By on December 17, 2008

The car bloggers went sub-ballistic (what would that be, scientists?) today because Honda announced that it was killing the NSX project. Well, I say good riddance to a stupid idea. I’m in that camp of people that thinks the original NSX is the very rare car that came out perfectly. And while many people have admonished me for clinging to outdated conceptions of what a particular car or company “should” be (like the 1-Series not being a suitable sucessor to the 2002, or the Subaru Forester betraying its goofwagon roots), I can’t understand the business case for a front-engined V10 Acura NSX. Trickle down tech? Maybe – though certainly not the V10 engine, unless it was going to be tacking two extra cylinders onto Honda’s already dubious planned V8. Front engine supercar? Plenty of those out there. Expensive? Again, plenty of those out there. Lexus reportedly cancelled its LF-A program because it was clear that they weren’t going to take down Godzilla (the Nissan GT-R). So why would Acura plan differently? I think people would welcome a modern version of the original NSX concept, though – a mid-engined car with the best handling in the world, a great gearbox, and a relatively simple V6 or V8 engine. Or, as Lieberman says in the podcast – Honda’s version of a Ferrari F430. Sold.

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25 Comments on “Intermittent Daily Podcast: It’s the End of the Acura NSX, and I Feel Fine...”


  • avatar
    pleiter

    ballistic, as in missile, is when the controls are locked and it’s vector-maintenance as provided by the propulsion vs. gravity. Also called gravity-turn. Just like those particle equations in physics, i.e. the flight of a cannon ball without drag, maximum range when fired at 45 degrees, ect. So sub-ballistic must be a submarine-launched missile when the controls locked, sort of like hoisting oneself on ones’ petard.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Maybe they could instead create a V6 TSX with the power of the original NSX, rear wheel drive, and a $30k price tag.

  • avatar
    tom

    It’s actually not true that there was no car industry in East Germany. Auto Union for example was located in the east (it was re-founded in the west after the war) as were others. The problem was that:

    A) The Russians dismantled everything they thought could be of value and moved it to the Soviet Union.

    B) The remaining pieces were socialized (dispossessed) and combined under the IFA (Industrieverband Fahrzeugbau = Industrial Association for Vehicle Construction)

    The Trabant was built by VEB Sachsenring (VEB = Volkseigener Betrieb = people-owned enterprise) which was basically the remainder of Horch (Horch was part of Auto Union).

    A little fun fact: The founder of Horch, August Horch was kicked out of his own company. So he decided to start a new one. Unfortunately, he couldn’t use his last name anymore, so he translated it into Latin and founded Audi. Both companies would later be reunited, together with DKW and Wanderer under the four rings of Auto Union.

  • avatar
    ZCline

    Would love to see a capsule review of a Fierro … Wasn’t the V6 one supposed to be “good”? I also remember guys stuffing Northstar V8s in them as well. Could you imagine how little storage room a mid-engine Solstice would have? I’m thinking on the low-side of none.

    I’m really very interested in the new Z now after having read your review and hearing your comments on the podcast Johnny. I might have to get another job so I can justify having a car again …

  • avatar
    rmwill

    NSX is an identity. If Honda is not willing to design a superlight mid engine sports car, then kill it.

    Could Honda use their technology to kick Teslas ass if they wanted to? You betcha.

  • avatar

    Penny for your Trabant, sehr?

    So comparatively, if the 370Z is cozy, where does that definition fall within something like a Miata or S2000?

    And if Porsche did 1100 HP back in the 70′s, why is 2000 HP not a reality today?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I completely agree with this post. Maybe its just the years of “Hondas bringing back the NSX” with the “spy shots” meanwhile I stopped caring (maybe kinda like the Camaro)

    Plus, I look back fondly on the early to mid 90′s Hondas. I loved about all of them. Yeah, the NSX got long in the tooth, but there was always something cool about being in an Acura dealership in the early 2000′s and seeing the same basic car. Though spec wise it sure wasn’t so impressive any more. In some ways, that’s the way I want to remember the NSX. As one of the coolest cars in the history of the automobile. A V10 front engine just doesn’t get me excited like I still am about the old ones. Even if it makes a gazillion HP.

