Honda S2000 (2002-2009) – a guide to buying a used

When most of the sports cars the engines are shutting up shop, the Honda S2000 is open for business. Around 6000rpm, the VTEC variable valve timing system swap cams to allow the F20C engine fill its lungs. At 7500rpm, you are developing a modest 153lb ft of torque; to 8300rpm, with peak power of 237bhp, good for 0-62 mph in 6.2 sec. Finally, at 9000rpm, the shutters come down.

Impressive figures, but, since the engine otherwise its idle to low revs, also the reason for Honda roadster lives in the shadows of the more accessible rivals. But if you want the kind of engineering that Honda’s reputation was built, the S2000 is worth a peek.

Prices start from about 5000 for the models with a partial service stories, but around 7000 should provide a dear example, with a properly undersealed chassis and, therefore, it is possible to change the fully adjustable suspension without having to cut and replace the seized fittings, anti-rust bolts and adjusters. Mileage may be on the high side, but fear not: no S2000 has gone pop through hard work.

The mounted longitudinally, naturally aspirated 2.0-liter engine (front/centre for better weight distribution) drives the rear wheels through a six-speed gearbox and Torsen limited slip diff. Suspension double wishbone all-round and steering electrically assisted.

The first cars have been criticized for steering uncommunicative and tricky on-limit handling. Accordingly, in 2002, the suspension has been modified. At the same time, a GT version with a hard-top to extend the range. (Standard cars have electrically powered vinyl cap.)

The criticisms are not entirely silenced by the suspension mod as well, in 2004, Honda introduced a series of changes to the chassis, including stiffer body bracing, made springs and anti-roll bar, slightly slower steering and larger wheels (16 to 17 years). At the same time, the torque has been increased slightly at low revs. New triplebeam projector lights, and restyled front and rear bumpers completed what is known as the AP1 facelift.

Two years later, and seven years into the model production life, the Honda commitment for the S2000 is still intact. Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), which is intended to provide a further control in corners and increase traction on loose surfaces, has been added to the list of options. It has become standard in 2008, together with the further suspension refinements. The model comes out the following year.

Fortunately, the S2000 seems to attract the mechanically sympathetic, so it is not unusual to see high-runners with full history. Honda approved used scheme covers cars up to eight years, then you can still find some carefully examined 2008s on dealer forecourts. As an alternative to the UK car, check-out-grey import S2000s. They tend to be in better condition and with lower mileage. Among these, you will find the 2.2-liter model, as well as a sprinkling of Type Vs, and then, the stripped-out Type of Ss.

An expert in the field…

TOM GANNON, TGM

I have been racing and working on Honda’s since 1991. The engines are really well designed, the S2000, especially. It is designed for a high number of revolutions and a long life. The Standard mod was not yielding much, so go the forced induction route with a supercharger. A HKS or compressor Rotrex will be an increase in power of around 360-380bhp and torque to round 250 ft. Extends to 3000 to 9000rpm, making the car much more drivable. The kit has a cost of about 4500 to 5000 supplied and fitted. We also recommend that a brake, suspension, clutch upgrade.

Buyer beware…

ENGINE

Oil and filter change (5W40 fully synthetic) every 9k miles or once a year. When the engine is warm, listen for timing chain tensioner rattle. It is possible to fail at about 75k km.

CLUTCH, TRANSMISSION

The clutch pack is already 50k km. Shaft of the transmission and differential are both strong, but the inner joints of the transmissions can wear prematurely.

SUSPENSION

Poor anti-rust protection can result in suspension nuts, bolts, and eccentric to grasp. The bill for the work and the parts may be 750. Front compliance bush on the front lower arms can wear. Otherwise, the suspension is strong.

STEERING

Steering rack mounts can fail.

BRAKES

Calipers can seize, causing the car to pull to one side during braking.

UNDERBODY

Corrosion can be a problem because the anti-rust protection was so poor.

INTERIOR

Difficult, but ruined by brittle plastic fittings, in particular around the stereo.

The ROOF

This can loss near the windshield pillars, so check for a wet carpet. You can develop a small tear where it is pulled too tight. Ensure the catches are not worn out. If it is a GT, check the hard-top stand with the car.

It is also worth to know…

Honda approved used scheme covers qualifying cars up to eight years and unlimited mileage. This means that there are still some late S2000s at major retailers. What we have found is a 2009 GT with 64k miles, for the price of 13,995.

How much to spend?

Of 5000-6900

Launch car 2002, with high mileage, but some with histories of service.

7000-8250

The beloved, low-mileage early car, and a sprinkling of world-weary, high-mileage 2006-2007 car.

8500-11,000

Half of the mileage 2005-2007 cars including GTs, lowest mileage first.

11,500- 12,500

Very tidy, mid-mileage 2007-2008 car. Also a pair of ordered 2004-2006 car.

12,750-13,500

Plus half of the mileage 2006-2009 cars, including Honda approved, some ultra-low mileage 2006-on cars.

13,750-15,500

More Honda approved used 2009 car with low km 2008-2009 drive.

John Evans

In need of a Honda S2000? Check out a few examples for sale here: