Bolide Honda NSX: the history of the anti-Ferrari of the rising sun

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Everything (and it is very much) that represents the Honda NSX is sublimated in a slightly grainy video on YouTube, where a young Ayrton Senna, in moccasins and white socks, drives the Japanese coupé as if there were no tomorrow between the curbs of the Suzuka circuit. At the time, an object so technologically advanced that it was almost intimidating. Here is the story of a car that marked a before and after in the world of supercars. And not just for Honda.

It starts from a concept. Where to start? Since 1984, when the Japanese company commissioned Pininfarina to produce a prototype of a mid-engined sports car, called HP-X. A low and tapered concept, which can be considered as the first embryo of the NSX (New Sportcar eXperimental). She, two dry seats, appears in her final form at the 1989 Chicago Motor Show: in the meantime, a special factory was built in Tochigi, with over 300 dedicated employees, to produce it. Workers with at least ten years of seniority in the company, to combine technology and manual skills. To say, the monocoque welded entirely in aluminum – the first in the world – required the design of particular welding systems. To give an idea of ​​the craftsmanship of the process, an example will suffice: the body was immersed in a chromatization bath, a process (used in aeronautics) that creates a very thin film on the aluminum to make it smooth enough to allow a perfect painting. Production rhythms? About thirty specimens a day.

honda-nsx-1989_3

Superfine technology. Just like the V12 used at the time by Honda in Formula 1, the NSX’s 3-liter naturally aspirated V6 with 273 hp at 7,300 rpm has titanium connecting rods and a shaft of the same type of steel used in the race. But the game is also the V-Tec system, which allows you to change the valve opening and closing times and their lift: thus, the three thousand can scream up to 8,000 rpm, when the limiter intervenes. The gearbox has only 5 gears and there is a limited slip differential with viscous coupling. Flanked by one of the first, rudimentary, traction control systems. Thanks to the aluminum body and suspension (with articulated wishbones) and the general lightening of a large number of components, the mass stopped at 1,370 kilos. For Ferrari (or Porsche, if you prefer) performance: 270 km / h peak and 0-100 under six seconds.

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A nice balance. All this testosterone, however, did not come at the expense of driveability: at the limit, the Honda NSX remained easily controllable even by riders with less than excellent experience. At quieter speeds, among other things, the Honda berlinetta also knew how to pamper its lucky owner, with interiors of fine material, automatic climate control, cruise control, electrically adjustable seat and Bose audio system. Without forgetting a trunk sufficient for the needs of a weekend as a couple. In its long life – it was produced from 1990 to 2005 – the first generation of the Honda NSX also saw a restyling, dated 2002, which eliminated the retractable headlights and updated, with small touches, the bodywork. We cannot forget the R, the hot version dedicated only to the Jdm market (Japan District Market) and not even the second series of the NSX: born in 2016, it is powered by a hybrid powertrain. But this is definitely another story.


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