Project Honda S2000 – Street / Show Car Build Introduction


I’m excited to introduce the newest Project Car for – my S2000! First, a little backstory on the car…

I picked up my one-owner 2001 Honda S2000 in February of 2008 with 7,900 miles on the odometer. I found it on a local consignment lot completely stock. At the time I was considering picking up a higher mileage AP2 (the chassis code for 2004-2009 Honda S2000’s) or an 2002-2003 AP1 but I was having a hard time finding one in perfect condition. Nearly every one that I looked at had been abused or had been painted in some area of the car.

I decided that having a ridiculously low mileage pristine stock car was more important to me than all the amenities of the more modern S2000’s (glass rear window, leather interior pieces, more modern bumpers, etc.). With the exception of the soft top, the rest of the newer parts can be added to any S2000 with relatively low effort and cost.


Over the last eight years I’ve been very methodical with my modifications. Nearly everything has been analyzed to death. The S2000 is one of the best production cars that Honda has ever developed (only being bested by the NSX and Integra Type R IMO) and it’s difficult to improve the performance of something so well-thought out without it affecting some other part of the car.

The first modification that I made was the addition of a cold air intake. It’s common knowledge that most S2000 bolt-on parts add very little horsepower. My goal was to improve the sound and remove some weight off the nose of the car. The stock airbox assembly weighs 9.7 lbs compared to the two piece aluminum AEM V2 that weighs 3.8 lbs. An added benefit is that the intake is less restrictive and I immediately noticed that the fuel economy was improved.

project-s2000-intro-3The reason for the lack of horsepower gains with bolt-on parts is that Honda did such a good job designing the F20C. In stock form the 2.0L engine produces 240 horsepower (120 horsepower per liter) and is still one of the highest efficiency naturally aspirated production engines ever created. Some owners have reported 2-3 horsepower gains over the stock assembly. I suspect that with a larger throttle body and tuning via a standalone ECU more power could be realized.


Another modification that I did fairly early on was stainless steel Science of Speed hood dampers. These replace the ugly stock hood prop and are by far the best kit on the market. Science of Speed is a shop in Arizona specializing in the development of Acura NSX and Honda S2000 parts. 


Where this hood damper kit differs from others is that the top ball mount is a one piece CNC machined part that uses an existing mounting hole but also has a locating pin that drops into another existing hole preventing rotation.


Other hood damper kits can rotate over time which means that the struts end up crashing into the side of the fender. This rubs the paint off the fenders which can lead to rust. I’ve had this kit for 4-5 years with no signs of corrosion.

I also upgraded a few aspects of the interior. The late AP2 radio door (as seen below in front of the shifter) was purchased new from Honda and replaced the plain black AP1 radio door. Around the same time the stock aluminum shift knob was changed to a wrinkle black Team VooDoo from This was done to clean up the interior but I also prefer ball shift knobs to the stock egg shaped one.


After owning the car for a few years I added an aftermarket alarm system. With the S2000 being a convertible it was important to pick an alarm that had proximity sensor functionality. The proximity sensor is located directly below the armrest and when the top is down if anyone reaches into the car more than 6″ the alarm is set off. This was a HUGE improvement that makes the car much more functional during the summer when the top can be left down without worrying about someone messing with the car.


Around the same time I installed the alarm I upgraded the stock door speakers and head unit. Early AP1’s are known for having poor sound quality with cardboard cone speakers. I got a good deal on a set of Focal carbon fiber cone speakers and made my own 1/2″ spacers so they could fit and not contact the window. The head unit is an older Alpine unit with auxiliary input.

One of my most recent mods was the AP2 front bumper. I’ve always been more of a fan of the modern S2000 front ends so after my stock front bumper was scratched and littered with rock chips I decided it was time to improve the exterior look. Only the front bumper was painted in the stock Silverstone color and it matches very well. I wrote up a AP2 front bumper conversion how-to on the forum a long time ago that details the entire process if you’re interested in learning more.

You may be asking yourself why I’m running such ugly wheels. This is my winter setup that have Continental DWS tires for the rainy season in the NW. We don’t get a lot of snow in this area but these tires have been amazing for the last couple of years in nearly all winter conditions. In the next post I’ll reveal my current summer setup – unless I decide to change them out for something else…

project-s2000-intro-5This project will be quite a bit different from my Project RX-7 as I’m starting with a much cleaner chassis and for now focusing on less power mods. My plan is to continue to tastefully modify it and enter it in some local shows for 2016. I call it a street/show build because I refuse to own a dedicated show car. I don’t want to lose the ability to do what I love most – driving this car top down on twisty roads in the summer!


About Author

Matt Haugness

Matt created in 2011 after noticing a lack of media websites dedicated exclusively to import cars. Although he’s employed as an engineer and has no formal training in journalism, his skills continue to develop as the editor for the site. He enjoys writing feature car articles, technical build/project articles, and organizing events. Matt drives a 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, 2001 Honda S2000 and a 1990 V8-swapped Mazda RX-7.


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