02nd Jun2017

Face/Off R32 GT-R

by Michael Chandler

Like many of us, Skitch Bryant fell in love with the Skyline GT-R’s whilst playing Gran Turismo.  Unlike many of us, he imported one.  One that’s a bit different than most of the R32’s you’ll see roaming around.

Yes, despite what the car looks like from the A pillars forward, this is an R32 GTR.  It just has front end conversion, similar to the Bee R 324R.  Unlike the Bee R kit, this one has some R34 Z Tune fenders grafted on to it.  It also has a rear windshield wiper, which is a nice touch.

Under the hood is…

*sips soda*

An RB26DETT that’s been given a lot of NISMO upgrades: N1 turbos and oil pump, bigger intercooler, and other stuff we’ll file under “etc”.  It also has…

A BUNCHA SHINY-ASS HARD PIPES!  And a shiny Top Secret catch can.

All of those pipes, along with the downpipe, exhaust, oil cooler, and oil filter relocation setup are GReddy/Trust pieces.  There are also Spitfire coil packs, and a Cusco strut bar in there, but since it’s an RB26, people will focus on the power adders.  Which is a shame, because this thing has seen some upgrades in the handling department as well.

Behind the NISMO branded Enkei wheels are the OEM brakes and rotors.  And behind them are a set of Cusco Street Zero coilovers, and NISMO stainless steel brake lines and sway bars.  

The interior has been given the NISMO touch as well, in the form of seats, floor mats,…

And 320 kph gauge cluster.  

That orange, blurry thing in the last photo is a MOMO steering wheel, because it can’t be all NISMO all the time.  While we’re here, can we take a minute and appreciate the late 80’s goofy awesomeness that are buttons and switches on the cowl of the gauge cluster?  Man, makes me miss my Legend and its radio controls on the cowl.

Skitch picked up the Bayside Blue Skyline from a seller in Japan.  He did all the paperwork, and flew to Long Beach to drive the car back.  And that drive was interesting, because everyone was snapping photos of the car.  Especially in California.  From the email he sent me (because I forgot some of the details when he told me the story during the shoot):

I stopped at a Walmart along the way in Cali to grab some snacks and supplies for the road trip.  I was literally inside for only about 10-15 minutes and come out to an entire Nissan club with their cars parked next to mine, taking pictures and geeking out over the Skyline.  I asked them how they got here so fast and they told me that one of their members was following me and phoning everyone in the club to come out before the car disappears.  They were super cool and we hung out for a little bit before I had to move on.

Stalkers can be fun sometimes!

People love it at car shows, especially kids.  I love it when the little kids run up to it and recognize that they’ve played the car in a video game or that it’s their favorite color.  Although I wasn’t expecting anyone else to really pay much attention or freak out over the car, it’s fun to know that it’s so well received and love in the community.  After all, I bought this for me and because I love the platform and heritage of the car.  It’s nice to know that others know of the car as well in some form or another

I can attest to the kids freaking out when they see it at a show.  I was the guy shooting the roll in photos at ISS, and when Skitch and the Skyline rolled past, the crowd behind me lost their minds.  

I’m glad that we can finally, legally, have R32s of all varieties.  Especially ones like Skitch’s: super unique, and driven frequently.  Now let’s see some crazy time attack builds!

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
18th Jul2016

It’s Really Not a 240SX: Erik’s 180SX

by Michael Chandler

180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2

In a world full of real and fake, mislabeled things, and people trying to fake the funk, it’s rare we find someone with a real, correctly labeled, funky ass thing on their hands.  Sometimes it’s a guy with a rad, rare camera.  Other times it’s somebody with a copy of that movie you loved as a kid, but could never find in adulthood.  In this case, it’s Erik with a legitimate 180SX.  Right hand drive and all.

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Can we acknowledge the clear timing belt cover?

You can’t really see it, but the ID plate lists this car as a 180SX that came with an SR20DET.  And this car ran an SR for a very long time, then Erik got an itch, and BH Motorsports got crafty, and it has an RB25DET Neo under the hood.  It’s not crazily built, the only internal modifications are a set of Tomei Pon cams.  Everything else is a bolt on.  On the intake side is a Freddy intake manifold (Fake Greddy, keep up) with a set of R35 GTR fuel injectors and a Tomei fuel pressure regulator.

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On the fun side is a Garrett 3076r snail, bolted to a CX Racing manifold.  Cooling the compressed air before it gets to the Freddy manifold is a PBM intercooler.  Watching over this whole ordeal is a Haltech Platinum Pro Series ECU, which gets and sends information via a Wiring Specialties harness.  Tuning services were provided by D-Wreck.

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Or else what?

Getting that power to the driven wheels is an RB20 transmission, loving stuffed with an ACT 6 puck unsprung clutch.  In the back, between the driven wheels, is a NISMO two way limited slip differential.

