Alex Soto really needs no introduction. If you have been a member of the vast online Honda community within the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard of the name “Sheepey.” If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then you either lack a connection to the worldwide web, or you’re living under the proverbial rock. To assure that all our readers are on the same page, here is a quick rundown of the Sheepey résumé. Alex first made “Sheepey” a household name when he built an immaculate custom “Jade Sea Metallic” Civic CX street/show car, which graced the cover of this publication back in October of 2007. He followed that up two years later when he unveiled his turbo 2001 Acura Integra, which also appeared on the cover of a sister publication. For any automotive enthusiast, building two great projects and being honored with two magazine covers would be more than enough—but not for Soto. Just a year after that, he reintroduced his original Civic CX to the world, this time in a full-blown drag setup. The fully revamped Civic is sitting in your stack of Honda Tuning mags, plastered on the cover yet again (see August 2010 issue). That’s two different Hondas, built three different ways, all reaching equal amounts of notoriety and inciting enough love and hate from the masses to cement his name as a heavy hitter. Either Alex is incredibly lucky, or he just knows how to build great, well-rounded cars. His attention to detail in each of his builds is second to none, and it’s a style that is almost instantly recognizable.
The man can build the hell out of a Honda, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s something you must know about Alex Soto; he seems to have quite a competitive streak within him. All of his closest friends will attest to that. His biggest competitor, his biggest rival, is someone whom he knows all too well—it’s the man he stares at every morning in the mirror. That is why he continues to top himself with every new build he produces. The satisfaction of knowing that he can outdo himself with every new project is what drives him to do what he loves. The “Sheepey” namesake may have been built around two power-hungry front-wheel-drive Hondas, but the willingness to best himself is what landed him in unfamiliar territory—a rear-wheel-drive S2000. All are from the same family, but the roadster was unlike any Honda he had toyed with before. It was a personal challenge that Alex was more than happy to accept.
“The first time I drove an S2000, man, I just fell in love,” Sheepey recalls. “My buddy, Jared Aguila, let me take his S2K for a spin one day, and I knew I had to have one. I just loved the way his car felt and looked.”
As much as he wanted an S2000, there was no room in his garage or schedule to have one. He was fully entrenched in his Civic drag car build, and all the funds he had were allocated to completing it. It wasn’t until he felt the power of his drag car did it inspire him to take the plunge into the rear-wheel-drive world. “The power that (Civic) produced just made me hungry; I wanted that much power in a daily driver. The only setback with the Civic was that it was front-wheel drive. I couldn’t daily drive that car because there was no way I could run a big enough street tire for me to make use of all that power. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it, so I began to look at what S2000s could do. Usable power on a streetable Honda, particularly in an S2000, became the goal for my next build.”
One signature of a Sheepey-built Honda that he wanted to translate into his next project was the use of the bluish hue. He was a big fan of the color blue and relating paint tones, and he set out to find an S2000 in OEM Suzuka Blue. It may not have been the most popular color choice among other S2000 owners, but Alex was content with his decision. If anything, it would only help to further set himself apart from the crowd. Soto also had no interest in finding an S2K in factory showroom condition because he was going to tear the car down and redo it anyway. As long as the drivetrain and motor were intact and without issue, he was good to go. “I eventually found one in San Diego, California. The body was pretty beat-up, but it was repairable. There were no oil leaks, compression test showed that the motor was good, and the transmission was as smooth as butter. I offered the guy $8,000 for it, and he shut me down. I wasn’t going to budge on my offer, so I took off. He called me five minutes later and told me to come back—long story short, I became the proud new owner of a ’03 S2000.”
As with his other two Hondas, his plan of attack was swift and unrelenting. Sheepey built fast, but also utilized high-quality products. He began collecting parts immediately, and turned to his close friend Jared for any S2000-related questions. The body was sent off to Coins Custom Paint to be refreshed, and Soto used that time to figure out the wheel specs, offset, and overall fitment. Wheel selection was a big deal because he opted to go the opposite route of other S2K owners and went without heavy doses of Japanese aero. The look of pure aggression would come from staggered, 18-inch black-anodized CCW LM20s. The only hints of any aerodynamic enhancements to his AP1 are Downforce front and side carbon-fiber splitters and a very subtle ASM rear wing.
Truth is, the exterior of every Sheepey-built Honda has always been minimalistic. He’s never felt the need to go wild with the aesthetics because his focus has always been under the hood. The engine bay was where he did his best work. Considered the coup de grâce of all of his builds, Sheepey insists that the bay of his S2K is “nothing crazy”—we beg to differ. “I just wanted to keep it simple this time around,” Alex says. “I didn’t want anything too over the top, but I wanted all custom-made components. That way I could have things made the way I wanted and everything would fit like it was designed specifically for the S2000. My friend Jesse from JDL Auto Design knew me all too well. We’d worked together in the past on my other cars, and I’m always amazed by his craftsmanship. He hit me up one evening and told me he could build an entire one-off turbo setup for my car pretty quickly. I worked a full shift at my job and then drove out to Arizona that same day without a second thought. I got to his shop around 8:30 Friday night, and by Sunday evening of that same weekend, we’d mocked up an entire turbo kit.”
It definitely helped that JDL Auto Design had the Precision 62/62 turbine, Garrett 24.5x12x3.5 intercooler core, and all associated materials shipped to the shop earlier in the week. Needless to say, it was still quite a feat to have the tubular manifold, charge piping, downpipe, and end tanks of the intercooler fabricated in just a few short days. “I’m not gonna lie, I was a little scared to take this car apart because it wasn’t a Civic or Integra that I was used to. I put my trust in Jesse, and everything came out exactly as planned. We put the car back to stock, I packed everything up in the trunk and made my way back to California. There were still a couple of items that I wanted to touch upon before I would reassemble the turbo kit and have the car tuned.”
