When I look at the broad spectrum that encompasses the import performance scene these days, there’s a lot of funky stuff out there. It seems like lots of younger enthusiasts are more concerned about how to fit a 205-series tire on an 11-inch-wide wheel than making their pride and joy actually enjoyable to drive. But if you search in the right places, and if you can manage to break through all ridiculous stuff that riddles the show car scene, you’ll find a group of people who still care about making cars go fast. Racing is still an important part of what pushes things forward in the world of sport compact cars, and although drag racing is not exactly the most popular thing on the West Coast, there’s a great big world out there beyond the borders of The Golden State. Drag racing is alive and well — if you don’t believe me, just look east.
Among drag racers, there are many strange-looking cars. This particular vehicle is not all that strange looking, but there’s something a bit different here that you might not notice right away. If you happen to see Tercio Botelho at the local strip and think, “that fool’s running a Honda 2000,” you’d only be half right — this car is powered by something that will make you think twice before lining up and putting your Jetta’s pink slip on the line. Underneath the hood of the lean mean green machine is none other than the (arguably) most robust and successful 4-cylinder engine of all time: the Mitsubishi 6-bolt 4G63.
Now before the Honda fan boys throw up their arms in frustration, let me tell you that this isn’t the case of a mint-condition AP1 having its ample and highly praised F20C ripped out to make room for some maniacal Frankenstein engine swap. When Tercio first found his S2000, it was merely a hollow shell of its former self, having fallen victim to a major fire (the cause of which is yet unknown).
“After grenading the transmission in my [Eagle] Talon, I was undecided as to whether I wanted to build another transmission or giving up,” Tercio remembers. “I soon came across this ‘01 Honda S2000, which had been totaled by a fire — the whole front end was completely ruined. The engine bay looked as if someone used it as a charcoal grill — nothing was left of the engine and harness, the fenders were half gone and the bumper and headlights were completely gone. But because I work at a well-known body shop [Carl’s Collision Center, recognized for its high-quality work], where I learned most of my auto body skills, and having a great group of supportive friends and family called Infamous Performance, getting this car back up and running wouldn’t be a problem!”
Tercio and his guys quickly got to work tearing the Talon down and removing the 4G in preparation for the S2000 build. “I talked to my team about using a 4G63 in our S2K since it hadn’t been done yet, and it wouldn’t cost much since I had 80 percent of the parts already,” he says. “[We] figured it would be easy enough since we had swapped a 4G63 into a E30 BMW 3-series about a year earlier, and it worked great.” The Infamous Performance group began by fabricating custom engine and transmission mounts, as well as a custom exhaust manifold, downpipe and downtubes. The center point of the powerplant is a 68mm BorgWarner S368 single-scroll turbo, not exactly the newest or most fancy kid on the block, but it’s reliable and capable of extremely high power nonetheless.
To get all the power to the blacktop, Tercio decided to use a GM Powerglide 2-speed transmission mated with a custom adapter plate designed by well-known racer and fabricator Bill Hincher. Tercio knew he wanted a beefy Ford 9-inch rear differential to handle as much power as can be thrown at it, and he managed to find one in a less-than-conventional way. “I was able to sell the stock rear differential — it was time to build a bulletproof ford 9-inch rear differential,” he remembers. “I looked around a bit on various message forums and couldn’t find anything fitting my dimensions, until, luckily, a friend of mine told me he had an old one on the back of his garage from one of his father’s old trucks. He said I could have it — what a friend!”
The suspension setup of a drag racing car is one aspect where attention must be paid, it’s not a simple matter of making gobs of power and hoping the car goes in a straight line. Tercio selected a Competition Engineering 4-link traction bar kit to help keep the car predictable and stable, while a set of Strange Engineering coilovers handle damping duties. A set of Wilwood big brakes helps slow the car down at the end of the quarter-mile, and the wheel and tire selection is pure drag — 15-inch Weld Magnum III wheels and M/T slick tires.
The exterior package of this S2000 is simple and effective; a stock body with an OEM hard top helps keep the car light and aerodynamic, while a custom front bumper and fenders ensure that air goes in (and out) exactly where it needs to, and nowhere else. This paint is a custom color, mixed by Tercio himself, and it looks pretty damn crazy to us!
On the inside of the car, everything that doesn’t need to be there has been gutted to make room for the rollcage that Tercio and his guys fabricated themselves in-house. “I came to the conclusion that since I wanted to keep up with my brother and best friend on the track, I would need a cage,” Tercio says. “Paying someone else to do a cage and 4-link setup wouldn’t fall into the realm of a ‘budget build,’ so I went out and bought a pipe bender, a NHRA rules and regulations book, and a bunch of chromoly pipe. After a week of reading and practicing bends, we started with the cage; after a few late nights and weekends, the cage was done.”
That is really the defining sentiment behind the entire build: Tercio has been able to put this all together on a tight budget by doing almost all of the fabrication work by himself and with the help of Infamous Performance. He’s still got some sorting out to do, but this car has come a long way since its last owner let it burn to the ground. Even though the Honda gods may cry “blasphemy,” it’s still very cool and unique. We wish Tercio the best of luck over the remainder of the sorting-out process, and we hope to see him running faster than his brother next season.
Specs & Details
'01 Honda S2000
Engine Mitsubishi 4G63 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
Engine Modifications BorgWarner S368 (68mm); BC280 camshafts, Manley stainless valves, springs & retainers; ARP head studs; Infamous Performance custom exhaust manifold, downpipe & downtubes; dual Tial 38mm MVS wastegates, 50mm blow-off valve; custom water-to-air intercooler; JMF drag intake manifold; dual Bosch 044 inline fuel pumps; Fuel Injector Clinic 2,150cc injectors; fully built bottom end; custom motor mounts
Engine Management ECMLINK Hallman manual boost controller
Drivetrain GM Powerglide transmission, custom adapter plate; built Ford 9" rear differential; custom driveshaft; 8” torque converter
Suspension Strange Engineering coilovers; Competition Engineering 4-link traction bar kit
Interior Hurst shifter; NRG steering wheel & quick release hub; 5-gallon fuel cell; 8-gallon intercooler tank
Exterior Stock body; custom green paint by Carl’s Collision; custom Infamous Performance front bumper & vented fenders
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Weld Magnum III wheels, 15x3.5" (f) & 15x12" (r); M/T 28x10.5-inch ET Drag tires; Wilwood big brake kit
Thanks To Infamous Performance, Carl’s Collision Center, RealStreetPerformance.com, Jackson Auto Machine, Bill Hincher for the transmission adaptor, JMFabrications.com, all my friends & family & everyone else who helped me build this beautiful car!