“The biggest problem has been getting everything to work together in harmony,” says Tommy Ha of his S2000 project. Understatement of the year? Honda’s amazing roadster has an unusual trait: it’s really hard to make better without a serious investment of time and money. So finely honed and balanced are all the OEM components that quite often a modification will result in less power; it’s an area where engineers fear to tread. But Tommy Ha doesn’t do fear.
Bought new, his is one of the early models: 2001, AP1 chassis, F20C engine, 1,997 cc. He’s had Hondas before—a ’96 Accord auto, then a ’95 Accord manual. But he didn’t get the modding bug until he bought a ’91 Toyota MR2. “I got into cars around 1995,” says Tommy. “I remember riding with my older brother’s friend in his lowered GSR with clear corners—that was the ‘in thing’ back in the day.
“I told myself I would never buy a Honda after owning them for years, but when the S2000 came out, I was—and still am—very impressed with the performance, handling and reliability. You can’t base it simply on the appearance. It goes beyond that.”
It all started with some mild changes, paint and some high-end JDM mods. Recognize this slippery slope? Before long, there was a complete frame-up repaint, full body kit, turbocharging . . . two years and $80,000 later, Tommy is still making refinements. “It’s a never-ending process,” he says. Oh yes, we know.
Let’s start with the forced induction system, perhaps Tommy’s biggest change, since the car was born naturally aspirated. It’s more or less the GReddy S2000 turbo kit with a T518 snail and a Type 28 intercooler. Also included are 550cc/min fuel injectors (in this instance, linked to a BDL Industries billet aluminum fuel rail) and an oil filter relocation kit. Ha now claims a perfectly feasible 289.9 whp and 197 lbs-ft of torque, with boost averaging around 7 psi.
Breathing is facilitated through a hacked-apart Mugen dry carbon air intake (gangster), augmented by two A’PEXi products: a dry intake filter and a heat shield. The stock throttle body has been changed out to a large, 68mm Skunk2 unit, and the Skunks were also tapped for a Stage Two turbo camshaft, valve springs and titanium valve retainers.
Cooling takes place with an aluminum radiator, titanium radiator panel (laser-cut to clear the Mugen intake) breather tank and radiator cap, all from ARC. A Spoon Sports Radiator Stay set helps the radiator stay, um, set. A Mugen thermostat and fan switch kick on the Flex-a-lite fan, while the first of many ASM pieces now breaks cover in the form of a radiator overflow tank.
The engine bay plays host to another ASM item: the oil catch tank. And there are two more ARC items here: a heat shield (customized to fit the turbo system’s plumbing) and an Allen head silver oil cap. Things get sparky with a Braille battery and mounting kit, along with a Sun Auto hyper voltage system and grounding kit. An AEM ECU gets in touch with the spark plugs (under Mugen dry carbon plug covers) and the VTEC solenoid under a Skunk2 cover, then it’s off to the exhaust side before you can say “internal combustion.”
Spinning beneath a custom-painted candy gold valve cover, a Toda adjustable exhaust cam gear joins the already impressively complex factory VTEC system. Spent gases recycled through the turbo system head out of a 70mm test pipe and on to an ASM SPL 70mm single exhaust (fashioned from titanium) with a carbon fiber cap. And elsewhere under the hood, it’s possible to find the following: 21 Mugen bolts, Top Secret hood dampers, Skunk2 brake reservoir covers and a ZTEC carbon/Kevlar heat shield. Transmission modifications have been much simpler: a Performance Street Clutch, pressure plate and Prolite flywheel, all from ACT.
It’s pretty much a Cusco party in the suspension department. At the front is a Type II lower bar and 30mm anti-roll bar. There’s a lower subframe center bar, and out back is a Type I lower bar, a Type ALC OS strut bar, and a 32mm rear anti-roll bar. The only gatecrashers are a pair of J’s Racing aluminum front inner fender braces and Zeal Function B6 coilovers. Tommy tuned the suspension to be somewhat on the soft side, six kg/mm at each end.