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Doing the stopping is a set of S14 brake calipers up front, and the stock calipers in the rear.  Both have Project Mu pads in them, which seem to be doing the job.

Helping Erik get that sweet, sweet steering angle (which, as I’m told, translates to sweet, sweet street cred) is a whole mess of stuff that my feeble brain barely has a grasp of: PBM knuckles front and rear, lengthened and boxed lower control arms, Driftworks offset and bent tension rods, an GK Tech offset steering rack spacers.

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Helping to maximize grip, something a drift car actually needs) are a set of Gecko street coilovers.  Strut tower bars provided by JIC  (front) and Cusco (rear), and a Godspeed full rear suspension arm kit in the back help keep things planted.  Also some Stance subframe risers raise a subframe… Not sure which, but one of them is raised!

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The front and rear wheels and tires are different, for reasons.  Up front the 18×9 Rota G Forces are wrapped in 205/40 Federal 595s, and out back the 18×10.5 Vordovens turn 265/35 Achilles ATR Sports into white smoke.

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Ok, now that we’ve covered what makes this car go, we can get on to the miles of style this thing has.  In the back it has a set of JDM kouki tail lights, over which is a custom drag wing made by Team Orange.  Who is Team Orange?  They’re the drift team that ran RWD Evos and WRXs in D1GP.

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The car sports a replica Vertex body kit, and a real D Max hood vent.  It also has a one of ten Godai Elements: Earth windshield banner from Super Wow Factory.  The gray and deceptively purple two tone was done by Brandon over at D-Spare.

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Inside, on the driver’s side, is a Bride Vios Low Maxx 3 seat, on Planted seat rails.  The limited edition Jimmy Up steering wheel is mounted on a Works Bell quick release, and a NISMO shift knob tops the shifter.  180SX feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

On the passenger side is a Bride Zeta seat, also on Planted rails, and a set of Defi gauges mounted in the dash.  No such thing as too much information.

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And in the back, opposite the Sard surge tank, is a .50 caliber ammo box.  Inside that box is not ammunition, but his battery.

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This isn’t a 240SX with 180SX tail lights and center section.  This is the real deal.  It also hasn’t been dipped and deep fried in America either.  This is about as JDM as you’re gonna get until you hit the home islands.  It’s really authentic, and really a 180SX

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
13th Nov2015

A Superb Roadster

by Michael Chandler

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
10th Feb2015

La Flama Blanca

by Michael Chandler

La Flama Blanca Evo X Michael Chandler CAMautoMag

If you’re familiar with RallySport Direct, then you’ve undoubtedly seen this car.  If you think that this is the company’s car and I had to twist a bunch of arms to be able to take pictures of it, then you’d be wrong.  All I had to do was ask Dallin Felton, because he’s the guy who drives it and has been molding it into what you see here.

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Dallin is a regular guy, just like any of us.  The biggest difference is that he happens to work for RallySport Direct, whereas we do not.  That, and he has a history of building some awesome cars.  He had a Daytona Violet M3 and a Voltex Evo VIII, so having him take the reigns of the Evo X project wasn’t that huge of a stretch or risk.

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White is the color of choice for the Evo, as it is for the rest of the RSD fleet; however, this one is accented not with blue, gray and pink like the rest of the cars.  It’s strictly white and red, aside from the windshield banner of course.  For everyday use the car rolls on a set of 18×10.5 Volk Racing TE37RTs, covered by a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE760’s.  The Potenza’s measure in at a healthy 275/35.  Behind the red Volks you see the factory red Brembo brake calipers and the Stoptech slotted rotors they clamp down on.  The slotted rotors are part of Stoptech’s Sport Kit which comprises of the slotted rotors (front and rear), stainless steel brake lines and their Street Performance brake pads.

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The car has an aggressive stance, but not crazy like a Bond villain.  The Ohlins Road and Track coilovers allow for the height adjustment, while a lengthy list of Whiteline components (ball socket end links, 27mm sway bars, control arm bushings and rear control arms, and roll kit) round out the rest of the suspension set up.  Why the high dollar coilovers and half the Whiteline catalog?  Because La Flama Blanca goes and gets it on the autocross course in the Street Mod class.  That’s also why there’s a set of 18×10 Advan RZ’s with Hoosier A6s sitting in the garage.

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There is a healthy amount of APR Performance products on the car.  From the front splitter to the big GTC-300 wing.

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Even the Vortex Generator is an APR piece!  The short antennae is from Cusco, and calling it short is very generous.

