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1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

Many people dream of owning their dream car. This guy does.

Joey Lee
Dec 4, 2014
Photographer: Ginash George

Growing up as automotive hobbyists, the dream car of many has long been the famed Acura NSX. Porsches and other supercars weren't in the spectrum of reality because they were cars that you just saw in magazines or owned by the wealthy. The NSX was different; something about the supercar being manufactured by Honda just made it seem obtainable. It was a Honda after all. How much could an NSX really cost if everyone was driving a Honda, right? As you get older, reality kicks in with gradual maturity, and you start to understand the value of things. You soon realize that even in your late twenties, the NSX isn't exactly just some car that you can pick up for $10K.

81006394 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

While you drooled over the car as a kid, the guys who were around your age now were also losing saliva at the sight of Honda's supercar back then. They were, and are, still sought after and managed to retain their value over the years. Obviously, they aren't as pricey as they used to be when they left showroom floors in the early '90s, but they are by no means "cheap" by any stretch of the imagination. This is evidenced by the voice in your head uttering the familiar words "must be nice" when you find out an enthusiast who is your same age had just acquired his dream NSX...

77242766 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

"The NSX has always been a dream car of mine since childhood," Jeffrey Nguyen says. He is the guy you'd likely say "MBN" to because he's the owner of this sleek NA1 here. "I've always been an avid fan of Hondas, and one of my first builds was an H22A turbocharged Prelude. I owned a couple of other cars after that, but nothing really compared to the fun and reliability of a Honda. After I graduated college, I began looking for NSXs. I didn't expect to find anything but then I stumbled upon one for sale in California for $20,000. If you've never actually looked at purchasing an NSX before, it is pretty hard to find a good one under $20K—even by today's standards. I found this car in 2006. That price was unheard of at the time!"

81006400 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

Weary but intrigued by the price tag, Jeffrey contacted the seller to find out more. The owner contacted him shortly after with all the details, and before Jeffrey knew it, he was on the way to Long Beach from his hometown of Las Vegas to see the car for himself. "The [NSX] had about 150,000 on the odometer, which was a bit high, but the owner assured me that it was well-maintained. He had all the service records to back up his claims. I took it for a quick test drive and was sold. I was finally an NSX owner, and the four-hour drive back to Vegas was probably one of the most enjoyable drives of my life!"

81006403 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

Though his doubts subsided after the journey home, he still did a leak-down and compression test to see if the original C30A engine was good. 150K sounds like it has lived a couple lifetimes, but for Hondas, that type of mileage isn't anything unusual. The tests showed that the V6 ran perfectly strong. It was now time for Jeffrey to start planning out his build. He explains, "I already had a pretty good idea how I wanted the car to look before I even purchased it. The car is over 20 years old, so appearance-wise, it was a bit dated. I wanted to give it a modern update without sacrificing too much of the original lines. I didn't go overboard with the wild aero like some NSXs. This car still had to be very streetable, too, because I planned to cruise around a lot."

77242763 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

The first order of business came with removing the original front face of Jeffrey's NA1. Instead of the old motorized flip-up headlights, he opted to go with a newer NA2 front-end, which was available in the '02-and-up models. With a fresh new face mounted, Jeffrey proceeded to bring the car closer to the pavement with the addition of TEIN Flex coilovers. Unlike most conventional suspensions, Jeffrey's TEIN dampers feature a custom air-cup kit. This adds a very small air bag to the front dampers that's hooked up to a compressor that feeds air into it. The result allows the front to go higher or lower at his discretion, a lifesaver when it comes to getting over driveways and speed bumps.

81006412 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car

One of the many great features of being an NSX owner is the camaraderie that exists within their community. They often get together to go on spirited drives through local canyons. "After I got the exterior of my NSX dialed in, I took it out to a couple of NSX group drives with other owners. I fell in love with the way the car handled every curve. It's a feeling like no other car I've ever owned or driven. It became an obsession of mine to improve the agility of the vehicle. In the process, I must have experimented with every strut and sway bar combination possible."

