A sleeping giant of a supercar that impressed Ayrton Senna and inspired Gordon Murray
WHY IS IT SPECIAL?
Back in the late-1980s Honda was heavily involved in Formula 1 supplying engines to championship-winning teams Williams and then McLaren. Sound familiar? It was far more of a successful operation than today’s involvement, and the company wanted a flagship model to capitalise on its achievements. A mid-engined supercar to challenge the Ferrari 328GTB became the target, and the New Sportscar eXperimental (NSX) was the result.
THAT CLASSIC COOL FEATURE: INSPIRED ENGINEERING
Every car was assembled by an elite team of 200 people, each with a minimum of 10 years experience, in a dedicated facility. The paint process alone had 23 steps. The NSX’s specification included two world firsts for a mass-produced car – an all-aluminium monocoque and drive-by wire throttle actuation, as well as aluminium suspension, an F-16 fighter jet-inspired cockpit design, and advanced (for the time) four-channel ABS. Auto models had innovative electric power steering. Engine was a transversely-mounted, all-aluminium, quad-cam 24-valve 3,0-litre V6 VTEC producing 201kW at 7 300 r/min and 285 N.m of torque at 6 500. The rev limit was 8 000. Transmission was by either a five-speed manual or four-speed SportsShift auto. F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna helped finalise the car’s dynamics, and its ride and handling qualities became South African Gordon Murray’s benchmark when he was designing the McLaren F1 road car. Murray said that if the NSX was “a touch flashier with more aggressive styling and additional power, there is no question it would have reigned as a cult star of the supercars”.
CAN YOU GET IT TODAY?
The NSX was introduced in 1990. A 120kg lighter Type-R was made available in 1992, a targa-top in 1995, and in 1997 the manual version’s powertrain became a 3,2-litre V6 coupled with a six-speed gearbox. A facelift occurred in 2002 before production ended in 2005. Only around 20 000 examples were made – the American version was sold under the Acura brand – and people who buy them tend to keep them, such is their appeal. But scour the classic car websites and you might be lucky.