Classic Hondas Revisited: Honda S2000

01/07/2016 12:14

Classic Hondas Revisited: Honda S2000

Classic Hondas Revisited: Honda S2000

This month, we're taking a trip down memory lane to pay homage to one of the most iconic roadsters of all time: the Honda S2000. Over its ten years in production, the effortlessly cool convertible sold almost 111,000 units. Most sales were in the US, Europe, and Japan however the S2000 proved to be popular in all four corners of the globe, exciting motorists everywhere thanks to its gorgeous exteriors, smooth, balanced handling, and high redline.

The S2000 originated in 1995, as a birthday gift from Honda to itself after a massive 50 years in business. The S2000 came screeching onto the scene in concept-car form at the Tokyo Motor Show, then titled ‘Honda Sport Study Model’, or ‘SMM’. The prototype was a rear-wheel-drive roadster running on a 2.0 L (122 cu in) inline 4-cylinder engine. This wasn’t the first version of the car to be developed, however. After reviewing the first S2000 model, Soichiro Honda himself declared that Honda could, and would, do better. So they did. For several years after its appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda hinted repeatedly at a production model. The announcement that the car would finally hit the production line was finally made in 1999, generating a huge amount of excitement in the motoring industry.

The first generation S2000 rolled out of factories in 2000, featuring a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive design. The car’s power was generated by a 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine, producing a maximum of 247bhp with 161 lbfft of torque. The max output was altered depending on the target market. With the S2000, Honda announced they had achieved "the world's top level, high performance 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine". The engine was utterly unique at the time, generating 9000 rpm.

The S2000 was released to critical acclaim, with reviewers praising its rawness, and the sharp, thrilling driving experience it presented. It’s a testament to the joyous driving experience of the S2000 that long term owners of the car often claim that, after a long duration of owning the roadster, every other sports car feels softer, and the handling more rubbery in comparison.

The second generation, known in Europe as the AP1 Facelift, was released in 2004, and the S2000 was transformed – all with the aim of providing a better driving experience. The wheels were resized, the suspension was re-tuned to reduce oversteering, and countless more tweaks and tinkerings were put in place, in true Honda style, to fine-tune the second generation S2000 to perfection. Cosmetic changes to the newer model included new front and rear bumpers, re-imagined headlights, and LED tail-lights.

In the subsequent 5 years, a series of trims were released for differing markets. The USA got the Club Racer, which was track orientated. The CR was reduced weight, had fewer extras, and increased performance. This trim is one of the most revered, with only 699 ever made, and only sold across the pond. While the engine power remains the same as the normal car, the CR’s vastly reduced weight and massive rear wing to reduce lift means that it performed fantastically on the track. In Blighty, we were gifted the GT, with the trim hitting showrooms in 2009. This trim featured an outside temperature gauge and a removable hard-top.

If you’re hankering after an S2000, now is a great time to look into buying one. Recently, the car’s value has been rising, although it still remains remarkably affordable. A new S2000 has been rumoured to be gracing our roads in 2018, and several publications have begun to run features on it already. With a new model on the way, desire for the originals is sure to go through the roof. Best to get your hands on one now!

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