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Honda NSX: Buying guide and review (1990-2005)

Honda NSX: Buying guide and review (1990-2005) Classic and Performance Car
Honda NSX side Honda NSX front Honda NSX rear Honda NSX interior
Japan’s riposte to Ferrari was born into the era when McLaren (powered by Honda) dominated F1 and Ferrari, very much pre-Schumacher, was second best. And the NSX, Honda’s first supercar, wiped the floor with Ferrari’s 348 dynamically. It was the world’s first aluminium monocoque production car, honed by Ayrton Senna himself.
 
Honda did the smart thing and played to its strengths, combining a sensational, high-revving 3.0-litre V6 with a super-stiff and lightweight aluminium body, and ensuring it was reliable and easy to drive. The fact that, at the time, Ferrari was suffering with unreliability issues only helped the cause: Honda had the opportunity to repeat what it had done in F1 and beat the Italians at their own game. 
 
The NSX had its own purpose-built production facility in Tochigi, Japan. The idea was to separate the supercar from its other cars, maintaining sterile manufacturing conditions to ensure perfect build quality. McLaren even let Senna loose in the NSX at a Suzuka test session in 1989. He drove the development mule and suggested that, among other things, the car’s body didn’t feel rigid enough. 
 
With this in mind, Honda worked hard on reinforcing the NSX’s already strong aluminium shell and, in doing so, unlocked the key to better body control, ride quality and refinement. 
 
When launched, the NSX proved supercars needn’t be the impractical, unreliable monsters of old. The same is true today – only now the bidding starts at very ordinary money. 
 
Which one to buy?
 
The NSX was never a big seller, especially in the UK, but there is a healthy supply of 3.0-litre cars around. Imports are not uncommon, but generally don’t drastically differ in price. It remained in production for 15 years, and by 2005 the Japanese supercar was struggling to keep up with the competition. 
 
Early cars, which are the most common and easiest to find, came with a 3.0-litre V6 engine producing 276bhp. An automatic version was offered, and proved surprisingly popular in Japan, although power was reduced to 242bhp. 
 
Although no convertible NSX was offered, from 1995 a removable targa top roof panel was fitted to the NSX-T. Two hardcore models were built, the original NSX-R in 1992, and the later Type R in 2003. Both are incredibly rare and difficult to find, with only a very small number known to be in the UK. 
 
Later examples, especially the facelift cars, are quite thin on the ground and are the best resolved. Although the official power output remained unchanged, it’s thought that these examples were producing well in excess of 320bhp.
 
Common problems
 
• Although it is extremely reliable, the NSX does have a few areas that need to be carefully checked. 
 
• Certain 1990-1992 models had a weakness in the transmission countershaft bearing, with a ring that could snap, leading to eventual catastrophic gearbox failure. It’s worth checking the transmission’s VIN number with a specialist to see if it will be affected, but warning signs include a howling noise on acceleration, or jumping out of gear.
 
• Coolant reservoirs are notoriously leaky, but surprisingly cheap to replace. Be sure that none of the 23 coolant hoses is cracked, brittle or hard, that there’s no hardened coolant near their ends. Also look for non-original hose clips. You have to ask why they weren’t changed properly and who carried out the work?
 
• While it may seem obvious, it’s absolutely vital to check the oil. It should be changed at 9000-mile intervals or every year, and if it’s not clean you should question the car’s maintenance schedule.
 
• Servicing isn’t expensive in supercar terms, but it must be done every year. 
 
• The timing belt must be replaced every 90,000 miles or 72 months, so it’s something you probably only have to worry about once, although you should take that into account if you’re buying one that needs doing. It’s a good idea to do the water pump at the same time, which bumps the price up to about £1000. 
 
• If the car has any engine or transmission leaks, it’s definitely cause for concern, and often points to neglect. Common points of leakage are the valve cover gaskets and VTEC solenoids. 
 
• Because of the high percentage of aluminium used in the NSX, accident damage can be difficult to repair, so you should be careful to check the panel gaps and paint. It’s difficult to get a good finish when painting sheet aluminium, so it’s worth inspecting – although a respray isn’t always a bad thing. 
 
