Honda F20C: Everything You Need To Know

The Japanese company Honda is known for mass-producing engines that go for a long time, like the D series, B series, K series, and were installed in large numbers of vehicles with huge production numbers.

Honda F-series engines are cousins of the F-series engine found in the mid-1990s Honda Accord and prelude. The F20C engine design was derived from Honda racing engines while staying to its core attributes by keeping it compact and accessible.

F20C engines were produced in 2000 and were discontinued in 2009, playing side by side with its alter ego, F22C1, in other markets outside North America. It is primarily designed to dress the S2000 Honda platform.

Jump to the present, F20C engines are considered rare and hard to find. You cannot buy one in the Honda plant, so you need to have a deep connection in your local shop or friends in order to get your hands on it.

Some say that there are only 60,000 – 100,000 units sold, and the majority of those are still in pristine condition.

Anyway, to add with what is already mentioned, the F20C engine is full of depth and character. It has a redline of almost 9,000 RPM (8,9000 RPM) and held the record for most naturally-aspirated specific power output for years up until the Ferrari began the production and launched the Ferrari 458 Italia in 2010 and surpass them.

So today, we will talk about F20C engines. Let’s get right to it.

Engine Specification and Design

  • Production Run: 2000 – 2009
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: Inline-4
  • Bore: 87 mm
  • Stroke: 84 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC 4 valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.0 L
  • Compression Ratio: 11.0
  • Weight: 325 lbs.
  • Max HP: 247 hp
  • Max Torque: 162 lb-ft

F20C engines belong to the F-family, as the first letter indicates, but technically, it is much closer to K20A engines with respect to F20A, F20B, and F20Z engines. F20C engines are performance-based machines.

It has the highest output power produced by a mass-produced naturally-aspirated two-liter engine as it can develop 247 horsepower, at maximum, with engine tuning, performance parts, and modifications.

F20Cs are ideally built for high-speed capabilities, its high compression ratio and increased power output ramps up the redline to 9,000 RPM, capable of exerting enormous power at demand with VTEC engagement at 6,000 RPM, which are used on both intake and exhaust camshafts. 

Honda F20C engine is a naturally-aspirated, inline-four petrol engine debuted in 1999 and exclusively made for the Honda S2000. It has a sporty profile, 2-door roadster body type, and an open-top.

They are also designed and one of the few Honda 4-cylinder engines to sit longitudinally for rear-wheel drive.

Under the hood, its engine block is made from aluminum with a Fiber-reinforced metal sleeve; its pistons are forged aluminum to go along with a Molydebnum Disulfide coated piston skirt for friction reduction and a ladder-frame central bearing stiffener.

F20Cs have two overhead camshafts with roller followers, which are driven by a timing chain that operates the intermediate gear. It is also equipped with a VTEC system that consists of two separate lobes. 

F20C engine’s intake plenum is designed for a faster response with minimal volume, which is fitted with a 14-lb flywheel until 2004. A high-flow catalyst is supplied together with an exhaust air-injection system that significantly decreases the light-off time of the catalyst and cold emissions. 

It is also a National LEV standard compliant. Its exhaust emission levels attained the required specifications by utilizing a redesigned VTEC cylinder head that uses Metal Injection Molding (MIM) rocker arms; and a newly developed camshaft drive chain and gear system.

A metal honeycomb catalyst with an air pump start-up system is also utilized.

F20C engines appear on the following Honda cars such as 1999 – 2005 Honda S2000 for Japan Market, 2000 – 2003 Honda S 2000 for North American market, 1999 – 2009 Honda S2000 for the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia market and 2009 IFR Aspid.

F22C1 Version

F22C1 is the long stroked version of the F20C engine. It was made exclusively for the North American market in 2004 and 2005, while other markets use F20Cs. However, in 2006, F22C1 replaced F20C in the Japanese market, but outside Japan And United States, F20Cs was the only engine available. 

F22C1 engines carry the same characteristics of an F20C engine, but it has a bigger displacement of 2.2 Liters due to the 160 cc top-up, a higher torque compared to F20Cs from 155 lb-ft at 7,500 RPM to 162 lb-ft at 6,500 RPM.

Though It maintained the peak power output at 240 hp, the Honda reduced the redline to cater to the long travel distance of the pistons, from 8,900 to 8,200 RPM.

F22C1s appear in 2004 – 2009 Honda S2000 in North America and 2006 – 2009 Honda S2000 in Japan.

Engine Upgrades and Tuning

Honda put in the time, effort, and performance knowledge to satisfy our high power output itch. Good news because F20C engines have a lot of options for a power boost. So, if you really want aggression that translates to impressive power, you will spend serious money.

You can start by installing a bronze valve guide in head ports, replace the intake and exhaust valves, valve springs, and retainers.

Installing performance exhaust, OEM exhaust manifold, 50mm throttle bodies, aftermarket camshafts adjustable cam gears, 3-row radiator, oil catch can, high compression pistons, and 550 cc fuel injector. This will give you more than 300 hp at the flywheel.

Another option is to buy a supercharger and install it on stock internals, giving the F20C another 300 horsepower. Should you take it to the higher level and install a turbo kit on stock pistons that will push 600+ hp without breaking a sweat.

You have to do the head porting for the turbo, install titanium valve retainers, new sparks plugs, 1000 cc fuel injectors, 255 liters per hour fuel pump, and AEM EMS ECU for tuning. Also, consider using forged internals to achieve high reliability.

Problems Surrounding F20C engines

F20C engines are relatively reliable and can serve you for a long time. But as unfortunate it is, some problems cannot be eluded but can be prevented. We have to take care of the engines as much as we wanted them to last longer. Here are some issues that might occur to your F20C engines.

First is the timing chain tensioner. Sometimes when you start the engine, you can hear a foreign noise, particularly at idle speeds; it is more noticeable when the oil pressure and oil flow are at their lowest levels. It is heard around 70,000 – 100 000 miles, sometimes earlier. You can solve this by buying a new timing chain tensioner.

The second is the valve retainers. This problem is due to high revving and massive oil starvation. The thing is, if valve retainers are deteriorated or broken, it can escalate and destroy your whole F20C engine, which, we can all agree, is not a good ending for our machines. So replacing them would be necessary along with the valve locks.

Last is excessive oil consumption which F20C engines are infamous with this matter. There are reports that it can reach one qt per 600 miles. You have to replace the piston rings and valve stem seals.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, preventing is better than any cure, so to maintain good engine condition, regular oil change by using only high-quality engine oil and anything in excess to that is definitely worth it.


F20C is the naturally-aspirated engine that is capable of producing high power output in a car which is not an easy feat. With that, this engine won Wards’ Ten Best Engines in consecutive years, 2000 to 2003. Its reliability, longevity, and efficiency makes the F20C enticing for many

With the proper maintenance and service, this legendary engine can give you service beyond what it should. And it does not have that major problem to deal with. Just a couple of replacements, and you are good to go. 

And even, It is not the most powerful engine on the market and not that kick-in-the-back kind of fast. But it is a different driving experience, something that will keep your hands on the wheel for a long time.

Though it has been designed and produced decades ago, F20C is still one of the best engines to power our vehicles. The highest output per liter and the highest revving mass production engines are definitely on top-tier automotive achievements. 

I hope that we helped to clear some questions about Honda F20C engines. Whether you are planning to buy or already own one, this will help you give some valuable points on your engine. 

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