More Ris­ing Sun Clas­sics I Honda Hot­tie D

New Zealand Classic Car - - Readers' Writes -

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]

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