Introducing Project 2000
Getting Up To Speed

Despite my work being heavily steeped in car culture and, through Speedhunters, largely the aftermarket side of things, I’m surprisingly really quite stubborn when it comes to making changes to my own cars.

I’m not even one of these people that chops and changes every few months, or years to be honest. According to my calculations, I’ve owned eight cars throughout my entire 17 years driving. That’s a two year average per car, or so.

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The good news is they’ve been mostly rear-wheel drive. It’s an eclectic back catalogue, comprised of a classic 1969 1200cc Volkswagen Beetle, an embarrassing Citroën Saxo, a Toyota MR2 Turbo SW20, an imported street-going Nissan S14 Silvia, a fully stripped-out and competition specification PS13 Nissan Silvia, a stupidly wide, low and loud Mazda RX-7 FC3S, and a very sensible BMW E46 330D Touring. Most, if not all, were fettled with in varying degrees, however the E46 stayed pretty much standard. It was a path chosen purely for practicalities – lots of room for camera kit and the dog, good on fuel, pulled like a train and ace on the motorway. But the one thing it didn’t do was make me want to drive.

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So, I set about replacing it with something completely different. It was around the time that I embraced the freelance life and so didn’t need the practical diesel for my daily commute. I wanted something that was fun to drive again, but didn’t want to go as far as to go back to my fast and loud ’80s and ’90s JDM sports coupe roots, as I still needed something reasonably sensible and respectable to use day-to-day.

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The Silvias and FC3S were fun in an anti-social kind of way, but I like to maintain the facade I’ve grown up since then.

VTEC Kicked In
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I knew I wanted something that looked good, could feasibly be used every day, and still allowed me to enjoy the UK’s great country B-roads when I fancied a blast. I’d spent several years previously working at a Honda dealership, so I think the S2000 was always in the back of my mind.

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After weighing up various options I kept coming back to the little Honda. It was sporty, had aged very well, was pretty decent on fuel, had enough space for my camera kit (with some decent Tetris skills), and had a reliable reputation.

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I knew I wanted a facelift (2004+) version for the more up-to-date looks, but wanted to avoid a 2006+ model as they were hit with ridiculously high road tax here in the UK. We’re talking £500 rather than £295 per year, despite being no different in terms of emissions.

Eventually, I found a 2005 model with low mileage and a full service history.

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It even had the right colour combination that I was after – Moonrock Grey with a red/black interior. It was lacking a few of the options I wanted, such as the hardtop, but I could always add these later. A deal was done and I was back enjoying driving again.

These images were taken literally the day after I bought it; I had a job up in the Welsh mountains which offered the perfect commute to get used to the car. The hills were alive with the sound of VTEC.

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Somehow, almost two years has whizzed by since the day I picked the car up, and the S2000 has been everything I hoped it would be. Sure, it’s not the most powerful thing on the road. Torque is a distant memory. It’s occasionally annoying being outpaced by your average modern turbo diesel saloon on the motorway, but show the Honda a twisty road and not only can it hold its own, but the grins far outweigh any frustrations.

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Thanks to the motor being slung right at the back of the long engine bay, behind the front turrets, the chassis is incredibly well balanced – as close to 50/50 front to back distribution as you can get and pretty much 50/50 left to right too. I’ve heard people call the S2000 unforgiving, but on the whole these are the sort of people who think they can ‘drift anything’. Agreed, they can be twitchy on and over the limit – it’s a short wheelbase chassis with all the weight between the wheels and the driver sat right in front of the rear axle – but from a grip and predictability point of view I’ve not a single complaint. Breaking traction is a struggle in the dry unless you’re doing something really silly.

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The four-cylinder F20C is an amazing engine in my eyes, although it does take some getting used to ringing its neck. You really have to keep the revs high and stay within the power band; peak power is around 8,200rpm, which seems completely unnatural at first. For a good time the F20C packed the most naturally-aspirated bhp per litre for any production engine, with 123.5bhp per litre. It was a record that it held for around 10 years until the Ferrari Italia 458 came along in 2010 with 123.78bhp per litre from its 4.5-litre V8. That’s pretty impressive, I think.

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The downside to this? It’s pretty tricky to eke out much extra power without throwing lots of money at the engine. An intake and exhaust may get you a handful of horses. The stock exhaust manifold is difficult to improve on beyond reducing its weight. A set of independent throttle bodies will see minimal top end power, but a moderate boost in mid-range torque. On the flip-side, the F20C is a high-compression, forged engine so they do handle boost well. The common approach in the UK is to add a supercharger kit, with turbocharging less popular simply due to the lack of off-the-shelf options. I’m not sure what approach I’m going to take, but I like the idea of keeping it naturally aspirated for the time being.

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The transmission is worthy of note too, because I’m yet to drive a car with a more satisfying manual box. The shifts are short and feel very mechanical, with a notchy clunk as each gear engages. If you’ve not driven one yet I encourage you to give it a try.

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When I bought the car it had already received a couple of minor tweaks including a Kenwood Bluetooth head unit, a new soft top, and a retrimmed leather steering wheel. I’ve since added a Modifry phone bracket so I can hook in to Spotify and DAB channels as well as use Google Maps on my phone to find my way about.

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It has also had the ‘UK mod’ done to the exhaust system. This entails welding in a bypass pipe just before each back box, meaning that some of the gases only pass through the rear silencers once, rather than twice. It’s purely for sound, and offers no performance benefits. I’m happy with it for now though until I find a suitable replacement. At the moment it’s a nice balance between the understated stock note and the common drone of an aftermarket item, so whatever I replace it with will need to offer similar characteristics.

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I’ve added a K&N FIPK intake to the car. Because 9,000rpm. I don’t suspect there’s much, if any, power increase, although the car is definitely more responsive. This could be down to the K&N using a hard intake pipe rather than the OEM soft rubber pipe which I suspect was collapsing slightly. It does sound amazing at wide open throttle too, especially when it switches over to VTEC at 6,000rpm.

Changes Are Afoot
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In terms of styling, I’ve added some external touches that the car was lacking when I first acquired it. The OEM hard top and fitting kit was sourced locally and painted to match the body by The Fast Factory in London.

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This makes a huge difference to the comfort of driving, especially in winter. The hard top is a two-person job to remove and lives in the garage from March through to October during which time it rains marginally less here in the UK than during the rest of the year.

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I’ve also added an OEM front lip which took me an age to find. Luckily it was already the right colour, although it’s seen better days and is peppered with stone chips. This option really adds aggression to the front end and being OEM is made of plastic so can withstand knocks and scrapes pretty well.

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Finally, an OEM rear lip spoiler was sourced and fitted. Although subtle, it just adds a bit of interest to the rear and side-profiles of the car.

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So, what next? Well, as boring as this might sound for a project car intro, the main reason that I chose the S2000 is that I actually really like it as is.

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For this reason alone I won’t be going crazy for changing things unnecessarily, and it’s in that respect that I hope this project is of interest to Speedhunters readers. This is a car that I use almost every day. It’s my only car. I own it to serve the purpose of getting me from A to B, and occasionally to drive it purely for fun.

I’m hoping this project will remain relatable to 99 percent of you out there who use your own cars in a similar situation.

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I won’t be swapping out parts unnecessarily without justification, but rather only making changes that I deem the car would benefit from. Rule one is that it has to remain practical as an everyday car. Rule two is that I don’t want to compromise the driveability and performance of the car as it came from the factory. Rule three is that I want to make it more competent on a circuit, as I plan to get back into occasional track driving when time and funds allow.

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The first stage in my mind is to tidy up the car aesthetically, not only because it really needs some TLC after simply being driven and used for the last couple of years, but also because this step will reinstall a sense of ‘new car pride’ in myself and how I take care of it from now on. Still, I don’t believe in babying cars – they’re there to be driven and used.

I’ve booked some time next month with master painter Greg Howell – who also painted fellow Speedhunters’ staff Ryan Stewart’s Cayman – in order to take care of the paint. The front end is in need of a respray to attend to the aforementioned peppering of stone chips and to fix a poor repair by a previous owner.

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The car is also due a pretty hefty service and check-over soon. I’m not sure when the valve clearances were last looked at and adjusted so I’m getting that done at the same time along with a full fluid change, some new front brake pads and a general snoot around underneath to see what might need addressing in the near future.

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From there it’s onto suspension and wheels, and you’ll have to wait for the next installment to see what my plans are.

