SWelcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
I was asked this week to talk someone out of buying a Honda S2000. I don’t know if I'm equipped to do such a thing. This guy thinks that because Porsche Boxsters are so cheap and plentiful, it’s the one to go for if you want a roadster that isn’t a Miata. With sharp handling and wailing flat-sixes, they’re proper Porsches. And S2000 is a very special Honda and a truly great car, but should you pay Porsche money for nice one? Let’s line them up.
Take this, a 2002 Honda S2000 that’s in really nice, unmodified shape. It’s an earlier car that still revved to 9,000 rpm rather than the later ones that revved a little bit less for the sake of drivability. Whatever.
Anyway, it’s a super clean in blue-on-blue, a combo I’m not so sure about because the blue dash reminds me of a Chevy Corsica for some reason. At least it matches the big red start button to the left of the driver. I love the simplicity of the S2000’s interior and just how driver focused it is. The digital dash is a favorite of mine, and while it looks sudden to some, the important info – the revs and the MPH – is big and bright.
Is it $17,000 good? Consider that in 2002 the sticker price was about $32,000, this is more than half of the original price and it’s still done 40,000 miles. It’s in gorgeous condition, granted, but it’s kind of pricey and it’s not like I had a hard time finding unmolested early S2000s, but they’re all kind of in this ballpark. And you’re going to have to justify this purchase to people who say, “Well, you could’ve had a Boxster S for the same price.”
Funny enough, I have a 2002 Porsche Boxster S for (almost) the same money. At $17,750 it’s a tad more expensive — a little overpriced, if you ask me. It’s the right color and has the right wheels, but the first owner fell for some particularly tacky fake carbon fiber add-ons to the handbrake and gear lever, no doubt $17 million Porsche options. But that doesn’t matter now, because the Boxster S has 250 horses through six cylinders and you don’t have to rev it for days to extract the power. But it’s fun if you do.
Here’s the issue: the Boxster was originally almost $52,000, so you can see how far values have fallen. It appears to be in roughly the same condition as the Honda, but access into that mid-mounted engine is going to be fun. And Porsche parts are notoriously inexpensive... wait, that’s not right.
But annoyingly for me, the Boxster shows its age in a lot of places the S2000 doesn’t: the egg yolk headlamps seem to be getting uglier as the years go by, this car still has a plastic rear window (2003s got glass) and the interior is a sea of plastics that don’t look like they’re aging well. The Boxster suffers from 996 and first-gen Cayenne issues in that there was a lot of new features Porsche was pushing into their cars that’s really dated now. And one look at the latest Boxster shows how much better Porsche can make a car.
The S2000 will never suffer that problem because all of the ones ever made look pretty much the same. There’s nothing trendy about the design and it actually comes from a time when Honda was making its cars correctly instead of getting all cost-cutting on us. It is a modern classic. And I’d happily own one over a Boxster, but only if it were reasonably priced.