Feature: A Red Letter Day – Jon Principe’s Amuse S2000

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It appears my elusive internet connection has abandoned me once again, and in doing so, has prevented me from sharing with you this beautiful car in a timely manner.  So as I sit here in Starbucks, sipping my coffee, looking like Ko-Teng from ‘You Are The Apple of My Eye’ typing on his laptop in Taxi Coffee (obligatory Chinese movie reference – [long story]),  it has become my mission to introduce you to the creation you see above.  Jon Principe attended the Slammed Society show in Long Beach at the beginning of the month and I just happened to have the good fortune to make his acquaintance.  As I was admiring the Amuse wide-body dressed in the reddest of paint, Jon approached me and asked who I was shooting for.  When I told him NDF, I received the response I usually get; “Who?”  Perks of naming your blog something so strange I suppose.  Eager to practice more car photography, I inquired if he’d be interested in a photoshoot.  We exchanged info and planned to get together some time in the coming weeks.  Turns out Jon ended up winning first place in the Time Attack category at the show, and I ended up winning a couple hours of alone time with his S2000; a true red letter day. Click past the break for the feature.


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I’m not spectacularly familiar with Southern California, so I have to give Jon credit for the location; as it turned out to be quite nice.  Even though I had to dodge oncoming traffic between shutter clicks (oncoming traffic that was traveling much faster than it should have been), climb in and out of ditches, and fend off some mutant sized red ants, it was well worth it.  The bright red exterior against the woodland backdrop of  makes for great contrast.

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The aggressiveness of the Amuse aero is hard to match; increasing the width a massive 50mm in the front and a 40mm increase to the rear.  Amuse advertises that a standard exhaust will not fit with the kit’s diffuser, so Jon turned to Berk Technology to fabricate a custom exhaust and header that would fit the new body and add a little extra performance from the F22 engine.  Which brings me to my next point; Jon has revived the S2000 by ridding it of the tired, but well lived, F20 engine by swapping it’s younger, more exuberant brother, the F22C1 as the heart of the car.

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18×10.5 Work Emotion 11R’s fill the widened wheel wells of the car, while 265×35 tread provides the contact to the pavement.  One of my favorite features of the Amuse kit are the cutaways on the skirt below the front fender.  They remind me of a Super GT machine, or even a jet fighter…for some reason.

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A close (real close) look at the gunmetal 11R’s.  For quick braking, Jon relies on Stoptech pads mated to 88Rotors slotted rotors at all four corners.

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A rather fitting backdrop don’t you think?  Somewhat reminds me the roads I drove through when traveling in Hakone (箱根).  In that sense, the S2000 is in it’s natural element.  I suppose Santiago Canyon would be the closest thing you could get to a touge around here.

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If you take a step back and count all the major modifications to this car, the number would be quite small.  However, with most things, it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts in life.  This is proven in any well-rounded car build, and the concept is quite Japanese in it’s right.  Aside from the Amuse kit, the pièce de résistance would have to be the carbon hard top.

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Rounding out the dose of carbon fiber are a pair of M-Racing GT style mirrors – quite a rare piece.

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I was going to use this shot as the cover photo, but realized I start too many posts off with a shot of the front wheel of S2000’s.  I just really like the cutaways on the skirt – and I thought the dead leaves by the Federal tires looked kinda cool.  S2000’s; killing leaves dead.

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Starke coilovers provide the stance to match the look of the car.  This car is actually lower than it appears in most of the shots, although not so low that it borders on ridiculous.  The fenders sit just at the top of the tire, which in my opinion aesthetically speaking, looks the best.

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Peekaboo.  The canyon provided such a peaceful setting, I could have literally photographed this thing until the sun went down.  The filtered light through the tress was nice, but absolutely plastered the shiny red paint with glare.  Try photo-shopping that out!

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After the shoot, Jon was nice enough to buy me lunch at a Hawaiian joint near his place.  He also gave me a Red Bull before we left which was awesome because if you know me, you’d know I’m addicted to Red Bull; not just because of Sebastian Vettel either…

Side note: What’s the deal with photographers and taking pictures of what they eat?

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Towards the end of the day, we had made our way to another location.  This time at an abandoned airfield or something; actually, the place where they held the AutoCon show.  The place was so unique I could have done an entirely seperate photoshoot there; and kind of did.  I will release some hi-res shots of this location maybe.  I also realized halfway into it that my shoes matched the car perfectly.

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I had initially posted a preview shot on the Official NDF Facebook, and it got some really good feedback.  I wanted to get these on the blog as soon as I could, but real life had other plans for me.  I’m leaving for Japan in two weeks, and preparing work for my absence has been a bit more tedious than I had thought.  That, combined with my weekly travels, has made it quite difficult to progress on the site.  Which, I don’t want to admit, has become much more important to me than I had intended it to.  I am stoked that I get to keep meeting new people, good people like Jon, and am finding new opportunities to get better at doing what I love.  On a personal side note; I haven’t been photographing cars for very long.  I’m learning what works and what doesn’t with each new car I shoot, and can visually see my progress.  The Amuse kit has very interesting angles that are somewhat difficult to shoot.  It goes to show that not all cars are the same and shouldn’t be treated as such.  I hope you enjoyed the shoot as much as I did, and as always, thanks for visiting!

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