1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test - Performance

1991 Acura NSX Long Term Road Test

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1991 Acura NSX: Finally Passed Smog

October 26, 2012


Our 1991 Acura NSX finally passed a smog test. It was both an educational and costly experience. Here is how the saga wrapped up...


With new parts on the NSX I schedule an appointment for a smog test. That morning I drove, back and forth, cursing this car, my job and what a horrible time I was having. Maybe some days at the office are better than others. I pulled into the smog place right on time with the cats nice and hot.


Minutes later I received the good news. It passed with flying colors.


Naturally, I left the smog garage and went back to the beach for a couple of victory runs and some breakfast.

As for the smog test results, I'm organizing those now for comparison each step of the way. Stay tuned.

Smog re-test: $20

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 58,300 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Feels Good at 132 mph

September 13, 2012

This of course took place on a closed course and with the Acura under the control of a professional driver. As you can see, the NSX still had about 2,000 rpm left on its tach. At 132 mph it was just gettin' rolling. Stability was exceptional.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 58,103 miles

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1991 Acura NSX: Link to a Legend

August 29, 2012


A few fun facts from Brian Long's excellent "NSX: Honda's Supercar."

Besides sharing the same 90-degree vee and bore centers with the 2.7-liter Legend engines, the early NSX blocks were also produced on the same line. Most of the 15 prototype engines used a single overhead cam design that topped out at 255 horsepower and 7,300 rpm. But Long notes that some were twin-turbo V6s -- turbocharging quickly ruled out in favor of more linear power delivery -- and at least one was a 5.0-liter V8.

A 5.0-liter V8 in that 3,000-lb chassis? Mama.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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

August 06, 2012

acura nsx r34.jpg

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: Of Supercars and Tractors

June 30, 2012


Lamborghini made tractors. Porsche made tractors. Even Honda made them for awhile, and they're still in the business (although now of the self-propelled kind). Maybe some of that premium-supercar-power equipment connection found its way into the NSX's manual.

Monticello described the NSX's shifter as having bolt-action feel, and that's a pretty accurate description. I'd almost describe it as agricultural, but that's not entirely fair. The shifter isn't unrefined, never reduced to its most basic function. Then again, it isn't slick or greasy or any other kind of slippery adjective.

Instead, the gears are simply defined and deliberate. Check out how narrow the shift gate actually is -- probably not a bad thing with a six-cylinder that winds out to 8,000 rpm.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: More Lock Please

May 15, 2012

nsx in bh.jpg

As Mark has already remarked, working the wheel of our NSX while parking can be a bit of a workout, especially if you have sore arms from overzealous rock wall climbing. My bigger gripe is that this two-seat sports car has a turning circle that rivals a Tahoe's. Indeed, at 38 feet, the NSX's turning circle is just one foot less than that Chevy SUV's. By comparison, our long-term 911's specs out at 34 feet.

During my otherwise ridiculously enjoyable time with the NSX this weekend, I had to execute a couple of U-turns and was unpleasantly surprised when I couldn't do it in one shot. With no engine sitting between the wheelhouses nor crazy-wide tires, I don't know why Acura couldn't have allowed more steering lock. That is, to allow the wheels to turn more so that the turning circle would be smaller. That said, I otherwise love the non-assisted steering that provides great feedback and progressively building effort as you crank the NSX into the curves.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 55,150 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: T-Rex Hates NSX

May 09, 2012


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: Road Trip, Part 2

April 13, 2012

NSX at Laguna.jpg

Following yesterday's Acura NSX Road Trip, Part 1, here's more in-car action of my recent road trip to Laguna Seca. This is another fantastic bit of completely deserted, ultra-twisty California back road.

Great times in a great car.

Follow the jump for the video:

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1991 Acura NSX: Road Trip, Part 1

April 12, 2012

NSX 58.jpg

Late last week I took the Acura NSX on a road trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California for a press event. But just sticking to Interstate 5 North or the 101 is boring. It's gotta be back roads. Or else, why bother?

And California's Central Valley has some of the best ones in the country, super twisty with exceedingly little traffic.

