The NSX happened when the word supercar was elbowing for room in the automotive vocabulary, right next to exotic. It was a slow time for supercars. Among enthusiast's biggest gripes: no reliability. A shredded engine after only 6,000 miles? That didn't seem right, especially when Honda was making cars that still drive just as well today.
Honda was also on top of the racing world, and would win in 1991 its sixth-consecutive Formula One Manufacturers Championship.
These factors primed Honda to release their own supercar that had enough performance to compete with the Ferrari 328, and the reliability to do it over and over and over...
But even with Honda's meticulous engineering parameters, the supercar-to-be was still "just a Honda." Fortunately, they had developed a good relationship with the iconic Ayrton Senna, who agreed to help fine tune the NSX during development. Senna's legendary presence brought some much needed prestige to Honda, and added tension to the suspension.
When November came in 1990, people were paying attention. How would the manufacturer known for reliability deliver? And on a supercar? Honda engineer's VTEC system and the 8,000 RPM redline answered definitively.
Everyone who drives an NSX talks about how fun it is to drive. It doesn't have as much clout or pedigree as a Ferrari or Porsche. Fine. But the NSX doesn't seem to care, and neither does anyone who is actually driving one.
Part of the surprise comes from the engine. No one expects the V6 to feel like it does. But that super light frame shedded 250+ lbs, and that's enough to make the car feel scary fast.
Honda could have gone for all-out speed and power. But they went for balance: Power and driveability; aggressive and refined. It's that great design philosophy that made such an entertaining car.
An NSX at Bring a Trailer's auction just went for $65,500. Is it the right time to get into an NSX? Could be... If the 90's look isn't your thing, maybe next year's model is the way to go. Although, they ditched the sleek design for something more reminiscent of an Audi R8. It's unfortunate, too. Honda's original design was unique. Why the change?