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Sonic UltraDork
10/6/17 10:55 p.m.

This is going to be more of an ownership log than a build thread, as I hope a few people are interested in what it is like to own and use one of these spectacular cars.  

This all started about a year ago when I decided that it was time to consolidate the fleet a bit as I have too many irons in the fire.  My fantastic fiancee and I have 4 daily drivers, 3 Lemons cars, and a classic, while living in a suburban house with a 2 car garage and limited other parking.   As part of this, we decided to sell a few and replace with one nice car.  We already sold our Z4M Coupe that we had for 6 years (BaT link), and are going to sell our 1960 MGA that I've owned for 22 years, and our Citroen SM Lemons car, once we finally finish the process of getting it a title.  This would leave us with my CLS63, her heavily modified Mazda3, and the tow pig Suburban 2500.  When we talked about what we wanted as the 4th car, we had a few very specific parameters:   

- Must be manual transmission, must be a convertible or targa top, must be finished depreciating, and must be "special".  

The car would be used in the summer months as a semi daily driver, used occasionally for long trips of 4-8 hours so GT capability is needed, and something that could go on track if needed for a track night in america or the like.  Price was ideally around $50k, but flexible.  

Our initial list was eventually narrowed down to three cars: NSX-T, 997tt cabrio, and Aston Martin DB9 Volante manual.  There are plenty seemingly good cars left off for various reasons, like I don't like the 996 interior, Vipers are not good GT cars, Air Cooled 911s are a little more rough around the edges that we wanted, AM Vantages have clutch problems constantly, and any Corvette worth owning that meets our qualifications are still depreciating.  

We looked at and drove examples of each of these.   First, it was a DB9.  It was gorgeous.  It sounded amazing.  I was completely dissapointed in how it drove.  It was not engaging,  The interior quality was crap.  It wasn't as fast as it should have been.  My CLS63 felt very similar, but better in every way but looks.  We looked at the 997tt, and it is amazing in many ways: very fast, comfortable, well engineered, and a modern car.  It was fine, and would be a great car, and in the end we thought that we will always be able to get a 911 turbo cab, and they just keep getting better every year.   That led to the NSX.  We drove two of them that were at a speciality dealer locally, a 95 and a 97 (with the 3.2 and 6 speed).  After driving them, we were smitten.  They were so engaging to drive, had an amazing view out of the car, felt great, sounded and looked good, and as a long time Honda guy, the whole way the car was put together just made sense to me.   Chrissy went into this whole thing pushing for the Porsche, but once she drove the NSX, she picked that as the winner.  

That started a casual nationwide search for the "right" NSX.  We were in absolutely no hurry to buy, in fact it would be ideal if we had sold the other 3 cars first.  The BMW had sold which made some $ available, and with my credit union giving out auto loans for 1.5-2.5%, I'd rather use their money anyway.   The NSX market has been hot and prices have been going up.  We only wanted a 95+ car for a targa top, and ideally a 97+ for the larger motor, brakes, and 6 speed.  95-96's seem to go for $50k-$60k overall, 97-01's go for $60k-$80k, and 02-05 cars seem to go for $70k-$100k, amazing.  If we found the right deal, on the right car, we wanted to be ready to move, but not in any rush at all.   The two cars we looked at locally both had too many problems for the price they were asking, so we passed on making offers on those.   I hadn't even been looking at 02+ cars as they seemed out of budget, but one day when searching I didn't set a cap on the year, and stumbled on a red 2005 with 73k miles in FL, asking $68,500.  A call to the owner and I was sold nearly right away.  He was selling because he, as an older gentlemen, and had 7 cars now that he had just bought "A Bentley that he had wanted for a while now", and that the NSX didn't get driven much these days because of his arthritis made it hard to get in and out of.  It was a 2 owner car, always in FL, and seemed super clean in the very few pictures he had of the car online. 

Here's the problem: This was a few days before hurricane Irma.  We left it at that he would send me the few other pictures he had and that we would speak again after the storm.  Once I saw the level of flooding in Jacksonville, near where he lived, I didn't try to call for about 2 weeks.  When I did, he said they had no flooding, just trees down and stuff, and the car was just fine.   I expained my plan of how to pay and that I would send copies of the cashiers checks ahead of time so he could verify them as real.  I made an offer of $65k noting that without documentation of a timing belt replacement, I was concerned about having that done.  With some reluctance, he agreed.  I sent a deposit via Paypal that night.  

