Brian Jeong's '05 Honda S2000
Delete that "for sale" post from the classifieds. Now. It won't be long after selling your Civic that you'll begin searching for another. It didn't for Brian Jeong. Only difference is that he unloaded not a Civic, but an S2000 a bit sooner than he should have.
Not more than a few months after selling his first Honda roadster at the close of 2008, Brian began searching for a replacement, an '05 this time around. "I was itching for another S2K and my friend was selling his so I bought it, and the whole process started over again," explains Brian, who calls San Mateo, a suburb on the San Francisco peninsula, home. Brian isn't alone. Arguably, more than a few classifieds dealings end in regret, as those who search for swift financial gains more often than not end up with psychological aches only another Civic, Integra or, in this case, S2000 can cure.
Brian's first taste of an S2000-his '06-received his personal touch, so much so that it earned him top honors from a number of local show car venues before parting it out and selling it. His replacement S2K is no different, earning him Second Place Best S2000 at this year's prestigious SF Wek'Fest event held in nearby Japantown. Best part is, Brian doesn't even consider his S2000 completed.
What makes the NorCal resident's new daily driver buildup stand apart from his previous is that he followed but one rule: if Mugen made it, he'd find a way to get it. He also threw the whole thing together in about nine months. The fabled Japanese tuning company's enhancements are found throughout Brian's S2000. Its 221 horsepower is realized, in part, because of the Mugen dry carbon-fiber intake system, exhaust manifold, and stainless steel exhaust system. Mugen's Formula racing and Super GT heritage as well as its corporate Honda roots helped the company secure itself as one of the most trusted and reliable Honda tuning companies the world over nearly 37 years ago. Now, officially known as M-TEC Co., Ltd., Mugen continues to produce well-crafted, carefully engineered components catering to the upper echelon of Honda enthusiasts. If you can afford it, it's the no-brainer of tuning solutions.
Brian is presumably fully aware of Mugen's bonafides, which is precisely why the S2000 veteran gave his nod to the brand in more ways than one. Most notably, a Mugen fiberglass-reinforced plastic hardtop alters the roadster's exterior persona, ridding it of its lady-like soft-top for something more aggressive. The theme continues with the company's legendary SS series of dry-carbon-fiber goods, including a genuine Mugen hood, front and rear bumpers, and rear wing, complete with black-powdercoated mounting brackets that contrast against the Grand Prix White sheet-metal. The subtleties take over from here. Mugen hardware fasten the license plate in place, an ASM short antenna replaces the factory issue, and side markers and mirrors-both borrowed from the chassis' JDM counterpart-occupy their original whereabouts. Look closely, otherwise you'll overlook the details that Brian didn't, like the shaved rear emblem and trunk keyhole that further finesse the S's backside.
To build up the surface of an S2000 to such grand proportions and skimp underneath is nothing short of sacrilege. Brian didn't disappoint and instead pulled the dampers for aluminum, Zeal Function S6 coilovers paired with Do-Luck anti-roll bars. Bronze-coated Mugen MF-10 wheels complete with their respective Mugen center caps and lug nuts fill the fender-wells-a fitting complement to the host of other genuine parts that grace Brian's S2K. And speaking of genuine parts, Brian's S2000 is filled with them, comprised of a sprinkling of the best of the best. Mugen S1 bucket seats fasten themselves to the unibody via authentic seat rails, also of Mugen heritage. Lift the hood and an assortment of Mugen accessories, like the oil cap, radiator cap, carbon-fiber ignition coil cover, and reservoir covers tastefully complement the F-series. It's essentially an all-Mugen affair, save for the Spoon Sports radiator mounts and ASM cooling panel. Nobody's complaining about those, though.
Brian assembled S2000 Number Two in less than a year's time. His vision was clear. His parts list straightforward, albeit expensive. Although Brian says the buildup was intended to span the better part of three years, he'll be the first to admit that intentions are no match for emotions. "Obviously, it didn't go that way and it never seems to," Brian says of the unexpectedly quick timeline. The build's rapidity is attributed, in part, to how quickly Brian was able to source the goods. Although higher-end, Japanese components like dry-carbon-fiber Mugen body components often take the better part of a year to source, such wasn't the case for Brian. With the exception of the front bumper, which took nearly two months to arrive, the remaining bits were in his hands faster than you'd expect. To be sure, they arrived before he was prepared to install any of them. Such is what girlfriends' parents are for, which is whose house Brian commandeered for parts storage prior to them being delivered to paint.
"There is, of course, a lot more I want to do to this car and it is not even close to being complete," Brian says. "But who knows if it ever will be complete?"
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Founded in 1973 by Hirotoshi Honda, the son of Honda Motor Co. founder Soichiro Honda, and Masao Kimura, Mugen Motorsports arguably has the closest ties to Honda of Japan of any high-performance parts manufacturer. Mugen, translated as "unlimited," has never been financially affiliated with Honda, however, the company's co-founder was indeed a major stakeholder in his father's automobile company for several years. Although Mugen is best known for its top-of-the-line engine components, aero pieces, and wheels catering to amateur Honda enthusiasts, the company has been in involved with Super GT championship racing as well as Formula racing-including its involvement in Formula One-where the company later became the exclusive supplier of Formula Nippon engines for the series. Following a tax evasion scandal in 2003, Mugen was restructured, forming into M-TEC Co., Ltd. later the following year. M-TEC continues to use the Mugen namesake and operates from its Saitama-based facility, just north of Tokyo, headed by former engineering division manager and NSX racing program director, Shin Nagaosa.