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2004 Honda S2000 & Other News - Spin Out

Bigger Engine, Better Chassis

Dec 1, 2003
0312_sccp_01_z+2004_honda_s2000+front_view Photo 1/1   |   2004 Honda S2000 & Other News - Spin Out

All the News Without Fear or FavorEight hundred rpm has been dropped off the S2000's redline. The engine's legendary 9000-rpm whizzing is no more as the top engine speed has dropped to a mere 8200 rpm with the stretch of displacement from 2.0 to 2.2 liters. There are some who may cry over this zinging devolution, but in most every other way, it's nothing but good news for the S2000.

The new 2157cc displacement is due purely to an increase in stroke from 84.0mm to 90.7mm. Throw this in with a bump in compression ratio from 11.0:1 to 11.1:1 and modifications to the VTEC system to lower the point where the high-speed cam profiles come on line and the result is more peak torque (161 lb-ft up from 153) that occurs where it's more usable in the powerband (down to 6500 rpm instead of 7500 rpm).

So in daily driving, the 2K4 S2000, which really should be an S2200, is more tractable, easier to live with and generally more reasonable.

Honda still rates the S2000 engine at 240 hp, but that peak has also shifted down to 7800 rpm from 8300 rpm.

Open the hood and the only external difference apparent on the bigger engine is a new plate atop the valvetrain cover. It's still all-aluminum, still DOHC, still 16 valves and still one of the great achievements in the history of normally aspirated production engines. The six-speed transmission's ratios have been shuffled to better exploit the engine's torque characteristics. The gearing is now a bit lower in the bottom four gears, a bit higher in fifth and unchanged in sixth, and new carbon-fiber synchronizers are fitted to every gear except reverse. The clutch case has also been reinforced to reduce vibration.

While the revised drivetrain is the big news, the S2000 has also been tweaked in other significant ways. The chassis is stiffer, thanks to new gusseting at the front crossmember joints, additional fixing points of the stiffening rod in the rear, and reinforcement added to each of the rear-wheel arch bulkheads. The front suspension is more securely located, thanks to new brackets on the upper control arms and the brakes get new pad material, a new master cylinder and a new ABS system incorporating "yaw control logic."

The most apparent change are the new 17-inch wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE 050 215/45R-17 front and thick 245/40R-17 rear tires. This move up from last year's 16-inch tires is accompanied by a 6.7-percent increase in front spring rate, a 10-percent decrease in rear spring rate, a 1.8mm thinner rear anti-roll bar, new shock tuning and revised steering with a 14.9:1 gear ratio.

Cosmetically, the 2K4 S2K(which weighs 24 pounds more than the old one) gets a new nose with new projector headlights, revised taillights, oval exhaust tips and the spoke count on the wheels doubles to 10. Inside, there are new deeply sculpted door panels to increase hip room, new aluminum-looking trim on the radio cover and dashboard, and the digital tach now has less space between segments.

Autobacs OpensIn a country overwhelmed by the shear weight of "super stores" for everything from pool supplies to baby doodads, Americans have been hideously deprived of one dedicated to the sport compact lifestyle. That finally has changed.

On August 28, the eagerly awaited Super Autobacs store opened in Stanton, Calif. "Super Autobacs is the car lover's utopia," says Yasukio Tajima, president and CEO of Autobacs U.S.A., Inc., in a release. "From the moment you step into a Super Autobacs store, you know your car lifestyle will never be the same. We've taken the word 'boring' out of shopping for car essentials and raised the level of personal 'car-life' support by carrying the coolest and widest selection of high-performance aftermarket products and accessories anywhere.

When it comes to your car, Autobacs is the ultimate shopping and service-oriented experience."

Autobacs is already a legend in its native Japan, where it has operated since 1948 and fuels some of that island nation's most rabid motorheads. In total, there are more than 500 Autobacs stores. In Japan, a typical Autobacs carries more than 80 different brands and from 10,000 to 15,000 individual parts-and it'll maintain that selection, reps say, in the new Stanton store.

The brands carried include dozens of tire brands, dozens of wheel brands, dozens of audio brands and dozens of performance enhancement brands. It's just a whole palette's worth of brands. And techs bolt it on there in its Pit Service area.

