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MODIFIED HONDA S2000: KARMA CHAMELEON

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 23rd December 2020

The concept of karma suggests a spiritual cause-and-effect, and with his chameleonic modified Honda S2000, Scott Butler would probably agree with that notion. He doesn’t make life easy for himself, but his hard work is certainly paying off…

Feature taken from Fast Car magazine. Words Daniel Bevis Photography Daniel Pullen

Us humans, as a species, don’t like to make things easy for ourselves. Sure, there are people who are happy to coast through life and put in the minimum amount of effort to scrape on by, but these folk are far outweighed by those who harbour wide-eyed dreams and creative aspirations; the ones who want to create interesting things simply for the fact that it hasn’t been done before. It’s true of authors, painters, sportspeople, poets, sculptors, photographers, engineers, singers, inventors drawing up madcap schemes in draughty sheds… wherever people are found, the crackle of creativity buzzes through the air.

It would, for instance, have been relatively straightforward for Scott Butler to buy a tidy Honda S2000, fit a few simple off-the-shelf mods, and let that be that. But Scott’s brain isn’t wired that way. Instead, he bought quite possibly the worst S2000 in the country, rolled up his sleeves, and set about turning that ugly duckling into the butterfly you see before you.

Wait, no, the ugly duckling turned into a swan, didn’t it? But the metamorphic shift to butterflyhood seems more apposite here, given the quasi-magical nature of the Chromacoat Golden Night paint which Scott’s S2000 proudly wears, seamlessly phasing through bronze, silver, blue and purple like some demented narcotic discotheque freakout. It flutters past your eyes in a flurry of energy, perfectly complementing the outrageous mods of Scott’s magnum opus. You see, this is a car modded in the classic style; think back to the pages of Fast Car in the late-1990s and early-2000s, it’s that kind of vibe – deliberately visually jarring, beautifully crafted, precision-engineered, harnessing the latest technological innovations to create something overtly bizarre. Something other. Something unique. Because there’s never been an S2000 like this before. And Scott certainly has form with this sort of caper.

“Nothing leaves stock,” he grins. “Every car I’ve ever owned has come into my possession standard and left heavily modified! I started modding cars as soon as I could drive at 17, with a 1993 Vauxhall Corsa 1.4 SRi – every penny I earned went into that car. After that I had a 1.6 Astra, then a 2.2 Astra Coupe which I converted to a 2.0 turbo with a full BTCC body kit. That was followed by an S14a Nissan 200SX, then an Astra Coupe 888, a Škoda Fabia vRS, and then an Audi A4 2.0 TDI quattro before I arrived at the S2000.”

And how did this particular Honda present itself? “My mate Dave found it on Facebook Marketplace and sent me the link,” he explains. “It was the cheapest S2000 in the country! It had no history, and was a previously written-off Cat C car; the arches were rusty and it was just in poor condition all over. But I had to take it, as I wanted one and it looked like a challenge.”

There you go, it’s the human spirit of endeavour in action. Scott basically bought this car because it was bad; on an altruistic level, he wanted to save it. Moreover, with such a long history of quality modifying, he knew he could make something of it. But perhaps he didn’t quite envisage in those early days just how far things would go…

“This car has gone through many changes in my two-and-a-half years of ownership,” he says, with an impressively straight face. “At the outset, it was going to be a track day project with BC coilovers, new wheels and better brakes. But then the rear arches were getting worse with rot bubbles showing though, and I decided to add the Circuit Garage overfenders all round, so it was a trip to my mate Tony’s where we cut all the rot out and bolted on the arches all in one day.” Scott did a couple of show-and-shines with the car in this particular phase of evolution, and picked up some trophies. With this testament to the bodywork skills dictating a different path for the build, he decided to turn it into more of a show car… although still being his daily driver, it was vitally important to also keep it practical throughout. Well, practical-ish.

“I wanted more lows, but where I lived I couldn’t make the coilovers lower,” he recalls, “so after a while I realised I needed air in my life. After some research I decided Air Lift was the ideal kit for me; a quick butter-up text to the wife, and the kit was ordered! My mates and I fitted the kit one Friday night after work – beers and pizza ordered, and four hours later it was done. The car was now sitting on the chassis. Much better.”

With this hugely formula-altering step undertaken, it made sense to keep going. After all, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly, right? So it wasn’t long before the car was treated to a brake upgrade, in the form of mighty K-Sport 8-pots, followed by some Buddy Club taillights and a custom boot install made to look like the Jack Daniels distillery – Scott’s dad helped out in lining the boot with oak planks, and then the air tanks were airbrushed to resemble whisky barrels, complete with copper hardlines. The custom mods were coming thick and fast, and Scott was attending more and more shows with the Honda, garnering ever-more attention, and he always had one eye on the next move. Chewing it over with Tony, a change to another colour was suggested, so Scott fired off an email to Joe at Custom Paints to see what they could do, and he suggested a visit to check out what could be achieved. Scott embarked upon an epic 450-mile round trip just to look at paint colours – which was well worth it, as that’s where he fell in love with the Chromacoat Golden Night hue.

