When Honda introduced the S2000 in late 1999, enthusiasts were absolutely blown away. Other than the NSX, US residents hadn't seen a rear-wheel-drive platform from the mainly front-wheel-drive automaker in decades. The same could be said for the convertible layout, which, beyond the Del Sol and NSX targa tops (and very early model Honda S600s), were all but non-existent Stateside. Honda's engineers put in overtime when they developed the high-revving F20C power plant, an engine that still holds its own among the top of the horsepower-per-liter battle. A screaming 9,000RPM redline, balanced FR layout, and of course Honda reliability made for one incredibly well built and affordable roadster.
Endowed with so much, some wondered why anyone would tinker with the solid foundation put together by Honda, especially in the early years. When S2000 began hitting the streets, enthusiasts were warned against modifying the potent factory suspension combination, but you know that fell on deaf ears, as S2000 owners knew they had something special. Like any diehard tuner, they wanted to make it better.
Greg Park, one of those said diehards and owner of this 2002 Honda S2000, began making changes almost as quickly as he had taken delivery of the car. Back in 2006, after he'd made countless changes to the car and settled on the look and performance, I had a chance to shoot it in downtown Los Angeles.
To start things off right, the rather thin OEM rollers were ditched in favor of staggered Advan RGIIs and going against what the naysayers were spouting, the car was fitted with Zeal coilovers. A few add-ons under the hood did little more than make noise as the F20C is well known for being a performer right from the factory and doesn't take kindly to bolt-on upgrades. Rather than continue to throw money at minimal gains, Park picked up a centrifugal supercharger and the car was indeed faster than its previous state. However, there was still an issue with the fun factor below the VTEC crossover.
With so much attention put toward the high revving ability of the F-series mill, it's the low-end grunt that seems to suffer, and wanting to rectify this Park got rid of the supercharger and went with a turbo kit from Japanese tuning firm Top Fuel. Finely tuned AEM EMS engine management helped dial in the car and he had the best of both worlds - midrange power and top end pull.
Too much of anything can be bad and Park wanted to make sure his car would safely stop under the pressure of its newfound motivation. A big-ticket purchase in the form of a big brake kit from Project Mu helped insure stopping power. Improving on the look of the car, a GP Sports bumper and lip kit was bolted on, along with a Seibon carbon fiber hood, trunk and hardtop prior to the Top Fuel livery being applied. Inside, the factory red interior lost its original leather seats, replaced by red Bride fixed-back seats. In stark contrast to all of the red is a bright blue Cusco bolt-in roll cage.
With many new platforms, the aftermarket is somewhat hesitant to jump in full force to offer upgrades. The excitement surrounding Honda's roadster brought incredible interest, but when dealing with a car that handles incredibly well, looks good and doesn't see big improvements with typical bolt-ons, some hesitation is expected. However, years later the S2000 aftermarket is overflowing with available product. Much of that can be attributed to early adopters like Greg Park, who helped push the envelope in the salad days of this iconic chassis.
Behind the Build
Greg Park's 2002 Honda S2000
Engine AEM EMS; Top Fuel turbo kit; Blitz intercooler; CP pistons; Cunningham connecting rods; ARP hardware; Exedy clutch, flywheel; Koyo radiator; Samco radiator hoses; SARD radiator cap; ARC coil pack cover; BDL fuel rail; Cusco catch can; Optima battery
Suspension Zeal Function-B6 coilovers; Opak Racing front shock tower bar; Cusco underbody chassis brace
Braking Project Mu big brake kit; Goodridge lines
Wheels/Tires Advan RG II 17x7.5 +43 front, 17x8.5 +48 rear; Yokohama ES100 tires
Exterior GP Sports front bumper, side skirts, rear side bumper valance pieces; Seibon carbon fiber hood, trunk, hardtop
Interior Bride Exas III seats; Willans 4pt harnesses; Cusco roll cage; Blitz gauges; S2000 AP2 steering wheel; Project Mu pedals; complete audio system; Pentium 3 mini PC