Video: K20 Civic Outguns K24 S2000 at Cadwell Park

Note: Some comical cursing in the footage above.

In a thrilling demonstration of daring, skill, and fun, these two take their modified Hondas to Cadwell Park and show just how capable they are with a few tweaks. While some simply rely on their Honda’s agility to achieve a respectable lap time, these two went a step further and upgraded their engines. It’s common to see the EG Civic fitted with a bigger motor, but it’s rare to see someone take an S2000, remove its respected F20C, and drop in the 2.4-liter motor from an Accord. The result is something truly special.

The S2000’s F20C/F22C is a fantastic engine and capable of making power, but it requires a little more maintenance than some. The need for occasional valve adjustment, while not a major issue, is a little irritating. More importantly, there are bigger engines in the Honda lineup for little money.

The K24, displacing 2.4 liters, is a great alternative for those who don’t like the standard engine’s lack of low-end torque and need for occasional valve adjustment. It’s also common; found in the Element, CRV, and TSX, and Accord. In addition to some considerable low-end grunt, the K24A3 is capable of making 300 horsepower at the wheels without forced induction! For a car as light as the S2000, that’s an outrageous amount of power, so it’s easy to see why he swapped one in.

A car this quick to stop elicits some strong emotions from those who ride in it.

Not that these cars rely on power for their lap time. Naturally incisive and light, these are bred for circuit use and the owners have modified them accordingly. The S2000’s greatest asset is its agility, which this owner has improved upon with a big rear wing, BC Racing coilovers, and 255/40/17 Toyo R888 tires. In the case of the Civic, it’s shod in 205/50/15 Federal RSR tires, suspended by Meister-R coilovers, and stopped by 282 mm brakes and PBS pads.

It’s a hard guess before the two begin to battle. With a full cage stiffening the car, roughly a ton of weight, and a very assertive driver behind the wheel, the little Civic should stand a chance. The S2000’s greater torque and preferable power-down characteristics may play a role at the tight and technical Cadwell Park, but the S2000 weighs a fair bit more, especially with a giddy and foul-mouthed friend sitting in the passenger seat.

Differences in Drivetrain

Once the Civic is given the lead (5:12), it’s easy to see how its weight affords it better acceleration. However, the Civic suffers from some frustrating wheelspin when the unweighted front momentarily lifts from the ground. To make matters worse, it doesn’t always regain traction when it settles. For a graphic example, watch the way it spins the driven wheels at 5:45. That torquesteer nearly throws him off into the grass, and seems to frazzle the Civic’s driver slightly, as he starts to check his mirrors a bit more often and misshift once or twice. It’s funny how one mistake can cause a driver to lose their composure and start a downward spiral of errors.

As the wheelspin spits him plowing towards the grass, he needs to lift momentarily to regain front traction.

Cadwell park is filled with these hills and abrupt direction changes, which naturally suit the S2000 and its layout. Where the rear-wheel drive car turns in a little more confidently and puts the power down cleanly, the Civic here struggles with a hints of wheelspin, and even some understeer at the turn-in point. Note how much more relaxed is seems in the S2000’s cabin, even with the passenger’s whooping.

Nipping Back on the Brakes

However, that’s not the S2000‘s best advantage. What helps distinguish it from the lighter Civic is its ability to brake late. While the Civic is so light it really only needs a brush of the brakes in most corners, it suffers slightly at higher speeds when a heavy prod is required. With Brembo four-piston calipers at front and a mix of aggressive pads, this S2000 can close a three-car gap easily (6:51). That difference in braking and power-down characteristics that helped the S2000 lap roughly two seconds faster than the Civic, which didn’t have the additional weight of a passenger slowing it down.

Looks like it’s time to start searching through junkyards for an old Accord.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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