Starting Off On The Right Foot | Matty Ferguson’s Honda S2000

Finally. I get to write a feature after the 23 months consisting of Japan stuff, a load of event coverage, a brief bit about an MX-5 specialist and his R33 GT-R, some more car shows, and most recently the introduction of Civik. So yeah, alot has occurred since my last and debut feature I decided to kategorize as a ‘Fokal Point’ article, which some of you might remember involving Josh Harbour and his R32 GT-R. If not, you can catch up on that here.

One of, if not the primary, reasons for me signing up to a WordPress subsription and purchasing a web domain was that I wanted to be able to share my experiences on this planet as a carboy. But I’ve always known – even if not consciously – that the reason magazines and online blogs appealed to me so much were the inspirational glimpses of the people behind the assembly of metal, glass, rubber and plastic.

Yeah, the cars are cool and all that, but the journey people go through alongside their personalised mode of transport is what always captured and captivated my attention. At the end of the day, our vehicles are just the medium through which we convey our feelings brought on by how the car drives or what the vehicle represents.

So when Hamza and I were taking a stroll along the paddock of Croft Circuit during Mimms Honda Day in July of this year, I nearly twisted my vertebrae beyond repair when my eyes were magnetically drawn to Matty’s Honda S2000. The way the car just sat there next to a bright red Audi R8 and managed to detract all of the German supercar’s presence, I knew instantly this roadster deserved more than a one-take glance.

The upload count of shots posted up in the threepart blog should provide clear indication of how much of my interest was piqued by this two-seat Honda from 1999. After the show was done and over with, going through the images from that day, I realised how much Matty’s S2000 stood out to me.

Why, you might be wondering?

Well, I’m gonna let the photos show you exactly why this S2000 is an up-and-coming build that’s about to get even sicker than it already is.

We’d arranged to meet in his hometown near Darlington, somewhere I’ve only been once, and that was for a company training workshop, but that’s besides the point.

I scoped out a location to shoot Matty’s car in that wasn’t too far from where he was based. Early that morning I headed straight to our agreed meeting point, where I was having a little pre-shoot scout. Matty messaged me and invited me to his house as he was still cleaning up the motor since he didn’t find the time to the night before.

I drove over to his, parked my car up and we chit-chatted as he went over his favourite points on the car.

Turns out the evening before that morning was a bit of a episode involving Matty’s friend’s seized brake caliper off of his Mini Cooper S. He almost thought his bone was broken/fractured in his ankle, due to a caliper piston rewind tool going haywire from being used in conjunction with an impact drill (not recommended).

It is what it is though, shit does and will happen. We weren’t working to a strict schedule or nothing, it was a Saturday after all, and I think 8am on a weekend is like 6am on a weekday, so early enough as is.

An S2000 is a highly-versatile chassis, and that is mostly down its outright good-looks. You don’t have to do much to the car in the cosmetics department, since Honda’s designers did a grand job on perfecting the exterior of the car to a point where there isn’t an angle from which you’ll grow tired from looking at it.

Matty informed me of the date he took ownership of his 2005 model-year, hardtop S2000, and I was kinda taken aback by how recent I’d thought it was: June 2020. For some reason, I felt as if the car had been carefully crafted over a longer period of time, going through a couple phases before this one. But, no. Matty bought the Honda in factory trim, still wearing its original coats of Silverstone Metallic, with the only visible modification being a K&N Cone Air Filter.

The S2000 has always appeared cartoonish when viewed from the front, head-on. It’s as if the design engineers intentionally gave the car a personable character.

Now, there’s not much to say about Matty’s car, and that’s in no way me being dismissive, of course. The fact I don’t need to say much about the car, theres’s no need for me to be throwing all these fancy adjectives up just for you to take more notice of the details, so that in and of itself speaks more volume than I ever could. I mean, if you can’t appreciate this awfully simplistic method of modifying, then maybe you’re expecting too much.

Understandably so, with the amount of things we’re bombarding ourselves with via social media, you can’t help but be desensitized to anything that’s truly relatable. Until, perhaps, you stumble across something like this car for the first time ever, IRL, no filter, no bullshit promo, no hashtags. Just a real enthusiast showing how he likes his cars by putting together an example that is undeniably well-finished.

