1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: No, It Doesn't Get Old

August 06, 2012

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Long before I set my butt into the seat of our NSX, I'd heard about how this was the "everyday exotic" thanks to its sensible ergonomics, docile-as-an-Accord drivability and expected Honda reliability.

Sure, getting in and out of the low-slung NSX is a bit of a hassle, but that's little price to pay for the grins this car brings forth whenever I drive it. Yeah, it's a blast to take through the canyons but even running up the on-ramp to the 10 on my way to work is a treat. I still get a kick out of the V6's urgent growl, love the meaty yet precise throws of the 5-speed's shifter and don't mind that the very communicative steering is non-assisted. Furthermore, the ride doesn't beat on my back, the A/C is freeze-your-nose-off cold and the cockpit's controls aren't quirky. I'm really going to hate to see this one go...

*Note: I pulled the car into this vacant parking lot just for the quick photo op, so please excuse the non-centered position.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 57,083 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Interior Dimensions

August 03, 2012

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Everybody here loves the interior of the Acura NSX.

It got great reviews when the car was new back in 1991, too. But it wasn’t for the way it looked, since it really is just a copy of the style seen in Italian supercars, which was already pretty familiar even then.

Instead it’s the functional aspects of the NSX’s interior that really get your attention, and in the execution you can see the thinking that Honda puts into its interiors even now.

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1991 Acura NSX: Old Honda vs. Old Porsche

July 30, 2012

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You'd think it might be difficult to find much drama in a cabin with fogged up windows.

But after once sitting in the driveway for 20 minutes in a 1985 Porsche 911 while its rudimentary defrost system breathed ineffectively on the windshield like an old dog before the glass was clear enough to see, I appreciate that the NSX is an old Honda, not an old Porsche.

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1991 Acura NSX: T-Rex Hates NSX

May 09, 2012

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I've been hitting a local indoor rock climbing gym and last night I overdid it. I essentially ended up with a pair of useless arms that could barely get the door open; you know, T-Rex arms. But that was just the beginning of my problems.

Three words: no power steering. Owww. I was moaning, "whhyyyyy?!?" all the way home. I smartly took the most direct route with the fewest turns, but the turns were nothing compared to parking it in my backyard. Five-point turn, why do you hate me so? At one point I thought I might have to use my teeth to help gain some leverage on the wheel. If it were still the 90s, I probably would have used the Club as a lever.

I've known for quite some time to never ride a motorcycle after climbing. I'll have to add the NSX and Porsche to the list. Oh, and if you're not familiar with the T-Rex internet meme, here it is again. Enjoy. My favorite it T-Rex trying to paint a house.

Mark Takahashi-Rex, Automotive Editor @ 54,672 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Hard To Leave

March 29, 2012

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It's been said many times before but I, too, can attest to the awesomeness of our 1991 Acura NSX's driver seat. Every time you get behind the steering wheel, the seat swallows you up like a warm embrace, making it really difficult to leave. And I'm not just talking about exiting a low vehicle.

I'm really amazed by how comfortable the seat of this sporty car is. It's easy to transition from that urgent need to go fast to a calm, relaxed state of mind.

Also everything in the cabin fosters that state for the driver: The feel of the wheel and the shifter, having the controls on the centerstack within reach and, check it out, even the window controls on the door are canted toward the driver.

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1991 Acura NSX: Inside Line/NSX Love-Fest, Part 692

March 28, 2012

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There's something so very right about the NSX's seats. And it's a tribute to Honda/Acura's engineering that these seats are still so terrific 21 years later, both in the way they work and the way they've held up.

First, the seats are exceptionally comfortable, without being too cushy, and are very easy with which to find that just-right driving position. Course, it helps that the view out the front of the car is also near-perfect.

There's a goodly amount of lateral support to hold you snugly in place, especially the seatbacks. But not to the point of being uncomfortable or restrictive. In fact, about the only problem I see with these things is that the leather is a little bit slippery. Not sure if that's an age thing, or if this leather was always that way.

But overall, these are a couple of fantastic 21-year-old buckets.

Plus, they look cool.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 53,230 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: A Padded Helping Hand

March 20, 2012

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Getting out of a low-slung car like the Acura NSX can be difficult. Getting out of one when you're 6-foot-3 is double difficult. And I'd imagine you could make that triple difficult if you were also old and/or creaky in some way.

Thanks be to Acura then for providing this long piece of leather-covered padding on the NSX's door sill. It makes it easier for me to push myself up and out of the car with some degree of grace rather than pressing against a normal door sill that's hard and most likely dirty. Exiting the car in this way also limits the amount of rubbing against the already-worn seat bolsters (not to mention the chances of you pulling a core muscle).

I also use it when getting into the car. Rather than roughly plopping myself down and once again scarring those bolsters, I sit laterally in the seat and use the pad to swing myself in. Easy, graceful, comfortable.

