The motherland is home to all manners of trappings not intended for you. Bourbon-flavored, hamburger-shaped candy. Diet water. Bilk. The S2000 Type V, though, just might be Japan’s best-kept secret, one that’s been kept even tighter-lipped than the peculiar homologation that is beer and milk.
Honda of Japan introduced the second of only four variants the S2000 namesake was ever privy to, coinciding with the model’s second year of production. Known as the Type V, the still-fresh roadster now featured, as an option, the first variable-rate steering system to make its way onto any production vehicle. Officially called VGS (variable gear ratio steering), the system allows for a dynamically fluctuating steering ratio based upon vehicle speed and steering angle. The results are about as unessential as you think they are but are what many claim to be a more intuitive feel with even better sensitivity as well as a lock-to-lock ratio that’s halved under low-speed conditions. Like four-wheel steering, it’s the sort of engineering minutiae Honda’s become famous for introducing before discontinuing it and pretending it never happened.
Special, yes, but the VGS-equipped AP1 roadster’s benefits don’t go far beyond its steering mechanism. Aside from a limited-slip differential and shocks that Honda’s engineers say better complement the all-new turning mechanism, little has changed. Bradley LaFayette knows this and is perfectly content with all of that. A run-of-the-mill S2000 the Type V hardly is, though. Produced only for the company’s domestic market in small quantities, if for no other reason, this AP1’s right-hand-drive configuration makes it unique in its own right.
“I probably sent the guy 20 messages in three minutes,” LaFayette says of his initial contact with the Seattle-based seller who’d posted the car’s for-sale status online. The following morning a series of messages were exchanged between the two. LaFayette, as it seemed, was the perfect buyer. He had cash in hand. Airfare arrangements from Fayetteville, Tennesse, to Seattle were being secured. Or at least that’s what he’d led the seller to believe. “I didn’t have the cash. I didn’t have the money for a plane ticket. I pretty much didn’t plan a single thing, but I knew I wasn’t gonna stop until I got this car,” LaFayette says of his seemingly shortsighted scheme. If you ask him, though, all of these were simply trivialities that would soon sort themselves out. And sort themselves out they did. Within a day he’d sold his existing S2000 to a friend who’d previously showed interest, coincidentally, just two days earlier. The cash and the plane ticket were now just formalities that practically took care of themselves. “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “I was one step closer to getting [my] right-hand-drive S2000.” Lucky for LaFayette, the seller wasn’t fooling around when he spoke of the car’s condition during their previous conversations. A short test drive followed by a monetary exchange and LaFayette had hit the road.
There’s only one thing LaFayette wanted more than a right-hand-drive S2000 and that’s one dressed front to rear in Spoon Sports garb. In preparation for the Fall 2012 Import Alliance meet, the Tennessee native fitted the AP1 with a Spoon Sports-style hardtop he’d set aside from his previous S2000 as well as a carbon-fiber rear diffuser, also from the famed Japanese tuning house, along with an AP2 front bumper conversion, Ksport coilovers, and Volk rims. It was a look most anybody would settle for. But LaFayette isn’t most anybody.
Following the meet, it was on—or so LaFayette puts it: “As soon as I got back from [Import Alliance] it was time to tear the car down and start doing what I always wanted to do to an S2000—Spoon Sports parts [from] front to rear.” The Spoon blueprint was dutifully applied; the company’s S-Tai line of bumpers, fenders, and hood were all matched with the already fitted hardtop and rear diffuser before finishing it all off with a J’s Racing 3D GT wing. Spoon Sports’ S-Tai line, which pays homage to the infamous Super Taikyu racing series, are among the most coveted aero bits an S2000 fan could hope for.
LaFayette’s AP1 goes beyond skin deep. Despite the car’s Type V designation, its engine remains identical to every other 2.0L-bearing S2000. LaFayette went on to augment his with a piecemeal turbo system that is based upon a ball-bearing-driven Precision Turbo 6262. Nearly 415 hp is the result of the fine-tuned Hondata K-Pro at the hands of the duly capable and nearby Trackmasters. Making all this happen wasn’t easy, though. Steering rack placement due to the car’s right-hand-drive nature as well as the VGS system’s underpinnings meant any off-the-shelf exhaust manifold and downpipe wouldn’t fit. LaFayette turned to California-based Sheepey Built who addressed all of that, leaving little more than intercooler piping and bolt-on bits for him to sort out.
“My dream had finally become a reality,” LaFayette says. “[I’ve got] a right-hand-drive S2000 with all Spoon parts.” It doesn’t end there, though. LaFayette all but ensures that this isn’t the end. “I already have plans for something even better,” he says—something likely even better than bilk.
2001 Honda S2000 Type V