From the Editors of Honda Tuning: At the beginning of the month, a 2008 Honda S2000 CR fetched a record $80k-plus in a Bring A Trailer auction, and like a lot of people we were gobsmacked. Not ones to necessarily stay on top of going rates for used cars (unless we're actually in the market ourselves), we hadn't realized how much the beloved discontinued roadster was bringing in these days, and while the one we reported on was unique (the car was originally retained by and kept in American Honda's collection), the news was still eye-opening. With the story still fresh in our brains, we decided now might be an ideal time to dig into the S2k marketplace and see what AP1 and AP2 shoppers might expect if they're to go car hunting.
What car enthusiast doesn't love a small, two-seat roadster with a manual gearbox and a high-revving dual overhead cam engine? For those reasons and many others, Honda's S2000 sports car, launched for the 2000 model year, became an instant hit. Honda sold more than 66,000 of the nearly 111,000-unit global production run in the U.S. before it discontinued the model at the end of 2009. That's a lot of cars, but the best examples today nab far more than their original MSRP.
First series "AP1" cars (so called for the first three digits in the VIN's vehicle descriptor number) were produced from 2000 to 2003 and had a 240-hp, 153-lb-ft 2.0-liter VTEC inline-four that revved to 9,000 rpm. The second series "AP2" cars ran from 2004 to 2009 and traded a longer piston stroke for increased displacement (2.2 liters) and a lower 8,200-rpm redline, along with cosmetic changes inside and out and slightly less aggressive suspension tuning. All the while, the S2000 toed an affordable mid-$30,000 price point between the far less powerful Mazda Miata and the far more expensive Porsche Boxster. The last 2008-09 Club Racer (CR) models were the S2000's swan song, with just 699 produced. For an extra $2,000 more than the standard car, buyers got a removable hard top swapped in for the soft top, a tonneau cover with fairings, wider rear tires, extra body bracing, a large rear spoiler, front splitters, and deleted air conditioning and stereo (both could be added for $1,000).
To get a better understanding of the Honda S2000 market, we spoke with Sterling Sackey, a millennial-age, Southern California-based collector-car broker who specializes in Japanese neo-classics and Porsche GT cars; he's the original owner of a formerly daily driven 2009 S2000 that now has nearly 70,000 miles.
RJ: Is there any difference in value between the early AP1 and later AP2 S2000s?
Sterling Sackey: In the U.S., around 55 percent of S2000s are AP1s, and 45 percent are AP2s, so any price differences there aren't really based on production numbers. AP1s used to be cheaper than AP2s, but in the past year or so prices have become fairly similar for both, miles-for-miles and condition-for-condition. The biggest factors on price now are condition, history, lack of [corrective] paintwork, paperwork [original window sticker, etc.], low ownership numbers, etc. In other words, buyers are starting to treat them more like classic cars in how they buy.
Are there any particularly desirable years across the range?
For AP1, 2002-03 cars are preferred, as they came with a glass soft-top window and [as of mid-2002] updated oil banjo bolts, which increases engine longevity in hard use. For AP2, 2004-05 cars have some appeal due to being the final cars without drive-by-wire or stability control. The 2008-09 cars have major appeal for being end-of-run, fairly rare, and the most updated look.
What's the going price for a collector-grade S2000 currently?
Examples that would make a collector-type happy will sell for between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on miles. Some ultra-low-mile examples (sub-10,000) can break $30,000 if very well presented, and delivery miles or close to it cars have sold for as much as $50,000-plus in rare cases. Driver-quality cars can be $15,000 to $20,000, and below $15,000 these cars generally have some history issues or very high miles.
What about the Club Racer (CR) models?
S2000 CRs, like-for-like condition and mileage, generally sell for about double what a normal S2000 will. Of the 699 produced, Berlina Black is the most common and sells for a bit less than the other three colors. Rio Yellow Pearl and Apex Blue Pearl sell fairly similarly to one another, and Grand Prix White is the holy grail for some, at only 90 cars produced. The CR could be had in standard trim [now known as "Delete"] or with [optional] A/C-Radio. The vast majority of CRs (around 90 percent) were delivered with A/C-Radio, so the Delete cars are very rare and special, in my opinion, as they exemplify the CR in its originally intended, stripped-out form.
Are there any desirable options to look out for on standard cars?
For 2000-07, there really weren't any options other than colors; just dealer accessories such as front lip, rear spoiler, and the factory hard top. The OEM hardtop, in particular, was not that popular when new, but now they command huge money: as much as $5,000.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for the S2000 market? Will values continue to rise?
I think the standard cars will slowly continue to rise over time along with inflation and increased interest as a modern classic. Because they made so many of them, I don't think there's going to be any huge spike in value. Many of these were bought as weekend cars, so there are a lot of nice ones hiding out in people's garages. The CRs are a different story. It will take a bit of time for them to surpass Acura Integra Type R numbers, but they will. [Compared to the Integra], S2000 production numbers are lower, they have more power, and they're rear-wheel drive. Ultimately, I think they'll be valued between the Integra Type R and the rare Acura NSX Zanardi Edition.
What has caused a fairly modern, series-production Honda to become so collectible?
I think as the auto industry moves further away from lightweight, simple, naturally aspirated, high-revving, manual-transmission sports cars, buyers are realizing how great the S2000 was for its time and still is today. It's rare to see what is a regular production car go up in value so quickly, and I think that's because the S2000 offers not only a "classic" or collector experience for some serious Japanese car fans but also a legitimate alternative to what's on the market in terms of new sports cars.
What does your "holy grail" S2000 look like?
For me, it would be an S2000 CR Delete in Grand Prix White. Only eight were produced in that color and configuration. I sold one of them in 2017 and might never see another in person again.
Who do you primarily see buying these cars?
Millennials are the ones who want them the most. I see quite a few S2000 guys who eventually graduate into Porsche GT cars; that seems to be a very common trend, and it makes sense given the comparisons on paper of what the cars offer. At a more similar price point, owners are also shopping the new Civic Type R and the usual rivals to that car. I also see many people who have owned two, three of them and now they have more money, so they want a perfect one.
For more on Sterling Sackey: SterlingSackey.com