STROKED AND BOOSTED 2.4 S2000
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