Tales From The Cooler: TTAC Writer Buys A Cool Car

Virgil Hilts
by Virgil Hilts
tales from the cooler ttac writer buys a cool car

Car salesmen call buyers like me, “squirrels.” It seems like whenever I buy a new car, I pull a handbrake 180 turn at the last moment and purchase a completely different vehicle than originally planned. Last week I was so close to buying a new Mustang GT with the Track Package that a friend at Ford was poised to set me up with an insider deal. The only problem was I seemed to have forgotten that this will not be my daily driver so why was I analyzing SYNC Packages, luggage space, resale value and the like?

I regrouped and asked myself two questions: which vehicle will have the soul of the two most fun cars I have ever owned, the 1994 Mazda RX-7 and the 1988 Honda CRX-Si? Why do I live in sunny San Diego and have never owned a convertible? The halogens went off in my head. As fate would have it, a dealer I know had just traded for the exact car I wanted. Say hello to my little yellow friend.

I am now the proud owner of a flawless 2008 Honda S2000 with only 27,000 miles on its clock. It is an unmodified “little old lady’s car” that a middle-aged Arizona couple took amazing care of before trading it in. They told the dealer that they were sad to let go of their “baby.” And, yes, Rio Yellow was my first color choice so I could be seen by the distracted-driving, left-lane-blocking blockheads that infest our freeways.

After three days of ownership I can say that I made the right decision: the S2K is an absolute hoot to drive. It has the slickest gearbox I have ever rowed and the motor pulls like a V-8 above 6,000 RPM. In the near future, and after a few runs up Palomar Mountain, I will write a “long-term test” story on my roadster. I promise it will be the first review of an S2000 that does not include the phrases, “It handles like a go-kart.” or “It’s a four-wheel motorcycle.”

The GT would have looked great in the garage next to my wife’s 1968 Mustang, is a tremendous value and Jack Baruth says it is the best all-around ponycar ever built, but my S2000 is an affordable, no compromise, kick-ass sports car the likes of which may never be seen again.

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6 of 75 comments
  • Campocaceres Campocaceres on Jun 21, 2013

    Congratulations on your purchase! The Honda S2000 has always been up there in customer satisfaction ratings, and, having one myself, I now understand why. Mine's a daily driver, traded in my BMW 3-Series for it. Similar to yours, it was an '06 in Suzuka Blue that was a garage queen with 13k miles. Just way too good an opportunity to pass up. I'm still young enough that I am more than willing to sacrifice a harsh ride for pure fun, and there's just no replacing a manual transmission roadster. I feel bad when I have to cart along a passenger, but other than that, no regrets. Definitely change out the radio if you like tunes to go with your drive, the stock radios were meant to be replaced. I ended up with a Pioneer unit that only plays MP3's through USB (there's no CD). Very convenient for me as CD's are dead to me and I didn't have to run any USB cables anywhere. Anyway, enjoy the car. I can't wait to read your long-term opinions about the ownership experience.

    • See 3 previous
    • Virgil Hilts Virgil Hilts on Jun 27, 2013

      @copanacional If the car is nice, you can forget book price. My dealer traded for around $2000 over wholesale book and the car lasted 4 days before I bought it. Check out Garcia Infiniti in Albuquerque who has a red 2008 with 18,000 miles for $26,000.

  • Jim brewer Jim brewer on Jun 29, 2013

    I don't know what is so 'emotional' about it. It was on my list. Why? Sports cars are about the only kind of used cars with a decent depreciation profile (i.e. high initial depreciation) in a strongly recessionary economy. However, long term, depreciation is limited past the initial hit. Depreciation is a hugely important consideration. For we low mileage drivers, its our biggest expense. Low operating costs. Its a Honda. I couldn't find a good S2000 on short notice, so I settled for a new F-150 XL. Nothing 'squirrely' about it, though. Just dollars and cents. P.S. Kinda wonder what an S2000 would be like with a 3.7L 302 hp engine.....

  • Svenmeier Speedometer display in the center console screen? Why? This is a dealbreaker for me.
  • Alan I do believe that traffic infringements penalties based on income will affect those who are financial able to flout safety regulations.When I drive above the posted speed limit I assess my situation using probability. If I'm confronted with a situation where time is of more value to me than speed I will speed if I assess the probability of a fine to be quite low. I can afford the fine, what I can't afford is the loss of points on my drivers licence.In Australia (12 points in QLD and all States have a point system) we have a points system attached to your drivers licence. An open drivers licence is granted 12 points every 3 years. So, if you receive an infringement for exceeding the speed limit it takes 3 years for the points to be removed. I generally get caught once every 2 years.I think a points system would be a fairer system over a system based on income. Its about retaining your licence and safety, not financial gain by the government.As you can see below it wouldn't take long for many US drivers to lose their drivers licence.[h2]Current penalties for individuals caught speeding[/h2]InfringementPenalty amountDemerit pointsLess than 11km/h over the speed limit$287. 1 pointAt least 11km/h but not more than 20km/h over the speed limit$431. 3 pointsMore than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h over the speed limit$646. 4 pointsMore than 30km/h but not more than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,078. 6 pointsMore than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,653. 8 points and 6 month suspension
  • Wjtinfwb Instead of raising fines, why don't the authorities enforce the laws and write tickets, and have judges enforce the penalty or sentence of a crime. I live across the street from an Elementary School on a 4-lane divided state highway. every morning the cop sits in his car and when someone sails through the School Zone well above the 10 mph limit, he merely hits his siren to get their attention but that's it. I've never, in 5 years, seen them get out of the car and actually stop and driver and confront them about speeding. As a result, no one pays attention and when the School Zone light is not lit, traffic flies by at 50-60 mph in the 45 zone. Almost no enforcement occurs until the inevitable crash, last year some zoned out girl rolled her beater Elantra 3 times. On a dry, straight, 4 lane road with a 45 mph limit. I'm no Angel and have a heavy foot myself. I've received my share of speeding tickets, lots of them when younger. Traffic enforcement in most locales has become a joke these days, jacking prices because someone has a higher income in as asinine as our stupid tax policy and non-existent immigration enforcement.
  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.