Why have we had to wait so long for this test to be run? As the hosts of Everyday Driver say, the FR-S world is full of hype. No one would dare to say anything negative about it when the usual magazines do their usual kowtow road tests and sing its praises.
But in this test, a test the usual car magazines can’t do (because they would risk their press credentials and advertising revenue), a car designed in the mid-nineties, which went on sale in 1999, beats it hands-down. With clear results so there shouldn’t be any controversy.
Of course owners will always find controversy. But personally, as an owner and driving enthusiast, and as a driving instructor who has put significant miles on all three ourselves, we enthusiastically agree with the results of the test.
Trackforged of Portland Oregon, United States, has done what only the factory attempted once: Built a V-6 powered S2000. The engine is a J32A2 engine from an Acura TL-S, with 260 HP and 323 torque. It’s currently running on the factory ECU, but future plans include a special AEM computer. The engine is also running with the factory transmission. With only 25 pounds of added weight, and the engine even further back in the chassis, the “S3200″ will retain all the great dynamics it’s known for.
This is an interesting swap - for areas of the United States where emissions checks are a requirement (like ours), this swap – if done with the factory computer – could yield an emission inspection legal all-motor S2000. With the option of going forced induction later on. Lets hope that Trackforged puts the swap parts into production!
The following videos show the engine in the car and running as of August 2012. That, of course, is not enough: the swap must be completed with further engineering, a final wiring harness, possibly (hopefully!) provisions for the stock dashboard instruments (very closely tied into the original S2000 computer), parts that are able to be put into production, instructions written, parts mass-produced and stocked, and more. This takes a major investment in time and money and is not a fast or easy process (and any vendor who suggests it is should be avoided by you). So we’re looking forward to seeing more of these parts when they are ready.
Trackforged also has a cold air kit under development for ITB s2000s, and also has great experienced with turbocharged S2000s. Trackforged is clearly one of the best and most experienced S2000 shops in the country.
Follow our swap posts using the “Engine Swap” tag or category below.
We’ve covered various S2000 swaps before, particularly the Supra 2JZ-GTE engine swap (also here and here) that to date has produced the wildest S2000 ever. V-8 swaps are starting to become more common, probably because the S2000 offers a better platform for a V-8 swap than does a Miata. It’s slightly larger and it’s also a considerably more rigid platform.
But in both cars, anything above the original 4 cylinder engines is going to torque the chassis far beyond it’s design spec. Trips down the dragstrip will be a torsional nightmare for sheet metal integrity. And trips around a roadrace circuit will play havoc on parts such as spindles that were never designed for such torque. But those factors are not of primary consideration for engine swap enthusiasts: it’s the technical challenge and the sheer power that are the main attractions.
So here is what is probably the ultimate S2000 swap: a Viper V-10 engine. This swap is in progress right now, and you can follow the story over at www.V8S2000.com. We’ve saved some of the supplied pictures for the sake of posterity.
Be sure to follow our Engine Swap posts via their category and tags. We’ve got a considerable set of swap stories, and are always looking for more.
This is the full Best Motoring Special Number 8, introducing the Honda S2000 at it’s worldwide launch in 1999. It’s one of our favorite videos from our personal collection, and has now been made available in full on the new Best Motor TV (the rebirth of Best Motoring) site. It combines very rare video of the introduction of the S2000 to the public on 4 October 1998 at the F1 race on Twin Ring Motegi, along with special documentary videos of Motoharu Kurosawa (Gan-San to the rest of us), driving a final production prototype in France, Germany and on the Nurburgring.
The S2000 was a game changer in it’s time… and Best Motoring created on of it’s most extensive videos to introduce it and to communicate Honda’s thoughts about it’s design and purpose.
And we’ll venture our opinion, based on our ownerships as well as our extensive drives: The S2000 was without a doubt the inspiration for the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ… and as a pure driver’s car it blows the Miata into a ditch. And after all this time it’s still a better car than any of them.
Set your video to full screen, sit back, enjoy this hour-long video, and remember the S2000:
We originally ordered two copies of this video from Japan for our library, and have showed them to S2000 fans and to the local S2000 club. Nobody knew what to expect when we started this video, but they were soon captivated by it. It’s part of what we call our “S2000 Shrine”, a collection of S200 memorabilia currently numbering >150 items. That’s the impact this car made on us and we were an original owner of a model year 2000 S2000. Read more about our experiences on our site http://s2000enthusiast.com/.
Well, (unfortunately) not yours. This is Mathol Racing in Germany in their full-race S2000.
But how would a stock S2000 on the Nurburgring compare? Who else to ask but Gan-san himself, driving around the ‘ring in the prototype S2000 in 1999. Yes, it’s faster than an NSX!
In followup to our last post, there’s always the question of what happened to the S2000 after it’s engine was removed for use elsewhere. But most of the time the car had been wrecked.
But sometimes not. This time a Chevy small block has found a new home in the engine bay of an S2000. And not just any engine – it’s an LS7! Yes, this is a 505-HP S2000!
The last time we saw a Chevy LSx swap, it was never completed. This one certainly isn’t the first or only, but it does appear to be clean and well thought-out. It’s even got a wide-body kit, and the dry-sump system was retained. See the video for the car with the newly-transplanted engine, minus front fenders and cap:
YouTube is full of videos of V-8 S2000s: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=v8+s2000 – and there is even a forum specifically for this: http://www.v8s2000.com. Apparently V-8 Miatas are old news… the new news is V-8 S2000s. With better chassis integrity, more interior room, and enough room under the hood for the swap.
