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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Maisto 1:18 Honda S2000 roadster



If the Miata craze didn't also start the BMW Z3 and others, it also created the Japanese version from Honda called the S2000.  Now the car wasn't released until 1999 as a 2000 model year vehicle but the technology and SSM show car were all created in the 1990's.  I never really cared for the car when it came out, but after driving a few and with today's shift towards self-driving vehicles I come to appreciate this car more.  Now how does this used Maisto 1:18 casting stack up?




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The S2000 was Honda's renewed interest in roadster's last seen with the S600 back in the 1960's.  Just like the original the new one was focused on Honda's racing heritage and quality reputation.  The SSM show car was introduced in 1995 as a preview of what's to come with similar body styling with one exception: the headlights were mounted low in the bumper next to the grille.  While fun in the sun it also was a joy to drive on the track with 50/50 weight distribution helped by lighter weight and position of the engine and related components closer to the center of the vehicle.  The engine is a 2.0L DOHC I-4 with VTEC variable valve timing and shorter stroke that allowed the engine to rev to 8,000 rpm, with horsepower and torque just close by in the rev range.  Output is 247 hp. and 161 Ib-ft. of torque to the rear wheels by a silky-smooth 6-speed manual transmissions with three synchro's for the second gear and two everywhere else.  While great on the track the lack of torque made the car feel rather boggy in day-to-day driving, so Honda upgraded the engine in 2004 with a slightly longer stroke to irke out more torque, along with revised styling touches.  The S2000 ended production in 2009 much to the disdain of Honda enthusiasts; Honda realized that so they are planning the next-generation to hopefully come out at the end of this decade.




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Maisto offered two versions of this casting when it was released in 2000: left-hand and right-hand drive, the latter offering not only the repositioned steering wheel and dashboard but also the integrated navigation screen in the dashboard, two-tone colored seats, and 6-spoke wheels.  The one shown here in yellow is the common U.S. version with chrome 5-spoke wheels that really look good on this car and Brigestone directional tires.  The look is simple, yet sporty with long hood and short deck profile accented by exterior mirrors and S2000 logo's on the sides.  The front has detailed headlight lenses, though the high beam lamps look off-centered, and lower grille with S2000 plate in chrome and side ducts next to the grille.  The rear has detailed taillights, center brake light where I added black around the non-illuminated part of the lamp, S2000 plate, dual chrome exhaust tips, and an external antenna on the rear fender.




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The trunk opens up to show a shallow, but roomy trunk with just a smidge of the spare tire showing.  The interior is just as simple as the exterior, and for a reason: driver enjoyment.  All of the controls are centered toward the driver, leaving the passenter with a mostly empty side of the dashboard.  The center radio cover I accented with silver (though that would not happen until 2004 update), just ahead of the fabulous shifter with silver knob, parking brake, and switches for the roof and hazard lights.  There is no glove box but there is a small storage area between the front seats with detailed pattern and mesh headrests to match the rollbars.  I like how the convertible tonneau cover is made out of soft rubber.  The driver sits behind a 3-spoke steering wheel and chrome pedals below for a sporty look, then looks at a digital gauge cluster with numerical speedometer just below the arching tachometer.  During the shift of driving side Maisto forgot to switch the buttons as well as the starter button was on the right-side of the steering wheel (it should be to the left of the steering wheel on left-hand drive models).  I fixed that with a few Sharpie pens to relocate the proper starter button location.




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Now to the good stuff: under the hood.  Open it reveals the slightly-canted engine block with red valve cover that sports the VTEC logo.  It may not seem likely, but there is a 3-D engine block just below the valve cover.  The airbox with factory cone air filter inside and intake is nicely done, and the hood prop is pretty accurate to the real vehicle and quite honestly not needed here as the hood holds open by itself.  The biggest issue here, again, is Maisto's lack of shifting the components when the steering wheel is moved from right to left: the brake master cylinder and booster are in the wrong spot, so is the battery.  Moving it is not as easy as it looks as the painted exterior part of the inner fenderwells are visible on the brake resovoir side, while the battery's positive terminal is connected to a wiring harness that runs the length of the intake on the left-side.  Thankfully the engine details tends to hide the fact.




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The base is a mismatch as the details range from good to bad.  The exhaust system in chrome and rear differential (where I detailed) is great, but towards the front two problems emerge: the transmission has a pan, totally incorrect for a manual-transmission car, and the engine area details look like something from a GM or Chrysler front-wheel drive transaxle and subframe.  The wheels do have working suspensions, though the brake rotors need calipers, and then there's a few interesting tidbits: There's rubber mounts to secure the front plate and rear antenna instead of flash glue, and the rear wheel mounts that work with the suspension uses two independent arms instead of one solid axle connecting both wheels to work with the spring suspension (you can't see it unless you take the rear axle cover off).




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So far I give it a 3.5 out of 5 on my rating: it's a nice casting that looks good in yellow, but Maisto improperly handled the steering wheel shift from right to left as several components still have the RHD look, the base has incorrect details, and the front-end seems to sit a tad bit too high.  But for a low-price casting it's not that bad, and once you get to know the car more you tend to appreciate the casting even more.




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Update 9/8/2016: The Right-hand drive version.


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Not too far later on do I find the right-hand drive version at another antique store.  This version seems to be more valuable than the left-hand drive version as it was the first group made when it came out and Maisto later decided to ax the tool in favor of the right-hand drive version.  The obvious correction here is the brake master cylinder, booster, and fluid resovoir; whose position was incorrect in LHD position; is now correct on this RHD version.  My example came in red, though the silver version is the only one that has the two-tone red/black seat option.  The wheels are silver 6-spoke torque wheels over the chrome 5-spoke wheels, while the front and rear Honda logo's are separate chrome pieces with red-stamped H.  Inside the dashboard is setup in right-hand drive function per the norm with one option not available in U.S.-spec S2000's: a navigation system that looks like an afterthought sticking out of the smooth dashboard just above the radio.  Some more unique tidbits on the RHD version is the chrome S2000 door sill trim on both door sills and when I took the car apart to clean it this RHD version used more simpler manufacturing as the front plate, antenna, and the tonneau cover are secured with the typical flash glue instead of the unusual rubber washer mounts of the yellow S2000 above.  Still, the S2000 in right-hand drive layout is very similar to the left-hand drive layout, which also includes the maladies like cross-eyed high-beam headlights and a base with incorrect lower subframe details.


















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