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So all that remains for now is that we give the project a catchy moniker. I’d settled on ‘Project 2000’ for the time being, but I’m sure there’s better out there. Suggestions in the comments section please…

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
Facebook: Jordan Butters Photography
jordan@speedhunters.com

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71 comments

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1

Who doesn't love the s2000? Suggestion: you have the entire catalog of parts to choose from, please don't put te37s on it lol.

2

^This!

ZE40's would look great (even if Paddy already has them)

Author3

I do really like the ZE40s!

4

Lmao because of the worldwide overusage?

5

lol yeah basically. half joking though obviously.

6

I couldnthink agree more lol

7

Wow that was jibberish. I meant I couldn't agree more lol

8

I've always wanted one. Ever since I had one scream past me on a twisty road back in the early 2000s and there was no way I could keep up in my Peugeot 106!

9

Love it! Really makes me regret not buying one when I had the chance. I would be taking the same approach as you. Very selective with modifications. Can't wait for the next installment!

10

Nice choice for a project car. I would suggest a weight loss approach to the car starting with unsprung weight. Adding carbon revolution wheels, ceramic brakes and titanium springs will bring about a noticeable difference. Changing the final drive ratio can address the torque issues generally associated with S2000s. Replacing the long hood with a carbon one before getting it resprayed along with carbon trunk lid will also help with weight and center of gravity.

Author11

Thanks for the reply! If I had unlimited budget and was building a track car then this is solid advice, however I don't want to compromise the on-road ability of the car too, as this is where it'll spend 95% of its time. Lightweight wheels are certainly the plan, although the ceramic brakes are overkill for a road car in my opinion.

The stock 4.1 final drive already feels kinda short on the road – it sits at around 4000rpm at UK motorway speeds in 6th gear, which is as short as I'd want to go really.

Also, the stock hood is aluminium anyway so it's already very light – the weight saving from going to a CF hood and trunk would only be around 10lbs at each end, so the biggest weight saving would be to my wallet! Unless I go for dry carbon, which would make my wallet very, very light. To be honest I'd be better off throwing that money at forced induction.

12

Cost wise, the biggest bang for your buck would be the forced induction route but the naturally aspirated F20C engine has a character of its own which will be altered by the addition of a supercharger or turbo. Power gains would be substantial that would make kicking out the rear tires that much easier but the razor sharp response would be missing.

Moreover, a stock or tastefully modified S2000 will command a premium in the coming years when or if a successor is announced because not very many are left stock out there. Excited to see the build progress and good luck!!

13

That might be it. If you consider the price of CR wheels and ceramic brake kits, your wallet will be weightless!! But man, I have those wheels and ceramic brakes, and they do make a tremendous difference in the driving dynamics.

14

The s2000 is a great car and one I've wanted for a long time. I agree with John on the subject of wheels though. Please avoid the TE37s. They are a great wheel, but they are on everything now and I, for one, am getting tired of them. I'm sure you can find something much more interesting.

15

If you want an increase in some HP, drop the vtec a bit (3500-3600rpm) and throw on a Gern exhaust setup. You wont get alot of peak hp, but the mid-range can see a huge 10-40 hp with tune, half that for tq. Also check out the soft-top hack and the A/C defroster hack as those are handy. Also for rear end reliability, check out puddy mod rear diffs or you can switch over to a ford 8.8.

16

I have a gernpipe and T1R on my AP2 and I am in love with it. A little loud though. Especially with the hardtop on.

Author17

What's a gernpipe? It sounds potentially painful.

Author18

I forgot – the soft top hack is already done thank God! Thanks for the a/c hack though – that's good to know.

19

How's "Tec-9k" sound? Tec, cause, well, V-TEC. 9k cause of how high it goes, of course. And the slightly modifed gun name cause it's as fast as a bullet, or implied to be, at least.

20

+1 for this!

21

That's a great name. I second that suggestion.

22
sorry for being nuisance

Too many of writers own cars lately. They're fine occasionally and especially when its some really special model. But when its mostly just talking about stock car and how owners want to keep them stock it differs quite a bit from the regular extraordinary vehicles that this site delivers. Sorry if i made anyone angry, just my opinion.

