Tales From The Cooler: TTAC Writer Buys A Cool Car

Virgil Hilts
by Virgil Hilts

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.

Virgil Hilts
Virgil Hilts

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  • 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.

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    • 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.....

  • Varezhka The biggest underlying issue of Mitsubishi Motors was that for most of its history the commercial vehicles division was where all the profit was being made, subsidizing the passenger vehicle division losses. Just like Isuzu.And because it was a runt of a giant conglomerate who mainly operated B2G and B2B, it never got the attention it needed to really succeed. So when Daimler came in early 2000s and took away the money making Mitsubishi-Fuso commercial division, it was screwed.Right now it's living off of its legacy user base in SE Asia, while its new parent Nissan is sucking away at its remaining engineering expertise in EV and kei cars. I'd love to see the upcoming US market Delica, so crossing fingers they will last that long.
  • ToolGuy A deep-dive of the TTAC Podcast Archives gleans some valuable insight here.
  • Tassos I heard the same clueless, bigoted BULLSHEET about the Chinese brands, 40 years ago about the Japanese Brands, and more recently about the Koreans.If the Japanese and the Koreans have succeeded in the US market, at the expense of losers such as Fiat, Alfa, Peugeot, and the Domestics,there is ZERO DOUBT in my mind, that if the Chinese want to succeed here, THEY WILL. No matter what one or two bigots do about it.PS try to distinguish between the hard working CHINESE PEOPLE and their GOVERNMENT once in your miserable lives.
  • 28-Cars-Later I guess Santa showed up with bales of cash for Mitsu this past Christmas.
  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.