05th May2017

Shakotan Spooky: Austin’s Widebody AE86

by Michael Chandler

What you’re looking at is a car that is as old as I am; and much like myself, this car has gotten wider as the years have gone by.  Unlike myself, however, Austin intended for the car to be wide.  I did not want to be wide.  Let’s talk more about Austin Fenn’s Corolla.

We’ll get to the flares in a minute, so settle down.  Austin plucked this car from a perpetual project state, and built it into what you see here.  And he did a fair amount of that work in his garage.  He’s touched every aspect of this car, like the suspension.  Megan Racing supplies a set of Track series coilovers, roll center adjusters, and their adjustable four links.  Up front  is an MR2 steering rack (because it fits and is also manual), extended lower control arms, and T3 modified steering knuckles. 

 The shock and coil perches in the rear have been modified to allow for additional droppage, and there are hand made traction brackets as well.  There’s also a T3 panhard bar for good measure.  There is Motul 600 brake fluid coursing through braided brake lines on all four corners.  The OEM calipers grab onto slotted rotors.  All of that is tucked behind a set of Basset steel wheels, 14×8 in the front, and 15×10 (-52 offset!) in the rear.  The front wheels are currently wearing a pair of Yokohama S.drive tires, and the rears are sporting Falkens.

The rear bumper has been ditched, and a pair of boso pipes are sticking out the back.  The US spec front bumper has been cut up and tucked, and the body (underneath the custom livery that Austin designed, and Hero Prints turned into printable files) is some satin black paint and Chrysler Crystal Metallic Graphite.  

He’s fitted a set of Jblood sideskirts, and popped on some sideskirt extensions he snagged off of eBay.  Now let’s get to the thing you’ve been waiting for:

The flares are truly one-offs.  They aren’t some super rare Yahoo Japan finds, or something he found at a swap meet.  No, these are flares that he designed, AND MADE HIMSELF.  You won’t be able to get a set of them unless you A) rip them off Austin’s car, a move which is highly un-advisable for a litany of reasons or B) beg him to make a set for you, which will probably result in an answer in the negative.  They’re N2 inspired, but all Austin’s design.

Turning our attention under the hood, we find a 20 valve 4AGE!  And no A/C or power steering!  He has a newer xB, which has at least one of those things.  There’s a big Mishimoto radiator, and matching fans, along with a Setrab oil cooler and a thermostatic oil plate.  

The 20v inhales through a set of individual throttle bodies, topped with 75mm T3 velocity stacks.  It exhales through a very good looking header that I can’t remember the name of, nor the reason that he chose this header.  But damn is it good looking.  If there’s a bad looking, aftermarket header for the 4AGE, I haven’t seen it.  And I don’t want to.  Oh, and the head has been ported and polished.  And the whole shebang is being orchestrated by a Sprint 500 standalone ECU.

There is no carpet inside Austin’s Corolla, only custom floor mats.  The rear of the car doesn’t even get the luxury of floor mats, it just has the relocated battery, sitting inside of a stainless steel box.  There’s a Veilside OG fixed back seat, which necessitated the recovering of the OEM passenger seat and door cards.  You know, so they match the Veilside bucket.  The steering wheel is a Vertex (by Vertex) wheel, and doesn’t have a horn button.  It is very colorful though.  Oh, and that stuff sitting on the driver’s seat?

A sweet pair of Shirts Tucked In driving gloves.

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25th Mar2016

Make It Yourself: Widebody Voltex WRX

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Since that fateful SEMA, all those years ago, making your car wide has become a lot easier.  There are rivet on fender flares for all of the popular chassis: FRS/BRZ, 350Z, 240SX, E36, I even saw that there’s a Pandem kit for EG Civics!  If you have a Porsche, you can have Nakai-san fly to you and make your 964 or 993 chassis 911 insanely wide.  This is great and all, but seeing a hand made wide body kit, where the fenders were cut and shaped and re-welded and repainted is a rare sight.  Hardly anybody is doing that.  Jon Truong is no stranger to making something work on his bug-eye WRX.  For a while this thing was known for sporting some Voltex pieces, pieces that weren’t made for the 02-03 WRX’s.  How do you improve on that little project?  Well let’s talk about that.