It's a nice detail and I wish other carmakers would have copied it in the past 20 years. Though some provide a bid of padding, none go so far as the thoughtful NSX.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 52,834 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Spacious But Cramped

February 28, 2012

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Remember when cars had low beltlines, slender pillars and lots of glass? Honda was particularly good at this in the late 80s and early 90s, and our 1991 Acura NSX leverages the concept to the extreme.

The cowl and dash are ultra-low, the A-pillars are skinny, the instrument panel is compact. And there's a ton of glass.

A tremendous sense of all-around visibility and space results from all this, which is good for driver confidence and control.

But for me, at least, this is somewhat spoiled by the lack of a telescopic steering wheel. I'm forced to slide the seat forward an inch or so more than I'd like and stand the seatback up a handful of degrees in order to reach the wheel with a decent bend in my arm. Side effects include: knees jammed up under the wheel; head and hair in close proximity to the headliner.

Telescopic wheels were far rarer in the early 90s than they are today. Heck, our 2012 Chevy Sonic has one.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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1991 Acura NSX: Cool Seats

February 27, 2012

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I really like the look of the black leather seats in our long-term 1991 Acura NSX. They look old-fashioned yet still cool, which I guess is the pop-culture definition of retro.

Even better, I like that they're still quite comfortable and capable of providing support (although I have yet to go on any serious roads in this car). The leather itself is in good shape, though it could use some conditioning. The only really serious wear is exactly where you'd expect it to be: at the "hinge" of the lateral bolstering on the seat-back cushion and the seat-bottom cushion -- where glutes/thighs tend to drag during the process of lowering yourself into and hoisting yourself out of the driver seat. There's another threadbare spot on the outer edge of the bottom cushion, but it's barely noticeable.

By the way, I didn't get around to replacing the dead bulb that showed up in Friday's post. It's the parking light bulb, and thanks to very clear instructions in the owners manual, I'll be addressing that on my own tonight.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 52,103 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: I Could Drive It Every Day

February 24, 2012

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One thing I really like about our 1991 Acura NSX is that I don't find myself shying away from using it for normal driving. Quite the opposite: I look forward to doing everyday stuff with the NSX. It's low, yes, so I have to stoop to get in, watch out for driveway aprons that might scrape it and stay out of the way of people in crossover SUVs who can't see it, but other than that, it's easy to get situated and just enjoy the drive.

I love the shifter, the clutch takeup is still nice, and totally unnecessary (but enjoyable) heel-and-toe downshifts come easy. Perfect. I like the sound of engine, and I like the slight vibration I feel at my back, which reminds me I'm not in a well-kept Accord from the same era.

The sightlines are good for an elite sportscar, too, so I don't fret about parking or backing up... OK, well, only a little when I'm trying to overcome the lack of power steering assist when I first get rolling. (Those shopping carts look close, by the way, but they were actually a safe distance from the NSX. I checked before I went into the store).

I've signed out the NSX for the weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it. In the meantime, I'm curious to hear your thoughts, huyracing... do you drive your NSX around town much, or is it mainly a track-day car?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 52,042 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Engineer Ride-Along

February 02, 2012

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Our friend the ride engineer took a turn in our wayback machine, driving the 1991 Acura NSX. It took him back to the time when the 1990 Nissan 300ZX Turbo was brand new.

We didn’t find any place to drive fast, so we just pottered about in the dark for an hour or so. Since he had arrived in a Nissan GT-R, his first observation wasn’t much of a surprise.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

Naturally there was some wrestling with the un-assisted steering, but he confessed that it simply had been a long time since he’d driven anything with manual steering. He offered the impression that the steering ratio seemed a little slow, probably because the Honda engineers wanted to make sure the mid-engine package would be very stable.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

The aluminum chassis felt very tight to him despite its age, and it didn’t have any of the resonance the sometimes comes with structures that are in fact a little too tight. The isolation from bumps was practically amazing, especially from a Honda of this era, when too much spring rate and too little suspension travel was the order of the day. The brake pedal was very firm, too.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

The engine didn’t get much enthusiasm from him. It seemed underpowered and it made a noise like an old even-fire Buick V6, while the clutch action was strangely heavy. The throws in the transmission’s shift pattern were very tight and the action was good even though the linkage felt like plastic. His feet were too big for the pedals and his getaways from a stop were not very smooth, as if the car felt unexpectedly heavy. Most important, all the effort levels for the controls were a little different.

“Sure rides good,” he said.

Great visibility. Interesting cabin design, especially the center console, which recalled lots of cars from that time for him. Plenty of room for a 99-percentile American male.

Car looks good, although it does seem a foot too long because of the trunk. Car feels big and even heavy from behind the wheel. Not very interesting to drive, neither alert nor alive. Car doesn’t deliver a very strong sense of where it wants to go.

Finally I asked him if it felt very unique to be driving a mid-engine car.

“To tell you the truth,” he said. “Until you just mentioned it, I really had no feeling about whether the engine was in front of me or behind me.

“It sure does ride good, though.”

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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1991 Acura NSX as Daily Driver?

January 18, 2012

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I did it! I conquered my fear of our 1991 Acura NSX. I know since most of you out there are guys you probably won't admit to this but have you ever built up a task in your head as so intimidating that you're actually paralyzed with fear to do it, be it public speaking or jumping out of a plane? Well, the thought of driving our NSX in horrible rush-hour traffic was scary to me. OK, maybe not as scary as public speaking but pretty intimidating.

I imagined the old sports car hard to maneuver when switching lanes and figured the clutchwork would be difficult so I'd keep stalling. And I shuddered at the thought of trying to parallel-park it. Yes, I was still traumatized by our Ferrari 308 and even though I discovered our 911 wasn't as intimidating as I had initially thought, I haven't driven it since last April.

But then a couple of editors told me I had nothing to worry about, that the NSX is a Honda fer chrissakes. So I signed up for it last night. And even though I did find myself in a horrific traffic jam after work, this sporty car was in fact, not that bad to work in stop and go. Sure the clutch engages pretty high but once I got the hang of it, it became a nonissue.

When I had told editor Michael Jordan that I was going to take the car for the night he tried to get another editor to shoot a photo paparazzi-style of me putting my dry cleaning in its trunk to demonstrate that it can work as a daily driver. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to claim it the perfect daily driver because it's not a car you'd just park on the street overnight, nor could you carry many groceries in it.

But that's just me. Would you use the NSX as your daily driver?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 50,995 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Slight Height Difference

January 06, 2012

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Last night, all manner of mundane driving was on the menu, but I knew our long-term Acura NSX would bring small moments of joy so I signed it out without hesitation. It was the right move. The steering in this car is just fantastic -- seriously, maybe the best I've ever experienced. The way it speaks to you so lucidly and fluidly as you're cruising down the freeway is unreal.

One of my stops along the way was the grocery store, and as I glanced to my right to start backing out, I noticed this car and thought, "oh, hey, nice steel gray X3..."

But nope, that's not an X3, just somebody's E60 5 Series sedan. But from the NSX cockpit, the Bimmer sedan looks so tall. Its door handle is roughly at eye level.

And that gets at my only qualm about driving cool old cars like the NSX. They're just so short compared to today's machines. Were I to get broad-sided by this 5 Series, and survive my injuries, I still might not be smart enough to blog anymore.

Do you waste time worrying about height incompatibility when driving older sports cars, or is that just one of the concessions of being a car guy?

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1991 Acura NSX: Yes, Please

November 21, 2011

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Man, the driving position in our longterm 1991 Acura NSX is just spot on, for a number of reasons.

Its seats are terrific. With adjustments only for reach and rake and modest bolsters, they somehow manage to be comfortable and still offer great lateral support.

And that super low cowl, well, you simply can't achieve that in a front-engined car. Its slender A-pillars probably wouldn't have a hope of meeting modern side-impact and rollover standards, but the panoramic outward view they help provide is so refreshing.

The NSX's cabin feels spacious and breezy. It's an impression that's aided by the dash and center stack controls which are set far forward. Funny, you feel like you have a commanding view of the road yet you actually sit quite low in this car. And I mean low. Getting in or out isn't the most graceful event you've seen. Though an Elise is clumsier in this regard.

Also, I was wrong about the clutch. It's fine. It just engages high. I've been told this is a common characteristic among NSXs.

Do like. Very much. The unassisted, unfiltered steering, the intake note that puts every other V6 to shame, its light and mechanical gearchange... I'm a fan. Unlike Riswick, I was neutral towards the NSX back when they were new. Driving this car now, I can see what all the fuss was about.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some 8000-rpm shifts to rip off.

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: The Vegas Road Trip, Part II

October 19, 2011

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Our trip to the Indy Car race in Las Vegas was eventful, to say the least. But our long-term NSX was a champ through it all. James gave his recap of the trip yesterday, so now it's my turn to weigh in. The NSX was pretty limiting in terms of cargo, so we both packed light. My camera bag was really the biggest bag in the boot. Everything fit perfecty (James must've been pretty good at Tetris as a kid), and we hit the road. Step one: fueling up (above).

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1991 Acura NSX: The Vegas Road Trip

October 18, 2011

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Our jokey pre-trip post on Friday was entitled "Fear, Loathing and Racing in Las Vegas," but sadly we got more fear than racing. The above photo was taken at the beginning of our day at Vegas Speedway, and our Straightline post this morning should describe the rest of our experience.

But this blog is about the NSX. Exotic sports cars, especially older ones, are not renowned for their road tripping ability. They are traditionally uncomfortable, have no trunk, get poor gas mileage, make a ton of noise, have a rough ride, have confusing controls and things often don't work. The Acura NSX was created to counter all that, but does it still fulfill that promise 20 years later?

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