    I’d love to drive one.

    And if Toyota canceled the LF-A due to not being able to out-gun the GT-R….well, that’s kinda a lame excuse if you ask me. GT-R seems like a nice car, but I can’t say I’d prefer that over a Porsche or a Corvette ZR-1 (or even Z06) or an AMG Benz. Just because a car can’t beat a GT-R around the track doesn’t mean it can’t be a great car, and can’t be successful. If that’s what everyone uses to judge if they’re going to build a car, guess everyone but Nissan should probably just shut their doors tomorrow :)

  • avatar
    Johnson

    … except the Lexus LF-A is not cancelled. Far from it. Just a few weeks ago an LF-A prototype was seen doing a demonstration in Japan with Toyota executive vice-president Akio Toyoda at the wheel. When Toyota’s vice-president shows off an LF-A prototype to 30,000 people in Japan, I’m pretty sure that’s a sign the car will be in production.

    Too bad for Honda. First they pull out of F1, now this. I don’t buy Honda’s excuse of a “bad economy”. Last I checked, Toyota is still committed to F1 and the LF-A is not cancelled. Another reason I don’t buy Honda’s excuse is that they have plenty of money to weather a bad economy.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Totally agree. The front engined V10 NSX made me mad when I first heard of it, just sad when I saw that lame concept at NAIAS, and then mad again when I heard it would have an astronomical price tag. Hopefully this move will cause Acura to re-evaluate their decision and give us the mid engined screaming V6 I want.

  • avatar
    CaliCarGuy

    i love wat u said justin about how nissan needs to use the z and g37 plaform for a proper z. but i agree wit u that the nsx was a dumb idea. should pay homage to the original

  • avatar
    Jon Paul

    I’m guessing that the U.S. and world economy is a lot worse off than anyone realizes yet (or maybe we’re just holding our denial because Obama is coming to town). Things really have fallen off a cliff, and it scares me that the stock market can be rallying right now, because there is no logical basis for enthusiasm given the cold reality of the numbers being reported.

    2009 is going to be abysmal – so much so that even Honda and Toyota will struggle. There is no guarantee that things will recover by 2010. So why should Honda be pouring precious yen into this kind of project?

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I may be looking through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia but I find that the style of the 1990-96 Nissan Z’s were the best looking ever. Even nearly twenty years old the design still looks clean and modern to me. My father had a 1990 300ZX Twin Turbo 5 speed, white with charcoal leather, t tops. I drove it some days to high school in 96-97. Drove it to my junior prom. Dad was pretty cool for letting me drive “the rocketship” alone at age 16… The car ran like a raped ape when those turbos spooled up. Had it up to 140 on the on ramp to I 95 one day and she was still pulling hard. I wonder how the new ones compare. Anyone drove both that gen and the current gen? When my father passed away in 05 it has just 22,000 miles. Stepmom sold it for a song.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Is there an equivalent car for sale now that does what the NSX did? Great looking, somewhat rare, much less money than an exotic but giving some of the performance.

    Maybe the Lotus Elise?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Sometimes the worst mistakes are made in the best of times. A V-10 front engine Acura sports car was a dumb idea and it will not be missed.

  • avatar
    CarmaoKid

    In 1992 the NSX was a great car… But this car is a great case study of what happens when you forget/refuse to update a car… By 2000 this “perfect” performance car was out muscled by POS Camaros and was getting embarrassed by a myriad of cars costing half as much…

    Most of the automotive press were already saying “put a fork in it… its done”
    and the sales numbers showed that buyers felt the same…

    By 2005 this car was a total embarrassment, from EVERY POV, performance, sales, technology, styling… This car was done…

    This car has done so much damage to Acura’s image that its replacement had IMO “no chance”.

