At over $60,000, the original Acura NSX was a bonafide sports car bargain. Seems crazy to say, I know, most notably due to the fact that, up to that point, no Japanese automaker ever had the gall to ask customers to shell out 60 big ones on a 2-seater, much less an automaker that was known more for A to B commuters than all out performers. This car however, was special. The all-aluminum body, world-class handling, silky smooth shifting and that engine, oh yeah, that engine. Placed mid-ship, the aluminum 3.0L V6 produced 270hp, effortlessly tickled 8,000RPM and was fitted with all types of cool touches like its titanium rods, direct ignition and it introduced the North American market to some sophisticated doo-dad they called VTEC. Truth be told, from an executive number crunching standpoint, the NSX didn't bring home the proverbial bacon for Honda. That duty was left to the always reliable and user-friendly (more importantly, low priced) entry-level models like the trusty Civic, Accord and Integra bloodlines. Over two decades later, the NSX remains one of the most iconic sports cars in recent history, remains the subject of praise and still serves as a point of reference for many modern day sports car offerings.
Amir Bentatou already knows all of the above and late last year, he saw an opportunity to nab an NSX of his own. He recalls, "I was at dinner with my friends Brandon and Scott. Both of them had NSX's and Scott mentioned that his had been sitting for a few months. I joked that I would buy it if he ever decided to let it go and he made a joke about getting rid of it, and brushed it off." Smiles and chuckles aside, Amir was dead serious about the notion, and the following day, he called Scott to talk about it and before he knew it, a deal was struck. The idea was to freshen the car up and showcase some of the aero pieces that Amir designs under the Marvelous Tune banner.
Don't think that Amir just jumped into his newly acquired NSX and tiptoed to his first track event, head on a swivel like a confused 4th grader on his first day of school. A track vet, he'd stacked a number of competitive miles in a few different vehicles that include an e21 320i BMW used for auto-x, followed by a Miata, which was his first actual track car. Oh, and we can't forget the widebody, air-cooled 911 racecar, that has since been retired to street duty. Then there's the pair of single cam Civic coupes that he piloted to an N2 class victory in the VTEC Club series that he also helps organize, and last, but certainly not least, the DC5 he competed in FFBattle with last year that has now become his daily driver. He adds, "The car was well maintained and ran strong, but was far from perfect. The initial goal was to make a few parts, do a bit of bodywork to clean it up, refresh the interior and leave everything else as is. After I had my first track day in the NSX... plans immediately changed." Head over heels for the Honda flagship's balance and driver communication, Amir didn't see a restoration in his future, but rather a new, dual-purpose street and track project.
By the following week, a plan was laid out to put together a car that could clock respectable times on the weekend, yet still be well mannered enough for street duty and the long drives to and from track days. With the parameters of the NSX built around Redline Time Attack's (an organization that he serves as Chief of Operations) Street Class and VTEC Club's A2 guidelines, Amir mentioned his thoughts to a few other enthusiasts and just like that, collaboration was established. He adds, "I ended up talking to Nemo's Garage and they were as excited about the plan as I was. They offered to come on board as the title partner, and Marvelous Tune x Nemos Garage was made. They helped in getting all of the parts taken care of while I focused on putting the car together and building a custom aero package for it."
Not a powerhouse by any means, at least by today's standards, the C30A engine, with a few decades under its belt, is still very capable. However, Amir reached out to Bryan of Prospeed and Kristian of Battlecraft for help on modernizing the V6. The result is a Prospeed custom intake manifold and larger throttle body to increase the good air in, while a custom Battlecraft Scramjet exhaust and headers send the bad air out, and simultaneously shave over 50lbs. Knowing that the stock NSX injectors are somewhat undersized for the 3.0L, Prospeed provided an RDX injector kit and tune that, combined with the increased intake and exhaust systems, provides a solid bump throughout the entire powerband. A Koyo radiator and oil cooler help maintain temps while a complete transmission refresh, performed by James of Ghostwerks (a transmission guru), ensure the NSX's snappy shifts are in top form.
Now let's get back to that mention of aero. Given that Amir's NSX remains relatively mild, the changes weren't drastic, though, that will change in the near future - but more on that in a moment. Out back, a Marvelous Tune full carbon GT wing with carbon uprights and endplates demands attention and is balanced by the custom front splitter that sits just below the Shine Auto front lip. Downforce fenders allow for a more liberal use of rubber, which means the 17x9 TE37s wrapped in 255/35 Achilles 123s up front have no problem doing their job lap after lap without interference. Part of that credit can also go to the Exceed SSD coilovers that hold their own as Comptech camber bushings allowed Amir to dial his suspension in exactly the way he wanted.
The NSX's interior, once considered sporty and cutting edge, has since become somewhat clunky and outdated. The rather heavy factory seats were ditched in favor of lightweight Bride Zieg III buckets and Cusco harnesses that offer superior holding power. Amir grips a Vertex King wheel and catches gears with a Type R shift knob while surrounded by a Cusco rollcage.
So, what about the future plans? Though he set out to lightly modify and restore the NSX he purchased just 10 months ago, Amir's plans had a snowball effect and the he's only scratched the surface. Although we can't get into details, suffice to say that you probably won't recognize this NSX in the very near future. Not only are big plans on the way, they're already in motion with a number of parts now in his possession. Keep an eye out for the Nemo's Garage x Marvelous Tune NSX at a track near you...