America's first Super Autobacs is at 12645 Beach Boulevard in Stanton and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Call Super Autobacs at (714) 903-9900 or gaze at its electrons at www.autobacsusa.com. A look at Autobacs around the world is available at www.autobacs-seven.com.

2004 Saturn ION Red LineIn stock trim, the Saturn ION is a secretary special. When GM's High-Performance Vehicle Operations (HPVO) team finishes fiddling with the Red Line edition early next year, IONs may warrant inclusion on a car guy's shopping list. We scored an early taste of this project during a summer test session at Michigan's GingerMan Raceway.

To expedite matters, the HPVO boys substituted a lot of Saab turbo gear for the standard powertrain components. Unfortunately, a sacrifice of piston displacement was a crucial part of the upgrade.

Replacing the cast-iron long-stroke crankshaft with a short-stroke forged-steel spinner lost 191cc (2.2 to 2.0 liters), but it brought tougher connecting rods and stouter 9.5:1 compression-ratio pistons, cooled by oil jets. The block is cast aluminum with pressed-in cast-iron cylinder liners, four-bolt main bearing caps, and a ladder-type crankcase reinforcement. The ION's original chain-driven counter-rotating balance shafts live on in the new engine.

No changes are planned for the cylinder head, which is blessed with two chain-driven camshafts that open four valves per cylinder through roller-type finger followers supported by hydraulic lash adjusters. Exhaust valves are sodium-filled for longevity.

The really good stuff bolts to the front of the quivering four-cylinder GM calls Ecotech. A belt-driven M62 Eaton helical Roots-type blower pumps the intake air to 12 psi before ramming it through a Laminova air-to-water intercooler. A closed system, energized by an electric circulating pump, dumps the unwanted BTUs to the atmosphere by means of a 1-inch thick heat exchanger that's sandwiched neatly between the A/C condenser and the radiator.

To keep the engine cool, there's a larger radiator core, two electric cooling fans and an oil-to-coolant heat exchanger that bolts directly to the block. Exhaust tubing is 3/4-inch larger in diameter from the engine to the end of the essential chrome tip.

Standing in for the ION's gearbox is a huskier Saab 9-3 five-speed transaxle with closer gear splits between the top four ratios. A shorter 4.05:1 final drive ratio helps get this show on the road. Other worthwhile upgrades are a heavy-duty clutch, a bearing-supported jackshaft that facilitates equal-length half shafts, and more substantial torque-reaction mounts for the engine and transaxle.

Chassis improvements include four-wheel disc brakes, larger rotors, more substantial calipers, and heavy-duty brake pads. Stiffer coil springs that lower ride height half an inch, tighter control dampers, a stouter rear anti-roll bar and firmer bushings in the twist-beam rear axle are part of the deal.

The six-spoke forged and polished aluminum wheels, which attach with five instead of four lug nuts, are 7 inches wide and wear Dunlops measuring 215/45WR-17.

Interior mods include real Recaro front buckets, a suitable leather-wrapped four-spoke wheel and a tightened shift linkage with 20-percent shorter throws and firmer bushings. Pedals are revamped to support heel-and-toe activation.

Other than the new wheels, the only exterior changes are 360 degrees worth of lower body molded plastic parts and a nonfunctional decklid wing.

The new 200-hp engine revs convincingly to its 6500 rpm redline and the 2000 to 5000 rpm surge is handy for picking off traffic. Beyond 5000, the surge levels and you get more noise than hustle.

The Red Line felt at home hammering around GingerMan's 1.9-mile road course. Invariably, it's the front end that runs out of grip first, though some of the understeer can be purged by a quick lift off the gas or a well-timed dab of left-foot braking. Thankfully, there isn't a hint of torque steer, even with a 4000-rpm clutch drop off the line.

The brakes are powerful, well balanced and relatively fade-free, but there's very little steering feel; however, the GM engineers promised to address the problem.

At day's end, we left the HPVO crew with this to-do list: more power, stronger exhaust beat, firmer dampers and hotter-looking wheels. We also urged them to keep the admission price below $20,000.

Mr. Two Becomes KZ7Danny Ellis' Formdesign does industrial design work for Subaru, Ford and Mitsubishi among others, and in its spare time, the crew decided to play with this Toyota MR2 Spyder.

