More Rising Sun Classics I Honda Hottie D
just had to write in and say how much I enjoyed Greg Price’s article on his son’s Mazda 808 ( Nzclassiccar, February 2015). My mother owned one of these handy little coupés back in the mid ’ 70s, and I recall many a trip taken in her car.
I think its great that you featured this ’ 70s Japanese classic, and I reckon you should do more stories along similar lines, especially as I don’t see many of them on the roads anymore. Hopefully, there are more survivors lurking in barns around the country or being assiduously restored by their enthusiastic owners. David Jackson, via email [For us, the hardest part is finding Japanese cars from that era that haven’t been modified beyond redemption — or simply rusted away. Having said that, there’s something for Japanese car enthusiasts in this month’s Benson & Hedges motor-sport feature. Looking ahead, we’re planning a feature on an original Mazda RX-3, and I’m sure a few more rising-sun classics will emerge from the long grass at some stage in the future. AGW] onn Anderson’s brilliant article on the Honda NSX ( Nzclassic Car, January 2015) brought back some very interesting and happy memories for me.
Prior to my retirement — having been at the helm of the NZ Honda motorcycle distributors, Blue Wing Honda Ltd, for over 15 years — I was well aware of the dedicated enthusiasm and skills of the Honda Motor Company’s two- and fourwheel R&D personnel. Consequently, I was very confident that if and when it actually did appear, the rumoured new sports car would indeed be “something very special!”
As expected, I was not disappointed. That lovely V6 engine, based upon Honda’s experience and success in Formula One with both Mclaren and Williams, was a jewel — producing excellent performance while, at the same time, allowing the car to be as “docile, tractable and comfortable” to drive as a Civic or Accord. The NSX was a gorgeous car but, as Donn pointed out, the huge cost of development and production meant it carried a price tag beyond most of us.
However, while revisiting Japan in 2004 I was invited — as a guest of the Honda Motor Company — to visit its Motegi ‘Twin Ring’ complex that, amongst other things, has a full Indy car–type banked circuit as well as a complete motorcycle road-race course. The course safety car at the time of my visit was a very highly tuned LHD NSX. I was inserted into the passenger’s seat of this car alongside a fully helmeted and race-suited course official. He then proceeded to thrill (scare?) me with 10 laps of flat-out motoring around the banked circuit. I am sure this driver’s party piece was seeing just how close he could get the right-hand mirror (the one on my side!) to the concrete safety wall at speeds approaching 300kph. It was an experience to remember, even to this day. It is a shame the model was discontinued — it was, for those fortunate enough to own one, a great car.
Donn mentioned the introduction and use of V-TEC engines and, from memory, I believe that we actually had a V-TEC engine on one of our Honda motorcycle models prior to its introduction to Honda’s automobile range.
My sincere thanks to Donn and NZ Classiccar for such an interesting piece of nostalgia. Grahame Boot, Orewa [I’d have to agree with both Graham and Donn, the NSX was a great car. Back in 2004 we tested one of the swoopy Hondas alongside a Porsche Carrera and a Maserati 4200GT, commenting that the NSX was “… developed at a time when Ayrton Senna was demonstrating Honda’s engineering superiority to the world, and he was also commissioned by Honda to evaluate its first supercar and help to tailor it into a car meant for pure driving pleasure. That is what you have here, a Japanese car designed for driving — not carting kids round, not showing off to the neighbours, just sheer driving pleasure. A fabulously honest car, the NSX does what it sets out to in a neat and courteous manner, with no histrionics.” AGW]