It’s been well over a year now since I bought my S2000. My car ownership is a bit like dog years – owning a car for one year is like most people owning one for seven years.
I’ve had something like 15 different cars and I’m only 32. That’s not because I have endless money (FAR from it), but because I like to cycle through cars and experience as many as possible. Life is short and lockdown is long.
I just can’t seem to shake this S2K though. It’s like a bad, yet enjoyable rash. You don’t want to explain how you caught it, but the memories are fun.
I can’t even say that the S2000 was on my radar in recent years. I had never considered one. I’m embarrassed about this, because occasionally I meet someone who has “always wanted one” and I inevitably feel terrible.
I’ve never been much of a JDM guy, which is why Honda’s finest wasn’t in my crosshairs. I’ve always been an Alfa or Renault guy, avoiding the cliché M cars and unable to afford to run an AMG.
The S2000’s styling is ok, but it’s not particularly special. I can’t say that I lusted over them when they drove past. I knew about the high-revving engine, but I was always bored by Japanese interiors. Roadsters in Joburg also aren’t the most appealing things, as you spend your life choking on smog while fighting away robot hawkers.
Having owned Alfas for quite some time (with an occasional foray into something else), I had decided it was time for a change. One of my best mates at the time (who has sadly moved on from this world but hopefully gets a lot of VTEC action wherever he currently finds himself) pushed me to look at the S2000.
At the time, I had been in Cape Town for a couple of years already. A roadster is a totally different situation down here vs. Big Smoke up north, with gorgeous mountain passes and coastal drives all within easy reach on a Sunday morning.
So, I drove it. I loved it. Absolutely loved it, despite the boring interior and the rear styling that I’ve never quite gotten my head around (the front is a different story).
15 months later, I still love it. That’s big for me and says a lot about this car.
I flirt around on Autotrader and consider my options on practically a weekly basis (don’t we all?) but I just cannot figure out how to move up from my beloved Honda without spending a reckless amount of money.
This is especially true when we define “up” based on fun factor vs. maintenance costs, as opposed to outright straight-line performance (which is easily beaten by many of the current hot hatch options).
Among the Japanese offerings, the S2K is the best of its kind. It’s the ultimate affordable roadster (sorry MX-5 fans) because it combines amazing build quality with the best engine and gearbox combo this side of R500k. I like the Mazda, but it’s not fast enough to keep me excited.
Stuttgart offers a viable alternative in the form of the Boxster, but they cost more to buy and maintain vs. this Japanese masterpiece. Also, a Boxster is always going to carry the label of being a wannabe 911, but nobody ever has that kind of conversation about an S2000.
In fact, the S2K is a regular feature of any “best modern classics” list and is literally worshipped by Honda fans. That’s very different to having to park your Boxster behind the bushes at the Porsche club for fear of being ostracized.
The Z4 is nice, I must admit, but it isn’t iconic in the same way the S2000 is. The SLK is way too soft for me with the automatic gearbox and in AMG form is a screaming hotrod but far too expensive to run.
Not only is the S2K an accomplished car for normal road driving, but it’s an absolute hoot on the track.
I recently did my second track test in the car. Lockdown has taught me once and for all that life is both short and fragile and should be spent with high revs and squealing tyres as often as possible. You can always make more money, but you aren’t always assured of more time.
I’m accustomed to the karting circuit at Killarney, although it’s been so long that I may have forgotten all its little intricacies. I’m a total rookie when it comes to main circuit though, constantly learning new things with every lap.
My confidence in the S2000 has grown immensely in the limited number of sessions I’ve done. It’s a car that really rewards you for pushing the boundary but punishes you swiftly for pushing it too far.
The rear end is about as progressive as a right-wing nationalist party spokesperson, refusing to budge until it suddenly snaps and throws you into the grass. Literally. Ahem.
Let’s say I had a small mishap on the exit of turn 5 while chasing a Noble (my first mistake) where I got on the power a bit early (my second mistake). Luckily car and driver are completely fine.
I’m told that many people fit Bilsteins to their S2000s and I can see why. Many people also stance their S2000s and put wings on them that would embarrass a jumbo jet, so forgive me for being somewhat skeptical of what “many people” do.
The most appealing mod is to supercharge the car. I would be lying if I said that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind many times, but the cost is prohibitive and my S2000 is one of very few stock examples left. I’ll be throwing money away.
I think this Honda and I still have a good couple of years left together. I wish I could keep it forever, but space (and money) are always limited and I want to experience as many different cars as possible.
Having said that, I change my mind quicker than the weather, so anything is possible and I’m open to seeing what cars pop up for sale.
The S2K can’t be beaten at its game, so my next car will be something entirely different. My heart is bleeding for a Jaguar, but I need them to depreciate a bit more first…I see you, F-Type.