Racing improves the breed, the old adage goes. Just because your grandpappy said things like that doesn't mean it's not true. There are some very potent examples where this is so: Nissan's RB26DETT—the twin-turbo inline-six that lived in R32, R33 and R34 Skylines, was a race engine that was backed off just enough for street duty; Mitsubishi's Lancer Evo—up through number IX, was also more of a tamed bespoke race machine for the street than a fortified street car. No one will deny that either of these machines is hard-edged and droolworthy. This LoveFab Pikes Peak engined stuffed into this Acura NSX could also fall under that category.
But rare is the blown Skyline whose engine has turned laps in points-paying Group A competition; they almost certainly won't turn up in your driveway. Rare too is the Lancer Evo that's survived competition in one piece, its engine removed from the ragged edge and placed into plebian commuter duty. Clearly, while proven race competition is something that car companies like to trade on, actual raced components are few and far between.
And so Paul Coffman's 1991 Acura NSX is that rare beast: a daily-driven machine whose specially-fettled heart has seen full-throttle, flat-out competition. He'd been obsessed with the Tochigi terror for more than a decade, and had the opportunity to sample multiple years and body styles to come to a couple of conclusions: "I wanted an early model NSX, as I did not want power steering or a Targa top. I wanted the pure driving experience of the original car. I also always dreamt of having a LoveFab turbo kit, so I didn't want the later model six-speed transmission, but rather the five-speed for the turbo." Another problem: Paul lives in Hawaii, which means he could wait to find one of the fifteen or so NSXs that lived in the state, or fly to the mainland to test-drive one, then pay to ship the car of his dreams back to Honolulu. A round-trip plane ticket is a big entry fee for a simple test-drive.
Yet somehow, finding this one was as easy as walking across a crowded car show: "In 2012 I entered my E46 M3 into the Spocom show; I had literally just finished the build the day before the show. As soon as I got there, all of my friends told me 'Paul, there's an NSX here that is screaming your name.' The second I saw this NSX, I announced that my BMW was for sale, mind you I'd just completely built it, inside and out, supercharged, KWs, everything... I won the Euro category that day, but once I found the owner of the NSX I struck a deal with him. I took my M3 home and began stripping it down. I also sold my totally-built Harley so I could come up with the cash for the NSX." Regrets? None. "It's still the best decision I've made yet." Another plus for Paul: this particular NSX has lived in Hawaii since new.
Now, for those of you looking at the flush-light nose and thinking that Paul settled for a newer machine, think again. "The NSX had 82,000 miles when I bought it; it already had the 2002+ nose conversion, was painted white with the blue pearl inlay, and had some modifications like headers, exhaust and throttle body. I have changed almost 100% of the car since I purchased it except the color. I always planned on adding a turbo kit, but I had no idea I'd end up with the LoveFab NSX engine."
And this is where things start getting a little nutty. The LoveFab NSX attacked Pikes Peak in 2012; it didn't much look like an NSX, but with three-liter Honda power, a dyno-tested 1056 horsepower at the wheels and the achievement of Second Place in the Unlimited class that year, the car and the run attracted worldwide media attention. (As an NSX fan, Paul paid attention as well.) Yet, as it is with so many things in life, it's a little bit timing and a little bit who (or what) you know that saw Paul end up with that very engine in his own car. "Once I had my NSX, I contacted Cody at LoveFab; my original intentions were to put a turbo on the stock block, drive it until the engine blew up, then do a full build. While we were sorting that out, Cody mentioned to me that he was going to put an LS in his 2013 Pikes Peak car." That meant unloading this run-once-and-rebuilt 1000+-horse NSX mill. "I had to have it." And it wasn't money that got the deal done... not entirely, anyway: "I'm also a web designer; Cody needed a new website for his company, as his sponsors were looking for an upgraded and more professional-looking website. So, he had an engine, I had web skills, and we struck a deal."
As refreshed, the 3.0-liter block used 9:1 compression, 90.5mm bore pistons by CP plus Carillo rods that were balanced to within half a gram. Supertech valves, valve springs and retainers lived within the heads. The timing belt is a Power Enterprise Super Kevlar II piece. "Cody was running a bigger turbo and injectors than me," Paul says. "I dialed it down with a smaller turbo for two reasons: First, I wanted boost in the low-3000rpm range and didn't want huge lag. I chose the smaller GTX3582R for the time being, but since the new GTX4088R is out, I'm switching soon. Converting to the 4088R will mean we add a second Walboro 400lph fuel pump, switching out my RC1000 injectors for ID2000s, plus a new intercooler and pump, Y-pipe and turbo manifold.
"And second, since it doesn't have a widebody kit, I couldn't get enough tire on the back, so anything north of 700 rear-wheel horsepower is pointless for actual performance. I want a fast car, not a dyno queen." Current power peak is at a mere 642hp—nearly two and a half times what a stock NSX made from the factory a quarter-century ago—and though there's obviously potential for plenty more, Paul's desire to keep things reliable and streetable underscores his decision-making.
