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Honda Power, Wrangler Fortitude: Making A Case For an S2000-powered Jeep TJ

Posted in News on March 25, 2015
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Long before I was magazine editor, I was a lot attendant at my local Honda/Acura dealership. My job was pretty simple. Keep the cars in-line and park them back where they belonged. I didn’t even have to wash them. Basically, I was the guy who parked the car back on the lot after you decided you were not going to buy it. The car salesmen used to refer to me and my work associate as lot turds.

We didn’t care. It was easy work for OK money. I was a high school kid that got paid to drive cars around. Who wouldn’t be stoked on that job? Up to that point, I had always been a domestic truck guy, so working at an import dealership opened my eyes to another automotive world. When I first started, the Fast and Furious movie wasn’t even out. The concept of dropping an absorbent amount of money into any one of those cars was beyond my comprehension. At that age, if it wasn’t a dirt bike or lifted truck, I couldn’t care less about it.

Over time, I learned more about the cars by hanging out in the service bays out back. One car in particular that I really liked was the Honda S2000. It was small, fast, and could rev for days (technical around 8,900 rpm was redline). The price point on those little rockets was out of my realm at the time, but I thought one day I might get behind the wheel. Well, it’s been well over a decade since and I still haven’t called any S2K my own, but my affinity for them is still there.

Now, as technical editor for Jp, I’ve been putting more thought into the car. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the swap-potential of the powertrain. Hear me out. From the factory, the S2K weighs around 2,700 pounds and makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 horsepower. A four-cylinder Jeep Wrangler TJ on the other hand weighs a little over 3,000 pounds and makes around 147 horsepower. So, what if you could transplant the S2K engine into the TJ?

You could get the reliability, high revving, and known performance of Honda, with the ruggedness and simplicity of a Wrangler. I’ve seen the 2.0L first-gen and 2.2L second-gens from the S2K swapped in to multiple non-Honda vehicles, so my gut feeling is that there is some sort of aftermarket support to make this happen. A transmission adapter may be my biggest hurtle, as I’m not certain the lightweight six-speed would be durable enough in the TJ.

Keep in mind; I’m not looking to make this TJ a rockcrawler or mud bogger. Think stock-ish TJ, just with an S2K inline-four cylinder engine under the hood. Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I’m thinking it’s worth looking into. Now, I just need to buy another TJ…and a S2000!

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