Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Innocent Devil

Words & Snaps by Sam

Honda released its S2000 model back in 1999 as a much awaited successor to the S800, which ended production many moons before, back in 1970. After nearly three decades, Honda decided it was about time to create an all new pure and raw, purpose built driving machine, which unlike the exponentially more costly NSX, would be readily accessible to the masses.

Honda decided that the S2000 should remain in keeping with the company’s ideology at the time, which was to produce light-weight, well balanced cars, equipped with high output naturally aspirated engines; providing the perfect recipe for an unadulterated and totally engaging driving experience.

Upon release, the S2000 proved to be everything it had promised. With a near perfect 51:49 weight balance and a light-weight chassis, the machine was an absolute blast in the corners. The transmission also sat directly below the shifter to ensure a direct as possible interaction between driver and all 6 finely balanced gears. Pop the hood and you’ll find that the first-generation AP1 models were fitted with the now legendary F20C, which as the name may suggest was a naturally aspirated 2 litre lump.

What made this engine legendary? At the time the F20C held the record for producing more horsepower per litre than any other naturally aspirated piston engine, a record which stood for an entire decade until the Ferrari 458 Italia took the crown in 2010. The F20C had a total output of 247bhp (JDM spec), which equated to an outrageous 123.5bhp/litre. Quite amazing.

So then, would you be surprised to learn that Peter chose an S2000 as a base for his street driven race car project? We wouldn’t.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Taiwan (if not, I recommend you do!), then you will probably have been to the capital city of Taipei, which also means you’ll probably be aware of the series of beautiful green mountains which encircle it. If you’ve never visited the city, or the mountains for that matter, then I can best describe the mountain roads as being somewhat similar to Japanese touges, very Initial D-esque. Imagine perfectly smooth asphalt, carving hundreds of snake like trails through forests and over rivers as they wind their way, twisting and turning to wherever their destinations may be.

It’s on these mountainous roads where Peter loves to spend much of his time with Barbe. Barbe, by the way, is the name of Peter’s beloved S2000, his car when on the traffic packed city streets, but his frisky devil when it comes to play time. You see, Barbe is neither a street car, nor is she an out and out race machine. She’s a sort of hybrid, a compound of gritty economical performance.

Many people try this approach with their project, often due to money restraints, but it’s a tough formula to get right. Making a car more performance orientated, while simultaneously maintaining reliability and drivability is not easy.

So how has Peter achieved it? First of all, Peter decided to keep the F20C power plant mainly stock, although he did tell me at the time of writing that he has a planned swap to the later F22C engine (increased capacity of 2.2 litres and an almost identical bhp figure, but with more torque at the cost of a lower rev limit), which came as standard in the updated AP2 models.

Either way it should retain Honda’s factory reliability, which would be considered a necessity. Add to that, an increased cooling capacity provided courtesy of an aluminium radiator and Barbe was ready to take whatever the mountains had to offer.

The only power modifications came by way of a J’s Racing air intake and a gorgeous J’s Racing 70RR titanium exhaust system (Too loud! Exclaimed Peter).  Although there’s also a Spoon 4.3 final drive fitted for increased acceleration when Peter stamps on the loud pedal.

So if that’s pretty much it for power modifications, how about the handling? Peter has done much more in this department, as he rightly deemed it of much more importance when on the touges. Barbe was fitted with a set of tuned Ohlin DFV coilovers, which greatly firmed up and stabilised the already fantastic chassis.

Barbe was also given some stunning red shoes, no other than the iconic Volk Racing TE37s, wrapped in the increasingly popular Achilles rubber. Lurking behind these red beauties was a set of Endless 4-pots, providing enough stopping power for a car several times the weight and power of Barbe!

That, however, was not where it stopped. Peter decided that Barbe was to have an extensive aerodynamic makeover on the outside too, and this is where things really started to get serious. Perhaps the most iconic modification in Barbe’s arsenal, as well as a real JDM rarity, was the Sorcery front bumper.

If this wouldn’t make a JDM fanboy drool, I don’t know what would! It added a much more aggressive look, but just as importantly, the integrated diffuser helped glue the front of the car to the tarmac.

Fitted to the rear to compliment Barbe’s new badass looking face, was a Spoon race-spec diffuser, designed specifically to keep Barbe’s ass planted firmly on the ground. Sitting just around the corners was a pair of fitted ASM fenders, required in order to house those super-wide wheels.

Now what if I told you that Barbe had one more part, one more modification which visually stood out just as much as her Sorcery front end? How could this be possible?

Well, it was made possible by using Peter’s awesome fabrication skills to craft a complete one-off carbon rear wing, which took styling cues from the famous Gundam franchise. Not only did it look every bit as impressive as a futuristic fighting machine, it was also functional too, adding even more downforce to Barbe’s rear. Impressive!

Peter and Barbe have both come a long way on their journey together so far, and somehow I get the feeling that this journey has only just begun. We shall wait with bated breath to see where Peter decides to take his touge-eating devil, but based on what we’ve seen so far, I think we can be sure of a fun ride!


S2000 AP1
6-Speed Manual
Drive Layout
Max Output

Power Mods
J's Racing intake
Aluminium Radiator
J's Racing 70RR (Titanium)
Spoon 4.3 final drive, Exedy Carbon D clutch

Achilles F 255 R 265 35/18
Endless 4-pots
Ohlin DFV coilovers
Rubber enforced control arms

Sorcery bumper with integrated diffuser, ASM fenders, Spoon rear diffuser
Custom made rear wing

Recaro TSG/RSG 
Steering Wheel
Super GT
Gear Knob

Peter would like to thank his wife, Ceci, for always standing by him and supporting him with his project.


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