The NSX / 1990

A New Sportscar: The Dream of Technology

The NSX / 1990

Let’s Build a Sportscar!

The Wako R&D Center in January, 1984 began the basic research on a new drive system, as a means of achieving a shift from Honda’s FF (front-engine/front-wheel drive) vehicle type to another format. In those days, FF was the mainstream of Honda cars, and Honda models used it to ensure superior interior comfort and accommodations.

Photo

The NSX (September 1990)

However, the development team believed a change in drive format could enhance the flexibility of frame design and packaging. Therefore, the focus of research was to be to an underfloor, midship-engine rear-wheel drive (UMR) format. This could combine higher packaging efficiency along with the sporting characteristics with which rear drive was associated.

The potential in such a change also presented numerous obstacles. It was Honda’s first experience to design a car with the engine in the rear half of the vehicle. In February of the same year, with that in mind, and to expedite their research, the development team constructed a UMR test vehicle from a first-generation City.

During the test drive, the team members were amazed by the unique handling of the car, which differed greatly from the original FF specification. The UMR-version City, in fact, demonstrated superior performance characteristics. Unfortunately, further development had to be set aside because the level of technology then available to Honda placed certain limits on the car’s ability to present any real advantage over the normal FF version.

However, although the project was shelved, the team members simply could not forget the exhilaration they had experienced with the UMR experiment. Moreover, comments had been raised by supporters at the evaluation meetings that the rear-drive City’s dynamic performance should somehow be replicated.

The emphasis in research was therefore modified from drive format to dynamic performance - that which was typically achieved with a vehicle having a lower center of gravity, meaning a sportscar.

"It’s the dream of every development engineer to create a sportscar," said Shigeru Uehara, who was engaged in the development project as LPL. "The people who proposed changing the research direction at the evaluation meetings must also have had that dream."

In 1983, another step was taken, in the form of a prototype car fashioned from a CR-X as a means of testing dynamic performance from various perspectives. This was also the year Honda made its much-heralded return to the F-1 Series. Thus, of course, spirits were high at the R&D Center, in anticipation of the possibility that Honda might indeed build sportscars. Coincidentally, this had often been a subject of discussion at board meetings.

"I think the company wanted a car that could bridge its mass production FF models and F-1 cars," Uehara recalled. "They needed a car that would become the new face of Honda. Plus, we’d been contacted several times by those who were planning the Acura Division at American Honda concerning similar requests."

Honda’s development engineers finally found an outlet for the passions when in the fall of 1985 the creation of a new sportscar began in earnest.

Photo

A sketch of the NSX’s exterior, with its sleek profile based on an F16 fighter jet.

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

A System that Fosters Expertise
  1. A System that Fosters ExpertiseA System that Fosters Expertise
  2. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
  3. Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification  / 1960Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  1. A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the WorldA Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  2. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  3. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  4. Introducing N360 / 1967Introducing N360 / 1967
  5. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  6. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  7. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  8. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
Marketing Globally, Producing Lacally
  1. Marketing Globally, Producing LocallyMarketing Globally, Producing Locally
  2. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959
  3. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  4. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
A Refreshing New Development
  1. A Refreshing New DevelopmentA Refreshing New Development
Products Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  1. Products Emerging From Technology and InnovationProducts Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  2. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  7. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  8. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  9. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  10. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  11. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  12. Road Pal / 1976Road Pal / 1976
  13. City / 1981City / 1981
  14. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
  15. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  16. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  17. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  18. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  19. The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
Production Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufacturing
  1. Production Technology: The Essence of Creative ManufaturingProduction Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufaturing
  2. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  3. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  4. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  5. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
A Neverending Passion for Racing
  1. A Neverending Passion for RacingA Neverending Passion for Racing
  2. Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962
  3. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  4. Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964
  5. Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983
  6. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  7. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
Creativity - The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  1. Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  2. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  1. People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with NaturePeople and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  2. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  3. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  4. Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991

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