• Buying an NSX and discovering that it’s been crashed is not a nice experience. Aluminium bodyshells are much harder to straighten out than steel ones, and they almost never seem right afterwards.
 
• The suspension is virtually all made from aluminium, and you should treat any knocks or misalignment suspiciously. The most amazing thing about the NSX is the handling. Clunks and rattles totally defeat the car’s purpose. Question anything that doesn’t track straight or isn’t properly aligned and make sure it’s sorted before you hand any money over.
 
• The electrical systems are well designed, but age-related problems can crop up. Sit in the car and check that the heater fan blows at each variable speed, and the digital display works. It’s quite common for NSX climate control to only blow on the fastest speed, and it isn’t cheap to fix.
 
Model history
 
1990: Honda NSX Coupe launched, featuring a 3.0-litre V6 producing 276bhp. 
1992: Lightweight track-biased NSX-R released in Japan.
1993: Rear alignment changed to improve tyre wear; interior slightly redesigned. 
1994: Wheels changed from five-spoke to a seven-spoke design, with wider tyres.
1995: Targa-top NSX-T arrives, while all the Coupe models now have a body-coloured roof, as opposed to the black roof of earlier cars. E-PAS steering fitted as standard. 
1997: Big mechanical upgrade, with engine capacity increased to 3179cc (same claimed power, though nearer 300bhp in reality), coupled to a new six-speed manual gearbox. Bodyshell revised with increased-strength aluminium. Luxurious Type-S and more stripped-out Type-S Zero models offered in Japan.
2002: All NSX models receive a mid-life refresh, with new exposed HID headlamps in place of the distinctive pop-up units, as well as a huge number of minor mechanical improvements under the skin. New, even harder Type-R launched with the introduction of the facelift, which like the original was only offered in Japan. 
2005: After more than 15 years, Honda ends NSX production. 
 
Performance and specs
 
2002 Honda NSX 
Engine 3179cc V6, DOHC, 24-valve
Power 276bhp @ 7300rpm
Torque 220lb ft @ 5300rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Top speed 168mph
0-60mph 5.5sec
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2530mm
Length 4404mm
Width 1811mm
Height 1171mm
Kerb weight 1365kg
 
Summary and prices
 
Early high-mileage (over 100,000) cars can be found from less than £20,000, but healthier examples start around the £30,000 mark. An immaculate 1990-97 3.0-litre NSX with low mileage and a perfect service record is potentially worth upwards of £35,000 – but it would have to be special. Automatics are slightly less powerful, and aren’t quite as sought after, generally costing £2000-3000 less than a manual equivalent. 
 
Post-1997 3.2 cars are considerably harder to find and command a premium, generally costing upwards of £40,000. The 2002 model-year facelifted cars are yet more difficult to source, with fewer than 74 sold in Europe between 2001 and 2005. Prepare to spend in excess of £55,000 – if you can find one. 
 
Buying an NSX now might prove to be a good move. Later cars have already increased in value and, as earlier cars have now stabilised, the best examples will inevitably become more valuable as they become rarer. 
Honda NSX side Honda NSX front Honda NSX rear Honda NSX interior
Last updated: 15th Jul 2016
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Honda NSX cars for sale

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Honda NSX
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  • Acura NSX

    POA POA

    Type: Used Year: 1991 Make: Acura Model: NSX Body: Coupe Trans: Automatic Stock 1991ACURA Mileage: 9088 Engine Size: 3.0L Ext Color: Red Int Color: White Vin: JH4NA1264MT001570

    • Year: 1991
    For sale
    Cooper Classics Collection
    (800) 719-3909 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Honda NSX

    POA POA

    Mayfair 020 7125 1400 | Maldon 01621 879579 Ordered in August 1990 by ‘The Patrick Collection’ of Birmingham, six months prior to the official launch of the NSX. Finished in Sebring Silver and Black Hide and carpets . Right-hand drive with a 4 speed automatic transmission. Genuine 5658 miles from new and only two previous owners. Comprehensive history file includes all previous MOT’s together with the original purchase invoice and dealer correspondence and press information pack with period road tests. Original book pack and tools all complete. Two sets of keys. Fully serviced by JD Classics in December 2014 with two new catalytic converters and four new Bridgestone tyres. Minimal use since and correctly stored. A unique example with low mileage in superb original condition. Price includes registration number. Please contact us for more details.

