Down On The Street: 1992 Acura NSX Braves Streets of San Francisco

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
down on the street 1992 acura nsx braves streets of san francisco

Every time I see an early NSX— which, sadly, isn’t often— it reinforces my belief that the early 1990s were a golden age for the automobile. You had decent electronic engine controls instead of carburetors (and primitive might-as-well-be-carburetors 80s EFI), model bloat hadn’t gotten totally out of hand, and the SUV revolution hadn’t yet caused cup holders and other McMansion-esque gear to metastasize from every interior surface of every vehicle. Sure, we’re now living in the Golden Age Of Engines— there’s no arguing with the horsepower and efficiency numbers we’re seeing from internal combustion these days— but I’ll take the early 1990s. And the NSX.

I shot this car in San Francisco a couple of years back, while in transit to the nightmarish Gumball 3000 kickoff, and I was reminded of the photos when I spotted a black mid-90s NSX cruising through the snow in Denver earlier this week.

While the Miata’s “like an MGB, only you can actually drive the thing” concept inspired legions of worshipers, the NSX never really inspired the same sort of passion among North American car freaks (even given the $65,000-versus-$13,400 price tag comparison in 1992).

Speaking of price tags, the ‘3,010-pound/270-horsepower ’92 NSX listed at about a grand more than the 3,031-pound/250-horsepower ’92 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 coupe. You could also get a ’92 ZR1 Corvette for a few hundred bucks more than the NSX, which would have given you a mighty 375 horses in a 3,465-pound machine; sure, the build quality might not have been in the same universe as the Acura or the Porsche, but what a deal! Say you were time-machined back to 1992 with a suitcase full of cash and had to choose, which would it be: the NSX, 911, or ZR1?

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  • Zas Zas on Feb 15, 2011

    I would definitely buy the NSX: world class handling, insane horsepower from a V6 NA mid-ship-mounted automobile, and it looked like nothing else on the road for a 2-seater from a Japan. I always thought Porcshe owners were tools and ZR-1 owners were just pompous assholes (kinda like some Mustang GT owners I knew at the time). American "muscle" had lapsed into coma by that time, and paying 97k for a Corvette was unheard of. R&T had a review of the car, and I remember reading that while straight-line performance was impressive, skid-pad performance was lack-luster and the car was in much need of a suspension upgrade to be able to handle corners. I'd get it in the Grand Prix White that they had for a number of years (much like the photo) or the Silver that was on the original prototype (Best Motoring had a test drive in 1989 and I still have the video tape of it). That was, and will always be, an amazing sports car.

  • Mark MacInnis Mark MacInnis on Feb 15, 2011

    Is that NSX parked in front of the Dungeon?

  • Lorenzo They should have put a more upright windshield on it, and kept the V trim on the hood. Dump the sliding passenger door and put the twin hinged doors back. Dump the batteries and put the 1.4 turbo into it, and put the original 16 inch wheels back, with metal hubcaps. VW did to the Buzz what they did to the new Bug, went with the generic shape and took out all the details people liked.
  • Azfelix This inspires so much confidence in the knowledge that government employees also have oversight over the proposed emergency braking rules. Ancient Athenians utilized the process of banishment. Perhaps we should consider implementing it for every government agency at every level.
  • MrIcky Its going to sell really well for a little bit, then everyone who wanted one will have one and it will sell almost nothing ever again-primarily well to do flower shop delivery vehicles after that first wave.
  • MaintenanceCosts It will have an initial period of, well, buzz because of the Type 2 nostalgia.Whether it has legs beyond that period will depend on whether VW can get competitive on two things: (1) electric powertrain efficiency, where their products have been laggards so far (hurting range badly), and (2) software. The packaging looks good and will help, but they need to get those other things right too.
  • Oberkanone Priced too high though not by much.