Returning to one's roots can be more than a nostalgic journey. Often, car enthusiasts stick with the brand they originally purchased and slaved over. It makes sense due to the fact that the learning curve, over time, adds immeasurable value. Sometimes people simply become bored and try new types of cars. Then there's always that pesky subconscious longing to venture back into familiar territory. This proved to be true for Greg Lilly of Houston, Texas.
Greg purchased a '95 Civic EX back in 1994. He admits he didn't know what he was in for. He simply chose the car "because it was economical, looked good, and was reliable," he says. After his Honda introduction, he purchased a '98 Integra GSR. He installed a Nitrous Express kit after seeing an advertisement for instant horsepower. Since then he's installed a kit in almost every car he's owned, and managed to forge a longtime friendship with Randal Mathis of Nitrous Express.
After owning a few Subarus, the Honda Gods began working their magic on Greg. He had always wanted an S2000 but could never justify the hefty sticker price. Luckily, Greg's friend Cory was selling a sleek and sexy black AP1 that was outfitted with a long list of parts. The deal was just too sweet to pass up. Greg's sweet tooth chomped down as Cory walked away with 14 large stacks. The S2000 was in great shape, but Greg wanted to make the car his own. "My plans were to rebuild this into something that would represent me," he says. Although he kept a few of the original parts, he modded the convertible into a high-revving, award-winning beast.
Winning awards is very familiar to Greg. He's shown numerous cars over the past twelve years. He's not even sure how many awards he's actually won. "I told myself I'd quit showing at 100...that was a year ago and I'm still in it," he laughs. The trophies and plaques are currently taking up space in his office where he's run Underground Graphics since 2002. "It definitely attracts attention from customers when they walk in," he says. As it should. Greg was able to drop an extra $25,000 into his S2K over two years through the shop's success.
Being a shop owner, Greg is constantly on a pedestal to prove himself worthy. Greg chose to update the exterior and interior to his own tastes. He chose a Seibon carbon-fiber lip amongst other things, and then moved on to audio. Anyone familiar with the S2000 knows the complexity of creating a well-rounded thumping system inside the little roadster. In short, there is no space. Every component, wire, subwoofer, and amplifier must be perfectly selected and placed to maximize sound quality. Greg struggled with this and had to completely redo the original setup.
Greg then moved toward the engine. "I believe a show car must follow a theme of sorts throughout the car and have a well-balanced assortment of modifications, hitting all aspects of the car evenly," he states. Staying true to his mantra, Greg opted for a Comptech supercharger and with additional goodies produced 309 wheel horsepower. If tempted, Greg can add a healthy dose of nitrous oxide and put down an extra 50 wheel horsepower.
That much horsepower in such a vehicle is more intoxicating than any wild drunken college party. Greg remembers the first time he drove his AP1 with the supercharger. "It was sheer bliss, the whine of the supercharger with the blistering revs rapidly approaching 9,000 RPM," he reminisces. Not only does Greg hit 9 grand faster than Manny Pacquiao, he does so with the top down. He receives a lot of flak for not throwing on a hardtop. "I wouldn't have bought the car if it wasn't a convertible. I drive top down 99 percent of the time and wouldn't have it any other way," he says.
Although Greg thoroughly enjoys driving his S2K he doesn't drive it as much as he'd like. The Recaro child seat he let his daughter pick out doesn't fit in the Bride Digo seat. He uses the unique child seat in his Chevy Avalanche when he transports his AP1. Greg's devotion to his wife Michelle and daughter Kayla often leads him to keep his S2000 at his shop. Naturally, he finds time to break away and spend a few moments with his beloved vehicle. A few weeks ago, his wife and kid went to church. He wanted to get away and drive, just himself and the car. He found himself on Beltway 8, a toll road that loops around Houston. "There's a lot of room to open it up, wrap the car out, listen to music, and take in the open air," he says.
Granted, the S2000 chassis is super stiff from the factory; Greg opted for extra rigidity to ensure efficient handling on highways and at auto-X events. He threw in a Cusco 4-point rollcage and added a slew of antiroll bars and braces. He might have actually overdone it. On one of his freeway cruises, he went over a small bump traveling at 90 miles per hour. His passenger mirror shattered and sprayed the cabin with broken glass. "I knew my suspension was firm, but sheesh," he says.