A six-pot mini big brake kit sounds like a double paradoxical whammy, but it all makes perfect sense on Planet Tuner, where Endless calipers and CCRG carbon/ceramic racing pads bite down on 12.9-inch slotted two-piece rotors, with stainless lines on the assist. In front of the brakes are white Prodrive GC-06H forged monoblock wheels for track duty, and bronze Advan RZs for the street. Tires are Nitto NT-01s at all times. And the proverbial cherries on top—titanium lug nuts from Go Tuning Unlimited, Tommy’s company and, conveniently, the U.S. distributor for ASM; the manufacturer of high-performance goods like Tommy’s front bumper and fenders, rear over-fenders, dry carbon hood, carbon fiber canards, dry carbon front splitter, short antenna, and intake duct. The side skirts and door caps are from GP Sports, the carbon fiber rear diffuser and vortex generators come from Top Secret, and there’s also a painted Veilside carbon fiber rear spoiler.
Set on custom-made mounts are C-West mirrors in carbon fiber housings, and if those side markers look like they came from a Ferrari F430, that’s because they did. The head- and taillights are from the AP2 model and if any S2000 owners want the same rear bumper, they’d better call Go Tuning, since this is a TSD (Tommy’s Signature Design) special. Backyard Creations of South El Monte, CA, did the bodywork, which also includes a shaved trunk keyhole and a Clear Bra. BC’s Joe Ortiz-Luis applied the Long Beach Blue Pearl paintwork.
It’s time to climb inside, sit on the ASM Limited Recaro seats (mounted on matching seat rails and with seat side protectors), luxuriate in the Bride custom carpet and floor mats, secure ourselves with the Prodrive four-point harnesses, grab the Prodrive racing steering wheel (fixed to a Rapix quick-release assembly and Works Bell short boss hub) and smack the horn button that comes straight from a Honda NSX-R.
For such a small cabin, there’s a whole bunch of stuff crammed in here. A custom-made carbon fiber gauge cluster houses most of the Defi catalog: BF boost, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, EGT, plus a BF Link Unit II and Link Display VSD, visor shades, and fitting kit. Throw in an APEX’i turbo timer, a Prodrive Rapix key lock, and a JDM FD2 Type R shift knob, and watch cars disappear in the Zoom Japan carbon/Kevlar rear-view mirror.
Can there ever be too much red stitching? Not according to Tommy, who has it served up with the carbon fiber/leather elbow pad, the Alcantara/leather knee pad, plus Alcantara door inserts, sun visors, e-brake handle, shift boot and false glove box cover—all custom made.
Even the Honda factory has been tapped for some upgrades. The center console and leather cover is from an ’07 S2000, as are the door panels. The radio lid is of the 2004 vintage and the navigation bezel is Honda JDM.
Track rats might wonder what an Icon DVD player with a 6.5-inch screen, Memphis Audio 6.5-inch carbon speakers and Kenwood 6.5-inch rear speakers are doing in a car that also sports a Cusco seven-point chromoly roll cage with a harness bar, but hey, it’s all about freedom of expression. “I keep just the roll bar in for the daily commute, but the full cage goes in at the track,” says Tommy. “I wanted to build something that reflected my own taste and style, that I could drive everyday and still beat on at the track.”
So how did he get everything pulling together as one harmonious whole? “Trial and error. Working on the car, researching, troubleshooting. It helps me learn more.” He knows enough to have won the title of JDM Showoff King 2004 and Nisei Best of Show 2008, plus several other awards. But is Tommy happy? “Always,” he confirms, “Every time I think I can get rid of this car, I find new reasons to hold onto it.” Tommy’s next pursuit involves beating the S2K around a track, chasing down some time-attack records. Let’s hope, for the car’s sake, he app roaches driving it with the same care and patience as he has in building it.
