Honda NSX: PH Carpool

Name: HKZ286
Car: 1991 Honda NSX
Owned since: May 2015
Previously owned: Lots of Nissan Micras, Toyota Starlet GT Turbo, Nissan S14a 200SX, Toyota Celica T-Sport

That infamous view!
That infamous view!
Why I bought it:
"I was elbow deep in a four-year restoration of my 200SX and just slowly lost interest. It was almost done, but I made the mistake of adding up what I had spent, what kind of money I would get if I broke the car for bits and, ultimately, what that would buy me. I was tired of dealing with rust and wanted something with a biggish N/A engine, rear-wheel drive and, most importantly, just something that was interesting. I have a long standing affinity for 90s Japanese cars, and the R34 GT-R and NSX in particular. I really, really, didn't want another Nissan that would grow holes in it (yes, even R34s rust) and the NSX just seemed to appeal to the engineer in me. Financially, it was a terrible decision as Skylines of all types have seemingly doubled in value since I bought the NSX, but I would do the same thing again."

What I wish I'd known:
"Despite popular folklore, these are not your average Hondas. They might have the fabled reliability of such but that's basically where it stops. First and foremost, the parts can be expensive, not necessarily from Honda, but from cars being broken. Parts that would cost pennies secondhand from other Japanese cars (even Skylines) demand huge premiums on the various owners clubs and eBay. This is mainly because the cars are expensive in the first place (as in to buy, even as breakers) and they made relatively few of them. It still sticks in your craw a bit when you have to spend hundreds on tiny bits of plastic due to an enthusiastic previous owner breaking the mounting tabs.

"Again, despite what others say, it's not as easy to drive as your grandma's Accord or Legend. It's as good as it can be, being low, wide, mid-engined and rear-wheel drive, but a shopping trolley it is not."

Things I love:
"The event of it. Driving it, whilst sometimes a pain when commuting, makes it a pleasure when you just want to go for a drive. This is where I tend to agree with people. Having always owned 90s Japanese cars, my perspective is slightly skewed, but it is very, very mechanical. The manual steering is heavy (I have a smaller steering wheel, much bigger tyres and puny noodle arms) but it's only noticeable when manoeuvring; when pressing on it really does add to the experience. Whilst I won't bore you with cliches, it really is fantastic.

Big wheels and non-PAS can be difficult...
Big wheels and non-PAS can be difficult...
"In the same way the sound of a rifle bolt isn't particularly enjoyable outside of its context, the engine isn't particularly musical. However, it makes noises that one would expect an engineer to enjoy (and I do, very much so) and is probably as good as a V6 gets.

"The seating position is amongst the best I have experienced. The view out the front and sides (the rear still sucks, like most mid-engined cars) and the position of the pedals is as close to perfect as I could imagine (my experience with cars, my brain and therefore my imagination, is very small however).

"Working on it is relatively easy as well. There is an absolute plethora of information available, including a workshop manual, so owners are quite spoilt in that respect. In comparison, trying to look up some bolt torque figures for a friend's E46 M3 was almost painful due to the lack of information available."

Things I hate:
"Before I start, I understand complaining about problems with your supercar (if one would refer to it as such) is the most idiotic of 'rich people problems', but you did ask...

"The fact you cannot read any piece of literature on the car without Senna being mentioned. It's the fault of lazy journalism rather than the fault of the individual, however I feel the celebrity name made others (maybe even Honda?) embellish his influence and maybe not highlight those who put in much more miles, Satoru Nakajima and Bobby Rahal to name a couple. No doubt he had an influence, and was important, but no more so than anyone else.

Easier to work on than an M3, apparently...
Easier to work on than an M3, apparently...
"The fact there is essentially zero parts sharing between any other cars. I have had most of mine apart (because I like to take things apart, not because it was required) and have so far found one gasket that would fit other Hondas (a VTEC solenoid gasket, if you must know).

