Thirty years ago Honda leapt into the supercar arena with the NSX, a two-door mid-engined sportscar.
The Honda NSX was the world’s first production car to feature an all-aluminium semi-monocoque with a revolutionary aluminium alloy frame and suspension components.
With the NSX, Honda introduced refinement, comfort, reliability, high build quality, good ergonomics, supreme handling and everyday usability, traits not usually associated with supercars before 1990.
Development of the car was aided by the sizeable input of legendary three-time World F1 champion Ayrton Senna. He tested an NSX prototype and his feedback prompted engineers to increase the car’s rigidity significantly – by 50 per cent – before moving testing to Europe’s challenging, 21km Nürburgring circuit in Germany.
When the NSX reached Australia in 1991, it won sister publication, Wheels ‘Car of the Year’.
“That the NSX is the best built, most inviting, least intimidating supercar the world has ever seen is beyond rational dispute,” wrote the magazine in its Car of the Year (COTY) coverage.
“Dynamically, the car is close to flawless in all but the most extreme on-track situations, with steering that’s alive in the driver’s hands, incredibly powerful brakes – anti-skid, of course – and levels of grip and electronically modulated traction that few mortals will feel the need to approach.
Wheels’ former long-running editor and then European correspondent, Peter Robinson, was familiar with Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but rated rated the 3.0-litre aluminium V6 NSX as the best-handling mid-engine car he had ever driven. “It’s just so good. It’s a milestone.”
If any scepticism had been raised about the NSX’s motorsport credentials, this was quickly dispelled at the inaugural Targa Tasmania in 1992.
During six days of intense, technically challenging cross-state stages, Greg Crick and his navigator Greg Preece took their NSX to a stunning victory – following an epic duel with the factory-prepared BMW M5 driven by the late Denny Hulme, the legendary 1967 Formula 1 champion. But it was no fluke win – Crick then defended his title the following year, claiming back-to-back Targa victories in the NSX.
The Honda NSX achieved total worldwide sales of more than 18,000 units during the 15 years it was in production.