"A friend of mine from Art Center, Bob Morrow, who lives in Texas, called one day wanting to work on an MR2 after he learned all the body pieces can be removed just by removing some bolts," says Ellis. The result of the collaboration between Ellis and Morrow to redesign, in clay, the MR2 is this melted shark shape.

That whimsy has now resulted in a new body kit from Kaminari (www.kaminari.com) for the MR2 based on Ellis and Morrow's design, called the KZ7. There literally isn't a body panel on the KZ7 that hasn't been twisted in some profound way. Ellis still drives the silver prototype every day; the car is otherwise stock except for Eibach springs that lower the car about an inch, Ace 17-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, and Bridgestone P205/40ZR-17 and P255/35ZR-18 rubber. The second prototype runs a turbocharger on its mid-mounted four. Ellis' silver KZ7 will get a new leather interior and then be displayed at the SEMA show by the upholsterer DK-Schweizer.

Should you need some OEM-quality design work done, call the Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.-based Ellis at (949) 589-2191. And don't we all need some design work?

Rumors&Lies,* Carlsbad, Calif.'s City Council has enacted an ordinance that bans spectators at street races. A misdemeanor conviction for watching a street can result in a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

,* Club Motorsports (www.clubmotorsports.com) is offering memberships in what it calls a "sports car country club" it's developing in Tamworth, N.H. Members would have access to a road course being developed in wooded land on the north face of Mount Whittier.

,* At the Frankfurt Auto Show, Subaru showed a new Legacy 3.0R powered by a 3.0-liter flat-six making 240 hp and backed by a shiftable five-speed automatic. More next month.

,* Japanese and Korean carmakers have claimed 16.1 percent of the European car market during the first six months of 2003. That's up from 14.3 percent last year. Meanwhile, the United States has captured 100 percent of the responsibility for defending democracy, as Europe has abandoned the idea.

DVDReview: "Initial D"Initial D's animation of a classic Toyota Corolla AE86 drifting through the Japanese hillsides is actually better than some real footage we've seen. The cuts to the heel-and-toe technique are accurate and impressive and the car itself looks dead-nuts glorious as it blazes sideways. This isn't lush Disney-spec full animation by a long shot, but the drawings are conceptually interesting, even if the characters move like Speed Racer at times. Most impressive are some of the moody watercolor-like backgrounds.

Of course, there's a story of some sort involved, but what's really cool here is the drawing and the way the animators extract so much movement and excitement, considering their obvious limitations. This is worth it just for the art of it.

There are three acts on this DVD entitled "The Ultimate Tofu Store Drift," "Revenge! The Rumbling Turbo" and "The Downhill Specialist Appears." All feature something worthwhile in the way of art and occasionally the drawings are stunning. The question is, why aren't we producing anything like this in America for Americans?

The "Initial D" disc features all the stories in both Japanese and English. It's tough to tell if the voice actors are doing a good job in Japanese, but the American voices are a little over the top. Still, the dialog sounds like way too many conversations we had when we were 16 and dreaming more about cars than doing anything with them.

At $19.99, the "Initial D" DVD is worth it just for inspiration and absolutely indispensable for anyone who owns an AE86 themselves.

More information is available on the distributor, TokyoPop Inc., at www.tokyopop.com. The DVD should be in stores now.

Hankook Tires is going to give someone the ULTIMATE Honda Civic - and it could be YOU! The Project Hankook car, a 2002 Honda Civic Si, is currently under construction and you won't believe what's being done to this car. With Wilwood brake upgrades, a Jackson Racing supercharger system, a full body kit from Wings West, and of course, a set of Hankook tires, along with many more modifications, this machine is going to be the envy of everyone else on the road. Visit www.winhankooktires.com for in-depth coverage of the project car build and for your chance to win.

Honda Civic Si FPHonda's Factory Performance (FP) packages of dealer-installed accessories are already available for the Civic coupe, RSX and Accord coupe. Now another group of components is available for the car Honda builds that may need the help the most, the current 160-hp, five-speed Civic Si.

