HonestGuv: Honda S2000

Our man in the motor trade - HonestGuv - tells it like it is. (Or isn't.)

Ah, 1999. The last year of the century was interesting for many reasons. I finally got rid of the third wife and we were all partying like it was 1999, when we weren't quaking in anticipation of the Millennium Bug, that is.

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.

For some reason the Max Power brigade never got hold of S2000s in any serious way. Bodykits are subtle, Mugen and Spoon performance bits credible, and standard cars come in classy colours. Better still there are plenty about - over a hundred on the PH classifieds as we speak.

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.

Get a nice S2k home and you're looking at a prime specimen of Japanese engineering that's grown nicely into its own skin over the past 10 years. It'll take all the abuse you care to dish out and keep coming back for more, exactly like a YTS trainee.

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.

The Elise was all right I suppose. Anything relying on an old BL lump for its poke is never going to be what you might call refined, plus the reactions you need on greasy corners aren't necessarily there after three or four pints of Scruttocks Old Dirigible.

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.

More upsides? It'll go for ever as long as you change the oil every 9k, the plugs at 54k and the cam chain tensioner at 70k. If she idles a bit unsteady, chances are the previous owner hasn't stuck to the plan, but it's unlikely to be anything a full service won't put right.

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.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (119) Join the discussion on the forum

  • mikey k 09 Feb 2011

    I've had four different versions of these over the last 8 years.
    Yes they are getting cheap wink
    BUT they all need new roofs, replacement of seized bushes on the wishbones and the engines tend to die ~130k miles. Used engines are ~£2.5k.
    They are group 20 insurance because they have a taste for armco and hedges.

    They sold for less than £20k new in the last year, even the GT100's weren't £29k winkThere's no cambelt on it, its a chain that is not a service item, though the tensioner does wear. If they idle rough there are several reasons, no of which Honda look at on services. (bit more research needed me thinks laugh ) And the "max power brigade" are now flocking to them frown

    They are cheap for a reason!
    Great car though and I still miss mine frown

    Edited by mikey k on Wednesday 9th February 13:10

  • snorkel sucker 09 Feb 2011

    a lot of car for the money

    for that proper Outrun-esque feeling, take one for a blast in the dead night of summer, roof down, and watch the orange and red digital speedo go to work

    loved mine. still miss it

  • mattcov 09 Feb 2011

    cambelt? scratchchin

  • Neil H 09 Feb 2011

    That Spec V advert is wrong, it didn't come with a more powerful engine rolleyes it simply has variable geared steering.

  • wl606 09 Feb 2011

    "plus the reactions you need on greasy corners aren't necessarily there after three or four pints of Scruttocks Old Dirigible."

    "and if you bother with insurance these days the premium might make your eyes water a bit."

    It's not big, and it's not clever.

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