One thing for sure about Spoon is that they can deliver the goods. They are not considered the best privateer Honda tuner for nothing. Spoon is all about action, and getting results. When they entered the Japanese Super Taikyu Series earlier this decade in the S2000, they took the title. When they decided to make a hard top for the S2000 – they did it. When they decided to make three S2000s with the same body kit and exact same tuning specs they did that too.
Big boss Spoon prez Tatsuru Ichishima picked me up early in the morning so we could be at Hakone by 5:30 am. Hakone is famous for its mountain hot spring Onsens where people of all ages go and enjoy the bath. We were there for a different reason.
Two other identical S2000s also tuned by Spoon joined us at the bottom of the Hakone Turnpike, a toll road often driven by touge racers and motorcyclists early in the morning. Usually for photo shoots you get the drivers to drive about 15 mph, just fast enough so the background goes out of focus and it looks like you’re going pretty fast. It’s a common industry trick often used for the effect. After that, if the trees are too clear in the back, the art department goes to work. Nowadays with Photoshop, they can make a sumo wrestler run like Ichiro. But in these photos we took at Hakone, trust me we are really hauling some serious ass.
I’ve worked with Ichishima in the past for many projects but this was the first time for me on the touge with a Spoon S2K Coupe. There was no way I was getting woken up by him at 3:30 am just to come to Hakone for pretty holiday snaps. I’d already had the lecture from him about how the S2K Coupe is aerodynamically superior compared to the stock S2K and blah blah blah. But I needed proof. How am I going to write about it without driving it? A car review without the ‘test’ is like a restaurant review based on the recipe not the actual meal. So, I was ready to take this baby to the limits. It was test time.
With Ichishima, an established race car driver, in the front convertible S2000 with the photographer looking back and shooting at the three of us going at it Intial D style … I should have taken a picture of the photographer yakking his breakfast noodles after the photo session just to prove how hard Ichishima was driving. I’d hurl too if I had to look backwards through a tiny lens on a winding road.
After driving in the stock convertible up to Hakone, the first thing I noticed after swapping cars and getting in the silver S2K coupe is the sheer power delivery. Yes it did help that the Silver one had Bridgestone RE55S sports tires but boy that Spoon-tuned F22C with a Spoon ECU that puts out 260hp and slams your head back against the seat. The engine mounts, air cleaner, intake, exhaust manifold and exhaust are all from Spoon. Why use any other when you have the best? The engine note sounds like soul music going thru the tunnels as the sound echoed throughout the mountains.
The lightness of the body at 2,400 lbs also has a lot to do with the increased torque response you feel after stepping on the gas. This car is light and nimble. I thought the stock S2000 was nimble until I got behind the wheel of this car. Anyone who’s ridden a rollercoaster would know that feeling. But as with all Spoon cars the quickness and handling is not violent. The mild set up is always a characteristic of a Spoon-tuned car. The gear ratios are set up so the powerband is never lost going through the ups and downs on the touge. The engine torque has plenty of leeway so you can run the car on a higher gear without losing power. The Spoon LSD, which I wasn’t used to, gave me some trouble at the beginning but after I got the hang of it, switchbacks and J-turns were smooth as silk.
Spoon front calipers and rear Spoon brake pads give this car serious stopping power. As I was following close to the camera car going about 60mph, Ichishima was in the right lane (wrong lane in Japan) to get a shot from the side. A car came around the corner and the camera car had to swerve back in front of me and slammed on the brakes instantly. Surprising, despite the fact that I was inches away from crashing the car, I felt at ease as I somehow knew that these brakes would not fail me. The immediate information you feel from the brakes gives the driver a secure sense. No problem, we just kept on going as if nothing happened just like on the race track.
Spoon noticed that there were many S2K owners bringing in their cars to Type One (Spoon’s speed shop) with broken upper arm attachment areas. These days the S2K is driven hard at the tracks with 18-inch wheels. A car that was originally designed to have only 17-inches just cannot withstand that kind of weight and constant strain. That’s why Spoon developed a specially designed gazette to enforce the stay. The Spoon gazette is a metal plate made of high tensile steel that is formed to shape and welded on to the body. This light high-tech steel from the future is the best-kept secret in motorsports. The reason why Spoon is where it is at today is not because of a monster Honda they built but because they invest in the little things. Everyone wants to brag about more horses and not about the geeky metal plate that no one can see. But once on the road and in the race, that little metal plate will make a big difference in performance. The stability and balance it gives to the car is incredible. The stock car without the gazette felt like vague but with the Spoon reinforced a-arm attachments handling was razor sharp. Talk about driving thru corners on rails. There is always sufficient grip up the front so there was never a scary moment ripping thru the corners.
Sitting inside this car felt like buckling down in a race car. The stock seat and the Spoon steering wheel allows you to handle the car with ease. The S2000 is known to be peaky but this one was very easy and responsive at the same time.
The highlight of the car is the full Spoon wide body kit and coupe hard top. The entire kit comprises of a hard top, front wide fenders, rear fenders, S-tai front bumper, S-tai rear bumper and the S-tai hood. S-tai stands for Super Taikyu where all of these parts have been proven to be winning solutions aerodynamically. The 3D GT Wing and rear diffusers are made of carbon fiber. The 3D GT wing can withstand powerful downforce by its multi-chamber inner construction. It’s 59.5-inches wide and sits 13-inches up from the rear hatch. Together with the removable coupe tail piece it gives the car optimum wind resistance and down force to plaster the rear end to the ground.
And we proved it time and time again, plastering the Spoon S2000’s three identical rear ends all over Hakone. When you pay attention to detail with the ferocity that Spoon does, you end up with a race car you can drive with ease on the streets. So the next time you see a pile of breakfast noodles on the side of Hakone, remember – Spoon probably did that too.