. But it would never stop me from buying another one, the rest of the car was is so well thought out. I never felt like Honda had cut any corners to bring the S2000 to market, all the major controls could be operated virtually without taking my hands off the steering wheel. Is it worth a premium over a Miata? Yes, if you can afford it, but choosing a Miata is not so bad. It’s another sports car that the manufacturer thought a lot about before starting production, certainly no consolation prize itself.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    Well there goes my plan to offer up my 2001 S2K for a RRR. Ryan, you’re going to love this car. I’ve had mine for about 2 years now and it never fails to put a smile on my face – even if I’m in a foul mood when I get in it.

    One bit of advice: if your car has the stock head unit and didn’t come with the card containing the security code for the radio, make sure you ask the family that sold the car to you to look for the card before they toss out their old files. Mine did not come with the card, and thus I haven’t had a stereo since changing the battery about 6 months ago. The only other way to get the stereo working is to pull the head unit, find the serial number, and then ask Honda for the code – all of which I’ve been too lazy to do. (Actually, since the motor sounds so sweet while the stock stereo sounds so crappy, and since it is a weekend car for me, I don’t even mind that the stereo doesn’t work. But you may feel differently about yours.)

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I didn’t even have a head unit in mine for most of the time I owned it. Bought an OEM one to put in the car before I sold it, and wrote the code on the bottom with a Sharpie.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Ah, just spend the $150 at Crutchfield for an unremarkable head unit with a USB input in the back (route it out the passenger footwell area), and another $100 for a Modifry adapter so the left buttons still work, and be happy. Its an easy do-it-thyself install job.

      Yeah, the stereo is still not great shakes then, but it does make a nice improvement over the head unit, and eliminates that whole “lost power->brick the stereo” problem.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      The S2000 headunit is one of the easiest I’ve ever dealt with to reove though. Literally the only tool you actually need is a Phillips head screwdriver.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    The author’s blanket statement to the contrary notwithstanding, the Miata is the better smile-inducing daily driver. Paying a premium for a car designed to be revved like a sport bike to be enjoyed makes sense only if, like the author, you see track days in your future.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My sister-in-law has one of these as a daily driver (the 9k rpm version).

    Her husband bought it through e-Bay when it was only a year old, and drove it home 500 miles after making the deal.

    I’ve driven it a couple times, even though I don’t fit and couldn’t own it. It is a rocket, and there is no music as sweet as that engine between 6000 and 9000 rpm. Wow.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The only person I know that owned an S2000 put 20 inch chrome wheels and a big wing on it. It was yellow. His wife was attractive.

  • avatar
    g4c123

    Hi all! I just wanted to chime in after hearing all these comparisons. Did an interesting experiment last weekend with a friend and co-worker at T C M. He has an immaculate stock 2004 Honda S2000 with 30k.
    Mines an 08 SE 6 speed NC Miata with a header and stock muffler weighing in at 2400 lbs. after some weight reduction mods like tossing all soft top related components and installing our newly available light weight Hard top.
    We hit the drag strip at PBIR. aka Morosso. We raced twice. The first time we raced doing a 5 MPH rolling start in 1st gear. This of course was my plan and handicap with an estimated 178 HP for me and 237HP for him. Yes I know the S2K is 2800 lbs. but the power to weight ratios are 13.3 lbs. per HP vs 11.8 lbs. per HP respectively. Starting at 5 MPH he won’t hit the VTEC Cam shift until maybe 25 MPH/6500RPMs. My plan paid off! I beat him by a good margin to 60MPH and was still ahead at the 1/4 mile mark by at least a car length. This was an impromptu street race event during an SCCA race weekend so there were no tree lights or 1/4 times.
    The 2nd race we did a 25MPH rolling start. This made all the difference for him but I still managed to stay beside him until 60MPH at which point he started pulling away. I had driven his S2K so most of this was not a big surprise, though my NC did a little better than I expected.
    The NC power band is very linear and more enjoyable on the street while the S2K engine is music in VTEC and better on the track.
    As for the chassis, The S2k is superior!
    For the value i’ll take the Miata!

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Great read, really enjoying the new reader rides articles. About all I remember of the S2000 is that it was the car that the bad guy drove in the original Fast and Furious movie.

    I am curious why the S2000 is considered legendary and the FRS/BRZ somewhat mediocre. From the performance numbers and reviews it seems the two are very closely matched and have similar missions. Maybe someone can clue me in because I would have a hard time spending $20k+ on a 10 year old S2000 when a brand new FRS/BRZ could be had for only a few thousand more.

    • 0 avatar
      g4c123

      I’ll try to clue you in!
      Except for the engine, I see eye to eye and worship the engineers that designed the S2K.

      If it came with an inline six and 300 hp, I would have sold my first born to get one!

      The S2000 was introduced at a time when 120hp per liter was a major milestone that no one had achieved on a production car. The car is a work of art in all aspects even to this day. You don’t just get in and sit down in this car, it feels more like you put it on like a high quality shoe. It has a rock solid chassis and a very well oiled feel that trumps the competition in ways one can’t describe until spending some time in one. It will become the sports car by which all others are judged once you are spoiled by it!

      G

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      One thing to remember is that the S2000 listed for something around $35k when it was new, while the 86 twins are more like $25k in 2014 dollars. The twins have some rather serious design and build issues, while the S2k is an anvil in comparison. Suspension design is much more optimized on the S2k. It has also been out of production long enough for people to get wistful about it, and idealize it a bit as the last outpost of the ’80s-’90s Honda aesthetic.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Funny story

    My old roommate had an AP1. I had an H22 swapped Accord with some “work” in it (I think it had cams). On a long stretch of highway, the S2K pulled away, but stoplight to stoplight I had the edge as those sub 6 second 0-60s on the AP1 only come from wince inducing high RPM clutch dumps.

    If I got an S2K for the street I would put in the K24A crank and bump it to 2.4L. It’s just kind of a dog on the street. For a pure track car I’d probably go the other way and build up the top end. Either way it’s a solid chassis with a ton of potential.

  • avatar
    g4c123

    bumpii: rather serious design and build issues?

    Please share as i am a fan of the twins.
    I haven’t driven one but I rode shotgun at an autocross in an FRS
    and was impressed.

    G

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Fuel pump crickets, replacement engines, leaky tail lights, etc. Stuff that simply shouldn’t happen to a car within the warranty these days. The twins seem to be mostly Subaru, with some Toyota input in the development process. I really wanted to like them, but too many issues for me.

  • avatar
    Kato

    I considered a Miata before buying a low mileage, bone-stock ”02 AP1 a couple of years ago, The Miata is a great car, but for me the S2000 just felt a whole lot more special. I agree with the comment above that you wear this car rather than drive it. Aside from the S2K being better looking, (subjective) another thing that tipped the scales is that I found the top of the windshield frame impinged on my field of view too much in the NB Miata. No issues with this in the Honda (I’m 5′ 11″). Nice review BTW, very interesting to hear the views of someone with extensive competition experience. Has me thinking about tires (currently running S-02′s) and suspension tweaks.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I’ve driven both gens of S2K. Simply didn’t like the AP1 at all. This is from somebody who used to own a GS-R so well familiar with Honda’s high-revving antics. It was too gutless even for me. AP2 was better and easier to live with. If I ever was going to get an S2K it would certainly be the AP2.

    I was test-driving these at the same time when I owned an R-package Miata. Drove the S2Ks and… decided to stay with Miata. Why? Because while not as fast or brutal, Miata is a barrel-o’-monkeys kind of fun. S2K simply isn’t and never will be. It’s definitely a great car but certainly not in the same way. Very adult and mature, not light-footed and tossable like a Miata. I would also far prefer to do my own work on a Miata than one of these. Far cheaper to run.

    There is a guy on the next street over that’s selling his low mile AP2 with hardtop for about $20K. I would take a $10K Miata over it any day of the week.

    P.S. agree about the shifter though – S2K shifter is certainly the best I’ve driven so far, hands down.

  • avatar
    nova1980

    I was in a very similar boat with our boy Ryan. For the past 3 years I had been weighing the options between the AP1 and a MX-5. Having driven both for extensive periods, obviously the AP1 wins hands down, but when you throw in a Mazdaspeed option, it’s a different ball game.

    I was hard set on AP1 until I came across a one owner 04 Mazdaspeed MX-5 this past fall. It had a scratch in the paint, no modifications, and only 51k on the clock and all under $9k. That was the end of my AP1 aspirations. One spin with the Mazdaspeed torque curve made me forget about the 9k redline. Obviously, the AP1 is an amazing car, but with a price point at least $5k to $6K more the decision was fairly easy. I have since added some go fast parts from Flyin Miata for under $2k and would not be worried about seeing the back end of a S2K in any situation. Now if the wife would let me, I would have both and not have to worry about picking sides.


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