Scale Cars

Tamiya Honda S2000 + Hobby Design Modification Kits

The S2000 is unique in the model world I think, for having a ton of aftermarket availability. There are some cars like the 370z that have almost no aftermarket parts available for them off the shelf – the S2000 has almost every aftermarket parts producer I’ve worked with make something for it. I’ve been excited to collect parts for this build from all over and throw as much as I can at it so it ends up as far from stock as possible.

I had begun pulling parts together and piecing this build together as far back as the initial lockdowns from the pandemic – the idea was to throw it all in on a super complex build with lots of aftermarket parts while we were all locked away at home, but ultimately I never got around to it at that time. 3 years later and it’s finally on the work bench!

I had collected a ton of aftermarket parts options for this thing. I totally forgot I even had an extra turbo manifold and wastegate because my original plan was to boost this motor! Looking at it now I think plans have changed though…

Tamiya’s core body has all the panels molded together as one shell. We’ll be cutting a lot of it up to fit our aftermarket parts.

These front Spoon fenders are from EightyOne model – unfortunately it seems like they’re no longer in business, so these are some real vintage parts!

The vented hood from Hobby Design and the Voltex front bumper will require the OEM parts to be cut out of the body shell, since they’re replacement parts. I wasn’t actually 100% sure whether the Spoon fenders were replacement fenders or bolt-over fenders, since there were no instructions on assembly and EightyOne doesn’t seem to be around to answer questions anymore.

Went in with a heat knife to carefully cut the bumper and hood out as one piece.

The fender edges seemed razor-thin, and they happened to lay up perfectly on the stock fenders, so I figured I’d just make my life easier and keep them as bolt-over fenders. Some trimming will be necessary in the wheel arches.

I’m really not sure why Hobby Design included two identical rear resin bumpers in their Voltex kit. They’re both listed in the parts count booklet so it’s clearly intentional – I just can’t find any differences between the two so I’m assuming it doesn’t matter which one I use?!

To be honest those “Voltex” rear bumpers don’t even look that different from the stock bumper, but screw it they were included in the kit so I’m gonna use ’em and get my money’s worth. I cut out the rear taillights with the bumper at the same time since I have an AP2 light kit I’ll be installing as well.

The Voltex side skirts are replacement skirts, so of course the stock skirts had to be cut out by heat knife.

Funnily enough, I’ll have to modify my EightyOne Spoon front fenders to fit my Hobby Design Voltex skirts. You know it’s getting deep when you have to modify one aftermarket body part to fit another.

I think under normal applications the Spoon fender would likely just fit over the front portion of the side skirts, but because we’re replacing them with the more aggressive Voltex skirts, we’ll have to trim the bottom quarter of the fender.

Not a difficult mod – I’ll have to go in with a blade and sandpaper to smooth the transition from fender to skirt over a bit in the wheel well.

Check out how little of the stock body is left! This is all that’s left of Tamiya’s core plastic shell before we throw all our resin aftermarket parts on it.

Hobby Design’s Voltex transkit set does include a set of Regamasters (or Spoon wheels? are they really any different?) that would go great on any Honda, but I’m being stubborn and refusing to use them because I already have white Regas on a DC5 that I built, and I absolutely refuse to use the same wheels for any of my builds.

Ironically for the S2000 it seems like the sweet spot really is 17″ wheels. 18″ look a tad too large even with the body kit effects, and 16″ seem too small. Luckily I just happened to have a set of 17″ Forgedstar F14 laying around from ZoomOn models.

They’re honestly not the most interesting wheel for a build like this, but ironically I’m kind of hoping the crazy work with the body will end up being the focal point of the build, so the idea is that a set of not-too-flashy wheels won’t be too distracting from that.

I am, however, going to stick with the 18″ tires that came in EightyOne’s Voltex transkit parts set that were originally meant for the Regamasters. Despite technically being a size up for my 17″ Forgedstars, they’ll fit well with a little dab of glue on the wheel barrels, and they’re still lower profile than the original tires ZoomOn included with the F14s.

