Scott Lear
Scott Lear
5/22/18 12:10 p.m.

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photos by scott r. lear unless otherwise credited

When Honda’s U.S. luxury division debuted the NS-X concept in Chicago in 1989, it raised plenty of questions. Could Japan build a supercar to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Lotus and Porsche? Was Honda inspired or foolish to use aluminum throughout the car? And were Honda reliability and sports car soul mutually exclusive?

Honda had already demonstrated ample racing spirit in high-profile motorsports, most notably with the Formula 1 engines that carried the legendary Ayrton Senna to his three World Driver’s Championship titles. Wisely, they used Senna’s input in developing the NSX, granting the car an instant dose of sporting credibility with racing fans. Automotive journalists of the time were duly impressed by the final result, which successfully married daily drivability with exotic looks and performance.

Here was a supercar you could use everyday without becoming best friends with the tow truck driver. The use of five different aluminum alloys shed a reported 440 pounds from the final product without sacrificing stiffness–in fact, the car was apparently made more rigid in the final development stages based on Senna’s driving input. The high-revving, 270-horsepower VTEC V6 wasn’t the most powerful engine in its class, but the electrifying zing of revs just inches behind the driver’s seat only added to the experience behind the wheel. It’s been argued that the NSX heralded a new age of mechanical reliability in low-volume exotic sports cars, as the rest of the world had to compete at this new level.

The original NSX was sold on our shores for 15 long years, with a significant performance bump to 3.2 liters and 290 horsepower in 1997, and a facelift in 2002 that traded the pop-up lights for fixed xenon HIDs. Given the popularity of Honda and Acura cars in the tuner and amateur motorsports scenes during those years, many enthusiasts spent their formative years holding the NSX in high regard. It was a halo car, a someday-I’d-love-to-own-one dream.

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te72 Reader
5/23/18 12:42 a.m.

Fixing a head gasket on the side of I-17? As a former resident of the Phoenix valley, I gotta give Ravi some credit for that, hardcore man! Very cool NSX too... shame they've caught the attention of collectors, right about the same time I was putting all the savings into having a house built too. Priorities, I guess. Would love a chance to drive an NSX someday. =)

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