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2002 Honda S2000 Hardtop

Old 08-02-2006, 09:25 PM
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2002 Honda S2000 Hardtop



Five years ago the Honda S2000 came onto the scene and revitalized the affordable sports car. It offered a strong dose of driving excitement, world-class handling, and the highest revving engine you could buy, all for around $30,000. Other cars would follow, like the Nissan 350Z and Mazda RX-8, but none can quite offer the driving experience that the S2000 does.

Owners of the S2000 are therefore a unique breed. The handling characteristics, feel of the road, and open top driving have priority over luxury accommodations, conveniences, and a cushy ride. While many owners will like their car just how it is, many want to enhance the experience that the S2000 already offers. This particular car is just one example of how an owner has customized the S2000 to his specific tastes.

One of the greatest attributes of the S2000 is the sound that comes out of the dual exhaust when the throttle is pressed to the floor and the VTEC has kicked in. While the sound may be just right for some, there are a variety of exhausts that provide not only a different sound but can also increase performance. Mugen is one of the industry leaders in performance parts for Hondas, and offers an excellent exhaust system for the S2000. While it doesn't necessarily offer the most horsepower increase (3-4 bhp), that power comes where the S2000 needs it in the lower and mid rpm ranges. One of the biggest benefits is the weight of the system - approximately 30 lbs lighter than the stock exhaust.

In addition to the exhaust system, the stock header has also been replaced by a Mugen unit. It was also developed specifically to add horsepower and torque to the lower end of the rpm range. The extra 12 bhp and 11 lb-ft torque measured on the dyno can be especially helpful in giving the engine some extra pull during less-than-aggressive driving when the car stays in the lower rpm's. Perhaps more importantly, it also maintains the OEM look that is important to certain owners. Some may want to have their modifications stand out, but Mugen offers parts that look almost as if they have come straight from the fractory. Rounding off the list of horsepower-enhancing modifications is the intake system from PRM Racing. The aftermarket intake greatly increases throttle response to allow the driver to reach the desired RPM range, and also helps unleash a more aggressive engine sound that is hidden by the stock intake.

To further complement the addition of more horsepower and torque at lower rpm's, a new ring and pinion gear set with a 4.44 final drive replaced the stock gears with a ratio of 4.10. The more aggressive gear ratio helps the engine put more useable power down at lower rpm's, and midrange acceleration is also improved. Even more aggressive ratios are available - 4.57, 4.77, and 5.10, but they take away from comfortably driving the car at freeway speeds.


With the lack of low end power taken care of, the suspension was next on the agenda. The track-tuned suspension the S2000 installed by Honda received praise from media and owners alike, and it's one of the few cars that go from the road to the track without much problem. However, owners who consistently use their car on the track or who want a sportier ride might consider the Buddy Club 16-way adjustable coilovers installed on this car. Owners can make adjustments to the suspension to suit their handling preferences or to counter over/under steer due to different sizes of tires. Other suspension modifications on the car include a lower chassis cross-brace and shock tower bar.

For 2004, new 17-inch wheels and tires were added as standard equipment, but the 2000-2003 models had to make do with 16-inch alloys. Many owners aren't satisfied with the relatively small size and want something larger. For this particular car, 18-inch Volk CE28N wheels with anodized bronze spokes and a polished bronze lip accent the color of the car and provide a more aggressive appearance. Despite being larger than the stock wheels, they are also lighter and decrease the unsprung weight of the car by 8 lbs.

The standard Bridgestone S02 tires fitted to the S2000 offer a tremendous amount of grip, but most owners find that they have a very short lifespan and need to be replaced every 10,000-15,000 miles. Replacing the Bridgestones are Toyo T1S tires that offer a similar amount of grip and a longer tread life.

While the convertible aspect of the S2000 is what might appeal to some owners, Honda does offer a hardtop for those owners who want to keep their S2000 covered with more than just the convertible top. Because it's straight from Honda, the hardtop fitted on the car is perfectly fitted and allows for a cleaner top-up look. The hardtop also greatly improves visibility compared to the small window on the soft top and offers more sound-deadening for longer cruising. The entire piece weighs just 44 lbs and can be easily fitted to the car with two people via two latches in the front and two swing-arm levers in the rear.


Whether it's turning the S2000 into a weekend track car, or just making the car more useable as a daily driver, owners have many options to customize their car to their personal preference. The owner of this S2000 was able to not only greatly increase the useable power of the engine, but also improve its uses for both the road and track. The use of quality parts from companies like Mugen also helped keep a clean OEM look. Mission accomplished.


































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Old 08-09-2006, 12:56 PM
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