It’s always terrific to see creativity in action and this is a great example. A walk ac ross a parking lot to a local Barnes and Noble stopped us in our tracks… what at first looked like an S2000 with a front spoiler had the wrong proportions. But wait, it’s a modded Civic with AP2 S2000 headlamps!
Borg Warner Turbo Systems is nearing release of the most advanced aftermarket turbocharger in the history of the industry. The new EFR line literally takes the turbocharger to new levels which couldn’t even have been imagined just a few years ago. It features:
- hot side: titanium-aluminide turbine wheel – half the weight of the typical inconel wheel with the benefit of extremely low inertia
- cold side: forged aluminum wheel with advanced aerodynamic optimization
- cast stainless steel turbine housing
- integrated compressor recirculation valve – allows a blow-off valve to be easily installed with modification of the compressor housing
- integrated boost control solenoid mounting pad with optional integrated swivel-type wastegate
- dual-row ceramic ball-bearings
- wide range of options and A/R ratios
Full Race Motorsports has kits planned for March 2011 release including the S2000, Evo X, Porsche 996/997, Honda CRZ, and the Subaru WRX and STI. The kits have enormous potential for any type of racing, as well as street-driven cars.
Crank up your volume and watch this introductory video from Borg Warner. Full-screen recommended!
The Octane Report (always a great read) has more story including images of pre-production test EFRs on the S2000 and other cars. Note the dual-scroll housing with dual blow-off valves: another advantage of this design and the upcoming kit.
Start your reading with the Technical Overview from Borg Warner: http://www.turbodriven.com/files/pdf/efr_technical_data.pdf. Then read and download the Borg Warner EFR Turbochargers Technical Training Guide here: http://www.full-race.com/articles/efrturbotechbrief.pdf.
A new era of performance turbocharging is about to begin. For S2000 owners, this presents an opportunity to realize the full potential of the engine. We’re going to look at this once it’s available for HPDE events. The only remaining question is tuning, since we have a requirement in our county for fully operational OBD-II for the yearly emissions check-up. We’ll be back with more information once the kits are released into production.
The Motor City blog in Detroit posted these images yesterday that left us “cold”. This is obviously an enthusiast – note the “Nurburgring” license plate. And he is apparently so die-hard that he is compelled to use his summer car no matter what. He does have snow tires, and his S2000 is equipped with an excellent heater and (defeatable) traction control.
But look at this own “top” sticking out over windshield header – the one thing he is not equipped with is a hat.
Enjoy the pics, and be glad it’s not you. And remember, driving enthusiasts, that it’s perfectly ok to drive an old “winter car” during the snow months.
The “Motor City” blog is a good read in summer or winter. Follow them here:
- MtrCty blog: http://mtrcty.com/
- RSS feed: http://mtrcty.com/feed/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/mtr-cty/126220994080141
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/mtrcty/
A friend passed along this motorcycle story (author unknown) that struck me as applicable to certain cars… namely convertibles. Which are of course the best true drivers cars.
Remember of course that this is the DrivingEnthusiast blog – and that means no motorcycles. But stay with me for a moment.
When the S2000 came onto the market 11 years ago, a small but tightly coupled group of S2000 owners here in Austin, Texas USA started leading drives all over central Texas. Those drives often covered several hundred miles, and they were done in any weather, hot or cold, dry or wet. And the top would always be down, no matter what the temperature, as long as it was dry. There would be a lunch or dinner break (usually at a BBQ or burger joint), but the purpose was to drive for most of the day. That included one day in January about 9 years ago, when the temperatures were well below zero. It almost never does that in central Texas, but this day was the exception.
Driving is what the best cars are meant for, and the S2000 is a superb example. Perfectly composed behavior on any road, no matter how twisty or rough. So on this day we just turned up the heat and pressed on regardless. I believe we started the drive on 71 near 620, but then quickly got onto Hamilton Pool Road and then out past 281, eventually ending up at Fredericksburg for dinner. And after, when it was even colder, our drive leader set the pace back to town – with the top down of course. What a drive, and as it was meant to be in an S2000. There was never anything remotely like an S2000, and by all indications there won’t be anytime soon.
So even though the following story was written by a motorcyclist, convertible owners will appreciate it too.
There is cold, and then there is cold on a motorcycle.
Cold on a motorcycle is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind’s big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don’t even feel like water. They feel like shards of sharp bone fallen from the skies of Hell to shred my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that’s just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for highway speeds.
Despite this, it’s hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you’re changed forever. The letter “M” is stamped on your driver’s license right next to your sex and weight as if “motorcycle” was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.
But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a summer is worth any price.
A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes’ and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time, entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets.
On a motorcycle I know I’m alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sun that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than Pana-Vision and IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard.
Sometimes I even hear music. It’s like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind’s roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock ‘n roll, dark orchestras, women’s voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.
At 30 miles per hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree- smells and flower- smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony.
Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it’s as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it. A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous.
The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane.
Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It’s a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It’s light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it’s a conduit of grace, it’s a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.
I still think of myself as just another rider, but by now I’ve had a handful of bikes over a couple dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn’t trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride.