It's been awhile since I've taken on a build. Sure, I've always had at least one modified Honda to my name since I started driving, but I'm talking about a full-blown build, one that'll turn a daily driver into a heap of parts, one that isn't cheap, one that takes time. My NSX is a full-blown build and I'm reminded of that daily. It started out innocently enough. I searched long and hard for a clean, good running NA1, one that wouldn't need an engine rebuild, one that wouldn't need to be repainted, one that had a near-perfect interior. One that I could drive home, lightly modify, and enjoy. To be sure, the NSX I settled on was sold with a solid engine, the paint was decent, and the interior was quite nice. But solid, decent, and quite nice are never good enough.
I was in trouble shortly after I began the first of the very short list of modifications that I had planned. I remember it clearly. The plan was to swap out the factory suspension for some Buddy Club coilovers and bolt on a new set of Enkei RPF1s. Several things happened that day. Besides snapping a couple of wheel studs in half thanks to the buffoon who over-tightened them the last time, I had a chance to get up close and personal with the underside of my NSX for the first time since I inspected it for purchase. I didn't like what I saw. Of course, I knew that the original owner had painted the calipers red, which bothered me but was easy enough to overlook considering the price I paid, but I also began to notice things like non-factory clips and hardware, torn inner fender liners, and all sorts of things that were enough to make a neat freak like myself go nuts. The engine bay was just as bad and, upon closer inspection, so was the interior, even the exterior. No, there was no crash damage and the engine ran fine, but the valve covers had paint chips here and there, the hoses had an ugly tint to them, the overflow tank was just plain worn looking, and the wiring harness looked much older than what it was. What once seemed like small scuffs inside and minor nicks on the body all of the sudden stood out like tears, rips, dents, and gashes. They weren't, but that didn't stop me from embarking upon a ground-up restoration.
Fortunately, the NSX's aluminum body and frame meant I wouldn't have to deal with rust. But the NSX brings with it its own set of problems. Because of the car's age, Honda has already begun discontinuing select parts, and because of the car's exclusivity, Honda doesn't exactly keep every NSX part on its shelves. Those realities mean that early NSX parts are expensive and are often associated with long waiting periods. Like any build that claims to be thorough, I yanked the drivetrain and pulled each body panel from the chassis in preparation for paint. And while the chassis sat at the body shop, I scoured the engine and transmission, went through gallons of degreaser, and replaced everything that needed, or at least looked like it needed, to be replaced. I bought parts I never thought would need to be replaced...on any car (not that they needed it) and, keep in mind, I worked on these things for a living for nearly a decade. I replaced the obvious things like the water pump, timing belt, and clutch as well as the not-so-obvious things like the valve stem seals, oil pick-up gasket, and input shaft bearing. Surprisingly, the paint shop was faster than I was, but bringing the chassis home didn't mean it was all over. A bucket full of OEM clips and NSX-specific hardware was ordered, some of which I'm still waiting on. Of course, it's always that single, seemingly unimportant part that holds up the entire build, like the A/C condenser shrouds that I don't have, which is keeping me from bolting on and aligning my front fenders, which is keeping me from installing my front bumper. The rear is just as complicated. Granted, I'm waiting on a set of custom engine mounts, but who would have thought the NSX engine wiring harness had so many proprietary brackets and clips? Despite how many other parts associated with the C-series are nearly identical to B-series parts, these aren't. Ah, but I'm not complaining. It's all part of the process.
I think I may be forgetting just how much "fun" a build like this really can be. There is no better way to get to know your new pride and joy than to rip it apart and put it back together your way. I wouldn't have it any other way.