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2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

Idle Time And An Open Mind Produce What May Be A New S2000 Revolution

Sep 30, 2010
Photographer: Orlando Echeverria

Kevin Nguyen's '03 S2000
Our generation is steeped in what were once considered outlandish theories and tall tales. Thanks to the labors put forth by forward thinkers and imaginative spirits, we now have a grasp on some of the great mysteries that once frustrated our forefathers. However, while pushing the limits of human understanding, their efforts never went unnoticed by the naysayers. Today, while science and hard facts produce more than enough evidence to convince even the most stubborn of non-believers, new theories must be run through a familiar cycle-ignored at first glance, then ferociously denied and criticized, with any luck they eventually reach a certain level of acceptance.

Htup_1010_01_o+2003_honda_s2000+passenger_side_front_view Photo 2/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

Kevin Nguyen of Aurora, CO, knows this all too well. He conjured up the crazy idea of swapping a K24 motor into his S2000 in search of more power and potential, and once he began thinking out loud on the S2000 forums, it brought more scrutiny than he could have possibly imagined. To some, the mere mention of removing the high revving F20 is considered automotive blasphemy, but those who have tried to make naturally aspirated power with the high revving 2.0L are well aware that it doesn't take well to upgrades. However, the K series family seems to thrive on even the simplest of bolt-ons, and Kevin had his sights set on being the first to make this match made in heaven a reality.

As with most days in Colorado during the month of February, Mother Nature was less than friendly in 2007. With nothing on the agenda for the day, Kevin headed out the door and before he knew it, was at his local Lexus dealer adjusting the seat of, oddly enough, a Honda convertible. Kevin recalls "I headed out on a whim. I had no intention of actually buying anything at all, but somehow it just seduced me." After enjoying the lightweight, rear wheel drive layout of his F-powered roadster for over a year, he eventually felt that familiar grumble in his stomach that we've all experienced, and shortly after, wheels, coil-overs, a Cusco cage, and two handfuls of expensive Mugen hardware later, Kevin was well on his way to building a showstopper. "I started feeling like I was almost done, until around March of '09. That's when I started tracking the car." Realizing that the highly sought after JDM parts were fun to shop for and install, but not nearly as fun as cutting a faster lap time, the decision was made to change direction. "I sold off some of my good looking parts in order to pick up a few go-fast parts," he adds.

Htup_1010_02_o+2003_honda_s2000+driver_side_rear_view Photo 3/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

After installing a Hondata K-Pro, intake, exhaust, and moving up to a non-staggered wheel configuration, the S2000 was netting much better times, but was still missing something. Attending multiple track days with his brother Greg and friend Mike Broddle forced Kevin to take a closer look at their K20-powered Integras. Placing his dyno chart next to his brother's K20a3, it was obvious the midrange power produced by the K series motor was far above that of the F series in naturally aspirated form. Thoughts of combining the potential of the K series with the track-friendly nature of the S2K began to turn the wheels inside Kevin's head. Unfortunately, to his knowledge, no one had taken on this type of swap, and there were no aftermarket options or kits available to give him an edge. At this point, his K-theory was just that; a theory.

Over the past few years, the development and construction market has been forced to stand on feeble legs. Architects, like Kevin, have crossed their fingers and held their breath as the downward spiral continued. Like so many others, in late '09, he received the grim news that his job had been eliminated. Idle time has been known to wreak havoc on a person's mental status, but rather than panic, Kevin had a revelation; "I realized that for the time being, working on cars would keep me sane while I studied for the licensing exams, and looked for a new job. After talking to Mike and Greg about the K series potential so often, the 'crazy' switch in my head was flipped. I figured I have the free time, might as well take advantage of it." Just a few months later, the trio went over the pricing for the swap and all of its extra necessities, and they were confident that the conversion could be done on a limited budget. On Thanksgiving of '09, the S2000 was put on jack stands, and its F20 engine and transmission were pulled to begin the K24 mock-up.

Htup_1010_06_o+2003_honda_s2000+coolant_tank Photo 7/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

The first and most obtrusive obstacle in Kevin's path involved mating the S2000 transmission to the K series motor. Drawing upon his architectural roots, he utilized a CAD program to help create an adapter plate. The design was then transferred to and cut out of plexi-glass, and the search was on for an affordable CNC machinist for fabrication. By mid-December, as the project began to really take shape, Kevin determined that he'd have to sell off some of his old parts in order to make ends meet on the build. "I was able to get $1,500 for my old stuff, netting me enough money to get a set of Innovative S2000 mounts, a K24A1, and have the adapter plate properly cut." As the New Year rolled in, the moment of truth was quietly sitting in a cold, one-car garage. "I got the adapter plate from the machinist and tried to bolt it to my S2k transmission and the K24. The thing actually lined up, which was a huge relief!" But with the swap falling into unchartered waters, there were no clutch and flywheel combos available. "The flywheel I designed in Solidworks was going to be too expensive to make. I contacted ClutchMasters, and they made me a custom flywheel and provided their stage IV clutch that was able to hold the power," he states. Next up was the throttle body placement issue. Due to the K series motor receiving air from the driver side of the engine bay of the car it came out of, the North/South mounting of the K24 would place the throttle body against the firewall. Initially, a TSX intake manifold was cut, and the plan was to fabricate a new plenum that would face the throttle body toward the front of the motor. After calculating the cost of materials and talking with the crew at K-Tuned, Kevin found that he could purchase a custom manifold from Magnus Motorsports without breaking the bank.

