There are two kinds of NSX owners: The guy who buys wiper fluid from the Acura dealership and drives the mid-engined supercar every chance he gets, so long as it's between May and September with zero chance of precipitation and a UV index of less than five. And then there's the guy who isn't afraid to drill holes in that aluminum-bodied coupe and deliver it into the 21st century.
Leon Casino isn't afraid. He also isn't without experience. He had his Prelude turbocharged in '93 before Preludes were supposed to be turbocharged. He assembled his own Mugen catalog car before Mugen catalog cars were a thing. He's got a Spoon Sports-themed CRX, an S14 you wouldn't believe, and yet in the midst of all of those, he'd always held out for an NSX. "I was always thinking about it," Leon says about the car that, despite his affinity for Honda dating back to '86, happened sooner than expected—in part because of a Ruckus accident and an insurance settlement that made it affordable, and in part because of Jane, the significant other who said yes to all of it. "We were gonna get his-and-hers cars," Leon remembers, "and then Jane said, 'Why don't you get the car you always wanted?'" Oh, thank goodness for Jane.
Understand the used-NSX marketplace is a seller's one and you'll know buyers have to be prepared both financially as well as logistically. But for Leon, it wasn't a lack of either that kept him from the first three leads. "After not getting those, I was on a mission to find an NSX," he goes on to say. So much of a mission that he bought a one-way plane ticket from Los Angeles to Portland, made the transaction, and drove home in what he says "was the best 13 hours of my life." We're quite sure what Leon meant to say, though, was that it was the best 13 hours of his life not counting anything that has to do with Jane or the kids. "I was like a kid who just stole a bunch of candy," he says. "You don't even know."
Leon recognizes there are two kinds of NSX owners, but goes on to say the two are becoming more alike than not. "There are people who are afraid to modify them too much, but there are also guys who're putting K20s into them," he says, "and people are getting braver with these cars; their eyes are opening, and even the purists are changing."
It's guys like Leon who are, in part anyways, responsible for those purists coming around. To the guy who gets his wiper fluid from the dealership, Leon's NSX is anything but tame. Its GT-inspired race car looks didn't happen without meddling with at least some of what Honda never wanted anybody to touch. "I'm not afraid to cut into anything for my builds, but I tastefully did it without butchering the NSX," he says, reassuring the timid that no NSXs were permanently harmed during the making of this production. "I'm not that ballsy; I could put it all back to stock if I had to." But he's not, and you wouldn't either if your NSX went through as many exterior treatments as Leon's has in just a few years to get it just how you'd wanted it. Three, if you're wondering.
"At first, I took the cookie-cutter approach that every NSX owner's taken," Leon says about the car's first series of mods that included a front lip and some rims. Yawn. "After a while I was like, 'This isn't right.' What I really wanted wasn't available, so I ended up making a lot of my own parts." A lot of his own parts like a front splitter and a rear diffuser that help make the Sorcery front bumper and fenders look like they belong with the Downforce fenders and APR wing out back. "It's all come out of my garage," he says about the one-off treatments he conjured up at his Los Angeles home. It's a process Leon knows well. "Back in the day, I always had to R&D things myself," he says about what the Honda-tuning landscape was like in the early '90s. "All my builds since '86, I've always had to do the work myself for what I've wanted to accomplish. Nobody's ever had what I've wanted over the shelf."
No cookie cutters. That's what Leon says his motto's been ever since that CRX Mugen catalog build that was, mind you, put together when you still ate breakfast out of a high chair. "Everything, all my ideas are because of the influences I've gotten over the years." Influences from the cars and the people who read like a who's who list of Honda performance history makers. Influences that helped shape today's import-performance landscape and are, at least partially, why you're able to do things like turbocharge your Civic engine without it melting down or have your choice among 10 different coilovers for your Subaru. "The '90s kids, we were the make-it-or-break-it generation for the import scene," he wants you to know. "If we didn't push what we were doing back then, people just wouldn't be doing this right now." And Leon wouldn't have the Comptech-supercharged NSX you wish you had.
There are two kinds of NSX owners, and it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that there are guys like Leon who through tasteful and purposeful modifications are bridging the gap between the guy who buys his wiper fluid from the dealership and the guy who isn't afraid to drill a few holes in his Acura.