A little Bondo work with the rear Voltex fender flares. I didn’t like how these flares seem to just end abruptly when they reached the rear bumper – there’s no transition there at all.

Tamiya TS-102 Cobalt Green! I was really struggling for a color theme/livery for this car before I started the build. I ended up asking one of my close friends who owns a real S2000 for suggestions – I wanted a bright and flashy but unique color that wasn’t just plain jane yellow red or blue.

With the body squared away for now and the color coat on, it’s time to move on to the engine. Tamiya doesn’t include a motor in their kit – and as we saw the hood wasn’t even designed to open. So we need an F20C to shove into this S – enter Hobby Design!

As we know, Hobby Design doesn’t fuck about. Very happy they number labeled all the parts so you know which pipes and tiny indistinguishable bits go where.

It looks complex, but it’s really not a ton of parts overall. All the pulleys are separate pieces, but Hobby Design doesn’t actually include a belt for you in the kit, strangely. (Edit: there was a sheet of black webbing material in another parts bag – presumably meant to be material you can cut a strip for the accessories belt from).

There’s even a separate piece for the exhaust header gasket! Nuts.

I decided to get creative and make the serpentine belt out of unused seat belt sticker material from an old Tamiya ND Miata build. I didn’t realize that the “belts” are basically just masking stickers with black print over them, but they still work – I just had to paint the undersides black.

Something something the most horsepower per liter engine at the time?

Tamiya may not give you an engine proper, but they did mold the bottom of the block with the bottom of the transmission into the chassis plate. That means to fit our Hobby Design motor we’ll have to cut Tamiya’s molded stuff out.

Went in with a heat knife to cut the trans out. The chassis plate is then painted body color.

Details are filled in by hand with flat black acrylic paint.

The Hobby Design motor and trans assembly slips in fairly easily – I had to make some extra cuts around the transmission tunnel area but the motor itself slots in nicely over the front subframe assembly. Almost as though this drivetrain was meant for this car!

A look at the bottom of the chassis with front and rear subframes installed. Painted the rear sway bar red because red means performance.

I remember ordering this hood structure kit from ZoomOn back during the pandemic but not realizing at the time that it’s really meant for a stock hood, and I’m using a Mugen-style hood from Hobby Design.

The main large photo-etched structure piece wouldn’t work – the vent cutouts in the Mugen hood don’t line up at all with the openings in the hood structure, and I had actually done some research on what the underside of the Mugen hood looks like in real life anyway.

I ended up only using the bits in the structure kit that were meant to create layer depth on the main piece. The long bar bits had to be cut and adjusted slightly to match the curve of the Mugen vents, but overall I think it adds a nice spice of detail to an otherwise boring plain hood underside.

Moving onto some interior work. I was really torn for a while on how I wanted to build the interior – because I plan to display this kit topless since it’s a convertible, it’s a rare chance to actually have the interior work shine and be seen on display, instead of being hidden under a roof and tinted windows.

Apparently red carpet and red interior was a standard interior option for S2000s – I’m so used to this sort of look being exclusive to Type R variants from Honda.

I had originally planned to use Hobby Design’s Sparco Pro-Adv seats, but after trying them out in the interior they were actually just a little too bulky to fit in the cramped S2000 tub. Plus, those seats are a little too race-spec for the showy look I ended up going for with this S2000, so I opted to swap them out for a set of Bride A.I.R. seats from ZoomOn instead.

Painted red with gunmetal backings. The photo-etched seat mounts were a very nice touch from ZoomOn.

Honda included factory roll hoops in the S, so installing a fabbed tubular cage usually involves more extensive interior modification than most other cars. But since it’s going to be an open-air car, I still wanted to add harnesses just to add that bit of aftermarket pop to the interior.

Apparently this is fairly common for installing harnesses in these cars in the real world – people will cut little slits in the trim behind the seats under the factory roll hoops, then route the harnesses through there to attach to some sort of structure bar hidden behind.

My attempt at making this happen wasn’t the cleanest – those cuts were totally eyeballed with a heat knife. I was hoping some photo-etched metal harness loops glued over the openings would make it look a tad cleaner.

