HONESTGUV: HONDA S2000
An Elise-beater for under £5k? You'd better believe it (HonestGuv does...)
Our man in the motor trade - HonestGuv - tells it like it is. (Or isn't.)
But as PHer Chris Thomas reminded me via e-mail, 1999 was also the year Honda brought out its S2000. Chris says the jump he made from an MX-5 to his S2000 is the best thing he's ever done, and reckons we've missed a trick by not including it in 'Open Season'.
He's on to something here. Under 6000rpm you've got a quiet, well-screwed-together cruiser with all mod cons, something you could cheerily drive to your gran's funeral. Above 6000rpm you've got a proper barrel of laughs: 237 brake, ton-fifty on the digi speedo, snappy six-speed 'box, nought to sixty in five, and a nice leather seat for the old lady.
Brand new, an S2000 would sting you nearly £29k. Now my old mate depreciation has brought them down to properly tempting money. You don't even have to go down the Cat D route to find them under £5k. Check out this 1999 T S2000 specimen if you want proof.
Or, if you're a bit more minted and fancy something that stands out, you could try this rather more 'trick' S2000.
Some dab-of-oppo Queefs of the age gibbed on about 'numbness in the steering', but I reckon they had a terminal case of numbness in the nuts. Mate of mine used to work for Honda back in the old Power Road, Chiswick days. One day he turned up at our garage in the Press car. As luck would have it we had an Elise 111S in at the same time for servicing, so it seemed only right to take the pair of them out on the Downs for a lunchtime clearout (which is all that most decent cars need to get them back in tune). Lance, my business partner at the time, started off in the Honda. After a couple of sherberts and a packet of extra-strong mints we swapped keys for the return trip.
But the Honda was pure gold. Half a ton heavier, sure, but 94 more horse, better brakes and a sight more civilised. It started peeing down halfway back. The Honda roof went up in 10 seconds on the button. In the mirror I saw Lance getting into a right state with a bunch of tent poles and a load of flapping vinyl. Oh how I laughed.
Downsides? Well, anything revving to nine grand is going to like a drink, oil as well as (high-octane) fuel. Clutches can buzz. Anyone on the taller side might find the driving position a touch high - the seat cushion and steering column are both fixed - and if you bother with insurance these days the premium might make your eyes water a bit.
Final recommendation: Vicky Butler-Henderson used to razz around in a lavender-blue one. She loved it. Liked the Honda too, as I recall. But then it was probably a freebie.