“Over last winter I pulled the car off the road and tore it down, ready to paint,” he continues. “But during each process of taking the car apart the plan changed; it went from a colour change just outside and in the door shuts, to removing the engine and then deciding to tuck the bay! Which was one of the most labour-intensive jobs I’ve done, so much time was lost in there welding and sanding… The wings were sent away with the arches bolted on and returned as one-piece fibreglass items, and I then moved on to the spoiler. That was bolted on the bootlid and didn’t like it there any more, so I had a look about on the internet for ideas and ultimately decided that a chassis-mount was the way to go. But I didn’t want an off-the-shelf part – as with everything else on the car I set about making my own! First it was mocked up in cardboard, then on to plywood, and once I was happy with the shape I gave it to my brother who drew it up in CAD and added the designs in the legs. I got it sent away to be laser-cut out from 8mm ally, and when it arrived a mate got it all bent in to shape and I welded the alloy lengths together.”

There’s a real sense of the intrepid with this project, a general feeling of ‘Why not?’ – Scott’s not afraid to get stuck in and try new things, and his obsession with perfection means that none of this is half-arsed, it’s all finished beautifully. With the bodywork finessed by this stage, he then slathered it all in high-build primer, flatted it all down, and towed it the fifty miles to Tony Guest Automotive for its new spangly disco paintwork. Taking some time off work, Scott was there every step of the way to help out however he could, and after a couple of weeks of very late nights, the makeover was complete. “I then had one week to rebuild the car from an empty shell for its first show,” Scott laughs. “Again, it was many late evenings with friends helping out where they could, and we got it finally finished eight hours before I had to leave for the show. And I came away with an award.”

Talk about commitment, huh? Scott’s building this unique S2000 specifically to his own design, there’s no question of that – he’s adamant that the car be impeccably finished, still practical and usable, and like nothing else out there on the scene. But at the same time, the punishing schedule of shows dictates the rapid progress… and it’s clear that he excels under deadlines, as Scott’s S2000 just keeps on winning trophies. Since this latest evolution of the project, he’s attended another ten shows and taken home five awards, which is a pretty damn good hit-rate. Scott certainly doesn’t make life easy for himself, but the rewards here speak for themselves.

TECH SPEC: HONDA S2000

Styling:
Full repaint in Chromacoat Golden Night, custom fibreglass front wings – 45mm wider than stock with rear cut-outs, front bumper widened, Amuse front lip, custom carbon lower splitter (covering whole front underside), custom carbon canards, Circuit Garage 75mm rear overfenders, custom ducktail bootlid, custom chassis-mount rear spoiler with JA Racing 3D wing blade, vented bonnet, Buddy Club taillights, JDM headlights, JDM rear bumper

Tuning:
F20C 2.0-litre VTEC, AEM V2 standalone ECU, custom carbon fibre long-arm air intake with Injen filter, decat exhaust system and rear exhaust bypass mod, Hel thermostatic 19-row oil cooler, Mishimoto twin radiator, full engine bay tuck and shave, all electrics and battery relocated, 240bhp

Chassis:
8x18in (front) and 9x18in (rear) Bola CSR wheels – refinished in custom bronze, 205/35 (f) and 225/40 (r) Nankang tyres, Air Lift Performance suspension with 3P management, twin Viair 444cc compressors, K-Sport 8-pot front calipers with 330mm discs, Ferodo DS2500 pads, EBC rear discs and Yellowstuff pads

Interior:
Flocked dash and doorcard tops, Spoon half-rollcage, seats retrimmed in grey and black leather with matching doorcards, custom carbon centre console, Mugen carbon shifter, twin 2.5-gallon air tanks – airbrushed by Ces Lackenby to look like old Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels, boot lined in solid oak,
copper hardlines

Thanks:
“Thanks to my bosses at BG Motor Services for letting me do all the work inside and leave the car inside at all times. A big thanks to Tony at Tony Guest Automotive – this has been a labour of love even from him! Joe, Justin and Saj at Custom Paints for getting paint sent out quick to me whenever I needed it, and helping me whenever I needed it too. Thanks to Ben, Ross, Pete, Paul and Adam for helping me get the car ready in such a short time span. Ces for the airbrushing work on the air tanks. And the wife, for putting up with everything.”