When it comes to Asian tuner cars, you either love them or hate them, and even those who like Asian cars may prefer the stock appearance from the Fast and Furious look of tuner cars. Lately Hot Wheels has been getting the message and has released several Asian cars, most vintage models, that retain the stock look even with custom modifications to the body and wheels. The Honda S2000 border lines on both fences.
The hi-revving 2-door roadster
The S200 began life as the 1995 SSM concept car, which showcased Honda's pursuit of their own 2-door roadster to go after the likes of Miata, Z3, SLK, and Boxster, while showcasing their latest racing technology into a street car, especially the DOHC VTEC I-4 driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual. After a few years of Honda and Acura fighting for rights to sell the car under their umbrella, Honda got the nod and the S2000 arrived at dealers in 1999.
The S2000 looks just like the SSM concept except the headlights are mounted higher on the bumper, along the front fenders, instead of down low with the grille. The S2000 also gets some styling clues from the original Honda roadster, the S600. The interior is very sparce except for the driver who is surrounded by ventilation controls (right-side), red starter button (left-side), and a digital analog tachometer and digital speedometer (the radio is in the center of the dash, hiding behind a secret panel cover). Oh, and don't forget about the silver shift knob for the slick-shifting six-speed manual with the precise feel of each gear you select (nothing else comes close to it!). The 2.0L I-4 features DOHC and Honda's famous VTEC variable valve timing, producing 237 hp. and 153 ft-Ib. torque with a 9,000 RPM redline! The refresh in 2004 included new headlight and tri-taillights, 10-sp wheels, a few body modifications, and engine tweaks to get more torque out of the motor even though the 9,000 RPM redline is reduced.
I used to briefly drive a few of these cars and I must say they're fun, handle great, and the shifter is pure mechanical, no sloppiness or electronics! However, the downside of a high-revving engine is the lack of torque at bottom-end that makes the car feel not that strong (in contrast to a V8 Mustang). Also having been at a Honda dealer for a few years I've seen quite a few times where several S2000's will be towed in because the convertible top is so thin that it can be easily cut with a switchblade to gain access to the seats, shift knob, console; the most common parts stolen out of the S2000's. If you have a S2000's in the open and you don't mind closing in the top for long periods, I highly advise the optional hardtop from the Honda accessories.
Hot Wheels Family of S2000's
In 2011, Ryu Asada (hence the name on the windshield header) designed a S2000 with a tuner look, yet ironically retains the stock look of the car, even down to the headlight and taillight decals and the Honda H badges! Based on the 2004-2009 version, it features a hardtop with integrated scoop (that contours with the shape of the trunk), huge rear wing, lower ground effects, flared fenders for the wider tires, and a scoop for the cold-air intake and vents in the hood. Inside the interior is stock except for the driver getting the 5-point harness buckle (the passenger makes do with the stock 3-point belt). The base even shows the factory drivetrain settings, combined with large dual exhaust over the stock factory units. To put it in terms, the Hot Wheels S2000 to a stock S2000 is like the Porsche 911 GT3 to the Porsche 911 Carrera!
2012 introduced it's first Super Treasure Hunt in metallic blue, or preferably called as my favorite color Laguna Blue Metallic. However the Treasure Hunt, with rubber tires, was very limited, so I had to forgo with the regular in a powder blue color :( Both have AEM on the sides, rear taillights, and only on earlier Wal-Mart versions the Hot Wheels windshield banner. A burgundy version was released later with the return to the 5-spoke wheels seen in 2011.
In 2013 the blue, thankfully returned, arrived with Evasive logos on the sides, yellow 10-sp wheels (close to the actual car), and all of this was based on the actual car built by Evasive! A red version arrived later with off-set white front and yellow rear wheels. As much as I like the S2000, it was time for me to tame the amount of recolors I get, so the red one was not part of my group. For 2014, only in three or nine packs you can find the orange S2000 with either white 5-sp or 10-sp wheels. The headlight and taillight decals return, and the orange looks sharp.
Despite the tuner look, the Hot Wheels Honda S2000 is not really that all bad, and one i'll enjoy collecting for years to come!