May 042012
 

You know how some cars are an indelible part of your childhood? Maybe not for everyone, but for most gearheads there are a few key cars (and sometimes only one) that stand out as the ones that kept them hooked in the formative years of automotive addiction. For me there were a few, but this week I wanted to look at the one that was always at the top of the list:

1993 Acura NSX

Why?

When I first started getting in to cars, I devoured every Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Automobile and Road & Track I could find. From the years of 1995 through 1998 I read nearly every issue in my quest to learn as much as possible about my new interest. In particular I loved the comparison pieces, where the writers would take a group of similar cars and rank them.

Simple car reviews were well and good, but for a 14 year old kid who had little interest in reading about whether Honda had added leather seats as an option for the new Accord, these comparo pieces were where the real meat was. And when, inevitably, one of the magazines did a supercar comparo, it was akin to Christmas for about 20 minutes while I read it, poured over the stats, then read it again. A perennial favorite of the editors, and of mine, was Acura’s NSX.

Though it was always out-powered and frequently out-egoed by European stalwarts like  Ferrari and Lamborghini (and often the Dodge Viper and Corvette as well), the NSX could still be found near or at the top of the rankings virtually every time. What made this car so great to the testers was that, despite is high performance potential, it still drove like a Honda. It was great fun, easy to drive and reliable – all things that the Italians and Americans of the time hadn’t really figured out how to do at once.

It was, then, a dream come true when a member of my extended family bought one (a ’93 model) back in ’98 and I actually got to drool on it in person. He still has that car and I have been privileged enough to do a few tune-ups and some light work on it. So it was formative in my imagination and again even more so as I got more experience in getting my hands dirty.

Yeah, I guess now that I think about it, there really was only one.

About the Car

Acura introduced the NSX in 1991 in the U.S. market to great fanfare. Its all-aluminum body and engine were, for the time, an engineering masterwork. It was designed and tuned with input from the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alex Zanardi and featured a mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout and near-perfect weight distribution. It was recognized at the time (and still is) as one of the most forgiving mid-engine cars ever built. The 3.0-liter V6 made 270 horsepower and was available in either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

In 1995 Honda added a targa top to the NSX and in 1997 it was given a more powerful 3.2-liter V6 and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The automatic trans cars kept the old 3.0-liter.

Other than the t-tops, the body went unchanged until 2002 when Honda updated it to include fixed projector headlamps and HID lights. Even that, though, did not significantly change the character of the car. It was made in this form until it ceased production in 2005.

Honda has toyed with a replacement a number of times and all have come to naught. Until the last one, that is, which will apparently see production in 2015. I will believe it when I see it. If the images we are seeing now are to be believed, it will be markedly different than the car I grew up loving. It will, however, be pretty cool.

Other Resources

Acura NSX Registry (online registry for current owners)
NSX Club of America
NSXprime.com
(online community for NSX enthusiasts)
Wikipedia: Acura NSX (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Car & Driver review of the 2002 model

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact me and I will remove it.