How Honda’s NSX beat Ferrari at its own game
By slaying one of the world’s most prestigious marques with the help of Ayrton Senna, Honda’s very own supercar became a legend
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so by that logic a video speaks between 25,000-30,000 words per second. In a world of smartphones and smart TVs, our connected world enables us to digest more video content than ever. AutoClassics is to join the party by launching its own video offering. We kick off with the story of the original Honda NSX and how it beat Ferrari at its own game.
The story begins with the Honda HP-X concept, designed by Pininfarina. This sleek supercar got Honda engineers dreaming up ideas for a high-performance machine that was as easy to live with as a Civic. In the 1980s Honda was a true force to be reckoned with in Formula 1, and so there was no hesitation in going up against Ferrari in its own backyard.
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In 1990, Honda’s New Sports car eXperimental made its debut and was officially named NSX. The Japanese brand pioneered the notion of an ‘everyday supercar’ by engineering reliability, good visibility and lower running costs into its NSX.
But this car wasn’t just about being practical; its 252bhp 3.0-litre V6 VTEC engine gave it performance to match Ferraris of its day. Legendary Formula One champion Ayrton Senna also helped with the final development of this machine, and shaped it into the keen driver’s car that it became.
Ultimately the NSX would live on until 2005, to complete a 15-year production run. In that time a couple of updates granted it a bigger 3.2-litre engine producing 276bhp, plus various chassis tweaks. The hardcore Japan-only NSX Type R of 1992 was a particular highlight, as was its 2002 NSX-R successor. Today, the NSX has been reborn as a 573bhp hybrid supercar.
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