CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2019 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Acura this week marks 30 years since the shot heard ’round the automotive world — the 1989 global debut of the first-generation Acura NSX. The first mid-engined exotic without European pedigree, NSX was a low slung, super light, high-revving machine sporting the world’s first all-aluminum monocoque, titanium connecting rods, a VTEC™ valvetrain and levels of quality and daily driving comfort unheard of in sports cars of the time.
Introduced as the NS-X Concept, the precursor to the production NSX, Acura chose the Chicago Auto Show for the global debut, at a press conference held at the Drake Hotel on February 9, 1989. In celebrating this milestone event, Acura returns to the Chicago Auto Show, hosting a panel discussion to reflect on the car’s origins, its impact on the automotive landscape, and the role the next-generation NSX is playing in the renaissance of Acura today.
Joining the panel discussion are Jon Ikeda, Vice President and General Manager of Acura, whose 28-year career at Acura was catalyzed by the launch of NSX, and Csaba Csere, former editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine, who attended the 1989 reveal and was among the first journalists to drive both the original and second-generation NSX.
Released in conjunction with the Chicago Auto Show, Acura has published a new video featuring throwback footage of a first model year (1991) production NSX, and a current (2019) NSX, along with never before seen images from the original NS-X Concept reveal.
Since its debut, NSX has made an indelible impression on the exotic and supercar world. Its all-aluminum construction and 270-horsepower VTEC V6 were as exotic as anything available at the time, but its conventionally comfortable and ergonomic cockpit and gentle road manners ran sharply counter to contemporary European exotics.
“Before NSX, it was always assumed that supercar performance came at the price of a comfortable interior and everyday drivability,” said Jon Ikeda. “NSX shattered those notions, and raised the bar on every other exotic and supercar maker, with the effects still felt today. NSX was a huge inspiration and one of the major reasons I was drawn to join Acura nearly 30 years ago.”
Like its predecessor, today’s second-generation NSX incorporates groundbreaking technology. The Acura NSX is the only supercar made in America and the only one utilizing electric motors to enhance every element of dynamic performance, seamlessly combining three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ with a bespoke twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V6 engine to deliver an unparalleled range of driving experiences, from all-electric Quiet mode to the ultimate at-the-limit capability of Track mode.
Acura NSX: Did You Know?
Roots of NS-X
Honda R&D in Japan took the first steps toward what would become the first-generation NSX in January 1984 with basic research on a new drive system distinct from the “FF” (front-engine/front-wheel drive) vehicle type that had underpinned Honda’s success with such iconic models as Civic, Accord and the Acura Integra.
A year earlier, Honda had made its return to Formula 1 racing and its engineers were excited about the prospects of creating a sports car that would showcase the company’s deeply rooted racing spirit and high-performance design and engineering capabilities. Also, the R&D team had been contacted several times by the group at American Honda that was planning the launch of the Acura brand, indicating their interest in a pinnacle sports car for the new lineup.
The focus of the research was on an underfloor, midship-engine rear-wheel drive (UMR) format that could combine higher packaging efficiency along with the sport characteristics associated with rear drive. It was Honda’s first experience designing a passenger car with the engine in the rear half of the vehicle. In February 1984, the development team created a UMR test vehicle using a first-generation Honda City.
Formal development of what would become the Acura NSX began in the fall of 1985. More info here.
An Engine Roars, and Changes Follow
The prototype NS-X Concept introduced at the Drake Hotel in Chicago in February 1989 was shorter overall than the final production vehicle with a shorter wheelbase and less front and rear overhang. The evolution of the design from prototype to production would be impacted by a late change to the engine specification – from the prototype’s SOHC V6, shared with the Acura Legend sedan, to the production NSX’s bespoke DOHC V6 with VTEC valvetrain.
Prior to the press conference, the president of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Tadashi Kume, unexpectedly decided to fire up the prototype’s engine, a sound that could be heard in an adjacent room, where a competing automaker was holding its own press preview. While the noisy blast attracted media attention, Kume turned to the NSX engineering team and asked why the…
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