Future classic: Acura NSX

Future classic: Acura NSX

At the Turin auto show in 1984, Honda, the Japanese automaker, and Pininfarina, the Italian design house, unveiled a concept car called the HP-X.

Photos courtesy American Honda Motor Co.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles about cars that someday likely will be considered classics.

At the Turin auto show in 1984, Honda, the Japanese automaker, and Pininfarina, the Italian design house, unveiled a concept car called the HP-X. H stood for Honda, P for Pininfarina and X for eXperimental. The car’s wedge-shape was reinforced by a series of sculpted ridges that streaked back from just behind the front wheels and over the rear tires. One of Honda’s V6 racing engines positioned behind the two-seat cockpit.

The concept laid the groundwork for a car Honda’s Acura division would reveal five years later at the Chicago auto show. The name was changed NSX, now was short for New Sports car eXperimental, except at this point the car no longer was experimental. It was the prototype for the NSX that would launch in the United States as a 1991 production model.

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Honda had returned to Formula One racing in 1988 as engine supplier to the McLaren team, and McLaren’s Ayrton Senna and Indy car racer Bobby Rahal were among those who helped develop the NSX’s dynamic capabilities. The car’s aluminum body was designed by budding auto styling superstar Ken Okuyama, who accented the production car’s wedge shape with a clever wing-style spoiler that stood proud of the rear deck lid as it spanned from one rear fender to the other.

The car’s V6 engine spun to more than 7,000 rpm, where it produced 270 horsepower, more than enough to create excitement for someone driving such nimble and lightweight vehicle.

The NSX was Japan’s first widely distributed, world-class sports car and was pitted against everything from Ferraris to Corvettes.

NSX production ran from 1990-2005, and those cars still sell at used car rather than collector car prices.

That very well will change, especially with Acura showing a new NSX that goes into production in 2015 as a world-class but hybrid sports car with a twin-turbocharged V6 to power the rear wheels and with electric motors turning each of the front wheels for an all-wheel powertrain.

And, after all, if you buy a new NSX, what better companion for it in your garage than one of the originals?

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