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Stop Calling the First-Generation Acura NSX Boring!

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author photo by Tyler Hoover November 2017

In the great debate of what qualifies as a "supercar," the biggest argument brought against the first generation Acura NSX is performance. Even though a few performance bolt-on parts easily remedy that situation, the NSX being slower never bothered me, as I prefer to run a car through its gears without approaching the sound barrier. The other common theme among NSX naysayers is this mid-engined exotic is boring -- and that's something I've always taken a huge issue with.

It's been almost a year since I purchased my needy 1992 example -- which, at $31,000, was the cheapest manual NSX available in the USA with a clean title. It didn't take much effort to recondition my car mechanically, and I was able to make my own personal cosmetic touches without much guilt -- as it was already modified before. From an investment standpoint, bringing the NSX back to stock would have been the wiser decision, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun.

This is what makes the NSX a highly unusual car in the world of exotics. A collector will buy one of these as an investment to enshrine in their garage like a museum piece, while the next person might build an NSX into a one-of-a-kind, 600-horsepower monster. When someone decides to customize an older Italian exotic in similar fashion, they're thought to be insane.

There are only so many times you can polish a Ferrari until the paint wears out, leaving you with nothing left to do. Since using aftermarket parts on an Italian exotic is seen as a capital offense, there's not many options out there besides OEM. And given that some Ferrari models aren't DIY-friendly, servicing costs can be nuts. Keeping up with the repairs is usually challenging enough, so there's really no need to further the financial bleeding by making any silly modifications.

Of course, the argument could be made that a Ferrari looks, sounds and drives perfectly from the factory -- and the NSX will never come close to giving that soulful feeling. Personally, I would gladly sacrifice a little spice in the soul department if it meant I was getting more practicality and reliability. I've never had a moment's worry about my Honda engine not starting every day -- even though it's all aluminum, with titanium connecting rods and an 8,000 RPM redline. I also don't have to worry about 5-figure service costs, or dropping the drivetrain out to perform basic repairs, either.

While some find the styling of the NSX to be too generic and boring, many people, including myself, see it as a blank canvas to create their own perfect car. The aftermarket is thriving with various performance and visual enhancements for the NSX, which can transform these cars into something totally bonkers. I recently started dipping my toes into this vast aftermarket network with a few modifications with my own car.

I've always admired the shape of the NSX, so I doubt I'll ever go nuts with any serious body kits -- but I like the looks of the limited-edition NSX-R rear spoiler. An aftermarket company produces an exact carbon fiber replica of this wing, and installing it was a simple bolt-on affair. Another recent modification was installing an aftermarket performance muffler, giving my NSX a stronger, more exotic-sounding tone -- but the biggest change to my car happened on the inside.

During my initial sorting of the NSX, I went a little nuts on the interior. I opted to replace the ugly aftermarket seat covers with custom black leather upholstery with diamond-stitched inserts -- and I swapped all the generic plastic trim pieces with carbon fiber. The only thing dating the interior of my NSX was the instrument cluster, which looks identical to the gauges in the Integra. Thankfully, some nutty guy in Sweden figured out a way to adapt the awesome Honda S2000 gauge cluster to the NSX -- and he sells a mostly plug-and-play kit to make the transformation.

I chose the earlier "AP1"-style S2000 gauges, as they look the most like what Senna had in his Honda-powered Formula 1 championship car, which later gave birth to the development of the NSX. The sweeping digital tachometer encourages you to run the engine to 8,000 RPM, while the carbon fiber adapter plate surrounding the cluster matches the rest of my wild interior perfectly.

While my styling choices will probably draw some criticism, nobody would ever call my car boring. Really, the NSX is only as boring as you make it. It's the perfect emerging Japanese classic to buy and obsess over every little car show point, or to build into some wild SEMA-looking show car, or turn into a track monster -- or to just daily drive without worry. The first generation NSX really is the perfect supercar -- and I can't see myself ever losing interest.

Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Stop Calling the First-Generation Acura NSX Boring! - Autotrader