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A pair of bright red Bride Low Max seats with 5-point Takata harnesses brighten up the interior.  An Auto Power roll cage provides some extra security in case things get a little wild, which hopefully they don’t.  Jon lays his hands on a gorgeous, limited edition Sparco Champion steering wheel, which is attached to an NRG quick release hub.  Between the steering wheel and the gauge cluster are an AEM UEGO wideband gauge, and one of his Defi gauges.  Atop the dash, dead center, are the rest of his Defi gauges.  They monitor oil temperature and pressure, exhaust gas temperature, and boost.  The shift boot has been replace with a JPM Coachworks Alcantara piece.  All those gauges and that cage would be ridiculous if the engine was stock, but thankfully that is not the case.

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Definitely not stock.  Far, far from it.  Very few OEM pieces remain.  The crankcase is the on that came with the car, but that has been filled with some shiny new bits.  The block received a set of Darton sleeves, a crankshaft from a 2008 STI, KillerB pickup tube and baffle, King bearings, Rallispec connecting rods, and Cosworth pistons.  ARP headstuds hold the ported and polished two liter heads to the block, with Tomei headgaskets in between, and those heads are like a pinata: filled with goodies!  BC 1mm oversized valves, titanium valve springs and retainers, and 272 degree camshafts.  Supertech valve guides let those big valves move smoothly.  NGK spark plugs, one step colder than stock, supply the bang for the Otto cycle.  Samco radiator hoses, a Grimmspeed thermostat and a Koyorad radiator keep the engine cool, and a Tomei timing belt connects the new crank to the lumpy cams.  Hiding the alternator (hey, that’s stock!) is a gorgeous Abbey Road Company, more commonly known as ARC, alternator cover.

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Sitting atop an Agency Power manifold and TurboXS rotated up-pipe is a massive Garrett GT3582R turbo, featuring a TiAL hotside.  That’s quite the hair dryer!  That beast requires a bit of fuel, which is provided by a Walbro 255lph fuel pump, Agency Power fuel rails and Injector Dynamics 1000cc fuel injectors.  An Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator makes sure the flow is consistent, which is an important thing when you’re dealing with any larger-than-stock turbo setup.  Keeping the boost in check are a wonder trio of bits: a TiAL 44mm wastegate and Q blow off valve, and a Hallman boost controller.  Jon is running an AEM 3.5 BAR MAP sensor, because reasons and there’s no place for a MAF sensor.  The brains of the operation aren’t behind Jon’s bespectacled eyes, but in the COBB Tuning Accessport.  Keeping everything lubricated is oil, and sending that oil to the places it needs to go is a Cosworth high volume and pressure oil pump.  At the end of this whole thing is an Invidia G200 catback.  Ok, while all of that is awesome, it’s not what makes this car special.  While beauty in people is on the inside, the opposite is true for this car.

Now, all of the power needs to go through some stuff so it becomes what they call “usable”.  As you know, or not, Subaru transmissions are known for having 2nd gears made of glass.  Thankfully an upgrade to a six speed trans out of a JDM 2007 model should have that situation remedied.  Holding that new transmission in place is a Perrin transmission mount, and connecting that to the rear differential is a PST carbon driveshaft.  Helping with the gear shifts are a Kartboy short shifter and a Goodrich stainless steel clutch line.  With great power comes great necessity for a clutch that can handle that.  A Carbontec carbon clutch is up to the task, and an ACT Streetlite flywheel helps with engine response.

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Actually putting the power to the ground are a set of Yokohama Advan AD08Rs, which are mounted on a massive set of CCW Classics.  They come in at a staggering 18×11!  Behind the gargantuan wheels (11″ wide!  On all four corners!  ON A STREET CAR!!!) are Brembo calipers harvested from an STI, which clamp Hawk HPS pads upon DBA T3 slotted rotors.  All hail the magical kangaroo paw.  Feeding brake fluid to the calipers are some Stoptech stainless steel brake lines.  The suspension is fairly simple, a set of Zeal Function coilovers bring the car down and make the lateral transitions sharper.