23

Interesting comment, but surely this is just the beginning. I am, along with a bunch of other people in the comments section, definitely excited to see where Jordan takes this project. I'm just wondering if he will be offering free hair cuts to the Speedhunters team being as the S2000 is a bit of a hairdressers car! hahaha.

Author24

Of course you're entitled to your opinion, but generally I find reading about regular car projects just as interesting as the crazy stuff. The bonkers big-power, endless budget builds are great, and we're not slowing down on featuring them, but to a lot of people they're not that relatable. Our staff builds are a different type of content to the feature cars, and should show readers that we're all car people too, building, driving and living with our cars as you are.

25

PLEASE ADD A TURBO CHARGER KIT AND A ECU INSTALLMENT. ALSO LOOK FOR TIPS IN THE ARTICLE HOW TO BUILD A SUPER CLEAN s2000. COULD HELP ALOT

26

Is that project Evo from Suzy Wallace on the picture xith the GTR?

Concerning your project, KISS (keep it simple and stupid) is also a good way :p.
From what I heard from owners I know, S2000 can be a very pleasant car for daily driving with some occasional fun on turning roads :).

27

That's an Evo 5 pal Suzy has a 6

Author28

Keen eye! But no, it's not. That's my mate Nick. He has a huge beard and I don't think he's ever known as Suzy.

Could be wrong though.

29

Don't want to know :p.

Thanks for the correction :)

30

We should have a race.

31

You'd be too busy doing 'safety checks' to stand a chance of winning!

Author32

I'll have the tuna. No crust.

33

God damn i miss my S2K. I had an accident last year. Luckily it wasnt my fault. But since then i feel not whole anymore :/
It´s nice to know that the s2000 is still a choice for car enthusiasts. The driving experience is absolutley amazing.

Greets from Germany :)

34

I'm really liking that black Evo 5... The s2000 is alright as well haha

35

Looks great Jordan, I like a realistic project thrown into the mix!

For future mods if you're interested in weight reduction (and some garagiste engineering) my brother and I are making a prepreg carbon S2000 bonnet that'll be OEM fitment (and genuinely lighter!) - mould is done and first part for my brother's s2k expected in a few weeks.

36

I know how you feel when it comes to holding back on the modifications, we just picked up a 2003 2.0 Forester XT, all that keeps running through my head is exhaust....exhaust.....exhaust....in my opinion it's a tad too quiet, almost none of "that" Subaru burble comes through when driving but I don't think SWMBO will approve of it being up in the realms of anti-social, it also needs a proper good look over and service first. time and money is of course not limitless. Enjoy it, sometimes just because you can change something doesn't mean you should, especially when S2000's are as good as they are.

37

you have the best s2000 i've ever seen in my car. I've always wanted to have a top down and s2000 is always my first choice, I've dreamed and checked a lot of them but the simplicity and how it stands the wheels that are fitted its a big WOW ^_^... hope one day after my heavy track project I can have that too ^ ^....

38

Ugh a "speedhunters" s2000....Hur kamz teh twirkz.

On the off chance your plans don't constitute total ruination of a fine vehicle, do some more research. The I take makes considerable power for its cost and the real reason most aftermarket exhaust manifolds don't make power is tuning. Correct bolt on engine mods plus tuning equal correct power IE 40 ish.

Author39

Find an extra 40bhp from exhaust, intake and tuning seems optimistic. I'm guessing you'd be looking at half that figure. And translated into bhp per £££ it doesn't add up very well.

40

........plenty of people have gone down this road, that half that claim is just an ems ecu swap or hondata tune with intake and you'd overshoot that claim by a fair margin. Proper single 3inch exhaust with a Skunk2 or Hytech header tuned and you are at 40+ Not only does my s2000 make these kinds of gains I've done or worked with at least a half dozen others and this is just the entry level for all motor - yes it's 3K+ but it's 3k worth of hapiness..so.

Author41

Hopefully you're right. It would be good to debunk the 'myth' that these engines can't be tuned with before and after dynos.

42
MPistol HVBullets

**rubs eyes**.... not planning air, or widebody, or stretched rubber.........um..... we are definitely near the end of the world

seriously - I've found that much of this "tuning" culture ruins cars, rather than makes them any better, so I commend you!

43

I'm definitely a big fan of this. But please, please don't put TE37s on it. Maybe something else. Just this once.