Obviously, I don’t mean finished in the literal sense, as whilst I was snapping away with my DSLR on this random research building’s carpark, Matty told me of his vision and this is most definitely not that, yet.

But let’s stick with what we have in the present.

What exactly are we all looking at here?

The “elephant in the room”, for me anyways, certainly has to be the non-Honda body colour. Initially, I’d assumed the “Tahitian Green Pearl” paint code was nabbed from the CR-Xs and EF/EG Civics, and pasted all over the S2000’s panels, but that colour is much more vibrant in retrospect. This shade of blue-green remains quite deep and subdued under direct sunlight, and frankly, the Honda pulls off Emerald Green miles better than the sourced-from Citroen C4 Cactus ever could.

By the way, the colour change was the very first alteration Matty chose to make to his car once he became its rightful owner. Although, from what he told me, it was a bit of a nightmare back-and-forth scenario with the bodyshop not completing the job to a standard you’d expect for the respray of a modern classic sports-roadster. Putting the past aside, the car’s bodywork was of course refinished properly and retrieved back to the hands of its owner for further tweaks to be made.

Fortunately, the low-hanging fog that morning muted all but our immediate surroundings, and the photos came out better than I’d imagined they would. I’m going to come across as arrogrant, but I have to admit that this is the best work I’ve produced thus far in my life as a person with a camera.

Back to the subject in fokus…

Once Matty got his whip back in the home garage, the tone was set for him to begin riffing off and enhance what was already at that point a great-looking car in its new lick of paint.

S2000s weren’t all that tip-toey off the showroom floor with their factory-spec suspension and ride height. Most definitely not as bad as a standard MX-5, but still, there’s always far too much tyre-to-arch clearance with standard cars, unless you’re buying a 911 GT3 or similar.

Matty selected a set of coilovers made by MeisterR, a company that has bases in the UK & USA. The choice Zeta CRDs have brought the ride height to a very acceptable distance to the ground, and tightened up the existing well-balanced chassis giving the driver just enough tactile feedback without compromising usability on the road, helped by the 9kg(F) & 7kg(R) spring rates.

By the way, the owner isn’t some up-and-coming YouTube sensation or a Forex trader’s prodigy. Yeah he’s a young guy in his early 20’s, but he’s still studying part-time whilst working a full-time job in the civil engineering sector. And he hasn’t rolled his car into a garage, tossed them the keys and demand for them to turn it into some kind of Insta-famous riceboi machine. Matty and his pals have all chipped in and carried out the work themselves, that includes fine tuning the suspension to get it cock-on without the tyre chafing against the inner arches and busting a tyre.

So, as you can see, not much is “going on” under the bonnet where the F20C engine resides. Time and resource will eventually come around for the owner to invest some of his attention to the powertrain, but all in good time. As it sits currently, the only alterations made to the engine are its Invidia Q300 catback stainless exhaust system allowing the F-series to emit it’s waste gases freely, but keeping the neighbours happy(ish) with a high-flow catalytic converter made by Berk Technology / Magnaflow.

Oh yeah, and if you didn’t spot it, an oil cap from Spoon Sports keeps a lid on things.

As Matty propped up the vented OEM bonnet, immediately grasping my attention was this piece sitting right on top of the Koyorad “Half-Size” aluminium thick-core radiator. If you’ve followed my Civik blog series, you’ll know that I was a bit miffed how my J’s Racing pressure cap wouldn’t fit onto my Koyorad rad. I was baffled as to how Matty’s fits and why I don’t have the same luck as him, haha 😦

15+ year old rubber most likely were not in the best of condition, so Matty went and chucked on some Spoon Sports polymer hoses for piece of mind.

I can imagine those of you who happen to be S2000 owners too, are interested in Matty’s choice of wheel and their fitment.

And if you happen not to show intrigue, are you okay? The flow-formed RG-D2 wheels by Yokohama Advan are a difficult option to discount when configuring your dream build, regardless of the chassis, they look great on everything! Matty chose to fit up a set of staggered 17″ wheels, 8J at the front, with 9J in the back, offsets measuring ET44 and ET45 respectively.

And I can’t not mention one of the greatest tread patterns of all time, courtesy of the Yokohama Rubber Company. AD08RS compound has been equipped to deal with everything input by the hands and feet of the driver, matching up to the staggered wheel sizing with 225/45 and 245/40 tyre specifications.