Other changes came as well. "The LoveFab turbo normally uses a pair of small heat exchangers sandwiched between each of the front A/C compressors, with the intercooler pump up front and the intercooler itself in the rear. However, we decided to use twin B&M SuperCooler Oil Coolers instead. We mounted them in front of the radiator, just behind the front bumper, both for maximum airflow and also so they wouldn't hinder my already-crappy air conditioning. Since it's a daily driver and Hawaii is hot, I wanted to keep the A/C."
Oh, didn't we mention? This is Paul's daily driver. "Well, I drive it 80-percent of the time—I have an old pickup I use for getting to canoe practice. Otherwise, I drive my NSX. That's one of the main reasons I wanted one—it's still a Honda with Honda reliability. Since it's a daily driver, I couldn't live without having the iLift anti-scrape system installed; that system is what makes my daily driving possible. The NSX has a long nose, and I have my KW Club Sports set low so without iLift, driving my car almost anywhere would be impossible. It's one of the best modifications I've done."
You'd suspect that he'd have to run jet fuel 24/7 to keep it happy, but Paul swears this isn't the case. "Mostly I drive it on pump gas, but occasionally I'll put C16 in it. I'm running AEM EMS Version 1, so there are some limitations to switching tunes easily. We wired a toggle switch to a ground on the EMS, so when it's on pump fuel it runs at 16psi of boost. On C16, I flip the switch and run it at 26psi. Soon I'm going to upgrade the ECU to AEM Infinity so I can run a flex fuel system. E85 is way cheaper than C16—C16 is $27/gallon here! My goal is 700-plus rear-wheel horsepower on pump gas and 800-plus on E85."
You'd forgive it if it had this kind of power and looked plain, had mismatched panels, or wore primer like battle scars. Not so here. Though he bought a show car, Paul altered most of the NSX's stylistic cues; save for the paint and the late-nose conversion, precious little of what he purchased remained intact. "I've taken off the NSX-R wing and replaced it with the current big rear wing; I needed the downforce, and also wanted something more aggressive. I like the 2002+ headlight look, and was glad this car was converted, but I changed it up with the current black bezels and LED angel eyes.
"I also wanted to keep the weight off, so lots of my mods were weight-oriented. It weighed in at 2740 pounds—about ten-percent less than the 3010-pound curb weight advertised new for a '91 NSX. Mind you, that's with all of the extra plumbing of the turbocharger included."
Paul's even toying around with the idea of a new coat of blue-pearl-infused white paint, but fears that he won't want to drive it afterward. And that would be a shame. After all, with a ten-percent weight savings and two and a half times the stock power from a race-proven powerplant, "Every morning I wake up, I'm excited to get in my NSX and drive somewhere." Racing doesn't just improve the breed—it also makes Paul Coffman's morning commute an event. Every single time.
Tuning Menu1991 Acura NSX
Owner Paul Coffman
Hometown Honolulu, HI
Occupation owner of Static Performance and onewavedesigns.com web design firm
Engine 3.0L V6; CP 9:1 compression pistons; Carillo rods; Supertech valves, valve springs and retainers; custom LoveFab turbo kit, Pikes Peak intake manifold, twin intercooler system and exhaust with Burns mufflers; Garrett GTX3582R Turbo; TiAL blow-off-valve; MVR wastegate; Walboro 400lph fuel pump; RC 1000cc injectors; AEM EMS Version 1; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; SFS coolant hoses; Dali Racing polished coolant tank, injector covers, fuse box, A+B wiring covers and alternator cover
Drivetrain Transaxle rebuilt by Science of Speed with short shifter and twin-carbon 700 clutch; NSX-R 4.23 final drive differential
Footwork & Chassis KW Clubsport coilovers; iLift six-sensor anti-scrape lift system; LoveFab rear strut bar; Cedar Ridge adjustable end links
Wheels & Tires 17x8" +38 front, 18x10" +40 rear Volk Racing TE37SL Black Edition wheels; 215/40R17 front, 295/30R18 rear Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tires
Brakes Project MU front four-piston calipers; 2002+ NSX rear brakes with painted calipers
Exterior 2002+ front and rear valance conversion; Downforce carbon hood, lip and rear diffuser; APR Racing GTC-300 adjustable carbon rear wing; Taitec GT carbon front canards; Marga Hills side skirts; custom carbon-fiber side vents; custom Championship White paint with blue pearl inlay; black LED "Angel Eye" headlights with multi-color LED options; custom LED taillight conversion
Interior NSX-R black interior conversion with shift boot, stamped door sills and custom-stitched Zanardi floor mats; AEM boost, A/F wideband and fuel pressure gauges; i's Impact gauge pod mounts; Personal Grinta steering wheel with SOS short hub and NRG Gen 3.0 quick release; Mugen shift knob; Science of Speed billet cluster rings; Zoom Engineering carbon rearview mirror; custom marble console and door trim; carbon-wrapped center console and door jambs
Thanks You Wil Snyder, the mechanical mastermind behind all of the great builds at Static Performance; Cody Loveland from LoveFab