I’ve never done white harnesses before, so this is a cool change of pace. It’s always been black red or green.

The passenger side cabin floor really gave me a headache with mounting my aftermarket Brides. The floor isn’t flat since everything is so compact and tight in this car that a significant portion of the transmission tunnel bulge intrudes on the passenger space – having sat in real S2000s before, I can confirm it’s like this in real life too. So, to mount my seat brackets I simply went in and cut the bulged sections of floor out – who needs it?!

I found it amusing that Tamiya includes two dash tach variants for you on the decal sheet. One is the standard tach at rest, reading 0km/hr, while the other one has the yellow digital readout knocking on redline and reading 180 (miles per hour?!)

A few more miscellaneous aftermarket pieces going on this build – Spoon side mirrors from ZoomOn and an AP2 light set from EightyOne.

I had ordered these generic cherry blossom decals from TK Diecast a while ago, intending to actually use them on this S2000. My original plan was to paint the car gloss black and add these decals throughout, to give it a sort of Jonny Tran Fast & Furious S2000 look.

Ironically, with this green, the cherry blossoms arguably work even better – am I the only one suddenly craving a can of Arizona?

I hate carbon fiber decal work, since it always takes forever to settle a decal nicely over raised or curved details – in this case I’m overlaying the entire Mugen-style hood with one piece of carbon decal, cut to size.

The key is to take it slow, keep your fingers wet with water the whole time so you don’t rip the decal as you position it, and keep working at it until it settles. Not an easy skill for sure, and very time consuming.

The only bits of carbon on this whole car are going to be the hood, rear diffuser, and wing endplates. I refuse to do any more than this, which is why the Spoon mirrors will be body colored.

I know I had basically said I decided on the 17″ Forgedstars from earlier, but I happened to receive these SKForged Nika-R wheels from Eternity HobbySupply recently and decided they just looked too good on this body to pass up.

Painted white for the faces and Molotow Chrome on the barrel lips. Brakes are simple generic flat resin aftermarket disks – with this wheel design you won’t be seeing much of the brakes behind them anyway, so I didn’t see the need to go super detailed there.

The entire exhaust past the headers will be built with some simple styrene tubing. Adding a pair of Hobby Design mufflers and tips to the ends.

The most complex wing stands I’ve ever worked with. I was debating leaving them bare metal since it would be a cool look, but ultimately decided to paint them flat black instead.

Last bit to finish up was filling in the front fenders. The Spoon fenders actually cut back and up towards the rear of the car so aggressively that you can visibly see a big gap between the chassis wheel well and the outside of the fenders even with the wheels installed, so I went in and filled the space with glazing putty in order to seal it all up. I actually regret not doing this for my LS-swapped RX-7 back in the day – if you look closely at that car you can see a gap between the body fender and the wheel well arch.

Is anyone else craving Arizona? Just me?

The interior didn’t end up being particularly complex, but I like the overall finish – that shift knob is actually a tiny metal piece from ZoomOn models.

I sort of regret not paint-matching the hood and leaving the vents carbon, instead of doing carbon for the entire hood. I’m just not good enough with full-carbon gloss finishes yet – despite wet-sanding my clear with 3000 grit and then polishing up, the gloss over my carbon parts still looks very orange-peeled, especially compared to the pure paint parts that I can get smooth gloss out of easily. I’m afraid to cut any deeper and sand with harsher grit since if I accidentally break the actual carbon decal layer it’s game over – I’d have to redo the entire decal since it’s all one piece.


BUT I will say – I really like the color-matched wing deck. The entire aesthetic of the car with a giant GT wing out back as tall as the windshield frame, paired with no roof – just a cool look that you don’t see often.

Went for a semi-shaved bay look. I’m sure it’s hilarious to actual S2000 owners that I just used the stock intake arm and filter, with the airbox delete – but apparently the stock intake is actually objectively the best for performance? I’ve been told numerous times that standard bolt-ons don’t do anything for the F20C, and in most cases actually makes it slower.



One Comment

  • TF_Fan

    Any thoughts about the upcoming Legacy armada transformers figures? Considering you said you were a big fan of the 2000s toyline.

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