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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-2 Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-8 Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-9

 

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-10

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-19

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-16

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

 

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-21Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-20

 

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-1

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.

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-18

 

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.
11th Nov2015

A Tale of Two Civics Part 2

by Michael Chandler

 

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-14

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

 

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-5

Zack’s EG is another Civic that, in more civilized parts of the world, came with a B16 under the hood.  We never got those stateside, which is a shame.  It’s also a shame we never got the Accord Euro-R, a hotter version of the Acura TSX.  But because enthusiasts are an enterprising group who have access to the internet, and sometimes have more money than sense, we can do some interesting things.  Like shoving the Accord Euro-R’s K20A under the hood of an EG Hatchback.

While KC’s Civic is rather mild, Zack’s is serious business.  The beating heart of the car needs air flow to keep cool and make power, so the OEM bumper has been modified to accommodate that need for air, and the hood has received a KSR hood vent to increase flow.  Sending air through the engine bay helps, but channeling it around the car helps make the car turn laps faster.  A Spoon style front lip sits above a customer splitter, which is attached via PCI brackets.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-6 NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-9

The Spoon style spoiler out back looks sharp, and probably does something aerodynamically.  And the APR mirrors are smaller, and therefore are hit with less air than the OEM mirrors.  So let’s move on to something we all have a better handle on.  Well, most of us anyway.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-12

This Civic is still on a set of 949s, but these are massively wide 15×9 949s.  Those wide wheels are pushed out 18mm in the front by a set of custom 18mm spacers, and 10mm Ichiban spacers in the rear.  Sticky Nitto rubber is on all four of the wheels.  Behind the rollers are a set of Wilwood Dynapro 6 piston calipers, grabbing on to 11.75 inch rotors in the front.  Out back are a set of Fastbrakes 11″ caliper bracket and rotor kit, featuring Integra calipers.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-11

Zack’s suspension modifications are pretty intense, which makes sense considering he has a lot more power than stock.  He too is running Ground Control coilover sleeves, 700lb/in in the front and 750lb/in in the rear, but those are over custom valved Bilstein Sport shocks, originally intended for an Integre Type-R.  More ITR parts include rear control arms, sway bar and end links.  He’s also running Ground Control top hats, an ASR subframe brace (like so many of the other cool kids), and PCI spherical trailing arm bushings.  And rounding things out are Hardrace front and rear upper adjustable upper arms, and their bushing kit in the front.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-28

So you may be wondering why I brought up the K20A from the Accord Euro-R.  Well, it’s because Zack has swapped one in.  You may also be wondering about that heat exchanger in the front bumper.  That’s actually a big ass Vibrant intercooler with custom end tanks, and custom piping.  Why the Intercooler?  Tucked down in the engine bay, under the alternator, is a C38-61 Rotrex supercharger, utilizing a Kraftwerks bracket.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-29

The belt driven snail pulls air in through an AEM filter, and then after going through the Otto Cycle, it exits the head via a SSR 4-2-1 header and leaves the car through a custom 3″ stainless steel exhaust.  That custom piece features a Vibrant resonator and a Burns Stainless muffler.  Excess boost pressure, something any supercharger that isn’t a Roots type blower can build up, is relieved by a TiAL Q blow off valve.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-31

Slapping on a supercharger that’s power range is 272-720 horsepower necessitates adding some supporting modifications.  Things like fuel system and cooling upgrades.  1000cc Injector Dynamics fuel injectors supply the fuel to the head.  A 255lph Walbro fuel pump sends fuel to a Golden Eagle Pro Series fuel rail, via Earl lines (with accompanying fittings), an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and Fuel Labs filter.  To prevent any starvation, a condition that has been the downfall of many a car, a 034 Motorsport surge tank with a Jay Racing 044 internal pump have been added.  And in case Zack wants to run magical corn juice, there’s a Continental E85 flex fuel sensor installed.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-24

A Rotrex spec’d oil cooler keeps the ever precious lubrication goo able at an appropriate temperature, while a custom C&R radiator with SPAL fans keeps the coolant (or distilled water, or whatever) cool and the engine in the optimal temperature range.  An Autometer oil pressure sensor helps Zack keep tabs on the internal dealings of his engine, and Hybrid Racing radiator hoses send whatever coolant he’s using into the various coolant passages of his engine.  And if things get a little too wild, he has modified Summit Racing coolant overflow and catch can to work in his swapped hatch.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-30

Other odds and ends include a K Tuned idler pulley, Karcepts throttle bracket, and Hasport engine mounts.  The whole endeavor is run by Hundata KPro version 4, which gets its information from all the different sensors (including a Hondata 4 bar MAP sensor), via a custom engine and charge harness, and a Hybrid Racing jumper harness.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-27NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-21

WE’RE NOT DONE UNDER THE HOOD!  Front wheel drive is all sorts of fun, because everything is under the hood.  An EP3 Civic Si gearbox, with 6 speed Euro-R gearing and the OEM limited slip diff translate the 420 horsepower and 268 lb/ft of torque into forward (and rearward) movement.  A Stage 4 Competition Clutch and R Crew axles put that power to the ground, and a Hybrid Racing RSX shirt shifter and shifter cables actuate gear changes.

NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-17 NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-18 NASA Utah Civics Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-23

 

The interior is what you would expect in a 400+ horsepower trackday Civic.  That is to say, there’s not a whole lot.  A Recaro SPG seat, and its FIA certification, sit on a PCI adjustable seat bracket on the driver’s side, while an Integra seat sits on the passenger side.  A Schroth six point harness keeps the driver secured in the seat, and a 4 point Autopower roll bar provides some security in the event of an ass over tea kettle event.  A Personal steering wheel and Buddy Club shift knob get a lot of touching during a track session, and to keep track of the engine’s vitals a 7″ HP tablet has been enlisted and shoved into the dash.

NASA Utah Round 7 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-152

The Honda Civic has been a competent choice for track day shenanigans for years, and these two cars show that it’s still a solid choice for those wanting a blank canvas on which to paint their track adventures.

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