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1996 Acura NSX - Fully Carbonated

Uchida Carbon-Fiber 1996 Acura NSX

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Jan 16, 2007 SHARE
0702_turp_01z+1996_acura_nsx+rear_right_view Photo 1/10   |   1996 Acura NSX - Fully Carbonated

Over the last thirty years composite materials have made an ever-increasing impact on the whole motorsport world. At the top of these is, without a doubt, carbon fiber, which has worked its way into almost every aspect of racing cars and racing bikes. Continuous development and research has allowed carbon fiber to be finely tuned for specific applications, from creating extremely hard structures like the ones used in monocoque chassis to the extremely thin and lightweight skins used for bodywork.

Uchida has been at the forefront of carbon-fiber production and R&D for over two decades. They currently produce carbon parts for racing bikes participating in Moto GP and the lower 250cc and 125cc classes, as well as for numerous teams in the Super GT championship. With a clientele made up of top names in motorsport, Uchida is one of the most respected specialists out there. So when we heard that the president of the company had recently put the finishing touches on his own private project, which involved a Honda NSX and abundant quantities of carbon fiber, well, we just had to go and take a closer look.

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Over the last decade carbon fiber has begun making its way into the aftermarket tuning world, with parts such as hoods and spoilers at the top of the popularity charts. The problem with carbon parts is the sheer cost of them. For every specific component, a mold has to be made on which the fiber cloths will be layered on and bonded together with resins. The process then involves vacuum-sealing the whole assembly and pressure-cooking it in an autoclave. Tooling, raw materials and skilled man-hours is what pushes the costs to stratospheric levels, unless of course you produce parts in very large numbers.

Because the demand for carbon fiber is very strong, cheaper alternatives have been developed, like the so-called "wet carbon." This has absolutely nothing to do with the true "dry-carbon" that we just described, as the resulting parts have next to no structural rigidity or any of the qualities usually associated with carbon-fiber parts. Wet carbon is simply made by layering one or two skins of fiber on top of a resin or FRP structure to create the carbon look. After drying, it's then glossed up by either polishing or putting on a few clear coats.

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However, as Uchida-san explains, this is no good. It's only for show. Over time wet carbon will always end up shrinking, deforming under heat and discoloring. He points to his impossibly evil-looking NSX, which has been wearing its full dry-carbon body for close to two years now. Although It's a daily driven car and usually kept outside, the carbon looks like it has just been taken out of the pressure cooker!

We ask Uchida-san why he decided to convert his NSX into a full-carbon monster. His reply is simple: "I wanted to do something different, which at the same time would show what the Uchida company can create." He goes on to add that he has no interest in producing aftermarket carbon parts for cars, and that it was just a one-off project to make his own car look a little special. And that it does, no questions there! The project began by removing all of the NSX's body panels. Remember: this Honda supercar came with an aluminum chassis and body straight from the factory! The next step was to select a suitable aftermarket kit that would give the Honda a racecar feel once it was fitted. Uchida-san selected a Burn Up kit and proceeded to create molds from the front and rear bumper, side skirts and, of course, the stock fenders and doors. Then once the molds were completed, it was on to the carbon-fiber production. To create a strong and resistant structure, numerous layers were laid down at precise angles to each other. The next step was to vacuum seal everything up and proceed to the autoclave stage. These big pressure ovens (Uchida has three of differing dimensions, the largest one could fit a small bus inside!) allow for the resin to penetrate, react with the fibers and to dry - creating the structure dictated by the mold. Hearing Uchida-san describe the production process in detail is enough to put anyone off buying those cheap wet-carbon parts. As they say, you get what you pay for! Once the parts were ready, the final stage is to make them look good. To do this, the excess material gets clipped and smoothed off while the surfaces are either polished to bring out a natural shine on the resin, or sprayed with a few layers of clear-coat for added protection. Uchida-san then called in the guys at System Partner, who proceeded to apply a special protective coating to the NSX called Nano-Shine to further protect and enhance the shine of the bodywork.

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There is no questioning the looks of this car. Looking at the car from a distance, it just looks like a regular black car. But get up close, and those three-dimensional fibers within the resin just come alive. Uchida-san decided to go for a carbon-Kevlar fiber weave for the front bumper spoiler, which adds a nice visual contrast to the rest of the carbon bodywork and gives extra strength to this rear section in case he was to hit something. The side canards on the bumper add a Super GT look to the NSX and help, like the massive rear spoiler, keep the NSX glued to the ground when traveling at high speeds. The most impressive single part has to be the doors. With their double-structure they are extremely strong and amazingly light. Uchida-san has preferred not to fit the interior panels, as it would cover up the lovely work done by his company. The latest items to be added to the car are the custom made carbon-Kevlar racing seats, which weigh all but a couple of kg each! Mechanically, Uchida-san has left everything stock. The only thing that has been added is a free flowing titanium exhaust, which has been specifically built for Uchida-san by a Super GT racing team. The sound is out of this world, and it's a small miracle the car manages to pass noise regulations!

Uchida-san has created his own dream car - a car so unique it would be financially crippling to even attempt to rival a project like this. Unless you happen to own your own carbon-fiber company...

Specs
1996 Acura NSX

Engine
Base Engine: C30a
Custom Full Titanium Exhaust System

Wheels & Tires
Bbs Lm Split Rims 7x17 Front And 9x18 Rear
Dunlop Formula Fm901 Tires, 215/40r17 Front And 265/35r18 Rear

Exterior
Carbon Front Bumper (Burn Off Design)
Carbon-Kevlar Front Bumper Spoiler And Canards
Carbon Hood
Carbon Front Fenders
Carbon Doors
Carbon Side Skirts (Burn Off Design)
Carbon Rear Fenders
Carbon Side Intakes
Carbon Rear Bumper
Carbon Rear Bumper Spoiler (Burn Off Design)
Carbon Wing Stays
Carbon Rear Wing

Interior
Uchida Carbon-Kevlar Bucket Seats
Momo Sport Racing Steering Wheel

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Sources

Dunlop
Buffalo, NY 14207
716-879-8200
http://www.dunloptires.com
By Dino Dalle Carbonare
122 Articles

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