2001 Honda S2000
Engine AEM ECU; A’PEXi dry intake filter, heat shield; ARC heat shield, Allen head silver oil cap, aluminum radiator, titanium radiator panel, radiator cap, breather tank; ASM oil catch tank, radiator overflow tank; SPL 70mm titanium single exhaust; BDL Industries fuel rail; Braille battery, mounting kit; Earl’s fittings, hose separator; Flex-a-lite fan; GReddy T518 turbo, Type 28 intercooler, 550cc/min. fuel injectors, oil filter relocation kit; Mugen fan switch, thermostat, dry carbon spark plug cover, dry carbon air intake, bolts; anodized blue aluminum pulleys; Samco radiator hoses, vacuum hoses, intercooler race coupler; Skunk2 Stage Two turbo camshaft, titanium retainers, valve springs, brake reservoir covers, 68mm throttle body, VTEC solenoid cover; Spoon Sports Radiator Stay set; Sun Auto grounding kit, hyper voltage system; 70mm test pipe; Toda adjustable exhaust cam gear; Top Secret hood dampers; custom-painted Candy Gold valve cover; ZTEC carbon/Kevlar heat shield
Drivetrain Act performance street clutch, pressure plate, Prolite flywheel
Suspension Zeal Function B6 coilovers; Cusco Type II front lower bar, subframe center lower bar, Type I rear lower bar, Type ALC OS rear strut bar, 30mm front anti-roll bar, 32mm rear anti-roll bar; J’s Racing aluminum front inner fender braces
Wheels/Tires Advan RZ wheels, 17x9 +45 (front), 17x9 +35 (rear); Nitto NT01 tires, 255/40-17; Go Tuning titanium lug nuts
Brakes Endless six-pot mini big brake kit, CCRG carbon ceramic racing pads, stainless steel lines; Zeal 12.9-inch slotted two-piece rotors
Exterior ASM I.S. Design -04 front bumper, -04 front fenders, rear over-fenders, dry carbon hood, carbon fiber canards, dry carbon front spoiler, short antenna, intake duct; GP Sports side skirts, door caps; Top Secret carbon fiber rear diffuser, carbon/Kevlar vortex generators; TSD (Tommy’s Signature Design) custom rear bumper; Veilside carbon fiber rear spoiler; C-West carbon fiber mirrors w/custom base mounts; Ferrari F430 side markers; Honda AP2 headlight conversion, AP2 taillight conversion, JDM black emblems; Long Beach Blue Pearl paint; shaved trunk keyhole; Clear Bra
Interior Cusco seven-point chromoly roll cage w/harness bar; A’PEXi turbo timer; ASM Recaro RS-G limited seats, seat rails, seat side protectors; Bride carpet, floor mats; Defi BF Link Unit II, BF boost gauge, BF Link: oil pressure, exhaust temperature, fuel pressure, oil temperature, and water temperature gauges, Link Display VSD Concept (HUD), visor shades, fitting kit; Honda ’07 OEM center console and leather cover, door panels, ’04 radio door/lid, JDM OEM navigation bezel, NSX-R horn button, JDM FD2 Type R shift knob; Prodrive steering wheel; Rapix quick release, key lock; Recaro four-point harnesses, harness gel pads; Works Bell short boss hub; Zoom Japan carbon Kevlar rear-view mirror; Icon TV MT-6500w 6.5-inch widescreen, DVD100 player; Memphis Audio 6.5-inch carbon speakers, Kenwood 6.5-inch rear speakers; custom carbon fiber gauge cluster trim, carbon fiber/leather elbow pad, Alcantara/leather knee pad, door inserts, shift boot, sun visors, e-brake handle, false glovebox cover
Gratitude Daryl, Dean, Mike and the ACT staff; Terrence from Nitto Tires; Francis from Works Bell; Kent and Dominic from Endless USA; Carlos from BDL Industries; Chris, Quincy, Mitch and Doug from GReddy; Meguiar’s; Valvoline; Prodrive USA; A’pexi; Jon and the crew from HB Speed; ASM; Yukio, Tony Shagday and Tony Nguyen from Skunk2; Mike Ma from Memphis Audio; Joe from Backyard Creations; Luke for the awesome shots!!
Owner, Go Tuning Unltd.
Car Stuff, Meets, Raves, Racing, Traveling
5 years and counting
“Did you move my mirrors? it’s OK if you did; just tell me.. I hate when people move my mirrors and don’t tell me.”