SUCKER PUNCH

STROKED AND BOOSTED 2.4 S2000

NZ Performance Car - - News - WORDS: JADEN MARTIN PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

IG­NOR­ING ALL IN­STINC­TIVE WARN­ING SIGNS AND BUILD­ING A CAR SO FAR OUT OF LEFT FIELD, AND SO FAR FROM WHAT YOU’VE AL­WAYS KNOWN, USU­ALLY ENDS IN ONE OF TWO WAYS: A FIRE­BALL OF DE­STRUC­TION, OR, IN THE CASE OF TIM RICK­ETTS’ S2000, ONE SE­RI­OUSLY FAST SUCKER PUNCH OF BOOSTED GOOD­NESS

Hu­mans are crea­tures of habit. There’s that pri­mal in­stinct locked deep in­side our brains con­stantly urg­ing our con­scious­ness to stick with what we know, plead­ing not to risk our sur­vival, scream­ing that there’s safety only in fa­mil­iar­ity. It’s rarely es­caped, and it isn’t hard to see that ex­act phe­nom­e­non in ac­tion when it comes to most peo­ple’s car-own­er­ship records, whether it’s as spe­cific as only ever own­ing mul­ti­ple ex­am­ples of the same model be­cause that’s what you’ve learned in­side out from a young age, or as sim­ple as ex­clu­sively driv­ing front-wheel drives be­cause you’ve never known any dif­fer­ent. So, when some­one breaks a habit to go against ev­ery­thing they’ve known pre­vi­ously and ven­ture into un­charted ter­ri­tory, things can get pretty loose in­side their head, and what that frame of mind man­ages to cre­ate as a re­sult is al­most al­ways even looser.

Tim Rick­etts knows this all first-hand and wasted no time in telling us that go­ing from nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated (NA) front-wheel drives to a 320kW pro­duc­ing turbo rear-wheel-drive husser was a shock to the sys­tem. “Be­fore cars, I used to kick about skate­board­ing; that was my hobby, and that changed when I got my first car — a GT Star­let — and from then it was mainly front-wheel-drive Hon­das. I’ve never re­ally had any Nis­sans or stuff like that.”

While the US-mar­ket F22C of­fered up the same power level as its lower ca­pac­ity brother (F20C), torque fig­ures were bumped up by the truck­load, and, with Tim’s ex­am­ple crammed with a Brian Crower 2.4-stro­ker, it was a solid base on which to slap a turbo and pump out 320kW and 400Nm of torque!

“I ended up with an EK Civic that had been H22 swapped, which was pretty quick. Ev­ery­thing had been front-wheel drive and low power, but I’d al­ways been in­ter­ested in own­ing an S2000. De­spite what I knew, they were stuck in my mem­ory after see­ing a bright yel­low one when I was about eight years old. So, I waited for the price to come down be­fore get­ting my hands on this one.”

Although it would come as an un­wel­come sur­prise to Tim that the S2K was ac­tu­ally slower in stock (NA) form than his pre­vi­ous EK, he quickly learned that, while it lacked raw power, this for­eign rear-wheel-drive plat­form de­manded an en­tirely dif­fer­ent form of driv­ing to what he was used to — and it kept things in­ter­est­ing. “When I first drove the S2000, I spun it out a few times get­ting used to the rear-wheel-drive plat­form. It had Yoko­hama semis on it, and, be­ing young, I took a few cor­ners harder than I should have — and in the wet. It was slid­ing around ev­ery­where,” he re­mem­bers.

Es­sen­tially a bone-stock ex­am­ple, all that the S2000 had to its name was a set of Spoon springs that weren’t help­ing much in the way of han­dling and were quickly ditched in favour of BC Gold coilovers, aid­ing in adding a se­ri­ous amount of stiff­ness and cor­rect­ing the nig­gly body roll. And, to squeeze a few more ponies out of the F20C, Tim opted for the ad­di­tion of a car­bon in­take and ex­haust to al­low more flow in and bet­ter flow out.

How­ever, the NA life would be short-lived thanks to the temp­ta­tions of a par­tially built F22C — found fac­tory-fit­ted to the S2K’s US brethren — ap­pear­ing for sale on Tim’s news feed. The value for money proved far too tempt­ing for him to re­sist, and it wasn’t long be­fore the two-litre was be­ing ripped out of the en­gine bay in an­tic­i­pa­tion of his new pack­age’s ar­rival. But why was he so ex­cited about a slight in­crease in ca­pac­ity, you ask? Well, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Honda big block — nope, the sleeved bot­tom end had been packed with a Brian Crower 2.4-litre stro­ker kit and had a turbo man­i­fold hang­ing off its ported-and-pol­ished head. No doubt pre­sent­ing it­self as the per­fect mar­riage of ca­pac­ity, VTEC, and boost all rolled into one tidy pack­age for Tim,

he was champ­ing at the bit to ex­pe­ri­ence the plea­sures of forced in­duc­tion crossed with VTEC in his newly ac­quired rear-wheel-drive alien, and there wasn’t a chance that he’d let the op­por­tu­nity pass him by.

