HIGH­WAY RUN­NER

BAGGED, BOOSTED, AND BOD­IED HONDA S2000

NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

When­ever you meet some­one new, there’s al­ways that awk­ward pe­riod of small talk that en­sues, when you both at­tempt to fig­ure out what each other is all about in the short­est amount of time pos­si­ble. So, when one car per­son meets an­other, al­most in­stantly the same ques­tion arises: “What do you drive?” In turn, re­spond­ing with “A Honda” ccan evoke dif­fer­ent thoughts de­pend­ing on the per­son ask­ing the ques­tion, but what they’re best known for is be­ing rapidly fast and end­lessly revving front-wheel drives, and, of course, pi­o­neers of that vari­able valve tim­ing all­time favourite — VTEC. But what most tend to for­get is even a mem­ber of the Honda fam­ily is a per­fectly over-en­gi­neered, rear-wheel-drive, front-en­gined odd­ity that seemed to come out of left field back in 1999.

We’re of course re­fer­ring to the S2000. It’s per­haps one of the most un­der­rated plat­forms Honda has to of­fer, and it seems that the masses have only just clocked on to how well they per­form out of the box. How­ever, the owner of the ex­am­ple you see be­fore you, Matthew Holt, was one of those early adopters who rec­og­nized the ben­e­fits in­her­ent in a long and wide-wheel­base car with a low cen­tre of grav­ity and an en­gine that, for a long time, held the record for pro­duc­ing the high­est spe­cific power out­put of any mass-pro­duced nat­u­rally aspirated pis­ton en­gine.

It’s been a labour of love for Matt over the past four years, as he ex­plains: “This is lit­er­ally my own ren­di­tion of how I want this car to be.” But how he wanted the car to be has con­tin­ued to change through­out the pe­riod he’s been ped­alling it, which is why, to date, the car has worn more colours than you have fin­gers, with aes­thetic el­e­ments com­ing and go­ing — and we won’t even at­tempt to list how many sets of badass wheels this thing has sat on in the past. And then there is the F20C, which is well worth its weight in nat­u­rally aspirated form, but Matt has taken things a step futher and is now on to his fourth boosted set-up!

To­day, the S2K makes use of sub­tle aero pieces and a su­per­low ride height that come to­gether to form a sleek high­way racer that would look at home within the Mid Night Club. The wide­body it­self started life as a Cir­cuit Garage unit that was handed over to GT Refin­ish­ers to work its magic. This saw the bolt-on styling re­moved and the over­all thick­ness shaved down to cre­ate a co­he­sive shape that worked in with the car’s fac­tory body lines. The re­sult is a se­ri­ous amount of width that smoothly blends into the car’s pro­file, ac­cent­ing the ex­ist­ing lines and swal­low­ing the mas­sive 18x10-inch (-1) and 18x11.5-inch (-8) SSR SP3s wrapped in Nitto Invo rub­ber, which beefs things up — es­pe­cially in the arse end; Kim K who?

Cus­tom bumper caps flow that width down into the AP2 (facelift) front and rear bumpers, with a gag­gle of car­bon-fi­bre pieces in the mix. Colour choice has never been Matt’s strong suit, so, when it came time for the paint­work, he was un­sure in which di­rec­tion to head, telling us, “I wanted some­thing I would still en­joy 10 years from now and not want to tear up, so my ini­tial thought was a char­coal grey. I told Grant at GT [Refin­ish­ers], and he looked at me and said, ‘Why do all this work only to paint it some­thing so bor­ing?’.” The re­sult was a cus­tom Mk6 Golf car­bon steel grey with green tones that pops un­der sun­light — laid down by Ben at GT.

Should Matt ever de­cide to build a drag car out of his S2000, the rear arches are huge and could eas­ily fit 13-inch­wide wheels without the need for tubs

That colour ex­tends into the en­gine bay, too, which is where you’ll find the real party-starter: the un­opened boosted F20C, with its pre­vi­ously men­tioned eighth boost set-up, a Gar­rett GT3582R snail sit­ting atop a cus­tom front-mount Sinco man­i­fold. A set of In­jec­tor Dy­nam­ics 1000cc in­jec­tors pro­vides fresh 98, while spark is boosted by a D1 Spec ig­ni­tion boost sys­tem, and an AEM Se­ries 2 ECU takes care of the man­age­ment side of the equa­tion. Be­sides the chrome-plated in­take man­i­fold and cus­tom stain­less turbo-back ex­haust by BNR En­gi­neer­ing, there isn’t much else to it — which makes how fast this thing moves out even more im­pres­sive. Spin­ning up the dyno at 326kW and crank­ing 280Nm on 10psi in a chas­sis this nim­ble is some­thing else, but the se­cret weapon is re­ally how big the power band is.

