Daily Slideshow: How Drivers Get Into S2000 for the First Time
Sports cars are commonly marketed as cars with luxury and the power to back it up. The S2000 isn't like most cars, though. So what is it that makes people into owners and fans of this viciously uncompromising car?
An Uncompromising Vision
Looking back at the S2000 with the more practicality-minded standards of today, it's sometimes hard to believe that Honda's two-door sparkplug achieved the success that it did. There's never been any contesting the car's quality from a purely technical standpoint; the legendary specs could rank up with supercars at a fraction of the expense, and even the car's detractors usually concede the car's engineering was top-notch.
The S2000's glorious redline was famously cited as beating the leading Ferrari supercar of its day -- and all at a shadow of a Ferrari's expense. While getting a sports car is never going to be totally practical in and of itself, money's always going to play an important factor in purchasing a car. In this, the S2000 cuts a remarkably attractive balance between the money owners put into it and the power they get out. The used market is a newcomer's only bet these days, and the steadily increasing market value of well-maintained models looks like the market has been steadily balancing itself out.
"The Manly Miata?"
Any sports car is going to double-time as a social status symbol for whoever's driving it. While there's nothing inherently masculine or feminine about one car over another, it isn't hard to imagine someone looking at the Mazda Miata (with its reputation for being oh-so-delicate) and opt for the S2000 as a more serious and edgy alternative.
An Ill-Fated Introduction?
For all of the heaven-made matches the S2000 has made with drivers, you don't usually have to look far back before the horror stories start showing up.
Everyone conceivably buys an S2000 because they saw something they liked about it. That doesn't mean everyone necessarily should be driving one, however. Any S2k regular knows that the car's reputation for sharp handling isn't exaggerated; first-time drivers who are caught off guard have been known to drive into ditches (or a neighbor's car) on account of the vicious oversteer.
Word on the forums has it that a newcomer can do themselves a big favor by enrolling in a performance driving course if there's any doubt in the ability to harness the S2k's temperament.
A Lightning Rod for Performance Car Enthusiasts
The S2000's skill requirements made it more of a niche than your typical luxury car, but while most owners will never get the chance to put the car through its full range, the fact that it can is enough.
The S2000 has more than its fair share of devotees when it comes to the hardcore demographic. Automotive nerds and superfans wouldn't be so taken to the S2000 if it didn't have the goods to back it up.
Natural Draw for Modders
For some of these auto enthusiasts, the temptation proves too much to leave an S2k untampered with. In addition to the impressive technical power, the simplicity of the S2k's styling sparks the imagination better than a car loaded with flash from the start. When default specs are this good as well, those with the mechanical know-how can see it as a healthy challenge to make it better.
Jared Floyd was one such case when he became an S2k owner. With his natural knack for machines and an Engineering degree to back it up, it wasn't long before he started tweaking up the car.
Jared was fortunate enough to be around to pick up a 2002 S2000 fresh from the dealership. Jared's modding is particularly noteworthy because he built his very own turbocharger kit for the project. A good fifteen years later, and Jared has still been riding steady with his S2K, which draws in an estimated 345 horsepower and even got showcased on YouTube via the car channel Singular Entity.
As much as we love the car and the community built around it, there's an occasional snobbishness that arises around the S2000 with fans, that is somehow above the typical hot air and bluster of other sports cars and a choice reserved for the truly serious automotive enthusiast. Of course, there are good reasons for feeling this way-- the car is as far-removed from traditional "luxury" as it can reasonably get-- but at the end of the day, this is still a sports car we're talking about. Sports cars ultimately sell because they look and feel cool to drive.
The S2000's streamlined aesthetic reflects the car's "no-frills" attitude, but that simple styling is attractive in itself. The S2000's unassuming appearance lends it the authentic air that often lacks in flashier cars. It's that slick simplicity that drew people in in the first place. Because of this, the S2k design has proved to be one of the best-aging of its era.