Follow the jump for some in-car video, to give you just a bit of the sensation of the NSX's glorious music.

The NSX performed admirably the entire time, of course always making those beautiful sounds. The non-assisted steering is wonderfully direct, and the sight lines are awesome.

The brakes did get a bit overheated on a few sections of really twisty bits, so I did my best to go easy on them when I could.

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1991 Acura NSX: R8 vs. NSX Revisited

March 30, 2012

NSX vs R8 jacobs photo.jpg

Photo by Scott Jacobs for Edmunds

Perhaps you remember Josh Jacquot's comparison between our long-term Acura NSX and an Audi R8? Jacquot would say, "How could you possibly not remember?"

I was lucky enough to join him for that awesome, if brief, encounter on Glendora Mountain Road. Brief because we had photos to do. As I like to say, this job would be perfect, if not for the constant need for photos, video...and writing.

But I digress. In case you haven't noticed in my recent posts, I love driving the NSX. And that day on GMR was a day I won't soon forget: Two great cars on an absolutely stupendous road.

It was also memorable because it showcased the performance gap between the 21-year-newer R8 and the classic NSX.

It probably didn't help the NSX's cause any that I drove the R8 first. Audi's supercar has been a favorite of mine from its entry into the market. Sure, it's all-wheel drive. But it acts, for the most part, like a rear-driver. I like that.

Everything is immediate in the R8, the steering is precise, there's tons of grip, loads of power. And then there's that beautiful "clink-clinking" of the gated manual. The speed with which you approach each corner is shocking, it gobbles up pavement like crazy. And the suspension tuning is perfect.

The other reason it didn't help to get into the NSX second was that Jacquot, a notorious left-foot braker, had already overheated the NSX's weak binders by the time I got into the Acura. Thanks buddy!

Other observations: The R8 is filled with feedback, the NSX even more so. The NSX's non-assisted steering is constantly changing, from heavy to light back to heavy (and it's slower-reacting than the R8's), depending on throttle input, braking and where you are at that exact second in the corner. It's fun, but certainly far more work than the R8 to drive really quickly. It's not as easy to teeter on the limit like you can in the R8.

The other big difference is that the NSX's tall gearing and lack of low-end power had me thinking I was for some reason in fourth gear in a couple corners, when of course I was in second. Hit the throttle at exit, with that V6 spinning only around 4,000 rpm, and very little happens. It almost makes you want to downshift to first for the tightest hairpins. The solution? Drive faster.

Of course the NSX's gearbox is fantastic, near perfect really.

So what's my point? The point is that I love both cars. The R8 is technically superior, utterly phenomenal in what it does, and effortless in the way it goes about its task of streaking up a mountain road. All the while, still keeping the driver heavily involved.

The NSX is considerably slower on said back road, while requiring more concentration (not necessarily a bad thing) and a good set of biceps. For me, the R8 is actually more fun, more exciting, largely because it's capable of so much stinking speed. And its brakes don't heat up prematurely and force us to slow down.

But the NSX is an invigorating and intoxicating experience, too. It's also a look back at a different time. And a look back at a company that was once all about engineering.

I'd like to have both cars in my garage.

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

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1991 Acura NSX: The Shifter

March 27, 2012

NSX shifter.jpg

Have I told you guys recently how much I love the NSX's shifter? In my opinion, it's one of the best gearboxes ever created.

The gates are incredibly precise and the shifter operates with a bolt-action feel as you go from gear to gear. It's so sweet.

I guess it might be possible to miss a gear in the NSX, but man, you'd really have to work at it.

But, there's a shifter I like even a little bit better than the one in the NSX...

It's from the same company: The excellent 6-speed that was found in Honda's S2000, which had equally precise gates, but ultra-short throws and a lighter action. It was truly fantastic, and awesome for pounding around at track days. All shifters should be that good.

What's the best gearbox you've had the pleasure of using?

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 53,092 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: Fisker Encounter

March 26, 2012

NSX at K1.jpg

I was driving home from work on the 405 South in our long-term NSX last week, and I spotted a Fisker Karma up ahead, one lane over. I've actually seen several of these things lately, but it's a striking car no matter how many times you've seen one.