  • avatar
    CaliCarGuy

    lol wat i ment to say was i like how justin said that nissan shouldve took the z and g platform and make a proper maxima with it. but anyway yea this nsx was a disappointment. to me insted of goin back to midengine and good chassis, this is just like everyother supercar wit front engine v10 etc… nun to rave about

  • avatar
    ronin

    Wait- the Forester betraying its goofwagon roots?

  • avatar
    minion444

    Thanks for the podcast! Instead of intermittent podcasts (this is like a marriage, not tonight I have a headache!). how about a once a week 45 minute podcast.

    Like a week in review audio magazine?

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    At first I was sad about the NSX being killed. It would’ve been nice for Honda to show the world (and Godzilla) what a V10 RWD Japanese supercar can do (and do to the Ferrari yet again).

    But now I’m thinking, maybe it’s not so bad. I shudder to think what the NSX would look like in production form after styling disasters like the TSX, TL and RL.

    I’m with you Justin…I’d rather have my memories of the NSX be the elegant mid-engined VTEC V6 exotic that made Ferrari cringe at its performance instead the any reference to the new one being of the bird beak attached to the nose.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Is there an equivalent car for sale now that does what the NSX did? Great looking, somewhat rare, much less money than an exotic but giving some of the performance.

    The problem is that the performance numbers that supercars can turn are now solidly in the “deathcar” range, and the more moderate numbers from the NSX’s heyday are almost possible in a Toyota RAV/4.

    That means that “Rare” is the problem critera. A Corvette or S2000 can give an NSX a run for it’s money–and cars like the Z06 and GTR can outright crush it–but they’re not exactly uncommon. The other choice is stuff like the Atom, X-Bow and the Elise (which was a good choice on your part–I wish I could fit in one).

    If you want rare and not stupidly expensive, you could build a Caterham. I’m actually thinking about saving some money for this and doing it as a project with my son when he’s a little older.

  • avatar
    theslik1

    npbheights:
    I may be looking through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia but I find that the style of the 1990-96 Nissan Z’s were the best looking ever. Even nearly twenty years old the design still looks clean and modern to me.

    QFT. I had the opportunity to buy a mint 1995 twin-turbo about a year ago. VERY well cared for and low miles but instead I talked myself out of buying another turbocharged automobile. I’m still kicking myself in the ass for letting that one slip away…

  • avatar
    dean

    Not only were those ’90s Z-cars great looking, they were introduced with one of the best car ads of all time.

    I’d love to see the true spirit of the 240Z resurrected though. Lightweight, small engine, fuel efficient coupe on a chassis designed for handling. A Miata with a roof.

  • avatar

    I would quibble about the comment that you could drive an NSX without having a panic attack if it got scratched. Repairing aluminum bodywork is a bitch — my mechanic (former Honda service manager who now has an independent Honda/Acura shop) says fairly minor door dings can easily end up becoming $2,000 repairs. Owie.

    Still, I agree with Mr. Berkowitz — the NSX was a brilliant piece of work, kind of a Japanese reinvention of the Dino 246 GT. They still look great, and other than their penchant for eating tires, they provided near-exotic performance and handling with amazingly little finicky behavior. I think the interesting but flawed S2000 is closer to that spirit than any overmuscled V10 ubercar.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    argentla :
    I would quibble about the comment that you could drive an NSX without having a panic attack if it got scratched. Repairing aluminum bodywork is a bitch — my mechanic (former Honda service manager who now has an independent Honda/Acura shop) says fairly minor door dings can easily end up becoming $2,000 repairs. Owie.

    D’oh!! Great point.

  • avatar

    I’d rather see them go for the Boxster with a mid-engined roadster to replace the S2000. Too few choices in mid-engined cars out there as is and something with a bit of civility but lightweight would be amazing.


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