Speed Bumps: A New Owner’s Rough Start

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Two cylinders. The third had died as I passed through the tollbooth, frantic to escape the freeway traffic with which I could no longer keep pace. Two clattering cylinders, just enough to limp into the first parking lot in sight, a rather dismal motel; any port in a storm. With a sinking heart and a rising urge to vomit, I called my father. He did his best to reassure me; only the news that there was a Honda dealer less than two miles distant provided the slightest relief.

The dealership was tiny, a single row of Civics beneath the weather-beaten blue facade. I handed the car over to the service tech, tossed my backpack on the floor of the waiting room, bedded down on it and was asleep in seconds.

Three days earlier I had been on top of the world. I had found my dream car; four hours’ drive across Pennsylvania in a blinding rainstorm and twelve thousand dollars in an envelope had secured it. The blitz from Allentown to upstate New York, chasing my father and his Sky, had been riotous; the reactions of my friends and family when I arrived, hilarious; and the top-down sunset drive with someone special, eternally memorable. That night I snuck out over and over to go stare at it, smoldering incandescent yellow under dim suburban streetlights. It was, in a very real sense, too good to last.

The next day was a cascade of bad news. An early morning state inspection revealed a swapped motor. As if it knew it had been discovered, it immediately started acting up – misfiring, refusing to idle, and spitting smoke on turnover. $300 in fluids and plugs and an all-night engine bay teardown in a friend’s garage seemed to cure it… until I reached my driveway again. I was due to return to Pittsburgh before my last final exam in just over thirty hours, so I resolved to head out after two hours of sleep and worry about it the next week when I was once again in New York.

I made it fifty miles before one cylinder quit altogether. This preceded the alarming revelation that S2000s cannot maintain 75 mph on three cylinders. I made it to the next exit in a swarm of honking and swerving minivans, and that was when the second cylinder failed.

I was woken from my nap by what seemed to me to be an unjustifiably cheerful Honda technician. As I rummaged in my bag for another energy drink, he held up a half-melted tangle of cheap wire and electrical tape.

“This was your fuel harness.”

All I could manage was a dazed “Oh,” and then with great trepidation, “How much?”

“We had an extra lying around. We don’t get S2000s in here much, so call it $40 for labor.”

I mumbled thanks over and over as I paid. The forty yards out to my car seemed to take an eternity, almost dreading seeing it again, fearing that another fault would appear the second I turned the key.

The service technicians had washed it. It sat in the very center of the tiny front lot, and in that moment it could have been brand new. I smiled for the first time in days, and wondered at the kindness of strangers.

The remainder of my journey passed in a blur of freeway miles and angry VTEC noises. The descent into Pittsburgh coincided with the onset of heavy clouds, plans for a top-down arrival dashed by the first spatters of rain. Nevertheless, as I pulled into the parking garage it once again seemed that all was right with the world.

I should have paid more attention to the increasing intractability of the clutch pedal…

Do you have a turbulent relationship with your S2000? Do you love it anyway? Share your stories below.

Photo courtesy of petroblog

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