Similar to the other FP packages, the one for the Civic Si bundles a sport suspension system (new struts and springs which lower the car by about an inch), 17-inch wheels with 225/45ZR-17 Yokohama AVS ES100 tires, a new aero kit that includes a rear hatch spoiler and ground effects, a new engine cover, lots of carbon-fiber trim for the interior, an FP shift knob and a load of FP badges to be applied throughout the car. All the components are engineered to OEM levels of finish, none are shared with the Euro-market Civic Type-R, and none will be available separately. Furthermore, if you want the kit, it has to be installed by a certified Honda dealer. Honda is predicting a $4,500 price for the whole caboodle when it goes on sale in November.

Turbo Magazine Tokyo Auto Salon Tour 2004Automotive Shock & Awe-See, Drive and Live the JDM Scene

PRICINGFROM LAX*
Early Bird (before November 10) $1,399
After November 11 $1,599

ItineraryJanuary 7 - WednesdayDepart USAJanuary 8 -ThursdayArrive in TokyoJanuary 9 - FridayTokyo Auto Salon VIP DayJanuary 10 - SaturdayTokyo Auto Salon (a.m.)Super Autobacs at Shinonome - Akihabara (p.m.)Mega Web at Rinkai-Fukutoshin** (p.m.)Sunday, January 11Free Day or Carmate (Razo) Showroom (a.m.)Scenic Tour Asakusa Temple - Akihabara (p.m.)Monday, January 12Depart/Arrive USA

* Contact Kintetsu for other departure cities.** Mega Web Rinkai-Fukutoshin is a car-oriented theme park where attendees can sample all things automotive in three pavilions and two "ride courses" that illustrate the past, present and future of cars. There is also an exhibition of 140 Toyota cars and the opportunity to test-drive new models.

For more information, contact us at (800) 422-3481or (212) 259-9700. E-mail mim@kintetsu.com or through the Web at www.kintetsu.com/autosalon.

WebsideWe've got electrons and we're blowing them out at ridiculously low prices. Well, so much for the sales hype. Webside needs your help in finding the crfme de la crfme of Web sites to feature in this glorious section. We don't care about your health, your wealth, your kids, your wife or your model railroads... all we care about is sex and cars. And we can't write about sex here. So tell us about the automotive Web sites we can't afford to miss with an e-mail to SCCNews@Primedia.com.

Xrimswww.xrims.comBy far, the most common aftermarket modification made to vehicles is the addition of new wheels and tires. But how do you know what your rims will look like before they're on your car? And what do you do if you have some old rims you want to sell or swap? Golly, that's what makes owning anything such a pain.

XRims is a free service to help you locate the best rims and tires for your car or get rid of the rims you're just sick of looking at. There's information on rim fitment (bolt patterns, offset, weights, etc.) and plenty of cars wearing virtually all possible rims. The various ads are also broken down in various ways so you can sort them for, say, geographic proximity. If you're shopping for rims-and you're always shopping for rims-this is a can't-miss piece of HTML and you ought to use it.

Don't whine to us if the next set of wheels you buy don't fit, look like crap and scrape on your brake rotors.

Spec Place.comwww.specplace.com"I just wanted to drop you a line," writes Sgt. Bryan Mayo who we will now let drop us a line (after all, this is a guy to whom the government has given a gun), "to let you know about my Web site, www.specplace.com. When I bought my Sentra Spec V, I scoured the Internet to try and find everything about it. Unfortunately, there wasn't much out there (this was back in 2002.) So, after I collected everything I could, I created a Web site so that those who came after me wouldn't have to try as hard to get information about the Spec V. I don't know much about HTML and used the Web site to help me figure out how to build one. I think I've gotten as close as I can to a professional Web site as I am going to get."

The site is pretty dang slick looking and for Spec V guys, it's (our favorite phrase) a valuable resource. But it's also a site that's written with such engaging enthusiasm that we practically want to go out and buy a Spec V ourselves. Or two. Oh, wait, there's a P.S. at the end of the e-mail.

"P.S., I have shamelessly borrowed some pictures from you guys, but it's only because your pictures were the best on the Web. (If you want me to remove the pictures, just let me know and I will.)" Should we sic our platoon of high-paid shysters on him? Or let it slide? Or maybe we should just leave him dangling contemplating the legal hell we could put him through. Ah, yes, revenge is a dish best served cold ("Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"). But, Bryan? You'd probably want to take them off before it gets to that.

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