The next weekend we loaded up our Suburban and trailer and left home in PA at 3:45 PM on Friday headed the 900 miles south. We stopped for the night right off of I81 just on the south side of the VA/NC border.  Saturday at 3 we arrived to this:

We took it for a drive and it went into all the gears, all was well.  We did paperwork and loaded up!

We drove the 900 miles home, stopping mid NC off of I95 for the night, and got home at about 3PM, unloaded unpacked and decompressed, and washed the road miles off of the car.   

Monday, I took the car to work and registered it.  Then I drove it every day this week until Friday when Chrissy took it.  

In short, it is amazing.  Driving impressions to be posted this weekend.  In the meantime, here are more pictures. 


conesare2seconds Dork
10/6/17 11:03 p.m.

Verrry interested in following your experience with this car. Sadly, it doesn't look like I will ever afford an NSX.  They seem like terrific cars. 

dculberson PowerDork
10/7/17 12:43 a.m.

That tops the Z4M. Awesome. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
10/7/17 6:57 a.m.

Awesome!  I saw a red NSX accelerating away down County Line Rd in Hatboro this week, that wasn't you was it?

I have loved those cars since I can remember, certainly before I could drive, but the prices seem to be such that I've more or less given up on owning one.  An older guy around here has a red first generation NSX, and on one occasion we had some really good rare Honda backroads fun when I chased him on my CB-1; we both stopped at a pull-off and simultaneously said "I haven't seen one of those on the road in... ever!" and had a good laugh.

mazdeuce MegaDork
10/7/17 7:52 a.m.

These were on our short list when we bought the 911. I'm still fascinated with them. 

My only disconnect with driving "nice" cars is that I still feel, inside, like the guy who's shopping for $2k Accords on Craigslist (which I am) and then I choose between the Cadillac and the Mercedes to drive the kids around. Feels weird. 

I'm looking forward to many short updates where all you do is drive it and change the oil. 

759NRNG Dork
10/7/17 8:07 a.m.

This IMHO is way more appealing than the current transformer creation. I've often wondered if there actually was enough HP to keep the smile factor fully lit. Any modifications in the future?

Great score....enjoy

Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/7/17 10:13 a.m.

Beautiful car and great color.

A buddy of mine had one and he left it at my house for a few days. The one thing that surprised me was how close to the size of my S2000 it was. It was basically as long, but it looks like its a much bigger car.

chandler PowerDork
10/7/17 3:46 p.m.

I'll be following this, it's one of my Bucket List cars as well.

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
10/7/17 4:01 p.m.

I got to crawl around under one that was up on a lift once. I've always liked them. Can't wait to read about the ownership experience.

Erich UltraDork
10/7/17 5:18 p.m.

Love the photo with you smiling near the Suburban. That says it all. Enjoy it. 

thestig99 HalfDork
10/7/17 8:48 p.m.

Watching with great interest. Congratulations.

Vigo UltimaDork
10/7/17 9:56 p.m.

This is another one of those cars i considered buying back when i saw rough ones for 7-12k and assumed they would stay cheap for a while. I spent a lot of money on a lot of things in the Great Recession and at this point think i should have taken money i spent on my Bachelor's degree and put it in the NSXs and Ferraris i could have bought at the same time (seriously).  I guess my consolation is that in all the period videos the 911 i did pay 12k for does just fine keeping up (or better) on track, and i for one really like my tan 996 interior. cheeky

Seems like an amazing deal considering the current market for the later cars and the nearly ideal history on the car.  Congrats!


docwyte SuperDork
10/7/17 11:13 p.m.

These are such sexy cars.  Like so many other good cars I missed the boat buying one when the prices were reasonable.

dannyzabolotny Reader
10/8/17 12:39 a.m.

Congrats! I always tell people that the NSX is the only Honda product I've ever been interested in, since it's mid-engined and RWD as opposed to almost every other Honda that's FWD (I know the S2000 exists but I'm not a fan). I saw a clean NSX at the car meet earlier today and it was still quite the sight to behold.

The only thing I don't like about the newer NSX's is that the headlights are fixed. I wonder if there's a way to retrofit the proper popup headlights.

Fr3AkAzOiD Reader
10/8/17 2:36 p.m.
759NRNG said:

This IMHO is way more appealing than the current transformer creation.

