Ask most S2000 purists, and they’ll tell you JP’s AP2 is everything it shouldn’t be. Ask most car enthusiasts, they’ll tell you that’s exactly why they fell in love with it.
JP’s car history is far from modest - from the renowned “6666” rocketbunny FR-S, to a bagged, Boden Autohaus-built R35 GTR, his build reputation is as extensive as it is high profile. So why move from a super car platform, down to a Honda?
“When I had my FR-S, I remember seeing one - I raced it, and lost. And I wanted one since that day.”
The S2000 hasn’t always been clean and show-ready, though. As JP tells me, he actually rescued this car from a fate worse than this purist’s nightmare.
“It was very “rice”. He had a good direction and a good set of Volks, but they were an ugly mint color, the calipers were stock but painted red, the wing was mismounted to dead center of the trunk, and he had an amp and subwoofer in the back. That’s the first thing I did, actually - remove the subwoofer and bass components.”
After cleaning the car up, he stayed static while slowly adding parts like his Mugen Hardtop paired with a properly mounted wing, Bilstein Coilovers, Megan Racing camber kits.
But in July of 2016, an unforeseen event sent his build into phase 2.
“I was driving in a parking lot, and a mustang was turning and didn’t see me. It was pretty bad - my lower control arm was bent, the spindle snapped, my upper control arm was bent, and my wheel got the worst of the damage,” he shows me a picture with a massive chunk taken out of his wheel, “along with my fender and the door. He basically T-boned me.
“For a year I kept it a secret, and it was the most fun year of my life. People would tell me they saw it at the shop and I’d just say, ‘nah, that’s not me, my car’s totaled.’ It was fun, but I felt like I lost a lot of trust.
The rebuild took a fair amount of time to complete, but such is life when authentic parts are ordered from Japan and paint matched to the true OEM “rio yellow”. When he revealed the repaired car a year and a month later, though, his instagram was abuzz with over 300 MORE comments than his posts usually receive.
When I asked if he ever thought to just total the car out and move on, he said the idea never crossed his mind.
“It’s still a baby,” he said. “There were only 15,000 miles on it at the time, and the frame was still good. It was too perfect to move on from.” At the time of the shoot, the car barely broke the 20,000 mile mark.
To date, JP says, the S2000 is the most interesting car he’s ever owned, with the wildest story behind any of his cars.
JP’s garage is highly impressive for someone under the age of 22 - but owning and modding a GTR at the age of 18 is bound to garner many disapproving onlookers.
On social media, any car owner below the age of 30 with an impressive build is considered “sponsored by Mom and Dad” by judgmental onlookers and jealous enthusiasts.
“When I got the GTR I had just turned 18, and I got so much hate for it - but honestly it was all people I’d never met and never heard of. Everyone who knows me understands how hard I hustle. They understand now that I’m always at work, always earning.”
Confident that he’s removed himself from the “sponsored by Mom and Dad” trope, JP says he’s never paid the naysayers any mind to begin with. “I build my cars for me, not for anyone else.”
As I paced around the car, searching for fresh angles that inspired me, I realized just how unorthodox it really is in the AP2 community. Curious about the public consensus regarding it, I asked “What’s the worst comment anyone’s ever made about you car?”
“Oh man, besides this one guy who kept telling me how my car isn’t a true OEM yellow because it lacks the pearl,” he explained, despite the car having the OEM “rio yellow” pearlescent paint (a nightmare in paint-matching), “I once had a guy come up to me and ask me point blank, 'What kind of Miata is this?’”
We laughed, because the car scene is filled with people just like this - people who think they know about others’ builds just by looking at them. In most cases, anecdotal experience falls short of, you know, actual car ownership.
When asked about his entry into the car scene, JP cites his dad as a huge influence.
“My dad used to take me to muscle car shows all the time - he’s obsessed with muscle cars, he has a collection of about 12 right now. From there, I originally got into tuner cars because it’s newer and cheaper - except, turns out, ordering authentic parts from Japan takes away the ‘cheaper’ part.”
Finally finding a coastal spot to pull over and enjoy the waves, JP and I wrapped up our shoot and, thus, interview. Even at its highest suspension height, the S2000 looked aggressive as ever while it avoided bottoming out its Voltex bumpers and diffuser. The setting sun contrasted the fiery yellow in the car with cool, pastel skies as beach-goers left the water to congregate around campfires.
So what’s next for JP and his yellow S2000?
“Honestly, the car was originally supposed to be a full track build, but I realized that it was more money than it was worth, and I didn’t want to beat on this car that much. It’s gone from good to bad, but where it is right now, I think I’m good.
“The only thing I can think to add is custom headlights I have in the works,” he wouldn’t tell or show me the plans, because they’re purely one-of-one and top secret, “and eventually, a supercharger. Everyone does a turbocharger, but an S2000 on stock internals cannot handle a turbo. They blow all the time. Plus, these cars don’t need the high-end power with how high revving they are. I’d rather have the low-end power of a supercharger.
“Beyond those, I think that’s about it. For now.”
Hearing the words “I think I’m good for now” escape any car enthusiast’s mouth is a surprise. More often than not, car builders are never content with the current state of their builds, but as JP and I agreed, there’s a point where you’re throwing things on just to change something and it becomes an issue of quantity over quality - something he’s keen to avoid.
With that, the sun dipped below the horizon, and the water turned a flat indigo of weakly reflected light. With the S2000 nearly complete for the foreseeable future, JP’s turning his attention to other builds-in-progress, such as his drift S13 240SX, or the new daily C63 AMG.
What about the next project?
“I’d never thought of it until now. Reality-wise, I’m not even sure. I made a list of reasonable cars I want to own and I’m already there. I said the S13 was going to be my last older car, but if I were to have another project, it would be a 240Z with a widebody. Not the universal flare type, but with a rocketbunny-style body kit. That would be dope.”
The sun having set, we talked photography techniques until the ocean breeze became uncomfortably cold. After spending my day watching the rearview cinematic of the S2000 weave in and out of switchbacks and sweeping canyon roads, I’d gained an even greater respect for the AP2 platform. For being a high-revving track machine whilst retaining complete street functionality, and for being the perfect slate to build an aggressive show car upon.
Being a show car, JP’s S2000 doesn’t get much road time, but the winding trip through Malibu reminded him why he loves the car, and why it’s still his favorite of all the cars he’s owned.
Enjoy the rest of the gallery, and find the full build list at the end of the article.
Full modification list:
Voltex Bumper + Canards
Custom vented OEM hood
Black housed OEM headlights
Work Wheels VS-XX
Airlift Performance Struts
Airlift 3P Management
Spoon Sports Strut bar
Megan Racing upper control arms
HardRace end links
Evasive Driveshaft Spacers
Invidia N1 Ti dual-tipped
Spoon Sports carbon fiber air duct
CT drop-in filter