Just as I was getting close to the Fisker, traffic in my lane started slowing, so I dropped a crisp downshift from third to second gear, replete with gorgeous throttle blip to smooth the clutch take-up.

And right then I realized....

Those are some sensations that the guy in the flashy Fisker doesn't have access to with his range-extended plug-in hybrid. Sensations like beautiful engine revs, shifting, clutching, heel-and-toeing. I love the driver involvement and the mechanical-ness of the NSX. And I don't ever want to give that up.

And then the hypocrite that I am, I proceeded to meet some friends for electric karting at K1 Irvine. Don't get me wrong, it's still fun. But man, I miss the gas karts and constant sliding that Dromo One was all about.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 52,980 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: Still Lovin' It

March 06, 2012

NSX off Santiago.jpg

I'll confess to being a big fan of the NSX. I drove several newer versions during my time at Road & Track magazine, including one particularly memorable drive south on Highway 49 from northern California after a big comparison test at Thunderhill Raceway Park. Good times.

Long before Inside Line decided to buy an NSX, I had been thinking that someday I'd like to have one in my garage. Permanently. Both back when it was new, and still now, the NSX is the semi-affordable everyday exotic.

Time with our long-term NSX has done nothing to dissuade me. I still love driving this car, especially on twisty roads with that fantastic mid-engine V6 music reverberating off canyon walls.

I pinch myself every time: "Dude, you're driving an NSX. How fantastic is that?"

And that seems like a pretty damn good testament to a car.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 52,640 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX: I Could Drive It Every Day

February 24, 2012


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


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 Good As You'd Imagine

January 30, 2012


There's an expression that goes something like "It's not always good to meet your heroes", the gist of it being that they may not live up to your lofty expectations. That you may be somewhat disappointed. Not so with the NSX...

Back in 1997, after much anticipation, I'd finally driven an NSX. That was the year Acura gave the manual-tranny version another gear (six cogs versus five) along with a larger, more powerful V6 -- 3.2-liter/290 hp versus 3.0 liter/270 hp. I remember that car feeling very light on its feet in terms of its eager acceleration, sharp steering and willingness to change direction. And yet perfectly tractable in traffic, fairly compliant over crappy roads and not the slightest bit darty while cruising at, umm, relaxed speeds on an open freeway.

That was the only time I'd driven Honda's Ferrari fighter. Until this past weekend...

I'm happy to report that its seems Acura got it right right off the bat -- our first-year NSX struck me the exact same way as it brought back those fond memories. This is my type of sports car -- light, elemental, finely balanced and devoid of gimmickry. An awesome engine note and sleek, sexy styling don't hurt either.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: I Don't Want a V8

January 23, 2012

As the Acura NSX entered its second decade of life and its sales continued to mysteriously plummet, plenty of bright sparks thought the car really needed a big V8.

Of course, this is the kind of witless advice you get from some guy driving down Woodward Avenue to the grocery store in his Camaro.

Even when you look hard today at the details of the Acura NSX V6, you have to say it’s a really, really impressive piece. Who needs a V8?

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1991 Acura NSX: Machine Head

January 20, 2012


Honda made much hay of the NSX's technological innovations when the car was introduced, and even the owner's manual includes some quiet boasting. But what stands out for me is how delightfully mechanical the NSX is.

Beyond its great gearchange and manual steering you've read so much about, the NSX's V6 thrums busily at idle, its air conditioning compressor audibly chuffs on and off, there's a real key that you (gasp!) insert into a (gasp!) lock cylinder, the throttle linkage is honest and unspoiled by electronic intervention or interpretation, real buttons and switches adorn the cockpit.

Like our longterm Porsche 911 and Miata, the NSX is unabashedly a machine. You pilot it, and it doesn't second-guess you. That's refreshing.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 51,010 miles.

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1991 Acura NSX as Daily Driver?

January 18, 2012

acuransx 010.jpg

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: The Drive. Finally.

January 03, 2012


I've been wrapped up in all sorts of projects lately that have kept me from taking our long-term NSX on my canyon route. That all changed yesterday morning.

