2003 Honda S2000 - Performance

How can I add some pep into my Honda S2000 for a reasonable amount.?I may be retired, but I’m tired of getting my doors blown off by some kid in theses Porsche Boxters

That statement is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a reasonable cost performance upgrade for an S2000.

The engine in your S2000 is an 11:1 compression, 9000 rpm redline, 240 hp, 2 liter 4 cylinder. It had one of the highest specific HP per liter of anything available in 2003 without a turbo. What COULD be done to make power HAS been done.

You could add a turbocharger or a supercharger but neither is cheap.

Full disclosure, I owned one, an '00 S2000. Boxters never gave me much problem at the race track - which is the ONLY place you should be driving like this. Given that most models of the Boxster don’t have much more power than you do and they weigh a bit more, maybe the driver is in need of a tune-up?

And Car and Driver agrees


Valid point, I may be trying to drag race. The car always performed flawless when I did early morning runs on Going to the Sun road in Glacier NP. Maybe it’s time for me to grow up a bit.

S2000… not a drag race car. Never intended to be that and if you hammer the rear differential with high rpm clutch drops you will blow it apart. Search for a used one - BIG bucks IF you can find one.

The clutch can’t take lots of hard launches either. The trans is pretty much bulletproof.

They make good road course track cars or mountain twisty road cars but drag strips are not an S2000’s friend.


The speed limit in Glacier National Park is 45 MPH in some areas and 25 MPH in others . Not sure why you would need more power in a S2000 .
And if I was looking for one an unmodified version would be more appealing to me.

I’m not a fan of street racing of any type, particularly in national parks, but here we go: You would be better off in an Accord or Camry with a V6 in a drag race. That car is a roadster and the engine is either amazing or rubbish depending on if you like to drive between 5,000 RPM and 9,000 RPM all the time. I don’t, so I’d suggest a new Miata or, heck, join the club and get a used Boxster. Except old Boxsters were not that fast for the money in a drag race either.

+1 to that comment! It is rare to find an unmodified S2000 and the sale prices for those is growing every year!

I admit to a few modifications to my S2000 - exhaust, shocks, springs and front stab bar and 17 inch wheels plus I added front tweeters to the doors in the spot the factory added in '03 or '04. Only the speakers would not be easily reversible.

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Bingo , we have a winner .

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The S2000 has a great engine but low-end torque is not one of its strengths. Hence the poor drag race performance. Enjoy it for what it is.

But, it would first be necessary to reduce the compression to a large extent, before adding a turbocharger or a supercharger. And, the 16 year old main bearings would need to be “beefed-up” in order to withstand the rigors that this type of forced induction would subject the engine to.

When you take all of these costs into consideration, at the end of the day, it will still be a 16 year old car, and applying all of that money to the purchase of a newer/faster car would make a lot more sense… IMHO.

What wheels and tires does it have? Lighter wheels (probably steel, not alloy) and tires will provide quicker acceleration.

Ugly steel wheels on an S2000 that is a desirable vehicle that may already have collector value . You can’t be serious.

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They would “add some pep” - or rather reduce some inertia, same affect. He could always save the heavy wheels and put them back on any time.

I’m sure he could find (expensive) alloys lighter than the same size steel wheels, which probably aren’t available in the needed size for the S2000, I’d think.

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I bet the S2000’s factory alloys are high quality light wheels, not the heavy alloys put on sedans just for looks.

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This article informed me on the significance of wheel weight. Not a long read:


Wheels make a small difference but the tires are heavier and farther from the center which means their contribution is larger than the wheel.

I have seen articles that dyno tested lighter wheels with identical tires. The difference was in the margin of error.

@shanonia - why do you keep bringing up steel wheels? The heaviest 15x6.5" wheel (by far) on Tire Rack is a steel wheels (24 lbs.). The alloy wheels in that size range from 14.4 lbs. to 18.2 lbs.


Steel wheel vs. alloy wheel is an oversimplification, I admit. Often the OEM steel wheel combo weighs less than the “upgrade” of alloy wheel of +1 or more diameter, mounted with a lower profile tire that is wider than the OEM steel combo. The total weight of the wheel/tire combo is important; even more important is how far out from the hub is the center of mass of the combo. The last few sentences of the article explain this pretty well.

I looked at tirerack for wheels for my 1999 Honda Civic. They have several alloy wheels in OEM size, weighing about 15 pounds. The steel wheel of that size weighs 18 pounds. Where things go wrong from a performance/acceleration/power at the wheel standpoint is when you go to a larger diameter, probably wider, heavier wheel and mount a lower profile, wider, heavier tire. The overall weight is often higher than the OEM steel combo; and more importantly, the center of the rotating mass is farther from the hub, which has the effect of making the car accelerate more slowly, i.e. robbing power. See the chart in the article for a quick look at the data that show this.

Are you sure your 16 year old S2000 engine and transmission are performing correctly? It wouldn’t be unusual for some unseen problem to cause the car to drive sluggishly, and you didn’t notice it happen b/c it gradually crept in, maybe 5 years ago. I’d suggest taking it to your shop and having them double check everything is working correctly. Especially stuff that could make it feel sluggish, like overly retarded ignition or valve timing, incorrect timing advance vs rpm, egr cutting in too soon, problematic fuel trims, low engine compression, etc.

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