Acura Marks 30 Years Of NSX With Throwback Video And Photo Gallery

30 years ago, a legend was born at the Chicago Auto Show with the unveiling of the original Acura NS-X Concept in 1989, which led to the production version in 1991.

Three decades later, Acura returns to the Chicago Auto Show to celebrate the milestone event by hosting a panel discussion about the NSX with two people whose careers were influenced by the Japanese supercar.

Those are Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura, whose 28-year career at Acura began with the launch of the NSX, and Csaba Csere, former editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine, who was among the first journalists to drive both the original and the current NSX.

They will talk about the car’s origins, its impact on the automotive world, and the role the next-generation NSX plays in the renaissance of the Acura brand.

Additionally, to mark the NSX’s 30th anniversary, Acura has also released a throwback video featuring the 1991 NSX alongside a current 2019 NSX, as well as a massive photo gallery including never before seen images from the original NS-X Concept reveal.

A last-minute engine change proved to have far-reaching consequences

Interestingly, the prototype NS-X introduced at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show was shorter overall than the final production vehicle due to a shorter wheelbase and shorter front/rear overhangs. The transition from prototype to production was impacted by a late change to the engine specification.

Originally, the NS-X Concept featured a SOHC V6 shared with the Acura Legend. However, the production NSX switched to a bespoke 270-horsepower DOHC V6 with VTEC valvetrain. Changing the engine was harder than it sounds as the DOHC VTEC’s cylinder head was wider than the head of the SOHC engine. This caused engineers to extend the wheelbase and increase the front and rear overhangs to accommodate the engine.

Acura made the decision to change the engine after Honda Motor Company president Tadashi Kume unexpectedly decided to fire up the NS-X Concept’s engine during the Chicago show debut, with the noisy blast attracting media attention. Kume then asked the NSX engineering team why the car didn’t use the new VTEC technology that had been recently developed by Honda’s R&D team. When he learned that VTEC was only planned for a four-cylinder engine application, Kume pushed the team to develop a VTEC V6 engine.

A similar input was received from a group of automotive journalists that drove the prototype prior to the Chicago Auto Show debut. While they loved the car, the general consensus was that the NSX could use more power.

Thank Ayrton Senna for the legend the Acura NSX turned out to become

Perhaps the best-known story on the development of the NSX is about Ayrton Senna’s famous drive of the test car in 1989 at Honda’s Suzuka Circuit. The Formula 1 legend offered his valuable input and informed the engineers the rigidity of the car could be better. “I’m not sure I can really give you appropriate advice on a mass-production car, but I feel it’s a little fragile,” Senna told the team.

This prompted engineers to raise their targets for rigidity. Acura shipped the NSX to Germany and tested it on the punishing Nürburgring Nordschleife racetrack. As it turns out, Ayrton was right. Testing on the “Green Hell” revealed that the flexing body was taking away the desired feel of an immediate and direct connection between the car and driver.

By the end of the Nürburgring tests and after eight months of improving the body design, engineers had increased the car’s rigidity by 50 percent. The rest, as they say, is history.


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  • Six_Tymes

    one looks taught and fun to drive. the other looks modern, and fat.

    • Gustavo Adriano

      The same that occured with the Camaro, Urus and Supra, long time development afeter a concept, with basically same design, the NSX lost the opportunity to be a real great car, mainly because of the design (that kind of thing “I’ve seen that before”). Although, having a lot more technology than it’s predecessor, the current NSX don’t have a “soul”, is generic, it’s interior resembles too much Acura’s sedans and nowadays a look to a car thar it seems already from 10 years ago.

  • McF1

    Wish that Acura marked 30 years of the NSX by introducing a V6 Turbo only NSX. It would be lighter, more agile, and definitely much cheaper than the current hybrid NSX. Acura only needs to have a look at what McLaren has been doing with it’s supercars for inspiration.

  • alexxx

    Oh that first gen NSX…what a bomb that car was…and still is…

  • Craig

    I bought a 1991 Acura NSX in June of 1995. Owned it for 11 years. Truly a wonderful car. Red like the one in the photos. Reliable but not perfect. And I lost count of the number or Yokohama tires I bought. [I always kept the car original – even when it came to tires] I miss it.

    • Eythan Aldrich

      and how’s your NA1 now?

      • Craig

        I just learned something! I had no idea the 91 to 96 Acura NSX was considered an ‘NA1’. [Or maybe I just forgot] That said… I don’t know! I haven’t owned it since 2006.

        • Eythan Aldrich

          NA1 has the popups while NA2 has the fixed ones……happy now?

    • Ary Wisesa

      I wish I could buy it in my country. I wouldn’t mind if it has long mileage. I would be happy to restore it.

  • Krisnadi Imam

    How the original one stood the test of time, despite it wasnt much of a sales success

  • Ary Wisesa

    I love the original Honda NSX. It’s still beautiful as ever, the proof that it can stand the test of time. Even until now, its design is still relevant. I can’t afford the real one, but a 1:18 Autoart diecast in red color in sufficient for me. LOL.

    Btw, even in diecast model, the NSX is still beautiful.

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