In 1986, four years before the first NSX hit the streets of America, Honda unveiled their new luxury brand, Acura. This luxury brand was designed to compete with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Lincoln, and Cadillac in the American premium car market. Acura introduced the Automotive Legend through their first model, the Acura Legend. Although it was a good car, it didn’t quite dominate the market. This is the story of how Honda and a team of misfit engineers changed the automotive landscape forever and how they proved that Japan could do much more than build cheap, efficient commuters.
During the mid-to-late 80s, Japanese automakers faced an image problem in the US. Their cars were well-made, efficient, and reliable but also perceived as inexpensive. Honda recognized the need to create a luxury brand that would elevate their image and compete with the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari.
To achieve this, Honda set out to build a sports car that was fun, simple, and even practical. The goal was to develop a car that could go toe-to-toe with the best from Germany or Italy, yet be practical and reliable enough to use every day. This led to the development of the NSX – the New Sports eXperimental – an all-aluminum, mid-engine sports car with a 3.0-liter VTEC V6 engine, producing 270 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque.
The Acura NSX debuted in 1989, and despite initial skepticism, it quickly gained rave reviews for its combination of handling, practicality, and affordability. The NSX’s more accessible price tag made it an option for enthusiasts who wanted a high-performance sports car without breaking the bank. Its reliability and lower maintenance costs also set it apart from its more finicky European competitors.
The Acura NSX had a profound impact on the automotive world, setting a new standard for supercar reliability and inspiring the development of other Japanese performance cars, such as the Nissan GT-R and the Lexus LFA. It changed Honda’s image and cemented Japan’s position as a global powerhouse in the automotive industry.
The NSX remains an enduring symbol of Japanese engineering prowess and a testament to Honda’s ability to defy expectations. It’s a car that captivates and makes you feel the spirit of the time and the passion of the people who brought this incredible machine to life. The legacy of the Acura NSX continues to influence the design and engineering of today’s supercars.
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