As is customary, I left my house early in the morning in order to get the cleanest runs (I only saw about 10 cars and motorcycles total in the mountains). I started out conservatively, gradually increasing speed and aggression.

Visbility is excellent, thanks to the NSX's thin A-pillars. Steering feel is perfect – as good as our old Porsche and my beat-up Lotus. You can really feel the wheel lighten up when balancing the car on the edge of understeer. The gear spacing is a little too far apart for my tastes; I like rowing up and down through the gears before and after turns. I pretty much kept it in second gear the whole time, and that suited the car just fine. It didn't bog down low and carried plenty of power all the way up the tach.

In many ways, the NSX reminds me of my little Lotus Elise. Cornering limits are quite high, despite having rather narrow tires. Both tend to understeer, but it's very manageable. Oversteer gets a bit tricky, though.

Rather than releasing the rear tires progressively (like out 911 and Mustang do), the NSX snaps from adhesion. You really have to be on top of things when this happens, fast hands are a must. You also have to be deliberate about breaking the rears loose, as they don't surrender grip willingly.

All in all it was an epic drive. I buzzed by all of the usual landmarks: the Dropoff Esses, the Top Carousel, Lower Carousel, CHP Bend, Cooper Corner, The Rock Store, The Snake, Squid Corner and the Notch. Most of these are names I've given them, regular Malibu bombers will recognize a few. On the way back, I took it easy as I rolled all the way back down Pacific Coast Highway. I came away impressed, considering this is a 20-plus year-old car. Hopefully soon, I'll be hitting these roads on my next superbike purchase. Raaaaawwwr!

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: The Way Hondas Used To Be

December 16, 2011


Last week, I posted on how Mike gave me the Acura NSX for a week with the understanding that I'd be Mr. Nice for about 500 miles. No problem, I thought. But after a few days of just dawdling around town, I was getting antsy. And the NSX wasn't helping. "C'mon," it'd whisper in my ear. "School drop off is booooorrrring. I need to rev. Let's go have some fun." Well ...OK. But just don't tell Mike, OK?

So on Wednesday I took a couple hours and headed up to one of my favorite driving roads. And I'm glad I did. This car is rad.

Even if you haven't driven an NSX, there's probably an idea in your head (from reading various stories over the years) that you know what the car is all about -- all lightweight aluminum construction, mid-engine, high-revving, etc. But the actual experience of driving it on a curvy road is like going from a black-and-white photo to full-color HD IMAX in 3D and surround-sound.

This NSX represents everything that used to be golden about Honda.

The V6 is glorious. It's like you have your own personal F1 engine wailing behind your head as you nail the throttle. But it's more than just that. You get to savor it. With a long throttle pedal travel, an 8,000 rpm redline and only five gears, each run through a gear is drawn out. It's sort of cliche to say that a sports car's soul is its engine, but it's very much true for the NSX.

The shifter is a delight. It falls right to your hand, and has a great combination of lightness and direct positive action. There's a connection here to the NSX that will always be missing with a modern dual-clutch automated transmission.

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1991 Acura NSX: Listen Up!

December 05, 2011


Several people here have written that the engine on our long-term 1991 Acura NSX sounds great. And it does.

But I was surprised by the deep growl of the 3.0L VTEC V6. I was expecting more of a higher-pitched whine, common on racy and racecar V6s.

I believe this engine sounds best out of any V6 I've experienced, including one of my all time favs, the Nissan R35 GT-R.

Hit the jump to listen for yourself.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 48,808 miles

(photo by Scott Jacobs)

I had the driver side window down for both of these brief runs.
I ran into the rev limiter briefly. Redline is at 8K.

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1991 Acura NSX: Simply Awesome

December 01, 2011


My first time taking our "new" NSX long-termer home last night, and I gotta say I flat-out love it. It's a fantastic driving machine. Sure, it doesn't have the modern conveniences we take for granted these days, like Bluetooth, an iPod hookup, a nav system or even an in-dash CD player. Who cares?

