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1991 Acura NSX VS 1990 Honda Civic - Tech

Part 2: Looks Before Speed

By Andy Hope, Photography by Henry Z. Dekuyper, Jay Chen, Andy Hope, Adam Chu

Project NSX

Somewhere in our mission statement, underneath all the hoopla about performance, going fast and real world testing, there's a miniscule clause that says we also care about how our cars look. Something we've ignored in our long tradition of beaters and Krylon specials.

I've been scratching my head over what to do with the car. Project NSX is the first project car of its nature in our project car stable; high tech, snooty and already reasonably fast on track. I bought the car for the performance and hoped to avoid the attention getting looks. So in the initial months, Project NSX was driven in what I refer to as its beater form. But beater and NSX just don't seem to go well together in the same sentence and driving a beat up unwashed NSX attracted more attention than a well cared for car. Exactly what I didn't want.

I finally gave in and opted for plan B, a minor touch up, which our fine print mission statement clause gives me the alibi to pursue. The minor touch up grew its own head, snowballed and turned out to be not so minor at all, as most of our projects do. In the end, Project NSX's first installment would be a paint and bodykit blowout special just to be built in conjunction with Project Backmarker. We might as well get it out of the way before getting into the hardcore stuff.

The Parts
The snowball starts like this. Since Project NSX's paint was too far gone to be fixed, it had to be repainted. If you're going to repaint a car like this, it's worth the time to do it right and tear the whole thing down. The only thing worse than a beater NSX is one with fresh new peeling paint from Macco. Since we're tearing it down, I might as well do a color change since black cars are a pain to take care of. I like white, and since the car will be white, might as well make it Championship White like the Type-Rs available in Japan. If it's going to be painted like a Type-R, why not go all the way and do a reasonably good conversion and not regret it later. And if it's going to be a Type-R, lets make it the latest and greatest with a 2002 model (NA2) facelift makeover, Type-R hood and wing. And since the car is getting repainted, we can also weld all the USDM corner lights shut, yank the antenna and plug the hole just to be more special than the other NSX owners. I've now become a Type-R weenie.

The cosmetic conversion of our 1991 (NA1) NSX into the later 2002 and up (NA2) looking car requires just a few parts, new OEM headlights, HID ballast and wiring, new bumper skins, hood, sideskirts, lower door moldings, bumper supports and an endless list of seals, bolts and connectors. On any other car, this would be affordable, but an exclusive car has to have exclusive prices. If you think an NSX is expensive, just wait till you have to buy parts for it. And this is what ultimately separates a proper Type-R weenie from a wannabe weenie. A proper weenie loses all rational sense and throws away every good and functional factory fitting part on the car and wastes more money on brand new factory parts that total up to the price of another used NSX.

Luckily, I'm one of many wannabe weenies out there and an entire industry has sprung up to cater to the affordable conversion of a pop up light NA1 NSX (which I actually think looks better) to an NA2 since none of us can afford a later model car.

By Andy Hope
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