Every so often a car manufacturer builds a car that is so outside of its normal range that the whole automotive world stops and stares at it. Such was the case with the Acura NSX. Beginning as early as 1984, Honda had Ferrari squarely in its sights as it prepared to enter he world supercar market. Their benchmark vehicles were the world-class Italian sports cars of the day, and Acura even commissioned Pininfarina to design the first prototypes, with direction that the car needed to be as fast as anything coming out of Italy or Germany, but with superior reliability and a lower price point.
Much like high-performance aircraft or racing hydroplanes, the NSX’s cab-forward design with the power plant behind the driver optimizes visibility and at the same time, allows a very low center of gravity, great weight distribution, and thus, impressive high-speed stability. Much of the technology was derived from Honda’s successful F1 Motorsports program, including the all-aluminum engine’s ability to gloriously rev to 8,000 RPMs.
3.0 Liter DOHC Aluminum V-6 engine,
5-speed manual gearbox,
4-wheel independent double wishbone suspension,
The NSX was the first production car to feature an all-aluminum monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminum alloy frame and suspension. The use of aluminum in the body alone saved nearly 440 lbs. in weight over the steel equivalent, while the aluminum suspension saved an additional 44 lbs. Other notable performance features include an independent 4-channel anti-lock disc brake system, titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation, an electric power steering system, and Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system. Chassis and suspension input came from the top, with no less that Formula One Champion Ayrton Senna and Indy 500 Champion Bobby Rahal lending their considerable race car experience to create the ultimate handling road car.
The proof of their success came in several forms. With a recorded 0 – 60 time of 5.03 and a very quick 13.47 in the quarter mile, the NSX is undeniably world-class fast. Second, the NSX has proven to be one of the most reliable and easy to service supercars of all time, with many examples able to exceed 200,000 miles of active driving before major engine service is requited. Third, numerous industry awards followed, including the coveted Automobile of the Year from Automobile Magazine and rave performance reviews from Motor Trend after the NSX stood out above the 911s and Corvettes of the day on the track.