Not that you would really compare them, but the NSX is night and day when viewed against our other two "old" long-termers, the Porsche 911 and supercharged Project Miata. While I enjoy both of those cars, neither one is a very easy-to-deal-with daily driver. The NSX is. Heck, I'd drive it every day (except when I need to stuff a bike into a car. I'm sure I could do it in the NSX, but it seems sacrilegious) if it wasn't "recommended" around here that we not hog cars.

Although we have found a few niggling issues with the NSX, none of them affect the actual driving of the car. This NSX is tight, solid and works just as it's supposed to. It has possibly the most perfect driving position ever. The bolt-action shifter has zero play. The non-assist steering, like the 911, telegraphs every road detail to your hands. The seats are comfortable yet laterally supportive.

And with the NSX, you're driving automotive history. This was a time when Honda/Acura built exciting, superbly-engineered cars. It takes you back, without constantly reminding you it's an older car.

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1991 Acura NSX: Sounds Great, Too Bad it's Fake

December 01, 2011


So there I was, accelerating with some verve down a freeway onramp; enjoying the snarl of the NSX's engine just over my shoulder. And then there was that wonderful whoosh of a turbo. Wait, what?

The NSX doesn't have a turbo. Man, that intake whine is really loud. Wait, no, that's not it either. The sound isn't localized to the rear, it's emanating from all over. My shoulders dropped once I had a good idea of what that high-pitched note was. I turned off the stereo (yes, playing Phil Collins) and the sound ceased.

As the resident old guy, I ran into this problem in the past. It's electrical interference. Most times purchasing better spark plug wires would cure it. Knowing that the NSX probably doesn't have cheap spark plug wires, I think the culprit might be cheap speaker wires -- perhaps from the bargain-quality stereo "upgrades" that a previous owner made. Magrath also notes that some Hondas would run power wires in the same channels as speaker wires.

It doesn't bother me, though. It sounds great. But knowing it's fake is disappointing. If it were mine, I probably wouldn't bother fixing it. The best soundtrack is still coming from the engine bay.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Hammer Down

November 30, 2011


Back to back mid-afternoon runs. This time in our NSX. I haven't gotten a lot of experience in this beauty, so this was my chance.

The first time I was handed the keys to our NSX was driving back from a photo location well after dark. The car was filled with photo gear and I was extra careful on my run down the mountain. This time I was able to get a clean run up the Pacific Coast Highway. I wanted to get a real feel for what this car is about and what it can do.

I wouldn't say the NSX is terribly fast, but it sure is sexy. Though a veteran of the sports car scene, it hasn't lost any of its appeal. It's exterior design is still fresh, has a great driving position, a well sorted suspension, and turns heads like it did back in '91. Yes it has a dumb power antennae, and some might also point to the pop up headlights as a relic, but I actually enjoy those quite a bit.

The real beauty of the NSX in my opinion is a red line that starts as 7,900 rpm. At first I found it disconcerting to hear the engine rev so high since I'm used to a red line at a much lower rpm. I felt I was punishing the car. I looked down at the instrument panel and saw it's ok, "You still have another 2k to go!" I told myself.

The symphony you get at those high rpms is amazing. It really opens up and the power surges on. The blurry trees make it evident that this thing really gets moving at those high rpms. Once you've got your ques readjusted, this savvy veteran is a pure joy.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

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1991 Acura NSX: I Love This Car

November 18, 2011

Acura NSX at Bergamot.jpg

I haven't exactly been a purveyor of our classic long-termers over the years. I don't fit in the Porsche, I'm just not a Corvette guy and I regretfully never even drove the Ferrari because at the time I was afraid the brakes would fail or something and I'd die looking like someone trying to be Tom Selleck.

Anywho, consider me an enthusiastic purveyor of the NSX. I just love this car. Perhaps the difference is I thought the NSX was cool when it was new, and thus feel the same sort of romance for it that Mark feels for the 911. But really, it's just a helluva lot of fun. Just driving along Olympic Boulevard the past three days from the auto show downtown to my home 5 miles away (no traffic) has been a blast.

