Japanese manufacturers, residents of the BLAND unit in the trauma ward that is the modern auto industry (for the most part), put out some huge and extremely popular sports cars in the 90's.
Toyota had the twin-turbo Supra; Mitsubishi had the 3000GT VR-4; Mazda had the twin-turbo RX-7 and Nissan had the twin-turbo 300ZX and Skyline GT-Rs. And Honda? Well, they tried to pick a fight with Ferrari with their naturally-aspirated V6-powered NSX, but as for the common man? That's where the SSM concept stepped in, foreshadowing the S2000 roadster.
Debut (Prototype ; Production): Following the presentation of a pre-production prototype in September 1998, Honda launched the S2000 onto the market in April 1999 in celebration of the firm's 50th anniversary.
Lost in translation: While keeping the basic shape of the SSM, the S2000's styling was less extravagant with Honda's designers eliminating/redesigning several elements such as the large rear diffuser, low-riding headlights, geometric rollover hoops and passenger compartment divider.
But we got to keep: The same basic front-engine/rear-wheel-drive, 2-seat roadster layout, the fancy push-button starter, rigidity-enhancing x-bone monocoque frame, and that 50/50 weight distribution.
And gained: A roof as the folding soft top came as standard with an aluminum hardtop offered optionally.
Fun fact: Similar to Audi's TT (depending on who you believe), the Honda S2000's nomenclature was pulled from the company's past: the S made it a modern-day successor to Honda's small roadsters of the 60's (S500, S600, S800), while the number represents the engine's displacement (until the updated AP2 generation upped the displacement for the NA-spec model from 1,997 cc to 2,157 cc while retaining the S2000 name).
Did you know? The S2000 roadster's 240PS 2.0-litre engine 9,000 rpm VTEC four-pot (2.2-liter for the North American model from 2004 and onwards) remains one of the highest output per liter and highest revving series production engines ever made
Sales: Since its introduction in 1999 and until June 2009, Honda sold more than 110,700 units of the S2000 worldwide with more than 65,000 making their way to the United States alone.
Where is it now? After ten years in production, the S2000 reached the end of its life last year with the last ever car rolling off the line at Suzuka, Japan in June 2009. Unfortunately, there's no replacement in sight.
By Phil Alex
Phil Alex was born in Rhode Island in 1985. He graduated with degrees in Finance and German from Wofford College in 2007 and has had an obsession with cars and travel. Currently he resides near Japan's international airport in Narita.
1995 HONDA SSM CONCEPT
1999-2009 HONDA S2000 ROADSTER - EUROPEAN, JAPANESE and NORTH AMERICAN MODELS