Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #99

Well, here we are, the last car pic from the 1990s. After the utter crapitude of the later part of the 1970s and the entirety of the 1980s, the '90s started off meh and ended a little less meh...

1999 Honda S2000. While the other two possible choices for the last year of the decade were candidates because they represented their respective company doing something wrong (or in one case, correcting a previous wrong), the S2000 is a case of the company doing something right. It was high time, given the runaway success of the Mazda Miata nearly a decade prior, for Honda to return to its roots and offer a two-seater, rear-drive drop-top.

The other vehicles? Why, the Cadillac Escalade and the Toyota Tundra. The Escalade, don't get me wrong, was a stroke of *genius* for General Motors. Take a Chevrolet Tahoe. Rip off the grille and the Chevy emblems. Put on the Cadillac crest. Hike price $20K. Profit! I can't blame General Motors for the Escalade - that blame goes square on the imbeciles that bought into it. The Tundra is a great truck, but it corrected the abomination that was the T100.

Back to the S2000. You can't say that Honda was mimicking the Miata, because the S500 - a rear-drive, two seat roadster - was on the market in 1963, some 27 years before the Miata. The last L800 (bigger brother to the 500) rolled off the line in 1970, so Honda had a history of producing MG-like roadsters. Mazda was the first to offer a more modern take, but Honda picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone with the S2000.

Roughly 240 horsepower in a car that weighed 2,700? Add in a 6-speed manual transmission and a ragtop, and that's a recipe for fun. The downside, though, was the price: MSRP in 1999 was $70K, at a time when the Corvette convertible was selling for $25K less - with the same gas mileage and greater comfort. For the price of an S2000, you could buy nearly three Miatas - or you could tune the living daylights out of one and buy a Civic for a daily commuter.

Still, an "A" for effort for the Honda S2000.

That is all.


Unknown said...

I'm not sure where you got your pricing for the Honda S2000, but the MSRP was exactly $32,000 and there were zero options that you could add to the car. Even with the ridiculous "market adjustment" that some of the unsavory dealers would tack on, the price was usually under $40,000 off the lot. That's still lower than the Corvette.

Angus McThag said...

In the 19 year span from 1980 to 1999 things got LOTS better.

Consider that in 1980 the base engine in a Vette was 350 cubic inch (5.7L) and put out a wheezy 190 brake horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque. With an EPA guesstimate of 13/20.

By 1999 the base engine was still 350 cubic inch (5.7L) but had climbed to 345 brake horsepower and 350 ft-lbs of torque. With an EPA guesstimate of 17/25. Near doubling of the horsepower with a 25% increase in fuel economy... That's not "less meh" that's a full recovery from meh. Especially when you consider that the C5 could go around corners now.

Plus, because a rising tide lifts all boats, every car in every manufacturer's line up shows similar gains. There just isn't a car line that got worse than it previous iterations.

A decent barometer of "did it really get better" is what the hot-rodders choose for engine swaps. Seeing fewer and fewer carbs and old small blocks. More power, more drivable, all win.

libertyman said...

As I recall that Honda would rev to 9800 RPM. That was amazing then.

Old NFO said...

They were and are still popular in Japan... They run about $50K used over there, when/if one comes up for sale.

Jim said...

The downside is that the S-2000 has one of the most track-focused, harshest road-rides out there of any comparable vehicle. I mean, it's downright unpleasant. Buckboard on cobblestone road grade unpleasant.

I've sold and driven S-2000s, and have been a passenger in a rather hot NSX. The NSX had a better ride than the S-2000.

Granted, the '2000 would corner like a slot car on crack, but one's back and tailbone paid the price for the dividend.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX