In the last installment of the AP1 build (Dec/Jan 2012 issue), I highlighted some of the parts that would make their way to the roadster’s body after a fresh coat of Spa Yellow paint. Downforce fenders, a new OEM AP2 front bumper, and JDP Engineering front lip would need to be prepped and painted, while Downforce carbon-fiber side diffusers and a new wheel and tire package waited patiently for the S to come home. Test fitting the Downforce fenders before they went to paint was a major relief as they proved to line up extremely well, and there was no drilling or shaving necessary to get them to fit properly. Somewhere between the body shop and my garage, I found some time to swing by ASC Speed Metal for a long-overdue seat modification and even found a few spare moments to ditch the factory airbox and old header. Check it out…
Hardbody—A&G Auto Body
A little nervous about paint matching, I asked a few friends with quality paintjobs if they could point me in the right direction. Gil Salazar of Circuit Hero fame suggested I contact A&G Auto Body, an outfit located in El Cajon (southeast San Diego), as he knew that my biggest issue was the delicate paint match. Yellow isn’t the easiest color to duplicate, especially with a pearl in the mix, and with all of the body shops required to switch over to Waterborne paint a few years back, getting a perfect match to my 11-year-old factory hue didn’t seem very likely. However, Armando Gandara, owner of A&G Auto Body, had absolutely no reservations and accepted the challenge wholeheartedly.
A&G Auto Body sits in somewhat of a desolate road in a very, very quiet area of El Cajon. Upon arrival, I found a few imports parked out front, along with a classic truck that A&G was tearing down for a ground-up restoration. Some small talk with Gandara revealed that the shop specializes in just about any type of bodywork from basic repair to full-blown customization and restoration services. A few of A&G’s color change patients have landed in the pages of Honda Tuning Magazine, including Salazar’s brother, Will, whose gray Civic graced the cover of the October ’11 issue. I handed the keys off to Gandara and his crew along with the mix of OEM and aftermarket body parts, and I was off. Within a few weeks, I got the call that the car was ready for pick up. As you can see from the photos, the paint match is outstanding, and the Downforce fenders are so subtle in blending in with the lines which connect to the factory AP2 front bumper that the average onlooker would never suspect any additional girth provided by the new arches. To clean up the sides of the S2K, I installed the Downforce carbon-fiber side diffusers. A very straightforward affair, the carbon diffusers are a snap to install, requiring only a drill and power screwdriver to attach to the bottom of the car’s rocker panel. Using a standard cordless drill/screwdriver, I put a small “starter hole” into the chassis using the predrilled holes in the Downforce piece as my guide, and basic screws spread throughout the length of the diffuser are more than enough to keep it secured. The attachment area on the diffuser is contoured to the shape of the car, so it’s pretty much foolproof.
I wanted to use the OEM AP2 front lip on the newly updated front end, until I saw JDP Engineering’s carbon-fiber lip. As with all of JDP’s previous body parts, the style was simple and clean, and accentuated rather than overpowered the stock lines. I requested that A&G paint just the top portion of the lip to match the bumper, leaving the bottom-most area in carbon fiber to match the side diffusers. The flat, rounded carbon splitter looks right at home on the S2000, and any thoughts of using a stock lip are long gone after installing the JDP version.
Stepping up to a wider, non-staggered wheel set up meant I was probably going to need some additional clearance with the rear fenders. Up front, the 17x9.5 +40 SSR Type F rollers wrapped in 255/40-17 Falken Azenis fit perfectly under the new Downforce fenders, and for practicality, I wouldn’t go any wider with the wheel or tire selection. Out back, rubbing was apparent under harsh cornering and hitting big dips on the freeway. Another visit to Evasive Motorsports for a session with fender expert Mike Chang was in order. He took a few measurements, put the car on the rack and found that the inner portion of the bumper seemed to be the point of contact. A utility knife heated under a torch for a few seconds and Chang sliced cleanly through the bumper in one fell swoop, leaving behind a perfectly straight line. A little more massaging of the rear arches with his handy fender roller, and the risk of tire-to-metal contact was eliminated.
