As some of you may recall, I’ve started softly looking for a fun car, because my wife is awesome. Thinking that I’d like to stick with a lower budget, I checked out a decent little NC Miata that has a story to tell, but I haven’t pursued it because my eye is wandering.
I’ve owned a NC Miata before and it was my favorite car to date. It wasn’t the nicest or the fastest, but it was definitely the most fun. However, the one thing that the NC I recently tested felt was sloowwwwww. I’d honestly forgotten how sluggish the little NC is, so I started thinking about the car I wanted before I bought my NC - the S2000.
Searching locally, I found one about half an hour away that looked to be a creampuff and was priced pretty high. 2006 with 35k miles finished in Rio Yellow Pearl. Friday was my birthday and I was off work so I made an appointment to check it out.
It sure was yellow.
Given the low miles and high demand of the S2000, they were asking the princely sum of $24k for it. I could verify nine of the VIN tags - one of the previous owners had installed a carbon fiber cover over where the front bumper tag would be visible. It was also 100% stock with no accident or damage history, which is pretty rare in these cars. This one has no dings, dents or scratches, just a few chips on the nose and the obligatory scraping underneath. The top also appears to be original, in great shape and functions perfectly. Headlights had a slight haze and the paint could do with a correction, but cosmetically it needs very little (and it should for that price).
Inside it was perfect aside from a tear in the driver’s seat bottom. S2000 seats are expensive, so I’d have to research what a recover costs. I’ve heard complaints that the seats are too narrow, but they fit me perfectly. My only gripe would be that, with the top down, I almost felt as though I was looking over the windscreen, as opposed to through it. I’m not even that tall at 6', but I think I could be accustomed to it.
Driving it was fantastic. Clutch engagement was nice and smooth, easily modulated. The power wasn’t as bad as I expected down low. The S2000 gets ragged on for not having power or torque below 6000rpm, but I found it perfectly usable for putting around town. At that range it felt similar to the NC Miata I recently drove. However, once you start revving it out and that cam profile changes, the thing just wakes the fuck up. Amazing fun when giving it the beans. I didn’t get to push it much in handling, but I think it checks that box as well. Rotors appeared a little grooved and will need replaced. Brakes were a little uninspiring, so I’d wager it hasn’t had the fluid changed either. In my inspection I also found it had the wrong oil filter on it, so that doesn’t give a ton of confidence in its upkeep (though it could’ve been the dealer’s doing).
Despite this being wayyy more expensive and way more yellow than anything I’ve considered, I did talk numbers with them. They had it at $24k, but given recent BaT auctions for AP2 cars with less mileage topping out at $22k each, plus the ripped seat, brake issues and questionable maintenance, I offered $20k, thinking it fair. Dealer said they couldn’t take a $4k bath on it, so we parted amicably. It was a nice example, but I think it’ll probably end up selling for them in the $20-21k range. It’s also far too nice for how I really intend on using it, so I’d feel bad scuffing it up with cone strikes and rash from wide, sticky rubber.
I think my ideal S2000 would be an AP2 with 80-100k on the clock. Well maintained with no accident or damage history. It looks as though I could probably score one of those for $15k-ish. The good news is that I’m in no rush, so I can wait for the right car to come along.