S2000: The Driver’s Car for Those Who Live for Track Day
Is the S2000 right for you? Fitment Industries takes you through the story of Honda’s finest track-day roadster ever.
From the end of the 1990s to the end of the first decade of the new millennium, one car made life truly worth living: the S2000. One of Honda’s greatest hits, the roadster made track days a blast, and looked good doing it while earning more than its share of fans back in the day.
But what if you or someone you know are new to the S2000 party? Are you curious as to why you should bring home one of Honda’s greatest machines of all time? Perhaps this overview from Fitment Industries’ marketing director Alex Rodriguez can help persuade you to join the rest of us in S2K Land.
“It was 1999, and everyone was on the brink of insanity worrying about if the world was going to end,” Rodriguez says. “Y2K was in full force, the New Year was going to hit… and Honda was over there, and they were like, ‘Hey! You know what we should do just before the world ends? Let’s just make a roadster.’ And they did. And thus, the S2000 was born to actually celebrate Honda’s 50th birthday.”
Though Rodriguez says the S2000 arrived with a 2.2-liter inline-four, that mill would be found in the AP2 era of the roadster, beginning with the 2004 model year. The AP1 era instead kicked things off with a 2.0-liter inline-four mated to a six-speed manual, which made 237 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque to the rear 17-inch wheels.
According to Rodriguez, the S2000 appealed to those who “wanted something a little bit more than what the [Mazda] Miata offered,” but couldn’t afford roadsters from BMW and so on. For those who did buy an S2000, they found “a great driving machine without paying that luxury price tag.”
“Contrary to popular belief, the S2000 wasn’t put on the market to compete with the Miata,” said Rodriguez. “Once people started buying these cars and modifying them, they started to realize that, ‘Hey! This is actually really cool!’ The S2000 is a roadster that wasn’t built just for Sunday drives, it was built to be driven and driven hard.”
He adds that the S2000 was at its happiest when in the higher RPM band, and was an overall great driver’s car with a wonderful interior to match. In short, the roadster didn’t compete against the Miata, but was the Mazda’s “angsty older brother that hated everyone.”
“As the S2000s hit the market in terms of the modification community, it didn’t really take a long time for them to start getting modified,” said Rodriguez, “because it was a Honda. Hondas have the largest platform when it came down to people wanting to modify their cars.”
However, while the 2.0- and 2.2-liter motors received plenty of love from the aftermarket at the time, the stock rear diffs “were absolutely made of glass,” and that parts back then were pricey. However, as Rodriguez notes, modified S2000s can be had “for a fraction of the cost” while remaining “an absolute blast to drive.”
“The sad ending to the story of the S2000 is that there wasn’t any sort of replacement once it went off of the market,” said Rodriguez. “The closest you could probably find today would be an FRS, a BRZ, an 86, Z4, or, if you really just wanted to live life on the edge, a Porsche Boxster. A lot of people ended up moving out of the market once they had it for a couple of years because you get a lot of the same power and a lot of the same fun out of an STi or a Mustang or something like that.”
Rodriguez adds that the fandom surrounding the S2000 is smaller now than it was even five years before. On the modification front, most owners drop in a turbo, throw on a hardtop or a widebody kit, and wind up with a “pretty nifty looking S2000 that people are willing to pay a lot of money for because they’re an S2000.”
As for owning an S2000, Rodriguez says it simply comes down to budget. From there, it’s a choice of going to the S2000 party, or heading off in a similar Nissan or BMW model.
Of course, you’ll have a great time behind the wheel of an S2000, especially when you’re paying 2019 Civic prices for one, as Autotrader demonstrates.