FOR LUCK’S SAKE: HONDA S2000 TURBO

FOR LUCK’S SAKE: HONDA S2000 TURBO

Posted by Matthew Bell on 24th January 2020

Honda S2000 Turbo feature taken from Banzai January 2019 issue. Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Adam Rous

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Jez Belsey would have no luck at all. Still, at least he’s got a 570bhp S2000 turbo to blow those blues away…

Jez Belsey is not a lucky man. That might not be the obvious conclusion to leap to, as he stands grinning beside our cameraman and casually twirling the keys to this rather spiffy 570bhp S2000 turbo, but life can be strange that way. He didn’t have this car handed to him on a plate; indeed, at times it felt as if the cosmos hated Jez and wanted him to fail. The build of this mighty roadster was beset with relentless trials and catastrophes, leaving him with two disparate paths to choose from: either hide under the bed and wish for it all to go away, or poke fate squarely in the eye and forge belligerently onward no matter how sticky the situation became. The fact that the car’s here today keenly proves that he chose the latter path. Luck be damned, sometimes you’ve just got to dust yourself off and steer your own fortune.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he laughs, with endearing gallows humour as he casually ambles under a ladder and gets in the way of a hissing black cat. “But it makes it all the more satisfying when things work out, doesn’t it?”

Honda S2000 Turbo

Amen, brother. And as a passing seagull takes aim at Jez’s trousers (which isn’t remotely lucky, despite what those old wives will have you believe), we delve a little deeper into the man’s background to determine just where this outlandish concept stemmed from.

“My first car was a Renault Clio – I put some alloys on and fitted a sub in the boot, which was the thing to do back in my youth,” he says, ducking to avoid an errant horseshoe as it flies past. “Then I bought a new Vauxhall Corsa on finance; worst mistake of my life! It was nice to have a new car, but I wanted something faster that I could modify. So that’s when I found my love for the Ford Focus ST225. I traded the Corsa back in and paid off the finance – which was a rip off – and then got myself a Gunmetal Grey ST225.” This car history isn’t sounding very Banzai so far, but stick with it – this theme of tuneable turbo motors will rear its head again later, you’ll see.

“I loved my ST, but I’m always interested in other cars,” Jez continues, stooping to pick a four-leaf clover and instead pricking his thumb on a hidden thorn. “When a friend of mine got an S2000 and took me out in it, I just got hooked! I started reading up on them, seeing what I could do to modify one, and when I saw the variety of mods available for this car, and what I could do to make it my own, I had to have one! I had a vision in my head of how I wanted it to look, and that’s where this all started.”

Honda S2000 Turbo

Before long, Jez was running a daily online search for S2Ks, pouncing on each new ad that came up, and he struck gold when a 1999 JDM import in Berlina Black popped up – with 63k on the clock, BC Racing coilovers, OEM hardtop, carbon bonnet and a few other mods, it wasn’t far from where he lived and was a total no-brainer. And given the amount of research he’d put in, Jez couldn’t wait to get cracking on the fulfilment of that vision in his head.

“It all started two days after I got the car,” he says. “I was in Norwich and it was raining fairly hard. I tried to pull away at a set of lights and both the rear wheels spun up and there was a massive bang from underneath the car; I tried putting it into gear but it wouldn’t move and was making horrible noises. In my mate’s garage the next day, we found that the rear diff and one of the driveshafts had popped!”

There’s that trademark Belsey luck, although this fella’s all about silver linings and, since he was already having ideas about big power, this was an opportunity to fit an upgraded diff and a set of Insane 1000hp shafts. Then he started collecting all the parts he knew he’d need to make himself happy – forged internals, uprated fuelling, low-comp pistons, sleeves, a sodding great turbo, the works. With all the boxes ticked, Jez pulled out the F20C and took it to a local engine-building firm, who supposedly had a good reputation. But the nearby imps and witches must have been watching closely, as this is where the next round of bad luck started.

Honda S2000 Turbo

“They built the engine and everything seemed great, but after 400-miles it started smoking,” Jez winces with a dispassionate facepalm, forgetting he’s holding his keys and jabbing himself in the eye. “So I took the car back to them and they said the head gasket had gone. I got the car home and pulled the engine again for them to have a look, and on inspection they said the bores were glazed, so a new gasket and rings were needed. I let them get on with it, having to pay out more for another rebuild, and during this they called and said that you’re supposed to run a Cometic gasket with the Darton wet sleeves I have, so I trusted their judgement and went with it. Once I got the engine back from them we agreed that we’d run it in with them standing there as well, so they didn’t blame me for any issues that may occur. The running in went well and everyone seemed happy with the new engine build.”

A bit of luck, for once? Er, kinda. For a bit. After driving it nat-asp for 1,000 miles or so and satisfying himself that all was well, Jez set about fitting his colossal Precision 6266 turbo on its Sheepey V-band manifold and, after a mapping session, it was making 544bhp at the wheels. Happy days. It was hot to trot and ready for the summer; Jez took it to all sorts of meets and shows and was generally loving life. But then fate started jabbing his voodoo doll again.

Honda S2000 Turbo

“Just after one event the car started smoking, and the oil smelt of fuel which isn’t good,” he recalls, ducking as thirteen magpies fly past and tipping over a salt shaker in the process. “I contacted the company that built the engine and they were already coming up with lots of excuses over the phone, but said to bring it to them to have a look. They looked down the bores and immediately said ‘your head gasket’s gone’, but I knew it was fine because there was no white smoke on hot or cold start and no loss of coolant, so I asked them to do a leakdown test; they said it was pointless because the gasket’s gone. I was very angry and disappointed, but I kept my cool and took it home to do a leakdown test myself; just as expected, all four cylinders showed over 60% leakage rate past the rings, which would explain the oil being black and stinking of fuel and the excessive grey smoke while driving! So I rang them back and they didn’t want anything to do with it.”

Jez got the motor independently inspected and it turned out to be even worse than he thought: the ring gaps were too large so the pistons had been slapping the bores, three out of four liners had dropped due to incorrect installation, the bearings installed were not the ones he provided, all the bearings had weird score marks, one of the main end bearings had no white metal left, and because of all the metal shaving the oil pump was wrecked. The engine builders still refused to accept responsibility, and legal proceedings have been in progress ever since.

But you’ve got to seek out the positives, haven’t you? Jez now had a shopping list of the parts needed to make the engine live again, and he sent it off to a slightly more reputable engine builder to get the job done right. And while it was away, he had plenty of time to focus on some other elements of the car.

“It went off to get a full 6-point cage welded in and the engine bay stripped and resprayed, and basically the whole front end freshly recoated,” he says. “Then I set about sanding down and painting the inside of the car black. The freshly-built engine went back in, run in on a base map, got mapped, and made 570whp at 1.5bar! Could’ve pushed further, but again I didn’t want to upset the drivetrain. And during the running-in process I had the car wrapped by a local company, who did some amazing work.”

It was at this point that an albatross ate Jez’s lucky rabbit’s foot, as he managed to crunch a front wing on the way back from the Mimms Honda Day, which necessitated fibreglass repairs and rewrapping. “While this was happening I thought I’d get my hot parts ceramic-coated and the boost pipes powdercoated black, so I towed the car to the wrappers with strict instructions not to start it and showed them why! But the next day instead of pushing the car in, one of the wrappers who hadn’t been there the day before decided to jump in it and start it to move the car indoors. As you can imagine with the turbo being off, the oil feed line wasn’t attached to anything – so the oil went everywhere and they damaged my engine!” Thankfully the firm admitted liability and paid out for the motor, but you can imagine the boiling point of Jez’s brain by this time. How can one man be thrown so much bad luck?

“Ah, it is what it is,” he grins. And you can understand his relentless positivity – when the car’s working, it’s utterly, absolutely outstanding. So, let’s just hope that the next time fate rolls the dice, they don’t get under Jez’s feet and trip him down the stairs.

Honda S2000 Turbo

Tech Spec: Honda S2000 Turbo

Engine

JDM F20C 2.0-litre VTEC, Precision 6266 dual ball-bearing turbo with .82A/R housing, Sheepey V-band manifold, 44mm Turbosmart wastegate, Turbosmart Raceport BOV, 3-inch downpipe and full 3-inch custom exhaust system, Sheepey 850hp intercooler, 3-inch boost pipes, ceramic-coated hot parts, 9.0:1 CP pistons (88mm bore), Brian Crower H-beam rods, uprated 725+ rod bolts, larger 80psi wrist pins, Kings race bearings, Darton wet/mid sleeves, OEM head gasket, APR head studs, Supertech 80psi dual springs and TI retainers, Supertech dished valves – standard intake and exhaust sizes, Supertech valve guides and seals, stock AP1 cams, Innovative race engine mounts, Full Blown Motorsports XXL fuel rail with fuel reg, OEM lift pump to 3-litre surge tank with dual Bosch 044 pumps, FBM in-line fuel filter, 10an feed and 6an return fuel lines, Bosch ID 1,300cc injectors, Mocal remote filter housing, Mocal 25-row oil cooler and thermostat, Mishimoto X-Line triple-core rad with twin slim fans, 80-deg fan switch, 80-deg coolant thermostat, Skunk2 74mm throttle body with port-matched intake, Hondata 4-bar map sensor, AEM boost solenoid, PLX Gen-4 wideband, AEM V2 ECU, battery relocated to boot, OEM gearbox, Exedy Hyper Multi twin-plate clutch, OEM diff housing with uprated Gear-X gears and 3.9 final drive, Insane 1000hp driveshafts, Innovative gearbox mounts, 570bhp (wheels), 650bhp (fly), 389lb.ft at 1.5bar

Chassis

9×18-inch ET8 (front) and 10.5×18-inch ET15 (rear) Rays TE37V MkII wheels, 235/40 (f) and 285/35 (r) Nankang NS-2R 180-compund tyres, BC Racing coilovers, Powerflex Black Series polybushes throughout, Hardrace front compliance bushes, front and rear end fully restored and powdercoated, Spoon rigid collar kits, Spoon solid steering rack bushes, Hardrace full front upper arms, Hardrace tie rods and tie rod ends, Hardrace front lower ball joints, Hardrace rear toe arms, Hardrace diff mounts, Hardrace rear roll centre adjusters, Hardrace rear upper balljoints, XYZ 6-pot front calipers with 330mm discs, StopTech OEM-size rear discs, Ferodo DS2500 pads, fully HEL braided front end from ABS pump to brakes,

Interior

6-point welded CDS rollcage, Bride fixed bucket seats, Tegiwa low seat rails, Luke FIA purple 4-point race harnesses, NRG short hub, NRG Gen2.8 purple quick-release, Nardi Personal suede 330mm steering wheel, interior fully stripped back and painted gloss black, flocked dash, Skunk2 weighted gearknob, Tegiwa shifter extension, S2000 black floor mats, Defi gauges

Exterior

Voltex full-race front bumper, J’s Racing front wings, RX-7 Feed-style carbon fibre sideskirts, J’s Racing diffuser, Circuit Garage rear overfenders, Car Shop Glow LED taillights, J’s Racing 1,600mm Type 1 wing with J’s Racing 220mm risers, APR GT3 carbon race wing mirrors, Mugen-style double-skin carbon hardtop, engine bay fully stripped, rust-proofed and resprayed, full custom exterior wrap