The Honda S2000 is emerging as a sizzling hot tuner car. Like the Supra Twin Turbo before it, the S2000's power curve to popularity is fueled by many factors, primarily the price of used examples, which has dropped to $17,000 to $22,000 on the low side.
The S2000 has always had the basic elements needed for success: a shapely silhouette that takes well to body tuning; a high-revving four-cylinder engine that welcomes forced induction; a slick six-speed manual gearbox; a well-sorted suspension that begs for the next apex; a droptop design and a rear-wheel-drive layout. These factors, along with a surge in the aftermarket parts pool, have elevated the S2 to the upper echelon of used-car performance platforms.
The 2000-to-2003 model-year S2000 is powered by a 2.0-liter F20C engine; in 2004, S2000 displacement was bumped to 2.2 liters. The original S2 powerplant was the first Honda production offering to sport forged aluminum pistons. It also sports an 11.0:1 compression ratio, VTEC valvetrain and 9000-rpm redline-delivering 240 hp (120 hp per liter).
The S2000 performance aftermarket has picked up and Chris Barnes is at the tip of the spear with his awesome turbocharged example. The Spa Yellow 2001 S2 sports a built F20C stuffed with JE 9:1 compression pistons, Cunningham rods and a stock crankshaft assembled by Mike Simon of Columbus, Ohio. The entire reciprocating mass was precision balanced. Also, Joe Alaniz of Alaniz Technologies performed a mild port matching on the cylinder head.
When boosting a normally aspirated engine, fuel and ignition become points of contention. Fuel is usually addressed while ignition can, in some cases, be left stock. Barnes upgraded his fuel system with a Walbro 2530 pump, RC Engineering injectors and an AEM regulator, but retained the OE fuel rail. On the ignition side, an AEM C2-DI capacitive discharge box fires Denso K27 plugs through beefy Magnecor plug wires and Accel coils.
To meet pressurization needs, Barnes contacted cheapturbos.com and acquired a Garrett ball-bearing GT30 with a 56-trim compressor side. He fabricated his own exhaust manifold, downpipe and exhaust. The rest of the turbo system is comprised of a Tial wastegate, Tial blow-off valve and custom piping that leads to a custom-built front-mount intercooler. From the intercooler, charge air is fed through a stock throttlebody that was ported to 70mm for added capacity under boost.
The AEM EMS has become the box to beat in engine tuning and Barnes has employed a trusty EMS to power-tune his S2 to an impressive 559.7 whp and 327 lb-ft of torque. The F20C puts the twist to a fortified driveline featuring a Star Stage 3 clutch, Spoon lightened flywheel and KAAZ limited-slip differential. Footwork is enhanced with Buddy Club coil-overs, which Barnes dialed in to provide 1.5 inches of drop, a Spoon strut tower brace and Volk CE28C fitted with Goodyear rubber. Stopping power was stepped up with Wilwood four-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors concocted into a front axle kit by The Brake Zone.
Body tuning is a collection of different parts expertly mixed to give the Honda a unique look, as if the turbo kit wasn't enough. A Bulletproof front lip and Garage Defend side skirts were molded in by Euro Paint & Bodyworks of Fort Meyers, Fla. A J's Racing rear wing and custom hood round out the visual modifications.
Turbo has featured S2000s in the past and we've noted both the number and horsepower of the breed are on the rise. With the price of used S2000s decreasing and the number of performance aftermarket parts increasing, the S2000 is becoming the car many envisioned it would be.