I agree. I wish they would do an update the the original design but keep the changes minor.

The original performance target was the Ferrari 328. A refresh of the first gen NSX with the target of a 718 Cayman S would be ideal. 350-375 hp, under 3200 lbs, cost half of what the second gen NSX is ($75-$90k) so Honda doesnt compete with itself. All the kids and 20 somethings that wanted one in the 90's are now in their 30's-50's and could better afford one. As far as looks not changing much, well its a great look and its not like Porsche and Corvette designs change all that much.

Not like that will happen though.

There is one for sale up the road from me, there asking $40k+ but the poor car has been sitting for years and it shows. Every bit of rubber would need to be replaced and all the fluids and I bet even after that all the seals in the engine, oil pan, etc would have gone and need to be rebuilt after some miles are put on it.

Sorry to derail, NSX is one of my dream cars that will probably never be. Elise is headed that way also, unless I sell both my track beaters and boat, which I wont be doing.

Sonic UltraDork
10/8/17 8:33 p.m.

David: I agree!

Chris: Nope, that wasn't me.  It will certainly be a rare day to see another one around!

Seth: I feel the same way, and often still search the local CL for the sub $1000 stuff for fun, having the nice cars we do seems surreal at times. 

After Chrissy took the car to work on Friday, she summed it up pretty well.  "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy an NSX, which makes me really happy."  In short, it is everything I thought it would be. Maybe more.  

Thanks for the nice comments everyone, I'm thrilled with the car so far.   I did manage to track down the service history.  Per Carfax, the car had been serviced regularly by the first owner (2005-2015) at Palm Beach Acura.  I called there and spoke with a service advisor, Bernie, who remembered the car specifically, and could even recall one particular service they did on it without even looking it up.  He very nicely sent me an email with the complete history of the work they had done on the car over the years.  The owner took it there for everything from the timing belt (2013 at 53k miles), to burned out brake lights and wiper blades.  It seems to have been a fairly reliable car from the records.  The only major repair was a $7k bill to replace the entire steering system when it was "hard to turn".  Who knows.  The rest is all just maintenance, which seems to have been done very regularly.   I have two records from the second owner, the only times he had it serviced in the 2 years and 400 miles he owned it.  

As for driving it, it really is wonderful.  It is very visceral and feels like it has a real purity of purpose.  It is also totally a jeckyl and hyde car, in that you can drive it very nicely under 4k RPM and be smooth, and easy, and the ride is decent, and it just plain works as an actual car that can be used every day.  If you want to go, just get the RPMs up, especially over 6k, and you can really move.  I'd say it is about as fast as the Z4M was, it is slower than the CLS63, but handles better than both of them.  It is also very easy to drive at speed so far.  It is very "normal" in day to day use and really quite easy to drive.  The Z4M was always a bit tricky to drive with immediate response to everything, and it made you want to drive like an shiny happy person.  The NSX will let you just drive, but then it will also encourage you when you want to run, a willing and enthusiasitc dance partner for whatever music is playing, really. 

You never forget that this really is a car of the early 90s.  It was horribly outdated by 2005, it still has a tape deck for example.  Really, it is a fairly basic car, but very well done.  Example: the seats only move front to back and for backrest rake, that's it.  No memory, no 16 way adjustable with heat, none of that crap.  No bluetooth or radio data system. It even has a telescoping antenna and actual key holes.  Even though it is older in design, everything just works simply and effecively.  

The targa top is easy to remove and replace, and stores in a specific spot right above the engine, so it takes up no luggage space at all.  The trunk is roomy enough for a weekend away, bigger than a Miata for example.  The frunk is all mechanical stuff and the spare tire, no storage, There is almost no storage space in the interior though.  The glove box is just the size of the books, the center console has a little storage in it, there is a tiny well behind the shifter that is smaller than a deck of cards, and there are no door pockets at all.  I haven't found a good place to put my phone or sunglasses yet.  

My favorite part of driving it is the view out of it.  You are so low in general, and so close to the ground.  Without anything in front of the driver, all you see is one hump on the left for the wheel well, and the rest of it is just the expansive windshield that seems to go right down to the ground, so the road seems to come right at you, amplifying the sense of speed.  You can clearly see out in every direction too.  