Greg's screaming S2000 is definitely a project worth being proud of. And for Greg, it was all about returning to his roots. "Getting back in it, I felt a bit out at first, but then I found it was as good as it was back in my earlier Honda projects," he says.
Since the photo shoot he has completely redone his audio system for a third time and added some bling and JDM pieces. He's also struggling with the idea of keeping it. He'd like to keep the car to promote his company but isn't quite sure yet. At least he was able to enjoy a trip back to his humble Honda beginnings and toast some Texans in his supercharged laughing-gas-infused S2000. Superbly.
Bolts & Washers
NGK spark plugs
Nitrous Express NXL nitrous oxide kit
Comptech intake piping
Comptech intake filter
Polished intake manifold
Berk Technologies header
Berk Technologies test pipe
HKS dual exhausts
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
Comptech fuel pressure regulator
Inline Pro fuel rail
RC Engineering 550cc fuel injectors
Engine Logics lines and fittings
ACT Stage 3 clutch
Spoon Sports flywheel
Comptech piggyback ECU
Apex'i N1 EXV adjustable coilovers
Tanabe front/rear antiroll bars
Comptech front shock tower bar
Top Speed X brace
Track Time Performance custom alignment
Disc Brakes Australia 4000 front/rear rotors
Hawk HPS pads
ATE Super Blue brake fluid
Techna-Fit steel-braided lines
Rims and rubber:
18x7.5 Volk Racing RE30 (+57 offset) front
18x8.5 Volk Racing RE30 (+47 offset) rear
225/40-18 BF Goodrich KDW front
225/35-18 BF Goodrich KDW rear
Underground Graphics vinyl graphics
Fiber Images carbon-fiber hood
Seibon carbon-fiber front lip
Carbon-fiber side diffusers
Carbon-fiber rear diffuser
Feels rear side fins
VIS carbon-fiber trunk
Veilside carbon-fiber rear lip
Underground Graphics tinted taillights
Rickf,,'s smoked headlight inserts
Rickf,,'s side markers
APR GT carbon-fiber mirrors
Bride Digo seats
Bride seat rails
Cusco 4-point rollcage
Sparco Lap 1 steering wheel
Spoon Sports titanium shift knob
Apex'i VAFC2 VTEC controller
MSD digital RPM switch
Mastergrade carbon-fiber side panels
Max Speed carbon-fiber center console
Carbon-fiber door sills
Alpine 9855 head unit
Focal front speakers
Infiniti Kappa rear speakers
JL Audio 300 watt 4-channel amplifier
JL Audio 8-inch subwoofer
Wife Michelle,Daughter Kayla Tim at BF Goodrich, Amy at MeguiarsRandall at Nitrous ExpressBrad and Chris at Engine LogicsCurt at Track Time PerformanceKC at APR, Paul and Brent at Goodson HondaWally at Gillman SubaruTXIC/Nasioc.com, S2KCA.com, Houston-Imports.com
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Building Hondas For How Long:
Too long to remember
Your Dream Car:
Porsche 911 Turbo
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Greatest Movie Of All Time:
The Cannonball Run
Hondas are great performers, especially those equipped with VTEC. Most enthusiasts slap on an intake, header, exhaust, and call it a day. Then there are those crazy speed freaks that want more power, even beyond a complete naturally-aspirated rebuild. Welcome to the world of forced induction, AKA massive amounts of power…and money. The two types of forced induction are superchargers and turbochargers. Deciding which route to go can be tricky. Essentially, a supercharger uses a pulley system similar to air conditioning and power steering. As the engine turns, a supercharger belt turns to compress air. The air is then crammed down the intake manifold’s inlet. Turbochargers compress air as well; however they do it in a different manner. A turbocharger relies on spent exhaust gases leaving the engine. These fumes spin a turbine that compresses air and sends it straight to the intake manifold. Regardless, both systems will significantly increase horsepower.