You won't find the S2000 on the list of cars in dire need of an engine swap. That's because there isn't anything categorically wrong with Honda's twin-cam F-series. It's as good for as much power as your pockets are deep. And the aftermarket's been more than gracious to it. But it'll never in a hundred years be anything at all like Toyota's already turbocharged and ironclad 2JZ-GTE.
For Honda lovers, that last part is about as relevant as you knowing the difference between a yam and a sweet potato. If you live for things like variable valvetrains and anything with a red R tacked onto the end of it, then the 2JZ's cast-iron short-block and indestructible demeanor won't mean much to you. But if you're anything at all like Zack Leitzke, all you're interested in is the most surefire way to a stable 1,250 hp.
Look for 1,000hp gains from any cast-aluminum container of just four pistons and rods and the upgrades list starts rivaling the length of the Old Testament. Do the same for something like the 2JZ and you can just about count off what you'll need on two hands. Go past that four-digit mark, though, and that list just got a whole lot more complicated—no matter what sort of engine you're talking about.
"I've owned my S2000 for 10 years now, and it's gone through more phases than I think any S2000 ever has," Zach says about the car's initial 550hp buildup that soon transcended to 700 hp and then another four F-series blocks before mashing things up with Toyota. Zach, a fabricator by trade and founder of Tacoma, Washington's Under Pressure Racing Development (UPRD), has been getting paid to point the TIG at things like rollcages and intercooler pipes for years, but his time at nearby Speedfactory Racing, in particular, helped shape that S2000. "At that time, the outlaw car was just breaking into the sevens on a more routine basis," Zach says about the company's 200-plus-mph Civic you surely already know of. "While there, I got to learn a lot more about Hondas and drag racing. With the exception of my S2000, I hadn't really worked on many other Hondas."
That statement isn't really something you'd expect after taking a peek at what Zach's come up with, F-series or no F-series. Maybe that's because he's been getting paid to do these sorts of things for more than a decade, and doing it for fun for a whole lot longer than that. You'd almost have to have that sort of experience to pull off the whole 2JZ-into-a-Honda thing.
There's more to all of this than a Supra's inline-six stuffed into a Honda, though. There has to be if 1,250 hp is the goal. So, before Zach created all the engine mounts and other hardware required to drop in a 2J, the build started with things like a Precision 7685 turbo, CP pistons, and Manley rods, and ends with two sets of fuel injectors, half of which are as big as 2,000 cc, all controlled by MoTeC's M150 ECU. It's underneath the hood where most of the money was spent, and when you've got this kind of power, that's entirely OK.
If you think Zach was scheming and planning this build since he first started taking this whole car-modifying thing so seriously some 16 years back, you'd be mostly wrong. "Really, the only reason I wanted this car was [because] it was newer than my 240SX and I wanted it to be faster," he admits. "I made a turbo kit in the first two weeks of owning it; I also blew it up a couple weeks after that."
It's also what led to his day job. "Building this car over the last 10 years—through countless engines and transformations—has cost me an unthinkable amount of money," he wants you to know. "But doing that has taught me how to build custom cars and the steps and processes of which to do so. There is no school to go to learn how to do this type of work or [to prepare for] the challenges we face in the aftermarket industry. With that being said, I don't think I would have a job in this industry without this car."
Zach's been through a long list of engines, turbos, and whatever requisite parts go along with all of that since then, which has all led to one very important thing, albeit nothing the S2000 really ever needed in the first place.