A quick mis­sion to visit a good mate Ger­rick, who runs Hamil­ton-based fab­ri­ca­tion out­fit LDS Fab, and the new heart was in the bay quicker than the time it takes the GT35 snail that the pair chose for it to spool. Ger­rick would prove an essen­tial player in the build, tasked with count­less cus­tom jobs and stor­age du­ties while Tim was out try­ing to rake in enough dough to keep progress go­ing — and, as he tells us, it never hurts to have a good sec­ond pair of eyes to watch for any­thing that may have been missed.

But, if Tim thought the switch from power be­ing sent front­wards to the rears was a big shake-up, he was about to learn re­ally fast what it’s like to take a solid sucker punch of boost straight to the face and at­tempt to stay stand­ing or in his case point­ing straight ahead: “When the turbo went on, the power in­crease was crazy. I’ll never for­get the first drive — [it was] step­ping out ev­ery­where, even on good tyres. It was a bit of a fright, re­ally … in third gear, you give it some shit, and it’s creep­ing out in­stantly, so try­ing to put the power down full hit felt im­pos­si­ble.”

“I like my sus­pen­sion set quite hard, so [that] when you’re go­ing around cor­ners and re­ally push­ing it, you don’t get heaps of body roll and the car feels planted to the road,” says Tim

Spin­ning up a solid 320kW and 400Nm of torque on just 14.4psi at Te Rapa Au­to­mo­tive, the car had a se­ri­ous amount of go but now lacked the stop­ping power to pull it back up. A set of Wil­wood 4-pot calipers took over these du­ties but, while prov­ing a mas­sive up­grade in the stop­ping depart­ment, caused headaches with wheel clear­ance. That meant Tim say­ing say­onara to the Work CR Kais and hello to the 18x10-inch TBC Jet 6s that pre­vi­ously called Matt Holt’s S2000 home.

Su­per ag­gres­sive in size for the small-framed body, the TBCs re­quired a de­cent amount of cam­ber and panel work to fit as Tim wanted, which was fine by him, as, by his own ad­mis­sion, the body was pretty rough when pur­chased — after a prang, a pre­vi­ous owner had clearly tried their hand at slap­ping pan­els with a ham­mer in the shed. The en­tire car was stripped back to bare metal and plas­tic, smashed back into place by the pros, and treated to a fresh lick of paint.

While far from what Tim once knew, the boosted mo­tor has been in ac­tion for more than two-and-a-half years now and still man­ages to sur­prise him on ev­ery out­ing, al­beit with a lit­tle more con­trol these days. Hav­ing seen its first track shake­down at the re­cent Chrome Ex­pres­sion Ses­sion has only fur­ther ce­mented Tim’s love for boosted rear-wheel-drive plat­forms, es­pe­cially when you mix in that hit of VTEC. While it may have been the pair’s first on-track ven­ture, it def­i­nitely won’t be their last. And we don’t want to give away all his se­crets, but there’s still a few more tricks to be pulled out of the S2K in fu­ture — big­ger and wider tricks — be­fore it next hits the track, ac­cord­ing to Tim.

POWER: 320kW TORQUE: 400Nm BOOST: 14.4psi FUEL TYPE: 98 oc­tane TUNER: Te Rapa Au­to­mo­tive PER­FOR­MANCE

EN­GINE: Honda F24C, 2400cc, four-cylin­der BLOCK: Brian Crower 2.4-litre stro­ker kit, sleeved block, forged pis­tons, forged rods, forged crank, ACL race bear­ings HEAD: Ported and pol­ished IN­TAKE: Fac­tory EX­HAUST: JS Rac­ing cat-back sys­tem TURBO: Gar­rett GT35, LDS Fab man­i­fold WASTE­GATE: TiAL 52mm BOV: HKS SSQV FUEL: In­jec­tor Dy­nam­ics 1000cc fuel in­jec­tors, Wal­bro 500hp (373kW) pump IG­NI­TION: HKS plugs ECU: Hal­tech Pro COOL­ING: Front-mount in­ter­cooler, Skunk2 oil cooler EX­TRA: HKS turbo timer HEART

DRIV­E­LINE SUP­PORT GEAR­BOX: Fac­tory six-speed CLUTCH: Exedy puck FLY­WHEEL: Light­ened DIFF: Fac­tory STRUTS: BC Gold coilovers BRAKES: (F) Wil­wood 4-pot calipers, (R) End­less pads EX­TRA: Hardrace front cam­ber arms

EX­TE­RIOR IN­TE­RIOR PAINT: Reparyed EN­HANCE­MENTS: JS Rac­ing rear dif­fuser and side skirts SEATS: Fac­tory STEER­ING WHEEL: Fac­tory IN­STRU­MEN­TA­TION: Sard boost gauge, GReddy boost con­troller

WHEELS: 18x10-inch TBC Jet 6 TYRES: 225/40R18 NittoSHOES

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