Whereas some cars only start to spool at 4000rpm on­wards and top­ple off at around the 7000rpm mark, this bad boy comes on boost by 3500rpm, with a twin-hit of VTEC at 5500rpm, and revs right out to 8800rpm, with no top­ple! Trust us, it makes for hit­ting those lose-your-li­cence speeds in the blink of a god­damn eye.

And while the fac­tory driveline is hailed for be­ing par­tic­u­larly re­li­able, with that kind of power be­ing sent, and want­ing to put it to the ground prop­erly, Matt has re­built the six-speed box with a PAR En­gi­neer­ing straight-cut dog-en­gage­ment gear set and opted to switch out the fac­tory limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial (LSD) for an R33 GT-R V-spec ex­am­ple. There’re kits avail­able out of the states, as Matt ex­plains, but, with the un­knowns sur­round­ing USand Jap-spec cars and no straight an­swer from man­u­fac­tur­ers, it wasn’t worth the in­vest­ment to get one here only to dis­cover it wouldn’t work. So, in­stead, BNR En­gi­neer­ing was called on to fab­ri­cate cus­tom diff mounts and un­der­take a bit of axle wiz­ardry to make bil­let shafts splined to suit OEM S2000 hubs on the outer and R33 CVs on the in­ner.

“I have had ex­pe­ri­ences with [the] ma­jor­ity of other makes and mod­els, and have a huge ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing ability of Honda, but never have I found one sin­gle car that ticked as many boxes as this,” says Matt. “Most of all, it has the most nat­u­ral han­dling of any other car I have driven be­fore.”

That han­dling comes in part due to the S2000’s unique X-bone chas­sis de­sign, which brings the front two rails to the cen­tre as one solid beam that runs down the tun­nel be­fore open­ing back out at the rear, all the while braced by an ad­di­tional two sill rails. It was a de­sign de­ci­sion per­haps to counter the fact that there’s no roof to pro­vide tor­sional strength; re­gard­less of the rea­son, it works, and Matt made sure to re­tain that feel­ing when achiev­ing that slammed ride height. While, for many years, it was rid­ing static, the S2000 floats on air these days, cour­tesy of BC Gold coilovers that have been fit­ted with airbags, which are con­trolled by Air Lift Per­for­mance 3P man­age­ment.

So now, re­gard­less of what pre­con­ceived no­tions the per­son on the ask­ing end of that ques­tion we men­tioned at the start may have, when Matt an­swers that he drives a Honda S2000 and points out­side to where it’s parked, you know that they’re go­ing to be im­pressed. The com­bi­na­tion does noth­ing aes­thet­i­cally to dis­tract away from what it is, em­brac­ing the low, long, and wide ethos, with the ex­e­cu­tion rem­i­nis­cent of fac­tory fit­ment, topped off with the power and re­sponse ex­pected from a true high­way run­ner. This is ex­actly how to S2000.

How does a power band of boost from 3500rpm right out to 8800rpm with a twin-hit of VTEC at 5500rpm sound? Yeah, pretty damn good

HEART EN­GINE: Honda F20C, 1997cc, straight-four BLOCK: Fac­tory HEAD: Fac­tory IN­TAKE: Chrome-plated in­take man­i­fold with ther­mal gas­ket, Fenix in­ter­cooler EX­HAUST: Cus­tom stain­less sys­tem by BNR En­gi­neer­ing, heat-coated down­pipe, Varex wire­less...

SUP­PORT STRUTS: BC Gold with airbag con­ver­sion BRAKES: Fac­tory calipers, End­less curved E-slit heat-treated rac­ing ro­tors, End­less rac­ing pads, End­less stain­less lines and flu­ids EX­TRA: Air Lift Per­for­mance 3P man­age­ment; Hardrace and Megan Rac­ing rear...

FRAME VW BEE­TLE

PAINT: Re­sprayed in car­bon steel grey by GT Refin­ish­ers EN­HANCE­MENTS: Mod­i­fied Cir­cuit Garage wide­body guards, cus­tom front bumper caps, AP2 front bumper, AP2 rear bumper, JDP En­gi­neer­ing car­bon-fi­bre boot spoiler, JDP En­gi­neer­ing car­bon-fi­bre boot...

DRIVER PRO­FILE DRIVER/OWNER: Matthew Holt AGE: 24 LO­CA­TION: Auck­land OC­CU­PA­TION: Di­rec­tor of Au­tostance BUILD TIME: Four years; cur­rent form: six months LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Four years THANKS: Au­tostance, GT Refin­ish­ers, BNR En­gi­neer­ing, Jtune...

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