The custom JDL intercooler lends itself to an intimidating stare-down.
Tony Palo of T1 Race Development was then called forth to fabricate a custom engine breather setup and overflow tank for the AP1. A Rywire Mil-spec engine harness followed, making the bay as bare as ever, allowing the custom turbo kit and Palo-made components to really shine. The simple exterior almost serves as a contradiction to all the madness that exists under the hood. With the hood closed, it’s just a regular lowered S2000 with an aggressive stance. The only indication it’s not to be messed with is the twin dump tubes that exit out of the passenger side of the OEM hood. As far as power numbers go, the only people who really know the final horsepower figures are Sheepey and the man who helped tune his F20C motor: Bisi Ezerioha of Bisimoto Engineering.
“Let’s just say that running into Lamborghinis and street bikes on the highway always makes for a fun drive,” Sheepey says while sporting a self-assured grin.
A $20K turbocharged Lambo-killer? While we won’t confirm or deny that, if you do happen to own an Italian supercar, would you really take that chance?
Twin-Scroll? Think Again.
While the dual TiAL wastegates on Sheepey’s boosted S2000 may indicate a twin-scroll turbo setup, he assures us it most certainly is not. Allow him to explain: “The average Joe thinks that seeing two wastegates automatically indicates a twin-scroll—that is incorrect. On my particular setup, I’m running a Precision 62/62 turbine which has an open V-band housing, not the older four-bolt T3 or T4 mounting design. I just chose to run two wastegates. One of the reasons behind that decision is because F20C engines flow very well and often run into ‘boost creep’ with a single wastegate. Instead of running a 44mm unit, I opted to utilize two TiAL 38mm wastegates so that I could run boost pressure as low as 4 psi without it creeping; which is necessary for street cars like my S2K to get traction. When I say ‘boost creep,’ I’m referring to the amount of exhaust flow directed into the wastegate. There are times when the volume of exhaust flow is just too much for one wastegate to control. When that happens, it pushes the valve closed and causes the engine to boost more than you want. A true twin-scroll would have a collector that is divided into two portions whereas I am running a V-band open housing, which flows just as well, if not better.”
Bolts & Washers
Avid engine mounts
Avid differential mounts
Web Cams/Sheepey-spec turbo Stage 2 camshafts
CNC port and polished cylinder head
3-angle valve job
Supertech valvesprings (95-lb seat pressure)
Shaved and polished OEM intake manifold
Vibrant VanJen clamps
Precision 62/62 billet turbo with .82 V-band turbine housing
3-inch charge piping by JDL Auto Design
Custom JDL Auto Design intercooler with Garrett core
Custom JDL Auto Design tubular turbo manifold
Custom JDL Auto Design 3-inch downpipe
Vibrant Performance exhaust piping
Vibrant Performance race muffler
Entire exhaust assembled/welded by Jason Whitfield
TiAL Q blow-off valve
Dual TiAL 38mm V-band wastegates
NGK Iridium spark plugs
Competition Clutch twin-disc clutch
Competition Clutch flywheel
Custom radiator cooling hoses with -AN hose ends
Russell cooling hoses
Rywire dual-pass radiator
Rywire Mil-spec engine harness
Rywire Mil-spec firewall plate
Skunk2 Pro-C coilovers
Wheels and Tires
Front: 18x10 CCW LM20, Hankook 235/40-18
Rear: 18x11.5 CCW LM20, Hankook 255/40-18
Slightly modified Suzuka Blue paint
AP2 front bumper
AP2 rear taillights
ASM rear wing
Downforce front splitter
Downforce side diffusers
Mugen S1 seats
Personal Neo Grinta steering wheel
Skunk2 shift knob
AEM Series 2 EMS
T1 boost solenoid
First, my family for always being there; my two dogs Cozmo for hanging out all those late nights; Elsa Ramirez; Ryan and David at Rywire; Donovan at Vibrant Performance; Jesse Brozyna at JDL Auto Design; Zach, George, Cliff at G&J Auto Craft; Dan Young at CCW Wheels; Tony Palo and crew at T1 Race Development for always making shit happen for me even when they were busy; Lourie Dunlap and Steve Story at Web Camshafts; Bisi Ezerioha at Bisimoto Engineering; Isaac Sandoval for making my wheels fit!; Aaron Bonk, my number one fan; Tony Shagday at Skunk2; Franklin at Avid Racing; Eric Monty for the machining; Richie at Richiewerks; Gerado and Luz Mata at Coins Custom Paint; Jason Whitfield at Whitfield Inc.; Falken Tire; Melissa Dennis at Competition Clutch for always being a part of my cars; Saul Salceda at Mission Critical for the cylinder head work; Seth Francis at CarTune Performance; Joey Lee from The Chronicles; Edwin Escobar; my godson Ian Escobar; and, of course, Jared Aguila, Frank at Squareone Decals, Rodrez, and my favorite friend Vanessa Ramirez
Screen name or nickname
Building Hondas for how long
Your dream car
Twin-turbo Corvette Z06
Everyone who always loves my builds because they keep me going and the haters for making me perfect them
’07 Toyota 4Runner, ’00 Acura Integra, ’91 Honda Civic wagon
What’s playing in your iPod/CD/MP3 player right now
All Bachata Latin music
Greatest movie of all time
Complete Custom Wheel
2050 5th Street
704 Blacklawn Road
1114 N. Armando St.
Complete Custom Wheel
13841 A Better Way
310 Courtneypark Drive East
Mississauga, Ontario, L5T 2S5, Canada