The week leading up to this year's Tokyo Auto Salon was an interesting one. Photos from Spoon Sports headquarters surfaced and had many people talking, both good and bad, and in a roundabout way, that was their exact intention.
While I didn't make my way to Japan for the big show, I had three different friends in three different groups headed to TAS, and they'd promised to keep me updated on the interesting finds that week. One of those friends had actually stopped by my office prior to leaving in order to discuss a few things and to give me a sneak peek at the "Open Air Top" concept that Spoon Sports was set to unveil at the event. While the image was only a rough draft, I understood the basic premise but, like many others, I was a little taken back by the design itself: a futuristic mold based around an off-the-wall mix of aluminum and composite surfaces that culminate in razor sharp lines that look to make the topless two-seater a little more slippery while still granting its pilot that classic open-air feel. An added benefit is that it helps to avoid being beaten up by the sun, especially on track days or long trips. And while it is new to the S2000, the idea has been used on Jeeps and Miatas for years, though typically produced in thick fabric rather than a solid composite and aluminum combo.
As expected, the moment photos began surfacing the response was largely negative. Then again, rarely does our community welcome something as wild as Spoon's new top with open arms. Instead, it's met with head shaking, finger pointing, and long-winded explanations about why it won't work, authored by self-proclaimed engineers who take advantage of their online anonymity with quirky names that include "JDM" and profile pics of beginner driver badges. The point here is that I feel that people might be missing the bigger picture. Fact is, Spoon and company president, Mr. Ichishima, are thinking outside of the box in an effort to revitalize interest in a car that, though still very popular amongst enthusiasts, has somewhat leveled off in terms of bringing about new and original aftermarket parts. With the price of a used S2000 roadster coming down significantly since its introduction some 15 years ago, more and more people are buying and modifying them. And with that increase in ownership comes countless clones that are becoming tougher and tougher to distinguish among one another.
Taking a stab at something new and unique is always a gamble, especially for a company like Spoon Sports, which stands at the very top of the Honda aftermarket food chain for many enthusiasts. Most are quick to bash something new, and admittedly, the new "Open Air Top" concept is probably pretty far off of most people's radar, but you have to respect the fact that Spoon is putting true effort into breathing new aftermarket life into one of the most coveted Hondas ever produced.