France is definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of modified imports. France is known more for their art, rich history, maybe even cheese, but Japanese automotive builds…not so much. You just don’t expect the French to mess around with Japanese vehicles. Every now and then, however, we are surprised when we find ourselves a tastefully-modded ride by simply connecting with a car owner through social media (Who knew this stuff would work?—JW) —Facebook, for the record. At the end of the day, it really shouldn’t matter where a build comes from.
All the way on the other side of the world from a town known as Villemoisson Sur Orge comes Nicolas Rouillon’s ‘04 Honda S2000. Admittedly, his English is a bit rough so it took quite a bit of time to go over his back story. But his enthusiasm towards his Honda is obvious. He’s created an S2000 that holds with it an undeniable universality—you could place this AP2 anywhere in the world and it would be relevant to that country’s interpretation of the import community. Though he spends his time cruising around in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Nicolas insists that the inspiration for his S2000 comes not only from fellow French S2000 owners but also from S2K owners in America.
“I have been a fan of the S2000 since its inception,” Nicolas explains. “I never thought I would ever own one but it became the car of my dreams. It didn’t even matter if it was modified or not, I just loved how it looked.”
S2000s are very common here but even though they were readily available in France, Nicolas didn’t encounter too many. The S2000s he dreamed of were often relegated to photos on the web or in movies like The Fast and The Furious. It wasn’t until 2007 when he made the decision to purchase one. He chose a ’01 Monte Carlo Blue AP1 and kept it for a year before switching up for a newer Navy Blue AP2 (a color not found on U.S. models). Knowing that there had to be other S2K fanatics like him in France, he began joining various forums. He floated around a couple of discussion boards before calling a forum known as ‘S2000 Passion’ home.
“I was able to meet a number of S2000 owners through that forum. We often exchanged ideas on how to mod and make changes to our cars. Every year, we met up to make an S2000-dedicated cruise through various cities in France. The trips would last about a week and would take us to places like Cannes and Monaco. I had a lot of fun making these trips and met many great friends because of it.”
Even with constant input from his peers, it took Nicolas about three years to get his S2000 to its current stage. He didn’t want to change much at first but the bug eventually bit him. It may not seem like his AP2 was heavily-modded compared to the extensive builds you see here in the States, but for him it was more than enough.
The first thing that made its way off of the car was the OEM exhaust and suspension. In their place sits an HKS Hi-Power exhaust system and TEIN Monoflex set-up.
The most difficult decision was deciding wheels. Nicolas explains; “It took me six months to come up with the perfect wheel for the car. I wanted a five-spoke design with chrome and a really low offset. It also had to be rare in France and a high-quality wheel. The Work Meister S1 fit my criteria but it came down to the sizing of the rim that would make or break the flow of the car.”
Nicolas’ goal was to have an aggressively-sized wheel but his fellow French S2000 owners were only focused with more conservative offsets. Even the American forums yielded little help. “Having a car that was ‘flush’ was gaining popularity back then but it really wasn’t anything new. European car enthusiasts have been doing it for years but I aspired to be the first in France to achieve this style on a Japanese car.” During a late night web hunt for photos, he came upon an S2K in the US owned by Trevor “Silentdancer” Luteman. He had pulled off what many had once thought to be impossible, wheel fitment-wise, on a stock-bodied AP chassis. Nicolas immediately tried to contact him for help but his efforts were to no avail; he continued his search.
Obviously, he could have figured out the specs on his own but you have to understand that other countries of especially non-English speaking origins don’t have as much information available to them as we do here. In addition, the wheel he desired also isn’t sitting on a shelf in France. These Works had to be special ordered from Japan. There was very little room for error so he felt it was smarter to ask another enthusiast who had already figured out the numbers.
“I came upon another S2000 belonging to Alex Zhao. Alex also had an S2000 but his wheel specs were way more aggressive than what I was looking for. I explained to him that I wanted something aggressive but still suitable for regular driving. He actually knew the exact wheel specs that Luteman ran. That gave me the confidence to order the wheels with the proper calculations.”
It took five months for the wheels to arrive from Japan and because of their wide nature, Nicolas had to modify the fenders. The panels were massaged to retain its original lines from and in the process, he also shaved the trunk lid, trunk lock, and emblems for a more streamlined appearance. By today’s standards, Nicolas’ Work S1 wheels are far from what most would consider to be “aggressive” but a couple years ago when he acquired them, these were about as flush as it got on an AP2 chassis. The faces of the wheels were also originally white when they were first delivered to him from Japan. “My wheels have a pink face now,” Nicolas says. “I honestly made them pink because of a dare. It is reversible if I ever chose to go back to white because the pink is an adhesive film.”
Applying a vinyl overlay on the face of a wheel is certainly unique (and impossibly time-consuming we might add), but one of Rouillon’s favorite custom creations would have to be the rear diffuser. While on yet another web search, he came across an image of a rear diffuser from Top One USA. He immediately inquired, only to realize that it was a concept model that wasn’t for sale. Instead of living with the fact that he would never have this diffuser, his brother reproduced a similar version using a material known as DIBOND.
Nicolas concluded, “Getting into a US magazine is just incredible for me because it is publications like Super Street that provided me inspiration for my own build. I have so much more planned in the future for this car, particularly under the hood. I’ve just been hesitant to do any major engine modifications because it is frowned upon here in France and can lead to some pretty serious consequences. For now, I am happy with what I have. This is a dream come true for me and I must thank all of you in America for the motivation!”
2004 Honda S2000
Owner Nicolas Rouillon/Koni Paris
Hometown Villemoisson Sur Orge, France
Occupation Automobile Expert
Engine 2.0L F20C with HKS Hi-Power LM Edition exhaust; Megan Racing test pipe; Password:JDM reservoir tank covers and aluminum radiator stays; NRG hood damper; Skunk2 radiator cap
Footwork & Chassis TEIN Monoflex coilovers; Cusco carbon-fiber front upper strut tower bar; T1R half-shaft spacers
Brakes Sportstop slotted/drilled brake rotors
Wheels & Tires 18x8.5" front and 18x9.5" rear Work Meister S1 wheels; 225/40R18 front and 245/35R18 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 tires; Composite Racing R40 lug nuts
Exterior OEM AP2 front lip; Downforce DF-R carbon side splitters; custom rear diffuser
Interior Skunk2 shift knob; T1R suede shift boot; JVC KD-G632 head unit; Eminence 165mm front speakers
Thanks You My brother for always being there to help with the car; I love my wife who lets me do whatever I desire to my S2000; my friends Francois Law Lai and Julien Huet
WWW s2000-passion.forumactif.org; s2ki.com