Acura NSX Tuner

22 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Acura NSX Tuner
Acura NSX

Acura NSX

Tuner

Honda#39;s everyday supercar for the streets

Steve Temple on 09.17.2009

Even though the Acura nameplate is a dominant force in the tuner car scene, the best model ever built, the NSX, is often conspicuous by its absence. For two simple reasons: price and availability. Few were built during model years 1990-2005.

Only in recent years have they become more affordable, thanks to dropping prices in the used car marketplace.

As McLaren designer Gordon Murray once noted, The moment I drove the NSX, all the benchmark cars-Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini-I had been using as references in the development of my car vanished from my mind. Of course the car we would create, the McLaren F1, needed to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX’s ride quality and handling would become our new design target.

Not surprisingly, the NSX showcased Honda’s racing technology, exemplified by an ultra-rigid, ultra-light aluminum monocoque frame with a mid-engine, rear-drive configuration. In addition, the engine boasted pricey titanium connecting rods, forged pistons and an 8000-rpm redline. Today it is still known by many as the most reliable exotic car with many examples exceeding 100,000 miles without any reliability issues.

Well, no car is without a few niggles here and there. For more details on what to look for when purchasing a used NSX, we sought out the hands-on input from Shad Huntley of Driving Ambition. He has both serviced and modified many NSXs over the years, and knows them inside and out. Without going into too much detail, he noted a few recurring issues with timing belts and water pumps.

He also cited an initial design flaw of excess toe-in setting for the rear suspension, which, along with some flexing in the wheels, tended to wear out tires too quickly. Later models took out the toe from four to two millimeters (even the smallest detail can make a big difference).

Another problem with the early cars (’91-’92) was some imprecise machining in the gearbox housing for the snap ring holding the main shaft. Unfortunately, the only fix is to replace the case and snap ring, which can set you back a couple grand. So if you’re shopping for a deal on an early-model used NSX, be sure to check out these key areas.

From a tuning standpoint, besides some suspension tweaking that involves replacing a bit of rubber with steel monoballs, the big deal is giving the car more grunt. After driving an NSX on the road course at Willow Springs a few years ago, I came away astonished by how easy it was to drive hard and fast through the chicanes. It’s one of the best handling cars I’ve ever experienced, with superb balance and a butter-smooth powerband.

But like many Hondas, it feels a little too refined, and needs a good swift kick in the pants.

That’s where Huntley also has proved his mettle, having handled a variety of forced-induction upgrades, both turbo and supercharger, for the NSX. After working at Comptech for 15 years (a company that now specializes in competition engine work), he took on his father’s company, Driving Ambition, which works on a surprising range of vehicles, from early MINIs to musclecars. But the NSX is his meat and potatoes.

When we went through his shop, about a half-dozen Acura NSXs were being modified, for every purpose from street performance to full-on racing.

Acura NSX

The particular car that he recommended for showcasing his workmanship is a 2003 model owned by Rob Quinn. His story is not unlike that of many tuner guys. As a kid growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, so the thought of owning a car like the NSX was not very realistic, he admits.

After working hard (in the pool business) and making good decisions, I was able to buy the car I wanted.

That might not sound like a very glamorous approach, but the car more than makes up for it. Owning the NSX is unbelievable, he enthuses. The car is amazing.

Just listening to the exhaust and the whine of the supercharger is so intoxicating. And sometimes a car of this caliber becomes the main thing. I was once told by a girlfriend, `If you buy that car before you buy me a ring, I’m going to leave.’ Well let’s just say I still have the car. (Turns out you can sometimes trust a Honda more than a romance, it seems.)

While the performance of Rob’s NSX is dramatically different, he kept the look classy, with only a few subtle cosmetic changes. Under the hood is where the car really wakes up with a polished Comptech twin-screw blower feeding 8.5 pounds boost. At this level, the system can still use the stock injectors, in conjunction with a piggyback computer module that increases the pulse width and also filters certain sensor inputs to the factory ECU. (He’s leaning on Shad to dial up the airflow to the low teens, which will require several other changes in the fuel system and computer as well.)

With additional contributions from a cold-air intake, headers and exhaust, the output is now close to 370hp at the rear wheels, about a 45 percent gain from the factory power level. While this road-course runner still not a point-and-shoot stoplight dragster, that’s more than enough beans to give the NSX some serious attitude. The lowered suspension gives the car a more predatory stance as well, not to mention the Racing Hart C4 rims (18×7.5 front 19×9.5 rear) wrapped with Falken rubber (225/35/18 front and 275/30/19 rear).

Rob admits that the car gets more attention that he’s used to. Sometimes when I drive the car it’s a little uncomfortable. People stare at you. They take pictures while driving down the street.

It’s a little odd. Kinda makes you feel like a celebrity. I’m far from that. I’m just a normal guy who is lucky enough to own this car.

Considering all the deals out there on used NSXs, and their prodigious potential for performance, Rob just might find there are a whole lot of other normal guys owning them as well.

Acura NSX
Acura NSX
Acura NSX
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