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There’s no massive diffuser, or uber rare bumper on the back of the car.  It’s almost entirely factory save for the APR spoiler, a La Flama Blanca decal, and the tip of a Tomei Titanium cat-back exhaust.  Ahead of that is a Tomei test pipe and Big Mouth down pipe.  There’s also a Tomei upper intercooler pipe made of Titanium.  Aside from the shiny pipe and the TurboSmart Dual Port blow off valve, there’s nothing screaming performance about the car.  The AMS front lower motor mount and shifter bushings are hidden down under the motor, and the Exedy twin plate clutch is a piece that never sees the light of day.  Even the interior is deceivingly pedestrian, save for the AEM UEGO, AccessPORT V3, Fat Perrin shift knob.

All of that go fast stuff you don’t see, or don’t notice because you’re used to seeing EVERY Evo X with parts like that, adds up.  The numbers they add to are 293 horsepower to the wheels and 289 lb/ft of torque.  That ain’t bad, but it’s also subject to change.  If you owned a company that sells parts for a living, wouldn’t you want to throw a bigger intercooler or turbo or cams or whatever else suits your fancy at your shop car?  Stick around.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler
*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

28th Aug2014

Gumball WRS: A Study In Cool

by Michael Chandler

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (2 of 25)

What makes a cool car?  I heard someone say that “the scene” considers a car cool if it’s lowered and has wheels on it.  Others think cool is a full on race build, with street legality and budgets thrown in the trash with the stock struts.  And others think if it isn’t adorned with the rarest of the rare it’s a waste of time.  And it has to be daily driven, or else why build it? David Arellano’s 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is low, and on a rare set of wheels.  It has the heart of a WRX, and enough power to embarrass some people’s dedicated track day toy.  And it sees regular street duty.  If this isn’t cool, then I don’t know what is anymore.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (7 of 25)

The search for his “Gumball” began three years ago.  While biting into a sandwich, he was bitten by the urge to spend a large amount of money on a car.  After mulling over such reliable, and easily modified chassis such as FD RX-7s and twin turbo 300ZXs, David finally settled on the mildly rare 2.5RS coupe.  After looking at two other coupes he finally found the 2000 coupe you see here sitting in the corner of a shop.  The shop was in the process of building the car, and swapping in a 2.0L WRX motor.  With the promise of “prototype” coilovers, David was sold.  After some hemming and hawing by the shop, they finally dropped it off in David’s driveway.  No coilovers, but some blown struts and what would turn out to be a mismatched transmission and rear differential were in the car (which eventually failed), but so was that lovely WRX motor.  Soon after arriving in his driveway, David got to work making this car his own.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (3 of 25)

First things to go were the US spec lights.  David made a call to Japan and had some OEM clear corner markers and red/clear tail lights sent over, along with some Chargespeed clear bumper markers and clear signal lenses.  With the scourge that is amber lighting removed and banished to the land of wind and ghosts, it was time to address some other visual cues.  After running through a Bugeye WRX lip, and a Bakemono replica of a JDM V5/6 STi lip, David finally settled on something that is no longer in production: Orciari 1 piece front lip.  Sitting above the Italian made lip, are his OEM fog lights which were hiding behind the OEM fog light covers.  Out back there’s a purple Rallytech tow hook, and a set of Honda Accord spats.  According to David they were easier to install than his OEM JDM spats, and they look better.  He’s also sporting rolled and pulled fenders, because low car problems (the tires were munching the fenders before the rolling and the pulling) and also because wheel whore.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (21 of 25)

I use that last term lightly.  Having a garage full of Rotas and other OEM whatever make you drive wheels, makes you a wheel street walking hooker.  Having the stuff David has had makes you a wheel high class escort.  The streets aren’t littered with Volk CE28Ns or Work Emotion 11Rs, and coming across a set of Volk C-Ultras isn’t as easy as walking to the store.  He’s had the CE28Ns and the Works, and the C-Ultras are being repaired (they were in pretty rough shape) and custom center caps are being designed.  Enough about the past and the future, let’s talk about the present.  Specifically these 17×9 +38 Desmond Regamaster Marquis Promadas.  An exceedingly rare, Russian made wheel.  Normally you see Regamasters on Hondas, and while that’s not terribly unusual (but still cool, so if you’re doing that keep doing that) seeing them on a Subaru is VERY different.  Wrapped around the wheels are a set of Achillies ATR Sport tires, measuring in at 205/40.  Also of note, he’s running some adapters to make the wheels work.  They’re 15mm 5×100-5×114, and they’re made by a local company called Grapple Parts.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (4 of 25)

To achieve his stance David had to not only throw on coilovers, but things that allow him to make suspension adjustments.  The coilovers are BC Racing BR series coilovers with camber plates fore and aft.  For more camber adjustment, he is employing OEM camber bolts up front, and Eibach’s in the rear.  Joining the OEM camber bolts in the front is an OEM WRX swaybar, while an STi sway bar joins the party in the rear.  Also back there are some Cobb end links.  Back to the front, and in the engine bay, is a Cusco Type ST strut tower bar.  And speaking of the engine bay…