44

Project Buttercup:
Every flower has a symbolic meaning, and the "buttercup" symbolises childhood or youth. Thus, essentially, the nickname "buttercup" is like the nickname "baby." It means that you're sweet or dear to someone.

Your only car, your baby. And since you mentioned being grown up is a facade ;) The above definition suits.

And hell, your name is Butters too, so that helps.

45

I'm pretty sure we can compel him to Project Buttercup. Good work, i23sonny.

Author46

Yeah I'm not going to go with that, but thanks :D

47

Ooh I have always wanted to own an S2000 and work through all the mods so I will have to live through you. Please please please for the love of god do something different. If this is another Speedhunters build with KW suspension, Rays Wheels wrapped in Nitto Tyres then please slap yourself and have some imagination.

48

Loving this Jords. Proper fun project in the making. How much for short back and sides, pal?

Author49

I'm not sure there's much I could do with your barnet boss.

50

Trust me, slapping a turbo on mine was the best thing I have done so far! But keeping it clean and simple is envious.

51

Reading through the comments is restoring my faith in the S2000 community. Keep it fun and clean, not a rolling cliche.

Author52

Amen!

53
Ilhan Rafif Nagata

Is this the 2.2 or 2.0?

Author54

Europe and Japan got the 2.0, which is what this is, and the US got the 2.2.

55

I see where this is going. Air Ride :)

Author56

Hydraulics

57

Torsion bars

Author58

Leaf springs.

59

Turbo, low offset small diameter wheels with meaty tyres, and project name "British Rice" or once its boosted... "V-Turbo"

60

I challenge you to stay away from ce28 wheels, ohlins shocks, amuse front bumpers LOL

Author61

Challenge accepted!

62

I'm partial to the "Stock plus" style of tuning where you give up zero comfort for performance. Unfortunately it's also EXPENSIVE so you have to be picky. That said, brake pads, tires can really change the attitude of the car, plus with Honda you have a huge OEM parts bin to draw from (Type S/CR/etc). An 8-10 lb flywheel and a high end clutch might be a good after market upgrade though.

Author63

I switched to AD08Rs on the front late last year (I know, a summer tyre just in time for winter, good job Jordan) and they've totally transformed the balance of the car on the edge in the wet and dry – i.e highlighted just how poor the factory-fitted (and designed specifically for the car) Bridgestones are in comparison (or more likely how much tyre technology has progressed). Unfortunately I still have the Bridgestones on the rear so it's a bit more tail-happy than it once was.



I suspect the clutch will need changing fairly soon – I believe it's the original so it must be due renewal.

64

I just bought an AP1 two months ago, and just saw it past 100,000 miles yesterday evening. Your style, Jordan, is remarkable. It makes me happy someone else appreciates the unique performance of the F20, and doesn't see fit to compromise that with adding forced induction(not that there is anything wrong with that). Good work man, godspeed.

65

Please DO rock TE37s! 17 x 9.5 +41 is ur spec. My bro started the order to get them in this spec for the s2k to get meat and concave! I run the same spec on my IS300 in the back

66

I recommend trying to source a greddy spectrum elite exhaust, single or dual. Both sound amazing, look great and offer that no drone/rasp sound while retaining a deep loud almost exotic like sound. They might be a bit harder to come by but worth it especially for that oem+ feeling.

67

I really like that idea of keeping the stock feeling of a car and just giving it a little more grunt. I too have some mods planned in my mind for an Mini Cooper R53 wich is daily driven and is taken for a drive on B roads when it comes to the weekend.
However being in that situation that the car was bought one month ago I really care more for it's maintenance and get to know how it really handles before some mods are even taken to the car.

I will definitely follow this project. Hope to see some more of it soon.

Author68

I think that's an important step – work out what NEEDS doing rather than just changing things for the sake of it.

69
Quinten Morales

You should put a wide body kit or fender flares on it and Enkei or BBS rims on it and an aftermarket steering wheel and also a spoiler.

70
Quinten Morales

Also put a big turbo on it or a engine swap to a 2jz five or six speed twin turbo

71
Jordan Lee Whyte

would love to see any pics of your SW20 Turbo lol, did you do much to it ?
the s2000 looks great and looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

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