"I enjoyed every inch of my NSX, but it always felt like it needed an extra gear. Power wasn't a limiting factor, but it also wouldn't hurt to free up the motor some. The factory five-speed came out eventually and in went a '97 model six-speed manual. I also added a new CT Power Grip clutch and lightweight flywheel. The C30A1 sounded too much like an Accord to me, so I installed a set of Pride headers and their exhaust system to give it that much needed growl," Jeffrey explains.

77885021 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX Downforce NA2 Front Bumper 09

Limited-edition Recaro SR5 Rafale seats succeed the OEM leather buckets, while a MOMO Tuner steering wheel mimics the original NSX-R piece. Everything else inside the cockpit is likewise reimagined to resemble the Japanese NSX-R. The door cards have been wrapped in red Alcantara and the carpet and floor mats are original NSX-R. Even the original leather components were tweaked slightly with the addition of red stitching. Furthermore, all removable plastic trim pieces were replaced with stylish carbon-fiber alternates.

Jeffrey concludes, "After college, I started my own shop and my NSX serves as a great form of advertising to draw interest toward my business. It's just one of those cars that is highly respected everywhere. I can go to a Cars and Coffee gathering with older enthusiasts, a car show or meet with the younger crowd and also cruise along on exotic car runs. It's really multifaceted. Above all else, owning this NSX has also provided me with the opportunity to meet some of the most down-to-earth car owners I've ever known. Besides being an ultimate driving machine, it has helped me network in life. Simply put, there's no other car like it."

77885033 Photo 8/8   |   1991 Acura NSX Wings West Side Skirt 08
By Joey Lee
243 Articles
1991 Acura NSX - Building Honda's Dream Car
Tuning Menu
Owner: Jeffrey Nguyen
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Power: 275whp
Engine: 3.0-liter C30A1; Pride exhaust manifolds, V1 exhaust system with titanium tips, 300 cell metallic high-flow catalytic converters; Downforce air intake scoop; Prospeed cold-air intake; Science of Speed VVIS delete kit, oil pressure true gauge kit; Performance Package aluminum coolant tank; KCMachine CNC aluminum battery tray; Shorai lithium iron battery; carbon-fiber throttle body cover, radiator panel, NSX-R mesh engine cover; JEGS fuel pressure gauge; Cedar Ridge pulley shield; Wrinkle-Red powdercoated valve covers, intake manifold cover
Drivetrain OEM NA2 six-speed manual transmission swap; CT Engineering Power-Grip clutch, lightweight flywheel
Footwork & Chassis: TEIN Flex coilovers; UAS Variable Ride Height Cup Kit; RouteKS strut bars; GT-Spec aluminum front and rear lower braces; Comptech 0.875" adjustable sway bar; Science of Speed steering rack bushing kit
Brakes: Rotora 355mm six-piston front, 330mm four-piston rear big brake kits; stainless lines
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" +45 front, 19x10.5" +35 rear RAYS Gram Lights 57Xtreme wheels; 215/35ZR18 front, 275/30R19 rear Bridgestone RE760 tires; Muteki lug nuts
Exterior: '02+ NA2 front-end conversion; Downforce NA2 front bumper, carbon-fiber front lip; Seibon NSX-R style carbon-fiber hood, rear spoiler, roof skin; carbon-fiber side strakes, '02 rear valence, carbon-fiber trunk lip spoiler, carbon-fiber DF-R side vents; Wings West side skirts; Sorcery carbon-fiber hatch duct; NSXClear light-smoked side markers; LED tail lamps; Guppy Attack short antenna
Interior: MOMO Tuner 350mm steering wheel; NRG V2.0 short hub, quick release; Autovation pedal set; Recaro SR5 Rafale Tomcat seats; Bride RO-Type seat rails; Cedar Ridge harness bar; Takata Drift II harnesses; OEM NSX-R carbon-fiber shift boot, red carpet, floor mats; shortened NSX-R shaft to work with Cedar Ridge short shifter kit; Science of Speed carbon-fiber cluster trim kit; AEM air/fuel gauge; Kenwood head unit; JDM OEM navigation pod with Alpine monitor
Thanks You: Henry Wang from 3W Distributing; Ray at Evolution Auto Body; Brian Edner from BCE Designs; Mark from Pride Exhausts; Loren Ho from Rotora



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