"It tends to bring attention, which is nice in the sense that it makes people happy, but is really not my cup of tea (read: curling up in a fetal position and awkwardly sobbing until people turn away in disgust).

"The clutch pedal feel is vague; I have even upgraded to the Type R pedal and damper less slave cylinder hose, but it's still not fantastic."

"You can go crazy as you want. For the most part, standard service items are quite cheap. Things like air filters, oil filters, fuel filters and so on are no more so than any other 90s Japanese car. There are also quite a lot of aftermarket replacement parts for things like oxygen sensors etc which are reasonably priced. Where things tend to get either expensive, or time consuming, are the age related faults (mine is more than 25 years old now). Things like the coolant hoses (there are 24 on my car), the radiator and header tank tend to fail after a lifetime of faithful service. I've done all my own work so far, but I've been quoted £2,500 for a full cooling system refresh and timing belt. If you wanted to go further, Kaz from the NSXCB offers a full engine refresh service, which is incredibly detailed and time consuming, so will cost more.

"If you want an OEM clutch then they tend to be £1,200ish from Honda. It's a twin-plate item stock, so can handle anything but forced induction really (though people even run OEM on supercharged ones, so what do I know?).

"Performance parts and modifications are quite expensive, if you're coming from commonly modified cars like I was (200SX, Supras and so on) you might be in for a shock. If you're used to Porsche and Nissan GT-Rs, then I would imagine it's on par."

Looks like this one is sticking around for a bit
Looks like this one is sticking around for a bit
Where I've been:
"Nowhere really. It's an A-to-A car for me so the mileage is quite low. I like to drive it, but I also like working on it. That coupled with the fact I don't like to drive it in the rain (I know, sacrilege) because it's never seen so much as a drop in its entire life, means I spend more time looking at it from underneath than out through the windscreen. It makes me happy when I do either, and I'm pretty terrible at driving so I'll carry on that way for now!"

What's next:
"Upgrades and more preventative maintenance really. I've got quite an interesting brake upgrade in the works and I think I'm going to take the engine and gearbox out soon for a refresh and a few add-ons. I have bought a standalone ECU, so will be mapped when I've finished bolting shining things to it. I have also bought a baffled sump, you know, so there are no oil starvation issues whilst it's sat idle in my garage.

"I'm also going to try and drive it more than I currently am..."

[Images: DHPhotography, DannyDC2]

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Comments (36) Join the discussion on the forum

  • LotusOmega375D 04 Dec 2017

    Nice write-up. What's all the writing on the front and rear screens?

  • alorotom 04 Dec 2017

    Love the honesty in the write up and that it’s a balance of garage queen and commuter - and that it doesn’t matter as it makes th OP smile both ways

    I’ve never been in an NSX but it seems like it would be more of an occasion than it’s Italian or German counterparts

  • hondansx 04 Dec 2017

    Enjoyed the write up!

    You bring up a good point about the whole Senna connection. For me, it's far more interesting to know that Honda built a whole new factory to build the car. Then there are some of the world firsts in terms of materials and production methods. Also the fact it could be viewed as virtually a hand built car.

    I like the design of your wheels, but I can't say I am a fan of the bodykit, the red badging or stickers...seem at odds with how you describe yourself. I actually modify my cars quite a bit, but when when it comes to the NSX, I think they're at the age where originality is important. It's an old thing now, let it grow old gracefully! For me, it cheapens the image of the car... it's not like you see Ferrari 355s rolling around with fibreglass body kits.

  • Thurbs 04 Dec 2017

    Looks really good.

    I was thinking one of these would make a great race car. Any idea what kind of power you can get from the 3.2 if you did cams, rods etc?

    There is a guy who races a black and green one but always seemed to miss him in the paddock.

    In standard form it looks pretty close to the ubiquitous M3: I suspect there is more weight to come out of a M3 than would be from the NSX though.

  • MDMetal 04 Dec 2017

    One of these has been parked outside a house I walk by everyday for the past few months in Cambridge, probably a different person though? Still looks gorgeous I was all excited first time I saw it.

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