Words and photos by Michael Chandler
I’ve said it many times before: the Honda S2000 is the best Miata ever made. It has near perfect weight distribution, has an amazing engine and gearbox combination, and (to me at least) looks much better. It never got the stigma of being a “hairdresser’s car”, but it never really changed much over the course of its ten year life. And Honda axed it in 2009, and left rear wheel drive behind them. Thankfully, S2000s are rather widely available, and there is a huge aftermarket for these cars. Jonathon Esmeyer’s S2000 is an excellent example of a well done street car, that’s inching closer to becoming a track day terror.
The car has an OEM+ look to it. While there are plenty of options as far as widebodies, flares, and monstrous wings, Jon went far more subtle. A Greddy Gracer front lip and a Speedhunter’s tow strap are the only changes made to the front of the car. An OEM hardtop and decklid spoiler are the other big noticeable modifications to the exterior, or at least the ones you notice at first glance. It’s when you look closer that you notice the little details, like the smoked S2000 CR side markers, shorty antennae, and badges redone in black chrome. Getting closer makes the carbon fiber single exhaust cover and ForbiddenUSA carbon side strakes readily apparent. These little details add up to that OEM+ look.
Lowering spring can do wonders for making an S2000 more ground bound, but coilovers are the way to go for the burgeoning track day hero. Since Jon plans on taking this thing to more NASA HPDE events, he went with the ubiquitous KW Variant 3 coilovers. To help stiffen the chassis further than it already is, a Cusco front lower cross brace and a Comptech rear lower tie bar have been installed. And to eliminate the vibrations coming from the driveline because the car has been lowered, a set of Megan Racing driveshaft spacers were added, along with Megan’s anti bump steer kit. eXedium differential collars help minimize the amount of flex in the OE differential bushings.
Stoptech slotted rotors are gripped by Axxis pads on all four corners, with brake fluid delivered to the calipers via Agency Power lines. A good set of wheels and tires can do wonders for any vehicle, and this roadster is no exception. Desmond Regamasters aren’t a foreign sight on a Honda, and the Marquis Promada Brights look amazing with the Silverstone Metallic paint of the car. The wheels measure 17×8 +35 in front, and 17×9 +38 in the rear, and are covered in Hankook Ventus V12 tires, 225 width in the front and 245 width in the rear. Don’t focus too much on the tires, stickier meat is on the way! All of that is held on KICS Leggdura lug nuts.
How do you make an incredible engine better? Some would say “leave it alone”, but the rest of us would say “add more power”. And that can only mean one thing: forced induction.
A Science of Speed supercharger kit, based around a Paxton Novi centrifugal supercharger, was chosen to up the power. The heat exchanger upgrade box was checked when the kit was ordered, and one of their ported throttle bodies made its way into the box as well. A Comptech Ice Box was modified to work with the supercharger setup, but the Berk header, high flow cat, and HKS exhaust didn’t require any modification.
A Mishimoto radiator with slim fans help keep the boosted mill cool, while a plastic intake manifold gasket help keep intake temperatures cool. A PasswordJDM Kevlar cooling plate makes sure that radiator gets all the air it needs.
The interior has the same OEM+ feel that the exterior has. A MemoryFab Kevlar bucket seat on Buddy Club seat rails replace the factory red seat. Yeah, red seats. They’re pretty bad ass. The optional titanium shift knob one could get from the factory has been replaced with an Aspec titanium knob (heh), and the shifter has been extended with a Moddiction shift knob extender. The interior is dripping with Go-Tuning suede products: elbow pad, A-pillars, sun visors, shift boot and e-brake cover.
Jon doesn’t have any concrete plans for the car, aside from more track days and driving the car whenever he can. He has no plans on making it a trailer queen, so be prepared to see this thing prowling the streets and cruising to the track for years to come.
Mazda’s Miata is entering its 4th generation, having been in production for 26 years. Honda’s roadster was only built for ten years, 1999-2009, and lasted two generations. In those ten years though, it rivaled Mazda’s grip on the roadster game, and may have even surpassed it. It represents a time when Honda was building fun, rear wheel drive cars alongside their front wheel drive selections. As we bring Honda Week to a close, I can’t think of a better car to close the curtain.