In 2015, things were looking up for Kai Her as he was in the midst of his final year of college and his Honda Civic EM1 build was well underway. That all changed, though, once his coupe project was t-boned as he innocently waited at a stoplight. It was bad. So bad, that insurance called it a total loss, and rather than pulling the salvageable parts off the car and starting over again with another Civic, he decided to use the setback as a turning point and went after the car he'd always wanted: a Honda S2000.
The search was on and, thanks to his girlfriend Aimee (who he later married), this AP2 was found on the other side of the country via Carmax. "I hesitantly paid a non-refundable $900 fee to have the car shipped to California just so I could take a look at it in-person," he recalls. Once he got the call that it had arrived, he went to check it out but brought an expert with him, adding, "my older brother, Lue was a big Honda enthusiast and he came with me. In truth, it wasn't in the best condition but since it was the only S2000 I could afford at the time, I made the decision to purchase it."
Initial mods included A'PEXi N1 EXV coilovers, a rear diffuser, and a set of Regamaster Evo wheels, and, after multiple late-night conversations with his brother Lue, the two determined that a show-quality build with plenty of wheel options would be the ideal build. "Lue and I enjoyed building Hondas but never had a chance to completely finish one," he says. "This S2000 was the perfect project for that." That dream wouldn't come to fruition, unfortunately, as Lue suddenly passed away about six months after the S2000 was purchased. "It was a hard pill to swallow knowing that I would no longer be able to share the build with him."
For the next few years, new parts were introduced and the S2K continued to evolve, but it wasn't until the pandemic hit and Kai was forced to teach from home that he decided to dive a little deeper. "To keep myself sane being indoors, I tore down the S2000, yanked the motor, resprayed the bay, and tucked the wires with no prior experience," he states proudly.
That clean up initiative included relocating the battery, the fuse boxes, and the car's ABS system for a tidier look. The A/C system was left intact but Kai swapped the factory lines for Ballade Sports' tucked line kit to further the makeover. The process took about six months to complete but he wasn't alone in his efforts as his wife had a hand in making the home-brewed revamp happen. He adds, "I would've never completed the tuck without Aimee's help. She got down and wasn't afraid to get dirty alongside me as we pulled the motor and assembled the whole car back together. I'm truly grateful for these moments as it was these experiences that created unforgettable memories in our relationship and marriage."
Currently, the resprayed engine bay features a Schmuck Built titanium intake with a GReddy filter replacing the huge factory air box and the original exhaust was swapped for a GoTuning/GReddy Spectrum Elite dual system—also titanium. Continuing with the lightweight metal inclusion, there's a complete Titanium Works engine bay dress-up kit onboard, Rywire's Ti coil pack cover, and Chasing Js VTEC solenoid cap added for good measure. Kai knows that squeezing naturally aspirated power out of Honda's legendary F22C is next to impossible with any series of bolt-ons so lately he's been tossing around the idea of picking up GReddy's now carb-legal turbo kit to satisfy his power needs.
Rather than opting for the same exact aero kit that so many other S2000s owners have chosen, Kai decided to mix and match to get the look he was after. Up front, a Spoon Sports S-Tai bumper and First Molding vented hood transform the roadster's front-facing appearance and though they look factory, those are Downforce front fenders that add an additional 30 mm of clearance. Voltex Version 2 side skirts help even out the flanks with the front bumper and a set of Spoon aero mirrors add a more modern touch.
Perched upon titanium wing stands is a Voltex carbon fiber Type 2 wing with a carbon fiber diffuser lacing the bumper's lower portion. A must-have addition that today will run you almost as much as an AP1, is a factory optional hardtop. All of the aftermarket additions required a complete respray and it, along with any necessary bodywork was handled by Rich's Restoration in Madera, Ca.
Finding the perfect set of wheels is never easy, so Kai picked up multiple sets. As of this writing he has eight sets to choose from, though that number may have increased by the time you're reading this. Taking it a step further, he picked up a set of 17-inch Mugen MF10 and handed them off to Andrew and the crew at Wheelflip who surgically dismantled the wheels and stepped them up to 18-inch barrels before refinishing. The fitment is precise, and the car sits low, but there are air cups installed to help tip-toe up driveways and over speed bumps.
On the road, Kai and his wife Aimee are embraced by a set of bright red Recaro Pole Position seats and surrounded by a Cusco multi-point roll cage. A Momo steering wheel with Spoon horn button replaces the worn OEM version and the final piece of Kai's titanium rap sheet is an ARC shift knob.
"It's been a good (and expensive) experience seeing the S2000 evolve through each stage with my friends," Kai says. "Whenever we get together, we always joke about how much money we're spending on our cars. And every time we joke, someone reveals they secretly purchased something new for their car or picked up another set of wheels. Almost like a friendly rivalry, but most importantly, it kept us all close."
Establishing a group with a passion for car building, Kai and three of his friends created NnovatioN Car Club and recently expanded to include three new members. That group and the AP2 you see pictured, have played a major part in his personal healing. "I now see that the S2000 has been a behind-the-scenes contributor to my life story and unknowingly made me who I am today," he states. "It holds a greater story than just a car build, it holds memories of my late brother's shared interest in building Hondas and has played a significant part of my love life and creating the brotherhood I found within NnovatioN. It's safe to say this car has been the author of my life for these past seven years."
Owner Kai Her
Engine Schmuck Built short ram titanium intake; GReddy air filter; GoTuning/GReddy Spectrum Elite titanium dual exhaust; Koyo radiator; M&M Honda engine torque damper; Cusco catch can, cooling plate; Titanium Works engine bay dress-up kit; Chasing Js VTEC solenoid cover, fuel injector cover; Ballade Sport A/C hose relocation kit; Rywire titanium coil pack cover; Spoon Sports radiator stays, radiator hoses, radiator cap, oil cap, reservoir covers; custom wire tuck, relocated ABS, EPS, battery
Suspension A'PEXi N1 EXV coil overs; Stanceparts air cups; Hardrace front/rear lower extended ball joints; EVS Tuning rear anti-bumpsteer kit; Cusco 6-point roll cage
Braking Spoon Sports monoblock calipers; Project Mu SCR front rotors; Ballade Sport rear brake kit; StopTech steel braided lines front; Russell steel braided lines rear
Wheels & Tires Mugen MF10 rebarrelled 18x9 +35 front, 18x10 +40 rear; Hankook V12 EVO2 215/45 front, 235/40 rear
Exterior Paint and body work by Rich's Restoration; Spoon Sports S-Tai front bumper, aero mirrors; Downforce 30mm widened front fenders; Spoon style rear diffuser; Voltex side step Version 2 Street, Type 2 rear wing 1,700mm w/275mm titanium wing stands; First Molding hood; OEM Honda hardtop
Interior Recaro Pole Postion seats; Buddy Club seat rails; NRG quick-release, hub; Momo steering wheel; Spoon Sports horn button, wide view mirror; ARC titanium shift knob
Thank You A shoutout to Gio and Kao for my tire needs. I wouldn't have been able to purchase and mount the Mf10's on time without you guys!
Thank you Wheelflip for rebarreling the Mf10's to my desired specs!
Thank you Rich and his team from Rich's Restoration for the respray on the S2000.
My brother-in-laws: Thank you Shaufeng, Chris, Yeing, Mike and Chueyi for your support from the beginning and always lending a hand. Mike, redefining the black trims did wonders! Thanks for helping me prep the S2000 before the SS shoot!
My Nnovation brothers: Kong @kongo_nsx; Simon @spoonem1; Xue @chopxuewee; Brian @smurf_eg77; Mee @vang_eh3; Tou @vou_tang.
I am beyond blessed and grateful to have friends who have become brothers. Thank you for your help, support, and always encouraging me to dump more money on the S2000. LOL. I love you all and I appreciate the brotherhood we've built alongside our cars! "Never cease in elevation, it's a timeless pursuit."
AND to my greatest supporter, in my personal and car life, my lovely wife, Aimee, for your continued support with the S2000. It does not go unrecognized and I am so thankful for your patience, countless affirmations, and the late nights wrenching the S2000 with me.Owner Instagram Engine Suspension Braking Wheels & Tires Exterior Interior Thank You