I've found only one thing wrong with the car so far, the lift struts that hold up the trunk and the engine hatch are worn out.  Getting the parts from Honda is pretty pricey ($80 each!), but I found a guy who has some near equivilants that he made into a kit that he sells on the side, so for $140 I got the set of 4 struts, hopefully I can get those installed this week.  The car passed inspection with flying colors on Saturday, too.   

We should have another few weeks of time to enjoy the car before they start to salt around here and the car will get tucked away for the winter.  

Vigo UltimaDork
10/8/17 11:01 p.m.

The original performance target was the Ferrari 328.

Too bad the modern equivalent is so incredible that it sets an extremely high bar. The 488GTB is an amazing machine.  

Regarding the new NSX, i'll regurgitate something i've said before that i dont think anyone else relates to or agrees with. Once the Bmw i8 came out, i basically stopped caring about the forthcoming NSX. Reason being, the BMW posed a very interesting combination of attributes that does put its performance roughly in the Cayman range you mentioned while being totally unique (noone else is building a 12-second 1/4 mile 3 cylinder CAR) and sort of giving itself an out for not being blistering ludicrous fast by having a tiny engine. Nobody cares how much slower an i8 is than a 488GTB. On the other hand I had a strong feeling that due to its ridiculously long gestation the NSX would end up being an instantly-outdated also-ran among the things it would be compared with, and that turned out to be true. 

In general i have a feeling people who want something NSX-ish and nice for <$40k should buy an Evora. I don't think anything closer is likely to appear in the near future.

Trans_Maro PowerDork
10/8/17 11:37 p.m.

Never owned or touched a Honda car.

Does the engine in the NSX turn the wrong way too?

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
10/9/17 6:37 a.m.

I've loved the NSX since it was new. I fondly remember the local Acura dealer humoring me when my mother was car shopping back in 1992 and let me sit in the one they had in the showroom.  I marveled at the visibility. The closest I ever got was my 91 Integra GS.  

RedGT Dork
10/9/17 8:33 a.m.

I love it.  Don't often like red cars but the NSX wears it well.  Look forward to reading the thread.


And wow values have gone up.  I may have posted this before but I am still sore I missed the affordability window on these when early ones were hanging out around 30k, down to the high teens for a ratty but functional driver in some cases.  We bought a house instead.  Now they've skyrocketed.

dj06482 GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/9/17 8:44 a.m.

I love the NSX, it still looks special after all of these years!

Sonic UltraDork
10/11/17 1:02 p.m.

The NSX passed inspection this weekend with no issues, as expected.  The shop nicely even kept it inside until I picked it up.  

I did my first modification and repair this weekend too.  First, the car has no cupholders, and after looking at the available solutions, which are pretty poor, I went with this  Ultimate Cupholders , picture from a Boxster, but you get the idea:


In general, I am "meh" about these.  The design of the upper part could be better to be held in place, I might try bending the upper portion to make it work better where it goes under the console.  It does hold the cups OK as long as you get it good and snug on the floor against the tunnel.  Really though, there were no other options that didn't put any holes in the car and also were actually reachable by the driver. 


First repair is some new gas struts for the engine hatch and trunk.  The engine hatch not staying open made it so that I didn't take the targa top off as much as I would like, as it was hard to get it into its holder.  Looking at the OEM replacements, they are about $80 each.  These are just gas struts, there has to be a better option.  I eventually picked the semi grassroots and easy button, some other person in the NSX community already makes a kit with replacement struts that bolt in.  The only real differences now are slight differences in length, the trunk struts do not have spherical bearings on one side, and the plastic bracket for a wire cannot use one clip.  All 4 parts are $139. Here's the kit:  Hatch strut kit


Installation was easy on the trunk struts, bolt on and off, work great.  The hatch struts were more difficult as one was longer than stock, and as these have more force than stock, I had to use a wrachet strap to compress it a bit to get all of the bolts to line up.  Once done, it works great!

Now, back to driving it!

trigun7469 SuperDork
10/11/17 1:41 p.m.

So are you going to drive in the PA winter devil

Sonic UltraDork
10/11/17 2:09 p.m.

No way, I have other cars for that! Once the sand and salt flies this goes into storage with a cover and stays there until the salt is gone.   My daily is a CLS63 which I quite like, and if it is wintery out I take the Suburban.  

mck1117 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/12/17 1:07 a.m.

In reply to Trans_Maro :

All the Honda V6 engines spin clockwise, and all four cylinders on the passenger side of the car (plus S2000) spin clockwise. 

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