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.