The Advan wheels’s polished lips gleam as they offset the Racing Hyper Black spoke faces.

Efforts have been made by Matty to ensure that the car appears as low as possible, without giving off that “stancey wanker” vibe. He’s done a damn good job if you ask me.

How is this car still relevant as ever? Honda, bring back an affordable high-performance FR two-seat sportscar, please, before you go all “Greenpeace” on us petrol-junkies.

Back onto the subject of the aero trim applied to the exterior of the car. A carbon fibre ducktail partly left bare to exposed the weave when viewed from the rear, carbon fibre sideskirt extensions made for an FD3S RX-7, and the smoothed OEM “AP2” front bumper & original lip spolier. A Voltex rear diffuser made of CFRP wasn’t in the best of shape so Matty chose to remove it from the car in case the damage went any further, but you can see it photographed here, if you so please.

Without sounding cliche, sitting passenger whilst Matty directed the S2000 through fast and slow B-road bends, I could sense a link between man and machine where both were in harmony as G-forces pulled the ~1270kg mass dynamically whilst the four tyres maintained grip throughout.

I jumped out the car to take a few panning shots as Matty zipped past me on a country lane. Thought I’d get some practice shots in with the local wildlife behind me.

The car isn’t crazily loud, but it sings a tune you wouldn’t want any other way.

When something looks as good as it goes, a sense of temporary bliss comes into effect. This was one of those moments.

Before we called it quits, Matty suggested a cool photo-opp spot not too far out in the countryside.

We drove up to a pair of electric gates that opened automatically, rolled right through all the way down this long-ass driveway, realising that we may or may not have been trespassing, haha.

We weren’t doing no one any harm, so I got Matty to position the roadster in the middle of this random household’s driveway, and let the shutter release.

Next thing we know, a lady in a new Land Rover Defender enters the premises and I’m thinking we’re about to get booted out or maybe worse! But Matty must have done some sweet-talking as I heard her compliment the Honda that was on her private property. She was 100% cool with us being there, we kept off the grass, and that was that, she just carried on for another 5-miles (exagerrating lol) to her doorstep.

Buddyclub LED Sequential Tailights complete the rear-end without over-doing it. To be honest, it’s probably not far off a “modern-day” interpretation of the S2000, similar to what we saw at TAS 2020 with Honda’s 20th Anniversary Concept, only this has nicer wheels…

That’s all I have to say about Matty’s S2000 right now. It doesn’t “break the internet” (yet) nor does it need to (yet). I’m positively sure that the evolution of this vehicle is in its infancy under the careful and particular owner.

Keep an eye out, is all I need to say, both right here on soulfokus.net and Matty’s IG @mattyfer5.

| B O N U S G A L L E R Y |

Street-Sleeper Beauty with Titan Spirit | Josh Harbour’s OEM+ Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R

Styles come and go. The phasic nature of any trend or fashion is what enables something new to flourish, because nothing can stand the test of time. Exceptions do exist, however, and its those anomalies that I want to highlight and share with those of you who come to find this site; this article in particular. My aim is to bring to people’s awareness of builds that might sometimes fly under the radar amongst all those IG-famous cars that are always popping up in your “Explore” feed.

The first of which I will open with: a street-spec R32 Skyline GT-R done so right, so subtly.

To me, the R32 is the greatest of the GT-R pack, and I honestly think its a car that has remained timeless since its original inception in 1989. Okay, maybe not so much as the FD RX-7 or S2000, but in a way that it made an impression on the automotive industry with its game-changing, futuristic technology; less so in the looks department perhaps. Yet, thats got to be the reason I am drawn to the R32 – it means business and there’s evidence of that in its demeanor.

If you remember the post I uploaded back in July on Instagram, I made a whimsical visit to the Fueled Society show up at Harewood this year, and came across this aforementioned anomaly. A wolf in black sheep’s clothing. Now, if it weren’t for me dissolving my prejudices about a show I’d never really heard much about, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet up with Josh and his GT-R. Its purely because I did something a bit of my comfort zone – attend a car show on my ones, that I had [wrongly] predicted wouldn’t deliver satisfaction.

