The S2000 has been around for what...20 years now?! It was a car that enthusiasts loved, but after a peak in its lifecycle in 2002, sales gradually declined until Honda pulled the plug in 2009. Despite the sports car lacking the financial success Honda hoped for, it garnered huge fandom among tuners and track goers and, over the last two decades you can easily find a modified S2000 at literally every car show 'n road course from California to New England. With so many examples built and modified over the years, you'd think it would be something we'd get sick of at Super Street. Quite honestly, it's still one of the sharpest looking Japanese coupes in history, driving enthusiasts still rave about its handling and performance, and owners old and new are still finding ways to make them unique and stylish in today's modern day car world, just like Daniel Medrano and his AP1.
We invited Dan's S2000 to our 2020 Toyo Tires calendar shoot where you might've snuck a peak at his ride. What we like about his AP1 is that it's not over the top. He's focused on using his own recipe to create an S2000 that's fresh to the community without painting it some eye-searing color. It's tasteful, it's purposeful, it's clean, and it's our pleasure to share his car in all of its glory with you today.
Where is home and what do you do for a living?
My roots are in the land where you can find good Korean barbecue, dim sum, street tacos and everything in between—Los Angeles. When I'm not working on my car, I operate as an Aquatics Specialists for the City of El Segundo.
Sounds like a very important job. So, how'd you get into modifying cars?
Growing up, I was surrounded by cars due to my father's passion for old school hot rods from Chevy Chevelles to classic '70s Japanese cars. Specifically, his old '71 Datsun 510 paved the way. Ever since then, I have been hooked.
What were some of your previous project cars?
I've always had the mentality of buying a second-hand car that I'd be able to modify instead of buying a new car that would see little to no modifications. When the Fast and Furious came out, it enhanced my desire for a Japanese two-door, rear-wheel-drive car of my own mainly because of the drift scenes from Tokyo Drift. Searching for what I could afford at the time, I stumbled upon a 2004 Nissan 350Z. Within a year and a half, I had done the basics including an exhaust, springs, and Volk Racing wheels. After my second year, the car didn't seem to please me anymore. I sold the Z and was on the hunt for another two-door Japanese sports car.
What prompted you to get an S2000 next?
I originally found out about the ever-so-glorious S2000 from multiple magazines and the second movie from the Fast & Furious franchise. It was everything I was looking for with the reliability from, well, a Honda. It was rear-wheel-drive and had a timeless design that made me instantly fall in love with it. It was also significantly lighter than my 350Z and had a variety of parts available for it in the aftermarket world. I found a clean title AP1 and after keeping it mainly stock for about two years, it was time to start modifying it.
What'd you do first?
Scrolling through a huge list of aftermarket parts and running around like a headless chicken, I didn't know which ones were the best. Little by little, I built the car starting with wheels, exhaust and some Spoon fenders, along with a poor paint job in 2014. The car had great balance despite lacking power and torque. After meeting up with more awesome car owners through shows and viewing different builds on the internet, I was inspired to revise the design again. So, in 2015, I decided to create something much better, which is what you see here today.
There are thousands of different modified S2000s around the world, but which one inspired you the most?
Many of them from J's Racing, Touge Monster, and ASM Yokohama, but my all-time favorite is Arvou's Kimodori S2000. Like the Kimodori S2000, I wanted to have a purpose-built car which not only retains its reliability and functionality, but also was ready for the track or any car show.
So, what makes your aero so unique?
I didn't follow the conventional route of choosing only one shop to make my body kit. Instead, I picked parts from multiple shops that would make the car flow smoothly as if it came from one. After many attempts, I achieved one of the best-looking body kits I've ever seen. To my knowledge, the first of its kind in North America.
And the hardest thing to get?
Knowing so little on the Car Garage Amis kit, I had a hard time gathering information on it besides a few photos here and there throughout Yahoo Japan and Narita Dogfight. This left me with multiple questions in terms of wheels and wheel sizes, fitment issues, etc. There was so little info on the kit that multiple reputable shops never heard of Car Garage Amis and were left clueless as to what I was looking for. I once questioned myself about changing my decision and going with a safer route, but I didn't want to have this car be another commonly spec'd S2000. After multiple emails going back and forth with the actual designers and owners of Car Garage Amis in Osaka, the owner Matsuura-san was able to find a distributor for me and I placed an order through Bulletproof Automotive. All my researching made this specific kit my crown jewel, my peanut butter to my jelly, the Mona Lisa to my car, and it's the first S2000 in North America with it. After getting the kit, I didn't want to follow the same pathway of having fenders with rivets and bolts. I made things much more complicated for myself by molding on the entire kit, from the side skirt all the way through the rear quarter panels. This process of sourcing and funding the entire build lasted around three years.
What's next for your S2000? We noticed there isn't a lot of engine upgrades. Was this intentional?
All the hard work eventually paid off in the end and I couldn't be happier with the results. The only thing left is to run ITBs to retain the naturally aspirated nature of the car and potentially upgrade its displacement size to 2.6-liters, but that's later down the road for me. As of right now, I will to continue enjoying it as it is!