The one that got away
How I lost my S2000 and why I'm glad I did
With enough drive and determination, there are virtually no limits as to what you can achieve in life. Some things are easier to attain than others. STD's for example. But there are also some things in life that are just not meant to be yours. Or mine, to be exact. One day, I will tell my daughter that there was a time when her father owned a fast, front mid-engine, rear wheel drive, two-seater, convertible. It had red seats, a naturally aspirated engine that revved up to 9000 RPM, and a classically styled body that boasted a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Then she will ask me, "What was it like to own, daddy?" To which I would reply with a sad shrug of a defeated man. Unfortunately, I can't speak much for actual ownership since the car spent most of it's time on the back of a tow truck.
Not pictured here: Enjoying the S2000's dynamic abilities.
Let's back track for a bit. About 4 years ago, I was ready to relinquish my relationship with my 2004 BMW 330ci. It had gotten to the point where the Check Engine Light came on so often that I wondered if it were in fact just a sticker on the dash. I wanted a car with a little bit more dependability without giving up sportiness. I was ready to get into a newer car. So, I bought a 2004 Honda S2000. Ok, "new-to-me".
If you squint hard enough, 50,000 miles kind of looks like 50 miles. "New".
There were many S2000's being sold in the city were I lived. Some had lots of miles in them. Others had ridiculous wings. But most of them had "salvage" titles which meant that either they were involved in a terrible crash or someone was murdered in them. Or both. I searched fervently for one being sold by an actual Honda dealership, believing that if they had an S2000 in their lot, it would be well-maintained, have a clean title, and most importantly, have a warranty to some degree. And I found one about two hours away from me. No sweat.
As soon as I arrived at the dealership, I did the usuals. I test drove it, asked questions, looked at the numbers. All the boring adult stuff. I also stressed to the manager that I drove all the way from San Diego because of my trust in their reputation as an authorized Honda dealership. The manager reassured me that I made the right decision and we drove home that night in my new-ish convertible sports car. 100 miles to go. Oh joy!
Obligatory social media post. Insert smug face.
As soon as we got home that night, we just hit the sack. The next day, I woke up bright and early to take the car out for an "early morning stretch". I found myself a piece of long, empty road and went for it. The car came alive instantly. The shifts were beyond satisfying and the sound of that high strung 4 cylinder filled the cold morning air. I got near 8,000 RPM before I shifted, knowing well enough that that Honda engine could handle more. I simply chickened out. After a short run, I drove it home and ate breakfast with a smile plastered across my wind-chilled face. Later that day, my wife and I decided to take it out to the beach. The day was just perfect and the open top of that little car made it even perfect-er. My wife enjoyed driving the car as much as I did as evidenced by the indicated speed in front of her. After a few hours though, things kind of went south.
She was obviously not enjoying it.
On our way back, the airbag light suddenly went on. As soon as we got home, I referred to the manual to find a possible reason. The manual clearly stated NOT TO DRIVE the car when said light is on. I called the dealership and explained the situation. Initially, they wanted me to drive the car back to them so they can take a look. 100 miles away. I politely, but sternly, told the representative "no". The general manager said he will arrange a tow truck to bring it to one of the Honda dealerships here in San Diego to get it checked. A few hours later, the car was on it's way to the dealership.
I received a call the next day, informing me that the car was ready for pick-up. According to the technician, there was something "loose" that they simply had to tighten. In my excitement, I really didn't question it. Bad move. Then again, being mechanically ignorant, I wouldn't even know what to ask. I just wanted to drive the car again. And so I did. For a bit. As I was driving home, the temperature gauge shot up and my heart sank. I called the dealership and once more, the car was on the flat bed truck.
My car's natural environment. Insert sad face.
About two days later, I went to go pick it up again. The technician told me they tested it and could not find anything wrong. It might have been a fluke. Blame it on my excitement and my stupidity but I just took their word for it (again) and left. That very same day, the temperature gauge went up again. Another call, another tow truck and I am once again left with a Ford Focus rental. This time it took a few more days before I received call back. According to them, there was something wrong with the engine itself and it would require a complete rebuild. Now I know about engines as much as a pineapple, so all I wanted to know was how long it was going take. I also made sure I wasn't going to pay for anything. The general manager that sold me the car agreed to pay for what needs to be done and that was good enough for me. A week later, I went to go pick it up. The dealer said it's as good as new. Finally! I drove it home, carefully paying attention to that little red light that might pop on at any given moment. Thankfully, it held up. For about 30 miles. Then the temperature skyrocketed.
At this point, I was so fed up that I was practically screaming at anyone I spoke to. Including the poor car rental representative. The general manager was very apologetic, as he should be. He was puzzled as to why the dealership couldn't figure out what was wrong. He was especially embarrassed since he painted this dealership as "just as good, if not better" than the branch he managed. Out of ideas, he proposed that I take it to an independent specialist and promised to pay for any necessary repairs. I went on the forums and asked around. I found out that there is a shop in my area that specializes in Honda S2000's. I did some google searches about the shop and learned that it is a family-owned business that is very well liked and known in the local racing community. They had a couple of racey S2000's in front of their business establishment. The owner's personal collection, apparently. I gave them a call, told them the story, detailing as much as I could and arranged for a tow truck to deliver my car.
Just like mine. But with a Tow Truck underneath.
About a day after the car was delivered to the shop, I received a call from the owner. His tone was worrying. "Where did you buy this car again?", he asked. "And according to them this is a clean title?", he followed almost immediately before I could answer. At this point, I knew I would not like what he was about to say. According to him, the car was in a huge accident before I bought it. All he said was, "The VIN in the front doesn't even match the back. This is essentially two cars, welded together. Badly. I wouldn't even go near this car let alone drive it." He said the car's temperature was the least of my worries. It was simply a sensor that's gone bad. Everything else was, well, shit. The fuel system was so poorly put together that it could have caught fire at any time. I was driving a convertible live grenade. You can imagine the following conversations I had with all parties involved. When I say conversation, I mean shouting. I was frustrated and felt stupid for letting it get this far. I suppose I really just wanted to do all I could to have that car. Anything to make it work. At the end, was so worn out and over the whole experience that I just wanted my money back and my rental paid for. Thankfully, I got that.
In spite of all the well wishes, high hopes, and huge amounts of patience, I lost my S2000. At least, for the best. As terrible as that experience was, I did enjoy the brief moments I had with the car. I still browse the internet for used S2000's to this day because I never really got to fully enjoy it before I had to part ways with it. It will always be the one car that got away. Although my ownership experience with the S2000 was short-lived, because of the actual condition of the car, I could probably at least say that I was always driving it on the edge.