Pop-up headlights are cool again. This is mostly thanks to the rise of the 80s and 90s performance cars that brought forth their golden era and perhaps a few new-age unatainable machines like the Ferrari Monza SP3, which revives hideaway headlights with clever tech. Pop-up headlights on the Honda S2000? Almost fifteen years after the Japanese roadster was discontinued, we’re closer than ever to such such a retrofit solution thanks to the world of body kit designer and rendering artist Khyzyl Saleem (aka The Kyza).
The London, UK-based master has brought multiple of his creations to the real world via his LTO (Live To Offend) label, but, just to be clear, this S2K work remains purely digital, at least for the time being. However, given the intensity and polish of the design The Kyza created for the now-iconic Honda, things may not stay this way for too long.
The Honda S2000 was sort of underestimated at first
Honda never designed the S2000 with pop-ups, mainly because they had mostly gone out of fashion by the time the sports car landed back in 1999. People were no longer ready to put up with the added weight, complexity and reliability drawbacks of these headlights just for the sake of a sleeker look with the units turned off.
Besides, the introduction of high-intensity discharge headlights—and later LED and laser units—meant sports cars could finaly have their cake and eat it in terms of proper lightning and a clean design.
Nevertheless, as mentioned in the intro, nostalgia is running high these days. And this is an area where the S2K excells. With its high-revving N/A four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual and and rear-wheel-drive, the departed JDM machine belongs to an endangered species nowadays.
With the 9,000 rpm redline of the original S2000 AP1 (240 hp came at 8,300 rpm) and that ahead-of-its-time digital dashboard, Honda created the S2000 to sit well above the Mazda MX-5 Miata. And while the latter is still in business, the S2000 is a hit as far as modern classics go.
You see, the S2K was built to go after Porsche’s Boxster. Yes, yes, the German is yet another name that has survived, but check out used vehicle prices, and you’ll find the Honda sitting noticeably above Boxsters from two decades ago.
Nowadays, the average price for a proper-condition S2000 sits at around $30,000, but there are plenty of pristine examples that go for well over the original price of $34,995, even though adjusting the latter for inflation would bring it to $50,000. Interestingly, the past few years have even seen the two-door Honda crossing that limit, ableit with this only standing for a few exceptional units.
Given the said numbers, playing with a Honda S2000 does involve a certain responsibility nowadays and not just financially—regardless of how the total production run (through 2009) of 113,889 cars sounds to you, the internet is ready to bash anybody willing to give the S2000 such an admittedly dramatic visual makeover (only a rad rod S2K would be wackier). So if, like yours truly, you enjoy the idea of gifting an S2000 with pop-ups, welcome to a special club!
The pop-up headlight conversion for the S2000 is facilitated by a majestic widebody kit
The Kyza happens to own an FD-generation Mazda RX-7, which is where he got the inspiration from. You see, remodeling the nose for those pop-ups to fit didn’t come via the Porsche pathway (i.e. Slantnose 911). Instead, the widebody kit found on this S2000 was modeled after Japanese tuner R.E Amemiya’s Super G RX-7, which, ironically, does away with the factory pop-ups of the Mazda.
Going back even further, the artist first ilustrated this idea in 2D, as you can see in the final image of the gallery below—that was 2016, and I wrote a piece on his rendering in what feels like a (professional) lifetime ago.
Oh, and where are the taillights of this S2000, you ask? They may just be out searching for the wing some see as mandatory for a front-rear aero balance of the vehicle!
PS: While we’re talking retrofitting pop-ups to modern classics, perhaps this Nissan 350Z 3D work may also float your speedboat.