Skid marks

ďIíve copped flak over my view that the NSX was as much a supercar as Justin Bieber is a role modelĒ

David Morley

I SAW A Honda NSX in traffic this morning on the way to the Melbourne Bloke Centre. Perhaps this would not be an unusual thing where you live, but given I live in a suburb where the local garden centre sells upside-down HR Holdens (cos every second front yard features one) spotting an NSX in the morning peak is not an ordinary thing to have happen.

But what did strike me as ordinary was the car itself. I mean, it just looked, um, unremarkable. Oh sure, it stood out from the Hyundais and HiLuxes but it was hardly stopping traffic (the blonde, 30-something hottie manning the school crossing on this 30-degree morning was doing that). Which leads me to believe that my original assessment of the NSX way back in 1991 just might have been on the money.

Now Iíve copped a shedload of flak over my early-90s view that the original NSX was as much a supercar as Justin Bieber is a role model. In fact, outraged NSX owners have been particularly forthright in insisting that I wouldnít know a proper supercar if it ran over me and then offering to demonstrate their point. At the time, my hesitance to include the Honda in the Big Book of Supercars revolved around its actual performance and, even back in 1991, I kind of felt that 188kW was not enough to be a convincing super-anything. Okay, describing it as a fast Civic was probably being provocative, but thatís how I felt about it.

But now, I have to say time has put another nail in the coffin of the NSXís sex-appeal. See, the one I saw was in absolutely pristine nick. Not a mark on it and still shiny in factory blood red, this Gen 1 version was as mint as they come.

Museum-quality, Iíd say. But lord, it was plain. Homely even.

Sure, the long rear deck suggests the mid-engined layout, but the cab-forward thing is just too contrived and the proportions are all wrong. Compare it with a proper 1991 supercar Ė say, oh, I donít know, an F40 Ė and you can see what I mean. And even though the Honda was a 170-grand car in the day (when you could still buy a house Ė and not just one in my suburb Ė for a lot less than that) it still had alloy wheels that had that particular Honda-wheel knack of looking like plastic trims. Garbage ones at that. And they were all pulled in under the wheel guards. And the tail-light garnish and rear wing looked like crap Ė I could go on.

Now, clearly, the bloke or blokette who owns it loves it. Fair enough, but please donít try to tell me that itís come into its own as a collectible car. The passing of years can have that effect on some cars, and some makes and models you couldnít give away ten or more years ago are suddenly on the collector-radar (tried to buy a split-window Kombi lately?). But Iím not going to put the NSX into that basket. Although it did get me wondering about the sort of money NSXs are changing hands for these days.

So I jumped on the internerd and did a few searches. Typically, the NSX is not exactly thick on the ground, but I did manage to turn up two for sale. One was a Gen 1 model for $69,000 and the other a Gen 2 with an aftermarket turbo conversion (so could either be a rocket or a grenade) for $95,000. But hereís the kicker Ė and the only thing you really need to know about the Honda NSX: both were automatics. I rest my case. M