Thankfully, I chose to ignore the ignorant voice, which is a virtue to be honest. Its usually the emotional part of us that screams the loudest when we try to think, and I reckon that causes us to become deluded in whether or not the thoughts we have are objective. (If I am coming across as too philosophical, its probably due to the books on G.I. Gurdjieff I have read recently, pardon me).

Long story short, I messaged the owner of the pristine, prize-winning Skyline, via Instagram asking whether he’d be up for being the first to be featured on the site as a “spotlight” article. Before I knew it, we arranged to meet up near Fewston, so I could get some photos of the car in the wild on a quality countryside pass.

Like-minded carboys have no problem making conversation. I had no idea who Josh was beforehand, and all he knew about me was that I took photos of cars. As soon as I pulled up, I saw his car and it was so clean, I felt so guilty asking Josh to bring it out to some gravelly car park beside a reservoir. Josh being a calm & collected type of guy didn’t seem too bothered though. Josh is also fanatical about Japan, so it was inevitable for us to both go off on a tangent about our trips to the holy land. I also found out that we rented the exact same DC5 Integra Type-R you may remember from my previous blogposts!

Josh did happen to have a white DC5 Integra Type-R of his own, in Champ White. I guess he felt like he had to part with it and make a move into new, unknown territory. And what better than a transition from an iconic FF coupe, to an undoubtedly emblematic Japanese AWD two-door saloon/sedan.

Once he found the Black Pearl example online in September of 2015, he knew from that moment there was no alternative, and I reckon you’d agree. After what probably felt like a long wait, Christmas must have definitely arrived early when his R32 showed up on UK shores 3 months after he committed to the buy.

There is without a doubt more to this Skyline than meets the eye. But I am not going to spew out a copy-and-pasted parts list, for the sake of word count and perhaps maybe losing your attention. A lot of work had already been done on the car during its life in Japan, including the trick HICAS lockout kit by Midori Seibi which is a textbook modification for GT-R owners who want a purer handling experience.

Noteworthy in the powertrain department: R34 GT-R twin-turbo setup, air filter and feed by Apexi, oil cooler, downpipe and sports cat-converter by HKS, triple-core radiator by Koyorad, along with supporting mods such as the twin-plate clutch and oil catch can by Nismo. Of course, the Nismo reppin’ continues onto the exterior in the forms of the N1 front bumper ducts, side skirts, bonnet lip, and those show-stopping LMGT4 wheels sized to perfection in 17x9J dimensions.

Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and my camera was producing some disgustingly noisy images. We seeked out a multistorey car park, luckily one random find on a Harrogate side street provided a well-illuminated location.

What grabbed my attention when I first spotted the car sitting on the grass up at Harewood were the front axles’ Alcon RC4 brakes sized at 355 x 28mm, which make a lasting impression and should give us an inkling about the tuning philosophy Josh demonstrates – balance. Big power can be unnecesscary. Big brakes aren’t exactly a hindrance, and it gives Josh the confidence when driving spiritedly. These stoppers weren’t carelessly thrown on either. In fact, they couldn’t have been, because at the time Alcon didn’t sell the mounting components for both the calipers and discs. The custom carriers and bells were CAD-drawn and CNC-machined by Josh himself. Now that to me is outright cool. Even though its a detail many would miss when walking by at a show, its a commendable action making something fit with a factory-like finish.

Before heading off back to my car in a parking area I was praying for not to be locked, I got a couple shots of the interior. Nismo accessories adorn the cabin with their floormats, and shifter & handbrake leather boots, which – if I remember correctly – Josh bought from the Omori Factory on one of his visits to the car’s birthplace.

Engine vitals are displayed on Defi triplet gauges, accompanied by that critical boost pressure digi-readout Josh fitted himself, all mounted in custom 3D-printed cubbies. A part I recognised immediately was the Nardi “Deep-Corn” suede steering wheel, only because I had the exact same (in a smaller diameter) for my MX-5.

Firing up the Pro Stock Racing Japan built, balanced and tuned RB26DETT, that happened to once sit in an R34 GT-R, we made our way back to the reservoir car park.

GT-Rs are machines that will always have presence, no matter what state of tune. This one speaks volumes, without being shouty at all, and I am grateful to both Josh for bringing it out that day, and also that whisper in the back of my mind telling me to keep driving to Fueled Society’s event. Otherwise, I’d never have this high performance legend grace a blogpost on the site…