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They say beauty is on the inside, and while the insides of this car are very pretty, the outside is much prettier.  You can clearly see that the license plate say VOLTEX.  This is for good reason.  Jon was bold enough to graft Voltex parts not meant for his chassis on to it.  For the longest time this was just the Voltex Bugeye, and that was good.  The rear diffuser, sidesteps and GT wing, and Greddy lip proved to be starting points, because things just went from there.  In the rear we have 04-05 tail lights, and a rear bumper and fender arches from yet another STI.  Oh, and there’s also the widebody setup back there too.  But why throw a widebody on the rear, and not the front?

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Before we get to that, let’s talk about some of the other stuff on this car.  There’s a wide assortment of JDM goodies on this: STI V7 hood scoop, grill and headlights; Spec-C roof vent; side markers, and ion fog lights.  There’s a roof vane behind the roof vent, and the corner markers have been plugged with carbon fiber.

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As you can see, there are no rivets on the exterior of this car.  And the wide fenders on the front didn’t arrive at Solid Autoworks in a box.  Those are handmade in metal.  Seeing someone with legitimate wide metal front fenders is a rarity, in an age where you can order FRP over fenders and slap them on.  A lot of craftsmanship went into this bugeye, proving that sometimes the only way to have the best is to make it yourself.

GALLERY:

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22nd Mar2016

That’s A Lot of Meat

by Michael Chandler

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You need a lot of tire to cover 11 inch wide wheels.

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11th Feb2016

It’s Not One of Those 240s

by Michael Chandler

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When I say “240”, what springs to mind?  Probably one of the Nissan/Datsun S chassis.  Be it a 240Z, S13 or S14, those are logical conclusions to arrive at.  Unfortunately, those are all the wrong conclusions to arrive at.  You see, Volvo made a a car called 240 as well.  And like the Nissans, it was powered by an inline four cylinder engine, and sent power to the rear wheels; however, it never got the same fanatical following the S chassis received.  And that’s a shame.  Despite it looking EXACTLY like a child’s rendering of a car, they can be turned into some pretty awesome bricks.

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Tate is one of those folks who transformed a mundane brick into an awesome brick.  And he didn’t have to go crazy to do so, thanks to the worldwide followings Volvos have.  He also didn’t have to know Swedish to get his hands on some parts.  Thanks internet!  Anyway, this brick is more ground bound thanks to a set of R Sport International coilovers, and Kaplhenke adjustable strut mounts.  The suspension isn’t just limited to things that provide the lows.  There’s also a set of Kaplhenke roll center correcters, and IPD sway bars, adjustable torque rods, and panhard bar.  Remember: Volvo took their brilliant boxes on the touring car circuit, so seeing one of these handle isn’t out of the ordinary.

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The gold mesh wheels look period correct, like they were pull offs from an E30 BMW 3 series or a GTi.  They look period correct, but they aren’t period.  They’re a set of MSW’s, and they’re shod in Yokohama rubber.  If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll notice something ahead of the wheel.  That would be the business end of the exhaust.  One of many little touches this car has received.

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The nose is accented by a 242 GT grille and accompanying driving lights, a set Hella 700′ driving lights, and a set of European (Oooo fancy!) corner lenses.  Out back there’s a sweet ass trailer hitch, and a spoiler.  It’s not from a Volvo though.  Guess where it came from.

No, not a Honda.

Not a VW either.

Give up?

It’s from a Saab 9000.  From one Swede to another.

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The interior is a healthy mix of OEM, stuff found in other cars of the era, and creatively shoving aftermarket gauges into factory holes.  The Volvo dash has all of these sweet little places for gauges, some of those holes housed Volvo gauges.  Those holes don’t house Volvo gauges anymore.  In their places sit an AEM UEGO gauge, and some gauges that’ll measure more boost and a wider range of temperatures than the old OEM counterparts.  No fancy aftermarket wheel, just the tried and true factory wheel.  The seats are OEM, just not OEM Volvo.  Tate isn’t 100% sure where the Recaro style seats came from, but they get the job done.  Also non-Volvo OEM: the Audi 4000 shift knob, that sits atop a Pro 5.0 shifter, that juts out from a T5WC transmission sourced from a Mustang.  Wait, what?

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Yeah, there’s a reason for the Mustang gearbox.  The long block is the stock B21FT that came in the car, but a lot of other things are no longer stock.

