Future Classics - Honda S2000

by Gauk
Wed, Mar 15, 2017 9:58 PM

What makes a car, into a sought after classic? Is it because it set the market alight when it was released? Because it drives exceptionally? Because of its looks? The answer is it could be all of these things, or none at all.

At the time of writing we have three of these coming up for auction in the next few weeks. Interested in a Honda S2000 Search all vehicles or set up an alert feed in My Garage

The real answer for what makes a car into a classic is the demand. To put it one way, a car only increases its value, if someone is willing to pay for it. So then, how do you know what people will be willing to spend their money on in the future? You look for those cars which were truly great, and those that had a certain something that separated them from other cars of their time. Those cars that did something different to the norm when they were released, reeling in the future, for example, the original Honda NSX, or those that were a celebration of all that is great about cars when they came out, for example, the Porsche 911R.

This one will become a classic, because of what it did to the market when its production ceased. It left a gaping hole, which has even yet to be filled. Most people believe that the S2000 was simply Honda's answer to the Miata, but they couldn't be more wrong. The smiley Miata is all fun and games, the psychotic S2000 wants to kill you.

The S2000 was first revealed in 1995, as the Honda Sports Study Model Concept. It entered production in 1999 as the S2000, named S2000 as both an homage to Honda's S500, S600 and S800 sports cars from the 1960s, and because of its 2 Liter engine. It put out a solid 240 horsepower, but a measly 153 pound-feet of torque, both peaking high in the rev range. Famously, with 120 horsepower per liter, the engine had the highest specific output of any normally aspirated production engine in the world.

But it wasn't the power that set the S2000 apart, it was the way it delivered it. The car could hold onto gear all the way to a stratospheric 9000 rpms, put that together with its low weight of 2,750 pound (1247 kg's) and, with a driver who was willing to thrash it, the S2000 could send him from 0- 60 in 5.8 seconds.

The ideology behind the S2000 was far apart from the Miata's. the S2000 was not built for a Sunday drive, but to be hooned. It's interior is almost minimalist, with a (cool for its time) digital tachometer, a typically brilliant Honda six-speed manual (no auto option) and a steering wheel.

It's brilliant engine and exceptional handling won over automotive critics, although they stated it "wasn't for the faint of heart." In 1999, Motor Trend said it felt like "Formula One engineers built a sports car":

"Most people will never drive in the best rpm range (7000 to 8500), shifting too early. Our advice is to treat the S2000 like you hate it and you'll get the most out of it. We did and loved every minute of it."

It didn't change much during its 10 year run, though the biggest change came in 2003 with the AP2 model. Honda upped the displacement to 2.2 liters for the American market, resulting in a little more torque, but a lower redline of 8000 rpm, though it still retained its hooliganish characteristics. Car and Driver said about the new car "More flexible, better balanced, still demonic."

Although forcing BMW, Porsche and Audi to pull their socks up, sales became sluggish near the end of its 10 year run, so Honda ended the S2000 in 2009, although not before winning over the hears of many enthusiasts, and showing people Honda's knew how to make a proper sportscar. The car has never been replaced, by Honda, nor had its niche filled by any other company. 

To put it this way, with the EVO gone, we still have the STI, if Chevrolet canceled the Camaro, we would still have the Mustang. If BMW stopped the M3, we'd still have the AMG sedans, and if the 370Z was killed off, we'd still have a plethora of RWD coupes to keep us occupied. But who filled the package that the S2000 delivered? That of a hard handling, stripped out, lightweight, tail sliding, rev happy, and above all, FUN, Roadster? The GT86 comes close, as does the Miata, but none of these are on the same level of performance. The Rx8 as well, had some of these features, it also had a hard roof and two too many doors. Theres the Boxster, but thats more of a precision instrument, a scalpel to the S2000's bowie knife. Less fun, then. Or the Z4? again, a different animal. Those last two are also much more expensive than the S2000 was.

In truth, the S2000's torch is still up in the air, ready for someone to snatch it. And who is best suited to this task? Honda. With the recent release of the NSX supercar, and the new type-R civic, Honda are on a roll for sporty cars. What better message could they send than resurrecting their other sporty nameplate, the S2000. But with no new S2000 on the near horizon, people looking for an S2000 will have to settle with a used one. There is plenty of choice, the car was produced for a decade, and early models hover around £10,000, which is a bargain for such a car. Now is the time to buy too, with the manual going out of fashion and car manufacturers making their cars bigger and heavier than ever, small, llightweight cars built for fun, visceral experience and driver involvement will be in demand, and who is king of that category? 

As the millennials are getting older, and their interest in cars continues to grow, Japanese import cars are all the rage, and these cars values have already had large observable increases, and should continue to skyrocket in price and collectability in the years to come.

Testimonies:

“This is a pure sports car—extra virgin, first pressing.” —Csaba Csere, January 2002

“It’s a tightly packaged two-seater, spare and smoothly muscled, rather like an Olympic swimmer. Everything about it is taut and athletic and purposeful.” — Patrick Bedard, August 2003

"The S2000 on the other hand is a car that was created for the single purpose of socially irresponsible driving, a dream car for the true enthusiast. After getting out of the S2000 every other car feels heavy, cumbersome, imprecise, untrustworthy and just plain less fun. It is the one car I desire for myself more than any other." - Michael La Fave -automotive-review.com

"Those who seek a sports car that can double as a relaxed long-distance cruiser should look elsewhere first - Nissan 350Z, and Porsche Boxster come to mind. But for those who relish the delight of blazing down public roads in a car that feels so untamed, so race-prepared that it almost seems as though it should be illegal, S2000 is about the only game in town for less-than-Ferrari prices." - David Bellm for ModernRacer.com

 

- Jake Tranter

published by Gauk

 

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