The engine is incredible. It boasts a very un-Honda bark and of course revs sweetly, but without the sort of overly anxious zingy nature you get from Honda's high-revving fours. Throttle tip-in is just perfect, and when so many new cars are adopting these fuel-saving, old-lady-preferred lazy throttle calibrations (cough, BMW, cough, VW), I'm realizing how much throttle reaction plays in making a car feel "just right." Then there's the five-speed manual. Yes, the clutch take-up is high, but I've never had a problem with it. The gearbox itself has that snick-snick Honda action, but with a more rewarding, higher effort weighting than the stick-through-hot-butter Honda boxes of today. The shifter itself is perfectly placed.

Throw in the fact that I not only fit in the NSX, but actually find an ideal driving position and it all adds up to a car I'd be happy to drive every day. Yep, even in crap LA traffic. Perhaps that's why I love it so much. If you can have fun even when commuting, you've got a winner.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Decades

October 13, 2011


Last night was my first time in our NSX. Actually, it was my first time in any NSX. And for the most part, it was worth the wait, especially since our long-termer looks and feels fairly fresh. Unexpectedly, it also stirred up a lot of nostalgia.

As soon as I slid into the seat, I was surprised by the low ride height. The center stack's shallow angle, blending into the center armrest was also a bit of a surprise. Once I closed the door, I noticed that the beltline is much lower than today's sports cars. To me, I instantly thought of how Formula One cars in the 1990s were much more open, while today's F1 cars effectively surround the driver up to his eyeline. Yes, I imagined for a second what Senna might have thought of the NSX.

Then I fired up the engine. Whoa. That's a lot louder than I imagined. It also idles a little rough, but not in a bad way. I turned off the air conditioning and that quieted and smoothed things out significantly. Clutch in and reverse. Hmm. That clutch pedal has a lot of travel from the floor before you finally get to the friction zone. And that friction zone is pretty wide, too. Mentally noted. The shifter, on the other hand, is as good as it gets.

I only had a few opportunities to really open up the throttle on the way home, and it was a lot more raucous than I had expected. There's a pleasant mechanical growl accompanied by a lot of high-pitched whine. I can get used to this. I can't wait to see what it'll do on my canyon roads. Soon.

All the way home, though, I was preoccupied with the last twenty years. In 1991, the NSX was the "it" car for me. I was in the beginning stages of transportation design and my instructor actually designed the NSX's seats. Then I remembered what that time was like, and how I wished I could've contacted my former self...

Dear Mark,

This is your future self writing to you. You know all of the stuff you're learning about car design, photography and graphic design? Pay attention, they'll come in handy later. You're going to walk away from all this in a few years, but trust me, it's a good thing. You're in for a couple of rough patches here and there, but don't worry, it will all work out in the end. Don't let the people around you tell you how to live. Just live and have fun. Don't be afraid of the big decisions. Don't be afraid of starting over. It will define you in later years.

You may not believe it now, and at some point in the next twenty years, it will seem impossible, but you're going to drive an NSX. And you're going to get paid to do it. It's as good as you imagine. Also, keep riding motorcycles and don't get pressured into anything you don't want to be a part of. Keep reaching for things that are obviously out of reach. Don't settle and never give up.

I think I met our future self a few weeks ago. Things look to continue in a most wonderful trajectory.

Enjoy the ride,

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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1991 Acura NSX: Never has a V6 Sounded So Sweet

October 12, 2011


There are many great aspects of our "new" NSX. The appearance of the engine is not one of them.

Can't blame Honda really. There's barely enough room to squeeze a V6 in there let alone dress up what's visible. I think the engineers may have attempted to make up for its lack of visual appeal by making it sound better than any other V6 I've ever heard.

It's not the typical raspy exotic sound either. Think more like silky, precise and a bit high pitched. With the engine sitting so close to the back of your head, you hear a mix of mechanical sounds from the engine along with the tone of the exhaust. And it is shockingly good.

And don't worry, we'll get a video up for demonstration purposes shortly. I tried a simple recording but it just didn't do it justice. This engine deserves a real microphone. Stay tuned.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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Past Long-Term Road Tests