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Tate converted the car to EFI himself using Microsquirt, which he wired and tuned himself, and an intake manifold from a newer 240.  A Swedish company called Do88 supplied the radiator, intercooler and piping.  There’s a GT2871R ball bearing turbo with a ported compressor housing hanging from a one-off tubular exhaust manifold.  A Tial MVS external wastegate that’s plummed into a custom three inch exhaust, the one that dumps right in front of the passenger rear wheel.  A Forge Splitter diverter valve relieves anything above the current preset amount of boost.  That amount is 20psi.  That number will be increasing.

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Oh, there’s also a ratchet strap holding things down.  Hey man, necessity is the mother of invention.

When someone starts throwing around “240”, people’s mind will instantly jump to the Nissans.  That’s all well and good, but hopefully after reading this you’ll ask them “do you mean the Volvo?” And then you’ll enlighten them about the glory that are the turbocharged, Swedish bricks.

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12th Nov2015

Classics Never Go Out of Style: Integra Type R

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

What we have here is, arguably, the best front wheel drive sports car ever made.  Perhaps one of the best sports cars to come out of Japan in the late nineties.  It was light, it was agile, it made 197 horsepower from 1.8 liters.  It was the thing of legends: a giant slayer made by the same people who made humble econoboxes.  From 1997-2001, skipping 1999 entirely for some reason, Honda sent a little over 3800 of these glorious cars over here.  And my friend Jeff has one, and has had one as long as I’ve known him.

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He’s kept his build simple.  So simple that he ditched the supercharger that was on the car when he bought it.  I think the car is better for it.  “Why fix what isn’t broken?  It came with many interior, exterior and performance upgrades from the factory.”  Indeed it did Jefferson, indeed it did.

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He’s kept the exterior mods to a minimum.  A Seibon carbon fiber hood replaces the factory metal piece, and a Shark2 antenna replaces the bigger OEM aerial.  The wiper for the rear window has been deleted, and some S2 Carbon Works winglets add a little something extra to the front end.  Interiorwise, the car hasn’t really been changed much.  You aren’t seeing any pictures of it, because I always think that the interior is 99% OEM and unchanged.  That’s wrong, because I always forget about the AEM UEGO wideband and oil pressure gauge in the gauge cluster bezel.  ALWAYS!

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Anywho, the Integra Type R was already a brilliant handling car from the factory.  Other Honda owners would clamor for OEM ITR springs, struts, chassis bracing, and other suspension bits to improve the handling of their cars.  The only thing not OEM on Jeff’s car are the H&R springs.

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A set of Highland Bronze powder coated Kosei K1 wheels are on, instead of the OEM wheels.  The Kosei’s measure in at 15×7, with a +35 offset.  Those are wrapped in a set of 205/50 Yokohama S.drive tires, which provide plenty of grip for some spirited driving.

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Under the Seibon hood is the ultimate version of Honda’s B series of engines: the B18C5.  1.8 liters, twin cam, variable valve timing, with hand polished intake and exhaust ports.  It has higher compression, lower friction pistons compared to the Integra GSR.  It has a single port intake manifold, and a larger throttle body.  The camshafts have higher lift, and longer duration.  Everything about this engine is better than the B18C1 in the GSR.  And Jeff has done nothing to any of that.

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He’s added a Comptech Icebox intake, and replaced the header with a JDM 4-1 piece.  Between the header and the Tannabe Hyper Medalion exhaust is a high flow catalytic converter.  The combination makes for a sound that isn’t the raspy garbage people think of when they hear “modified Honda”, it sounds good.  An Exedy clutch replaces what would be, at the youngest, a 14 year old clutch.  A B&M fuel pressure regulator and 255 lph Walbro fuel pump are still around from the supercharged days, but why replace two fully functioning parts?  Crome engine management runs inside the P30 ECU.

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A carbon fiber spark plug cover sits atop the classic Wrinkle Red valve cover.

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“What makes a great Integra Type-R isn’t what’s done to it, it’s what isn’t done to it.”  That quote has guided Jeff in his build, and it’s a good one.  The Integra Type-R will live on as a classic, an example of the epitome of how good a front wheel drive car can be.