With the major issues out of the way, the motor was test fitted one last time. Greg put together a custom wiring harness and it was finally fired up. Though successful, rather than call it a day, Kevin pulled the motor back out, and sent it off to a machine shop where it would receive a fresh set of CP pistons (12.5:1), and Eagle rods. Skunk2 stage III cams, valve springs, and retainers were also installed and K-Tuned provided all of the necessary fuel components to make the swap clean and safe. Additional details like the V-mounted radiator and slick custom swirl pot and catch can setup were finished to add even more to the ground-breaking build. Kevin adds, "I got my chance to see the new numbers a few weeks later on the dyno. I gained 50 horsepower and 50 ft-lbs of torque, as well as a lot of area under the curve. This first dyno was a good baseline, but we know there is a lot more power to be had later on by taking advantage of iVTEC and getting a better header." No longer just a theory......

Htup_1010_07_o+2003_honda_s2000+ktuned_fuel_rail Photo 8/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

Bolts & Washers

Htup_1010_08_o+2003_honda_s2000+k24a1 Photo 9/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

1mm overbore on stock sleeves
CP pistons 12.5:1
Eagle rods
Skunk2 Stage III cams
Skunk2 dual valve springs
Skunk2 titanium retainers
Single roller OEM rockers with three lobe cams
Custom four-inch intake piping
and velocity stack
Magnus custom aluminum intake manifold
Skunk2 74mm throttle body
Modified OEM S2000 header
Vibrant three-inch resonator
Magnaflow three-inch muffler
K20z1 oil pump
Walbro fuel pump
Injector Dynamics 725cc
K-Tuned fuel rail
K-Tuned 6an feed and return
K-Tuned inline fuel filter
K-tuned fuel regulator
Mishimoto radiator
K-Tuned AN lines
USA Engines machine services
ClutchMasters six puck stage IV
ClutchMasters custom flywheel

Ground Control coil-overs
Koni "yellow" shocks
Gendron solid one-inch front anti-sway bar
Password:JDM rear frame brace

Htup_1010_09_o+2003_honda_s2000+drive_side_front_view Photo 10/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

OEM discs
Hawk HP+ pads
ATE Super Blue fluid
Stainless steel brake lines

Wheels & Tires
Volk RE30 17x9 +40 Falken Azenis RT-615 255/40-17

Mugen SS wing
Mugen front lip
Custom flared OEM fenders (+25mm)
AP2 front bumper
AP2 headlights
AP2 tail lights

Nardi "Orido Style" steering wheel
Works Bell short hub and quick release
Ricks2K shift knob
Ricks2K rear wind deflector

Hondata K-Pro engine management
Corsport oil pressure
HR Tunerview II
JVC KD-AVX40 3.5 inch TFT-LCD monitor
Alpine PDX-2.150 AVI Direct XL Components

Htup_1010_10_o+2003_honda_s2000+front_view Photo 11/11   |   2003 Honda S2000 - The K-Theory

Greg Nguyen,
Mike Broddle,
my girlfriend (thanks for supporting my modding habits),
Tan Nguyen,
Mile High S2kca Crew (thanks for letting me think this was possible),
Ktuned, Skunk2,
Corsport, ClutchMasters,
Magnus, Password:JDM

Owner Specs

Favorite Website

Screen Name Or Nick Name Kevos2k

Building Hondas for how long
Ten years since I got my first car, thankfully my tastes have developed from that first accord

Your dream car
Honda NSX

Build inspiration
Just wanted a challenge and to do something different.

What's playing in your iPod/CD/MP3 player right now
Skee Lo I wish

In order to complete the swap, Kevin relied on K-Tuned for some of the supporting cast that makes up this incredible conversion. Known for offering a number of complete kits for enthusiasts, including fuel kits, K series specific intakes, and even IACV rotation plates, K-Tuned has cemented itself as a staple in the Honda community. As the popularity of this incredible series of motors continues to grow, K-Tuned continues to introduce new and innovative products to help make the transition to K-power a little less painful. Check out for more info.


Skunk2 Racing
Norco, CA 92860
Magnus Motorsports
Concord, Ontario, CA
Clutch Masters
Rialto, CA 92376
By Rodrez
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