Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
1 IT WAS THE FIRST ALUMINIUM PRODUCTION CAR
Honda’s Ferrari 348 rival, unveiled in 1991, broke new ground by featuring aluminium body panels on a structure made largely from extruded aluminium sections. It was 200kg lighter than a corresponding steel car as a result, and said to be 50 percent stiffer than a Porsche 911. Nevertheless, credit should be given to the Panhard Dyna X and Z models of the 1940s and ‘50s, which were the first cars in the world with a mass-produced aluminium body, albeit on a frame of steel tubes and welded bulkheads.
2 IT WAS THE FIRST HONDA WITH A VTEC ENGINE
VTEC stands for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control, and refers to the valve-timing system Honda perfected to boost engine performance at high revs while still allowing decent fuel economy. However, Honda buyers didn’t have to wait for the NSX to get VTEC, as many wrongly believe; it actually arrived in the Honda Integra and CRX in 1989. The internet-led confusion perhaps arises because the NSX was the first car sold in the US with VTEC. In that market, incidentally, it wasn’t sold as a Honda at all, but as an Acura.
3 AYRTON SENNA HELPED TO DEVELOP IT
This is a bit rich, much as it painted an exciting picture for potential buyers. He did drive a prototype at Suzuka in 1989 and, while saying that he wasn’t best qualified to comment on production road car dynamics, he declared that it felt ‘a little fragile’. Later on, he is said to have driven a stiffened-up car at the Nürburgring. Contemporary road tests’ amazement at how easy the NSX was to drive every day actually harmed the NSX’s image, such that Honda brought out the NSX-R with stiffer suspension, an ‘aero package’, and no power steering. HONDA NSX