1996 Honda NSX – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

When Honda told the world it was going to make a supercar, the world responded by raising an eyebrow. This was, after all, the company that had given us the Civic. A good car, but not exactly the kind of thing that was going to steal sales away from Ferrari dealerships. It seemed like Honda was joshing, just having a bit of fun if you will. Then Honda said F1 legend, Ayrton Senna, was going to be involved in the car’s development. Then, while we were still letting that sink in, Honda said it would be mid-engine, rear-wheel drive and would boast an all-new 3.0 V6 engine (it was going to have the V6 from the Legend, but as it didn’t have Vtec, Honda re-engineered it so it did). All of a sudden, Honda had our full attention. 

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The resulting car, the Honda NSX, which landed in 1989, was like no Honda before it. It was long, it was sleek and it was perfectly proportioned. Plus, it had pop-up headlights, and who doesn’t love pop-up headlights? Of course, it wasn’t just a masterclass in style. It also had the mineral to back up its size-nine stomp into the supercar world. The 3.0 V6, equipped with Vtec, delivered an impressive 270bhp through either a four-speed automatic or the much better five-speed manual transmission. It wasn’t the most exciting power figure for the time, granted. But power as they say, is nothing without control. And man alive, could the NSX control it. 

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The chassis was and still is an absolute work of art. The NSX was light thanks to cutting edge chassis design and construction using extruded aluminum. Suspension components were also made from lightweight aluminium and so was the body. The whole thing tipped the scales at a mere 1,370kg – and that’s not a lot when you consider how big this thing is. The suspension and so on was all near competition spec, and the settings were dialled in after exhaustive consultation with Ayrton Senna. By thrashing the prototype around Honda’s Suzuka circuit, he helped engineers get the most out of the NSX. Plus, his name brought an air of further excitement to the project. 

The NSX was a bold move for Honda. By 2005, some 18,000 had been built and sold. Of those though, it’s the ‘90s cars that have the most appeal. The later 3.2 was faster, but it wasn’t as pure as the original. It also didn’t have pop-lights. Boo. 

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This 1996 model is, to our mind, perfect. Finished in Charlotte Green with tan leather, it’s every bit the NSX we all fell in love with via the original Need For Speed game on – ready to feel old – the Panasonic 3DO. Fitted with a manual ‘box, it’s a proper drivers’ car, and one that will stand out from the others in their more traditional reds, whites and blacks. It’s just a magnificent thing. 85,500 miles on the clock, solid service history, recent belts and a fresh MOT. This, right here, is the perfect NSX. A Japanese supercar, icon and receiver of genuine Senna fettling, it could be yours for a mere £48,000. Bit of a bargain, really.

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