BONUS IMAGES

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17th Nov2014

Welcome To The Internet: Datsun 280ZX

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Ahh the internet, home of all things wonderful, weird, horrifying and amazing.  It’s also where Ian Perri’s 280ZX has found recognition, and dare I say fame.  We first met Ian and his shakotan S130 last year at the In N Out Subie Invasion meet.  The car was a lot like it sits before you, but it’s also undergone some changes.  Changes we’ve been able to see through Facebook and Instagram posts.

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It’s also on Facebook and Instagram that we stumbled across other things that Ian likes.  He’s a big Nicolas Cage fan, and also enjoys King Of The Hill.  He runs around with the Slamburglars and Outsid3rs guys, and he got his hands on a Toyota Cressida.  He leads a well rounded life, or so says the internet.  Enough about him, let’s talk about the S130.

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First thing you notice about the car is how you almost trip over it.  (Well, that and what’s left of the Kaminari body kit)  This thing is insanely low.  On the drive over to the shoot we saw it shooting sparks while driving over a flat road!  The stance is achieved with custom coilovers with sectioned struts up front and S13 240sx coilovers in the rear with shortened struts.

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Ian drifts this car.  Not “occasionally spin donuts in a parking lot” drifting, he goes out to Vegas ProAM events, pays his entry fee and gets loose.  He even drove this car, as it sits, to California to drift.  To help with that, drifting not driving to California, he’s modified the steering knuckles and inner tie rods.  Tein tension rods for an S13 have been adapted for use as front lower control arms, and they’ve also been clearanced to clear the steering knuckles.  While he was in there, he added some negative camber roll center adjusters.

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There are no sway bars at either end, this S130 is a sway bar free zone.  There is 5-6 degrees of camber correction in the rear using heim ends in the rear lower control arms, and a slotted rear crossmember.  Between the rear wheels is a differential out of an S12 200SX.  The R180 diff has a 4.11 gear and the carrier has been swapped to accept stock axles.  It’s also been welded.

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While we’re at the back, let’s check out the JDM 280ZX-R hatch and spoiler.  That’s some sweet, sweet JDM goodness.  There’s also the twin tail pipes sticking out from the bumper.  Those are the end of a custom exhaust featuring MSA twice pipe muffler.

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That exhaust starts here, under the hood.  It come off of a MSA header that’s been modified for better ground clearance.  The header hangs off of the L28, which is topped off with a shaved and polished valve cover.  Bringing the spark to the party is an MSD Ignition, and keeping everything cool is a Koyo radiator with the OEM shroud modified to fit the new radiator.  The big things here are the triple 45mm OER carburetors.  And the custom fuel rail with AN fittings, but mostly the carbs.  Carburetors are black magic and voodoo to get working right, getting three to work right AND together means Ian is some kind of wizard.  Backing the magical OHC mill is a transmission out of a kouki 280ZX.

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The interior is a show quality, concourse perfect… No, no it isn’t  It’s a well worn interior, one you’d expect in a car built and used like this.  A Sparco Sprint bucket seat is showing it’s age, but still holds Ian securely in place.  The red button on the Nardi Gara wheel doesn’t do anything except honk the horn.  And the shifter is something I know very well.  It’s out of an old Celica Supra, which is the same place the shifter in my Supra came from.

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When we were first introduced to this car it was on a set of Centerlines.  He still has those, and a set of Enkei 92s, but the red slippers this thing wears will make any fanboi jealous.  Starting life as 14×6 all around, the Advan A3As have been widened by Wheelflip.  The custom made lips have been polished and bring the specs to 14×9.5 -35 in the front and 14×10 -41 in the rear.  The barrels and faces were refinished by Ian himself, and he took it upon himself to reassemble the wheels.

The internet loves this car.  Maybe because it stands in contrast to the uber-clean, yet hardly driven Stance and “race” cars we see.  Perhaps deep down inside we all want a shakotan car.  Or maybe because it’s a really honest example of something built by a guy who wants to build something for himself to go do stupid things with his friends in.  Whatever the reason, it’s getting some of that sweet internet fame.  Sweet, delicious internet fame it deserves

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

 

12th Jul2013

Simple S2000

by Michael Chandler

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 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.