Seat Time—ASC Speed Metal
After having a bucket seat in the S2000 for a few years, I’d had enough. I dearly missed being able to “plop” into the stock seats and not have to worry about climbing out every time I parked the car. On the other hand, the good thing about bucket seats is they often sit quite a bit lower than the factory offering. Looking for a healthy medium, I contacted HT’s official fab shop, ASC Speed Metal, and explained my problem to Dana Czech. He put together an outstanding solution that offers the best of both worlds; the freedom of a stock seat with the height of race bucket.
After a few hours of brainstorming, Dana realized he could modify a set of aftermarket sliders to work with the stock seat. The tough part would be getting the seat to mount much lower, while retaining all of its sliding functionality without running into the floorboard. A tall order, and one that Dana had no problem fulfilling. Using a clever mix of spacers and top-of-the-line hardware, the ASC-built mounts bring the factory seat down almost 2 inches—a huge difference for taller drivers like myself in terms of comfort and additional headroom. Sliding back and forth isn’t an issue, and the driving position inspires confidence and comfort. Previously, the stock seating position had me feeling like I was looking down on the steering wheel, whereas now it sits directly in front of me, where it should be.
While the car was parked in ASC’s garage, Dana took some measurements and starting mocking up one of his patented twin tube shock tower bars. Multi-gusseted stress points, reinforced quality welds throughout, and a downright killer look—I’ll have pics and info when the finished product is completely welded, powdercoated, and installed.
Breathe in, Breathe out— Skunk2 and AEM
The S2000 market hasn’t seen too many new header options in the past few years. Surprising if you consider how many new-to-S2000 owners are popping up, but then again, the F20/22 isn’t significantly affected by bolt-ons. Skunk2 recently introduced its new Mega-Power S2000 header to the market, and I was quick to offer up my car as a guinea pig. The new manifold is produced in T-304 stainless steel, features an equal-length, Tri-Y design, and is available for both the AP1 and AP2. The “bundle” of primaries coming off of the F-series head look like a work of art.
Since I was upgrading a little steel, I decided to ditch the stock airbox for one of AEM’s world-famous V2 cold-air intakes. The concept behind the V2 is that you’re combing the best of two worlds—a smaller-diameter, longer tube creates precious midrange power, while the larger, shorter piping should generate more top end power. The S2000 version is long, really long. It runs from the throttle body, behind the radiator, all the way to the open area under the passenger side headlight. Installing the AEM V2 is one of the easiest and most pain-free that I’ve come across for the S2000. A few previous intake systems that I’ve tried called for some trimming of the hood, and incompatibility with a front shock tower bar—not the AEM. It snakes through the bay and under the headlight perfectly, and only requires that you trim some of the plastic under-tray in order to clear the piping. The simple mount system that ties into the car’s frame took only minutes to cinch up and is incredibly secure.
Although I haven’t had the time to get the car back on the dyno for a tuning session, the growl of the AEM and bump in midrange pull is apparent. I should have some numbers by the next installment.
Next up on my to-do list is cleaning up the engine bay a bit more. The sleek look of the AEM intake has me thinking about relocating a few things and eliminating some others. Might have to contact Rywire.com for some rearranging…
The Right Tools
Evasive has its fender roller, ASC its trusty welder, A&G its paint booth, but what about at home? Here are two items that I consider lifesavers during the reassembly process and go beyond your basic toolbox contents.
Coast: I’ve probably smashed, in one way or another, at least half a dozen flashlights over the years. Of course, they typically break at the worst possible times, which is why I was pretty pumped when I received these lights from Coast. The flashlight is compact, built like a tank, and features an adjustable light beam that can actually be zeroed in and locked so that you don’t lose your target. Also included in the shipment was an adjustable headlamp system. Though it might look like you’re impersonating a coal miner, this is one of the best tools you can have on hand. Completely hands-free, adjustable light intensity, and again, built ridiculously tough. It’s perfect for working under the car or even looking down into that dark engine bay.
Race Ramps: I’ve used these on every single project car that I’ve worked on. Lowered cars are a pain to get off the ground, we all know this, but these little beauties allow even the hunkered-down S2000 to elevate its front or rear enough to get a standard jack under its body. Ultra lightweight and able to withstand far more weight than I’ll ever throw at them, I’d pay much more than what these are advertised for in order to have them in my arsenal.