At the end of world war II and after the reconstruction of Japan, the land of the rising sun began to find its economic footing as a manufacturer of consumer devices, electronics, and most notably, (at least for petrolheads) cars.
Following a directive by the Japanese government in 1955 for a "people's car", a cheap 150,000 yen (918,000 yen in today's money) four-seater with a top speed of a brisk 100 kmh, the auto industry had their work cut out for them. Subaru rolled out the 360, Suzuki unveiled the Suzulight. Honda, a feeble motorcycle company at the time, seemed to have missed the memo in the most glorious fashion and debuted the Honda S360 almost a decade later, follow in succession by the s500 and s800.
Turns out, a drop-dead 360cc chain-driven roadster was exactly the genesis Honda looked-for, as the S moniker was revived again in 1999, and thanks to movies like the fast and furious, the S2000 has a cult classic following.
The AP1 S2000 boasted the highest specific power output per litre of any naturally aspirated car, only to be dethroned by some red Ferrari a decade later. The facelifted AP2 with and extra 200ccs displacement up to 2200cc took over the dealership floors from 2003 to 2009.
And with my rotten luck of bringing rain to a shoot, feast your eyes upon this 2005 Berlina black AP2 S2000 Type S, or a CR (Club Racer) if you're a Yankee. The AP2 modernized a car penned in the late nineties.
The revised bumpers and lights are noticeably sleeker than before. However, the type S kit combined with the spoiler turns its demeanour and stance up to eleven. Think Johnny Tran's black Veilside s2000 from FnF but with RTX on. The prettier Type S wheels were replaced with a set of gold RPF1's housed in fatter and wider Advan Neova AD08 R's, with a tread pattern so bewitching, I might just name my firstborn after it. One peek at the engine bay quickly tells you that the previous owner in japan clearly went nuts in a Toda racing garage, installing everything from their parts catalogue.
From a Toda high power exhaust system to a bright pink Toda pulley kit, which sticks out amidst the engine as one would imagine.
Watching the bars in the digital speedo climb up to 8000 rpm is a treat to one's sensory organs. The bright red bucket-like seats will cradle you as the ohlins racing coilovers coupled with the Veovas keep the darty s2000 planted, rain or shine.
One major difference between the AP2 cars was the engine powerband. Where the previous-gen redlined at an ear ringing 9000 rpm, the longer piston travel owed to the of the bored and stroked F22 took it down a notch at 8200 with a noticeable increase in low-end torque.
They say you shouldn't meet your heroes. However, if your hero is a Honda S2000, you should scratch that. It does not disappoint.
Although Honda killed off the S2000 in 2009 evidently to a growing demand for crossovers, the mid-engine, baby NSX-esque (JDM only) S660 kei car carries on the S legacy. Only by name though, as it traces a chunk of its DNA with the Honda Beat Kei car from the early nineties.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how buyers of the Honda Vezel have the blood of the S2000 on their hands. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth – nothing more."
Special thanks to Saikat Saha for braving the rain in his S2000 on the day of the shoot.
Photos by Ahbar Milky