    • Year: 1991
    For sale
  • Honda NSX Coupe 1991

    POA POA

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Honda NSX Super Sportscar 1991 74000 km best available example A legendary car, this 1991 Honda NSX. Light, fast and manoeuvrable, this Pininfarina model. Experts say that this is the purest Japanese sportscar ever. The car has driven only 74000 km and is as new. Everything from the paint, till interieur and engine compartment is in topcondition. The 2997 CC V6 engine is perfect too. The car has also black leather interior, airco, cruise control etc. Full history of maintenance documents are present. This NSX is without a doubt the best available Honda NSX on the market. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1991
    For sale
  • Honda NSX 3.0 Coupe Auto

    £59,900 £59,900

    Launched in 1990 the Honda NSX is a aluminium bodied mid-engine 3.0 V6 rear whel drive sports car that was introduced to compete with the likes of Ferrari and some say surpass. Developed with the assistance of Ayrton Senna, this stunning car offers superb hanlding and performance combined with the build quality and reliability synonymous with the Honda brand. This particular car is offered in excellent condition and has had only 2 owners from new with the current owner acquiring the car in 1995. This car is prepared by our award winning workshop to the very highest standards. The service history is as follows: 05/07/1991 - Becketts Honda @ 24 miles (PDI) 02/06/1995 - Honda Westgate Motors @ 1283 miles 24/07/1995 - Honda Westgate Motors @ 4166 miles 16/02/1996 - Honda Norton Way @ 7177 miles 21/08/1996 - Honda Norton Way @ 9029 miles 24/03/1997 - Honda Norton Way @ 11401 miles 08/09/1998 - Honda Norton Way @ 14525 miles 20/01/2000 - Honda Norton Way @ 15843 miles 22/08/2003 - Joyce & Sons Ltd @ 20293 miles 24/10/2006 - Joyce & Sons Ltd @ 21768 miles 24/10/2008 - Honda Norton Way @ 22668 miles 02/12/2016 - Dove House Motor Company @ 25898 miles This vehicle is also supplied with 12 m

    • Year: 1991
    • Mileage: 25900 mi
    For sale
  • Honda NSX 3.2 SC

    POA POA

    Honda NSX 1991 Engine and transmission: 6-speed 3.2 NA2 C32B with 50000 km Bash Boost kit with Paxton supercharger, 380 hp @ 0.3 bar Chargercooler with Popoff Tial Koyo aluminum radiator. AEM ECU Sachs reinforced clutch Baffle oil pan- Tein Superflex coilover OZ Alleggerita wheels front tires 245/35/18 rear tires 285/30/18 R888 Movit complete front and rear brake system 6 pot (very expensive) Route KS time attack complete bodykit with front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, front and rear fenders Carbon front splitter Carbon rear extractor Carbon bonnet Carbon rear trunk Carbon roof Carbon Motor dome (replace glass) Front tail conversion Momo steering wheel (not in photos), and much moreThe car is in amazing as new conditions, i believe it is the only one in Europe with 3.2 engine, 6-speed gearbox. The car has never made track or race. It was used only for promotional / advertising purposes. German documents.

    • Year: 1991
    For sale
  • 1991 Acura NSX Coupe

    $38,500(£30,757.65) $38,500(£30,757.65)

    Chequered Flag International is pleased to offer this 1991 Acura NSX in Silver with Black top and Black interior. Automatic. 89,143 miles with clean Carfax. One family owned from new. Sold new by Gold Coast Acura in Ventura Ca. Runs and drives very well. Radio is not working. Four new Bridgestone Potenza's just fitted all round. Nice body with good paint. Nice interior. Comes with handbook, two sets of keys, some records, no spare. Inspections encouraged. All sales AS-IS. Sales tax and license fees due if delivered in California. Visit Chequered Flag International online at chequeredflag.com to see more pictures of this vehicle or call us at 310-827-8665 today to schedule your test drive.

    • Year: 1991
    For sale
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