Honda's ultra-sexy sports car is a rare beast, meeting all the criteria of both style and substance. Created to mark the company's 50th anniversary, the Honda S2000 is a pinnacle of motoring achievement. Based on Honda's 'S' model sports cars of the 1960s, it is nonetheless as futuristic as they come – or at least it was upon its launch on 1999. The S2000 was something of a vanity project for Honda, a chance to show off. With a unique, normally aspirated 2.0 litre engine, the S2000 boasts higher power output than a twin turbocharged Lotus Esprit V8 GT, yet cost half as much as the brand's flagship NSX sports car.
After causing a big splash upon its launch, the S2000 has quietly settled into a rather niche market, making it an ideal buy for those who value neck-snapping performance but are looking for a departure from the usual suspects.
Bang for your buck
The used Honda S2000 is all about the power output. The most important facts are that its 2.0 litres develop a record-breaking 237bhp and feature the highest revving engine you can buy in a road car, the futuristic LED rev-counter lighting up to 9000rpm.
Its cabin is somewhat basic, suggesting that that extraordinary engine alone is reason enough to indulge, but by contrast the body styling is traditionally beautiful. That's not to say specifications are spartan – the approved used Honda S2000 has the full complement of extras: pretty alloys, ABS, alarm, air conditioning, headlight washers and remote control stereo, but the execution is an exercise in minimalism. Although the bodyshell boasts a tactile curviness, the Honda S2000 is anything but feminine, with a booming exhaust resembling something you'd usually find on an F1 track.
While a few minor revisions were made over its lifespan, the used Honda S2000 engine, the car's raison d'être, remained basically the same. 2000 saw an optional hardtop with heated rear windscreen added to the line up and 2004 saw suspension modifications to placate those struggling to deal with the rather lively back end.
What you'll pay
The used Honda S2000 for sale is a rather exotic choice, you won't find one in every Tesco car park, but time has softened prices substantially. There was a point when used models were commanding more than new, such was demand, but now you can find V-reg 1999 examples for about £5,000, going up about another £500 for W-reg 2000s. Insurance is a less pleasing group 20.
What to check
While there aren't any particular problems with the car, examine the buyer carefully. The cheap Honda S2000 buyer fell into two main camps: those who bought it because it looked good and who felt they would look good in it, who pootled gently around town with the hood down and barely got above 5000rpm. The other camp is the boy racer type, having redlined down every straight and wrung every last inch of performance out of his second hand Honda S2000. That's not to say the second type of buyer didn't look after his vehicle, but be wary of warped front discs, go for a full service history and run an HPI check.
As usual when looking at a soft-top, check the hood carefully for functionality and wear and tear. Cast an eye over the alloys for kerbing and give it a good test drive. Once you're into the higher revs, if it doesn't pull you like a pallet of bricks falling off the side of a high-rise, there's something wrong.
Similarly the Honda S2000 for sale regularly suffers accident damage from those unaccustomed to its power output or that trigger happy tail end.
Not quite in the supercar league but still relatively expensive - clutch assembly kits are £270, a replacement exhaust system, not including catalyst, goes for £324. A set of front pads is about £50 and an alternator a sobering £387. A starter motor is £280 and a replacement headlight will set you back over £300.
How it drives
The used Honda S2000 will get you from 0-60mph in 5.6 glorious seconds and reach a top speed of 147mph, but it'll take a bit of effort. While the gearbox is superlative, you don't get to release much of that awesome power below 5850rpm so you'll need a heavy foot. Once you've got the knack you'll feel like Michael Schumacher screaming around Monte Carlo, but lower rev performance is pretty average. The Honda S2000 is all about the right foot, the steering and suspension doing their jobs in a competent if unspectacular fashion but the brakes, fortunately under the circumstances, rising magnificently to the occasion.