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Here it is, in all its glory!  There is the afore mentioned WRX swap, which came from a 2004 WRX.  No longer is the wrong transmission behind the motor, a 2006 WRX transmission has taken its rightful place on the back end of the motor.  Between the motor and transmission rests an Exedy light weight fly wheel, and stage 1 clutch.  For enhanced shifting pleasure there are Kartboy shifter bushings, and a stainless steel clutch cable has been installed.  Holding the transmission is a STi Group N mount.  Rigged Performance performed an internal stub axle conversion and a 2001 2.5RS 4.11 final drive conversion to pair with the 2001 2.5RS viscous limited slip differential.  Bracing that rear differential is a Laile Beatrush rear differential brace.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (16 of 25)

The motor has been hepped up on goof balls accentuated by digging through the massive Subaru parts bin, and picking up quality aftermarket pieces.  The OEM supplied parts are a VF39 turbocharger, top mount intercooler, and 565CC fuel injectors all from an STi.  The aftermarket bits are a K&N Typhoon intake, a no name one piece header and up pipe, an Invidia Bellmouth downpipe, and a Cobb cat back exhaust.  There’s also a Hallman Pro manual boost controller, which helped Jason Cleverly of Cleverly Tuned tune the car to make 286 horsepower and 240lb/ft of torque at 18psi of boost. Prettying up the bay are a Cusco turbo heat shield, Rallytech fuse box cover and radiator shroud, and a Beatrush alternator shroud.  The engine bay has been semi-wire tucked, and the battery is now in the trunk.  The coolant reservoir is now hiding in the fender and the A/C has been ditched all together.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (15 of 25)

The interior has also received its share of JDM goodies.  JDM STi pedals and Type-RA front seats have been installed, along with a Nardi Torino steering wheel, Splash steering wheel hub and Omori boost gauge.  The Beatrush Duracon shift knob sits on a stock length shifter, which has a Zealous Interiors blue suede shift boot with cherry blossom red stitching.  The shift boot matches the emergency brake boot.  Black WRX carpet and STi floor mats have come to rest at the bottom of the passenger cabin, and the door panels have been recovered in blue suede.  All the lighting is LED, and tunes come courtesy of an Alpine deck, which has an ipod cable weaving out of sight through the center console.

Gumball Impreza Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (24 of 25)

Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart is famously quoted as saying “I know it when I see it” in regard to hardcore pornography.  Cool is definitely subjective, but when you see it, you definitely know it.  Will there be a unanimous consensus on what is cool in the automotive world?  Probably not, but if there is ever an argument to be made for it, I shall submit David’s Impreza as my exhibit A.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

12th Jul2013

Simple S2000

by Michael Chandler

Nathan S2000 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-15

 Keep it simple stupid

Simplify then add lightness

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

There are hundreds of quotes talking about the greatness of simplicity, and at one point we have all said we wanted something simple.  But some of us end up with something overly complicated and regret taking the path of over complication.  Nathan Luong has taken his Honda S2000 down the path of simplicity.

 

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The most noticeable modifications the the exterior are the Voltex Type 1V Wing, the OEM hard top and front lip and the APR GT3 carbon fiber mirrors.  Most people keep Honda’s roadster as a soft top, so seeing one with a hard top is a bit of a rarity.  Seeing one with the Voltex wing is a bit more of a rarity.  And you don’t really see Modulo badges everyday either.

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Nate also popped on some clear side markers from a S2000 CR and an AP1 S2000 rear bumper.  Underneath the Voltex wing is a smaller GT Motoring duckbill spoiler.

 

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The car is a bit more stiffly sprung thanks to a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers and a Cusco strut tower bar.  It sticks and stops better thanks to the 255/40 Advan Neovas wrapped around the 17×9 Enkei PF01s.  It’s not pushing a penny across a parking lot low, nor is it a super meaty track car stance.  It’s a nice look for a street car, and capable enough to turn some laps on a track if the situation arises.

 

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The simplicity continues under the hood.  An AutoTecknic carbon fiber cooling plate helps direct airflow to the K&N intake.  From there it makes it way through the engine and out of the car by way of an HKS 75mm exhaust.

 

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Cabin wise it’s painfully simple: Bride Vios 3 seat on Buddy Club Super Low Down seat rails, J’s Racing shift plate and a Team VooDoo shift knob.  He’s had that shift knob in all of his cars, and probably will continue to keep it in all of them.

Is this the most intensely built S2000 ever?  Not even close.  Is it a fun driving, handsome roadster?  And then some.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.”  This car embodies those words.

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.