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- November 24 2015 My NSX & Me – A Love Story
My NSX & Me – A Love Story
Pygmalionism may not be a word in everyday parlance. It may not even be a word you’ve ever heard before but it’s a word that is described thus: ‘the state of being in love with an object of one’s own creation’.
Lord Sugar didn’t set up Amstrad because he had an innate love for computers. Mike Ashley certainly didn’t set up Sports Direct because of his love for health and fitness and we can be virtually certain that IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad didn’t start his business because he had a flat-pack furniture fetish.
Michael Pariera on the other hand did set up Minutia Detailing because he has a true love for cars, and that love started not with the classic 80s ‘everyone-can-dream’ posters of the white Countach or the red Testarossa but with something a little more down to earth – the Honda NSX.
Before we get to the love story, let’s look at the car itself.
After five years of clues and rumours of 20 different versions, the first generation prototype was debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989 codenamed NS-X (New, Sportscar, Experimental). The Honda design team took inspiration from a host of the day’s best cars including the 911, MR2, Peugeot 205 GTI, Lancia Delta Integrale and the Audi Quattro as well as the F-16 fighter jet.
The team was led by Chief Designer Masahito Nakano and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara and the original brief was to hit the performance figures of the Ferrari 328 – revised to the 348 as the project came towards completion. It had an all-aluminium monocoque chassis, exquisite forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension that was the basis for the world-class handling and Honda’s legendary 3.0-litre V6 VTEC engine. It was a contender.
Engine: 2,977cc (181.7 cu. in.)
Power: 270 bhp @ 7,300 rpm
Torque: 210 lb. ft. @ 6,500 rpm
Max. Speed: 168 mph
0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
0-100 mph: 12.6 seconds
Weight: 1,365 kg
A fundamental reason the car handled so well was as a result of consultation between the NSX engineering team and Ayrton Senna during testing at Japan’s Suzuka F1 circuit. Hand-built by a carefully chosen team of Honda’s most skilled, experienced personnel, the company genuinely felt they had a worthy challenger to the European closed shop of Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
It’s fair to say that the Honda NSX changed the way the world looked at Japan’s motor industry. No longer was it the domain of cheap yet reliable generic boxes. They could – and did – produce a fully-fledged and legitimate rival to Europe’s supercars. The Honda NSX left the competition in its wake with its stunning looks, reliability and practicality and we can regale you with performance figures, technical minutiae and detail of the constant upgrades but that doesn’t tell you the story of a 20 year love affair. Michael picks up the story of the car of his dreams…
‘Looking at my Honda NSX instantly takes me back to my childhood. All die-cast models looked like the NSX and I had an NSX poster on my wall. Call me a fanboy if you like, I don’t care! I’m addicted to these wonderful machines!
© Joey Newcombe
In the late 1980s, Japan’s car manufacturers had a gentlemen’s agreement in place to put a lid on peak power figures to avoid a horsepower war in a country with a 62mph speed limit. Because of this deal, Honda produced a car with less than 300bhp but thanks to their quite phenomenal engineering prowess, acted and performed like it had a lot more.
At the time and quite rightly it has to be said, Honda wasn’t exactly an aspirational marque. Most of my peers wanted something red and Italian with snorting tailpipes, a six-litre engine and a monster price tag but I overlooked the perceived inferiority of the Honda badge, mainly because of the Senna link!
As a detailer, I’ve driven many supercars including almost everything the Germans and Italians have to offer and they are undoubtedly great cars, no question about that, but there’s something about the NSX – my NSX – that in James May-speak ‘makes you go all fuzzy’.
‘This was the car that forced Ferrari to rethink its whole approach to building supercars – the everyday usable, thoroughly reliable, meticulously-engineered Honda NSX’
EVO Magazine, 2013
My facelift Indy Yellow Pearl NSX was bought off a doctor with 147,000 miles on the clock (the car, not the doctor) who claimed he never took it over 5,000 rpm. After my NSX specialist took a closer look under the bonnet to find a build-up of oil sludge – due, apparently, to the fact that the oil wasn’t circulating hard enough to wash the engine – it’s likely he was telling the truth!
That aside, there’s another reason why I love it so much. During my inspection of the car, I noticed a scribble on the underside of the bonnet. Rumours had circulated for years that Jenson Button owned a yellow NSX, presumably a gift from his employers at the time, but it was widely believed that he’d written it off. These rumours proved to be unjustified and after some research, it turns out that not only do I have my dream NSX, I have Jenson Button’s NSX!
I had the engine cleaned by Kaz at the NSX Club Britain forum and then went about meticulously detailing my new baby including adding a few bits and pieces such as a Pride exhaust system and it’s fair to say that I am as enamoured with the NSX now as I was when I first clapped eyes on it all those years ago.
The thing is, I haven’t stayed committed to the NSX out of blind loyalty. I’ve made an informed choice at every step of my car-buying journey. I always wanted a Porsche 911 GT3 but the Honda just felt so much more special to me. I have found the same when trying other supercars too, they all leave me feeling more attached to the NSX; they just don’t come close to fulfilling all of the NSX capabilities.
The NSX looks like no other car on the road. It’s low, wide and long however it is a trick of the eye. Its dimensions are compact compared to many other supercars. The cabin shape is based on the F-16 jet fighter canopy and reminds me of the toy cars I played with as a kid. The NSX has as much presence as any other exotic car, even compared to newer machines and getting in, you sit low down as close to the road as possible, both for the feel and also to lower the car’s centre of gravity to enhance the already remarkable handling.
The NSX is a great driver’s car and when driven properly it is very rewarding. To this day, the gearbox is the best I have ever used, even over modern day supercars. Heel and toe technique is a must if you want to drive it at the limit and it copes with any degree of bend thrown at it. It is an animal at high revs but at low speeds it is smooth and easy to drive. I could easily clock up three hundred miles in a day and not be tired. It really is a car for all seasons and yet another reason why I love it so much.
‘The engine is a masterpiece. For a power unit designed in the middle of F1’s turbo era, it was unusual that Honda decided to keep it naturally aspirated. But, for the purest throttle response and cleanest power delivery, this is essential. Even before you’re away, you’ll love its interior. The driver’s seat is low-slung, and the visibility is excellent for a mid-engined supercar.’
Honest John, 2013
The Honda NSX is Japan’s one and only true ‘supercar’. The only offerings from the Land of the Rising Sun that come remotely close are the Mitsubishi Evo and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI and while they are bonkers quick, have impeccable handling and can go toe-to-toe with the £100k+ Europeans, they still look like road cars. Road cars on steroids they may be but still, they look like cars you can do the school run in and no-one would bat an eyelid.
The NSX looks like a mid-engined supercar. It acts like one, performs like one and has the credibility to be deemed one. The fact that McLaren used the NSX as its muse for the F1 speaks volumes of how highly regarded it is in the industry.’
Fifteen years after the NSX hit the streets and with sales drying up, the project was cancelled. The last one rolled off the production line in July 2005 with no direct replacement in sight.
© Italia Automobile
Fast-forward to 2016 and Honda have finally come up with a c. £120,000 next-gen NSX and it’s magnificent. A mid-engined hybrid powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 and three electric motors generating 573 bhp; a staggering 0-62mph time of 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 191 mph; a nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with an interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a Gulfstream and more than a nod to Honda’s F1 pedigree, the new breed of supercar from Honda will turn heads and excite 10 year-old boys just like the first one did…