Honda first started showing a front-engine, rear-wheel drive roadster concept to the world at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show. Known as the Sport Study Model, the car continued making the rounds for nearly four years, generating excitement from enthusiasts around the world about the possibility of a new Honda built sports car. Sticking extremely close to the concept car, Honda relied on their engineering team, rather than those in marketing, to build the best sports car they could, focusing on low weight and stellar handling. At the end of 1999, Honda unveiled the S2000- a compact, 2-seat roadster to compete with the likes of the BMW Z3 and Porsche Boxster. The S2000 was designed for pure driving enjoyment and thanks to its 50:50 weight distribution, high revving engine and great gearbox, it quickly became the favorite in magazine comparisons everywhere and has built up a significant enthusiast following in the years since its launch.
This 2003 S2000 was built during the final year of “AP1” production, meaning that it retains the high-revving 8,900 rpm 2.0-liter engine and concept car derived 16” aluminum wheels. Finished in one of the classic S2000 colors of Suzuka Blue over a blue leather interior, this combination was only available from 2002 onwards and is rare to find on an AP1. This example has been under the care of three owners from new and shows just 18,620 miles at the time of cataloging. The sale includes a copy of the original owner's manual and the S2000 “Quick Start Guide”.
One of the things that makes the S2000 such a beloved car is the simple, driver-focused interior. When sitting in the driver’s seat, the largely unadorned, 3-spoke steering wheel and shifter both fall easily to hand and small control panels on either side of the sweeping, digital tachometer operate the stereo and HVAC. The blue interior on this car is particularly unique and a real conversation starter- most of the time when a manufacturer offers a uniquely colored interior, it is relegated to the seats and sometimes the door cards- in the S2000, all of your surroundings are covered in the attractive medium-blue hue, even the dashboard.
Powering the S2000 is the legendary 2.0 liter F20C DOHC inline-4 which is rated at 240 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque from the factory. When these motors first came out, they had the highest specific output for a naturally aspirated car at the time, producing 120 horsepower/liter. This figure has since been eclipsed by cars like the Ferrari 458 and Porsche 918 but will probably never be bested in an affordable enthusiast sports car. One thing that sets this S2000 apart from the majority of the examples out there is how original everything is- over the years a massive aftermarket community has sprung up around the S2000 and finding an unmodified car is no small task in itself. This masterpiece of an engine is connected to a precise 6-speed manual transmission that will rival any high-dollar sports car in feel and all of the control weights are optimized so you feel completely comfortable behind the wheel before you even leave the parking lot.
All it takes is a quick run to redline and a few shifts of its perfect gearbox to understand why the S2000 is beloved by so many. The age of the affordable sports car is slowly fading away and the chances of a car like this ever being built again are slim. Sliding into the blue interior of this car feels like a time warp back to 2003 and with its lack of touch screens and safety aids, will make you focus on what is truly important in a sports car- the driving.