"Oh my God! I've never seen a Ferrari up close before," the child-like barista says to me as I walk into Starbucks, half paying attention to her as I try my best to ignore the eight-dollar apple fritter.
"Actually, it's a Honda. I mean, an Acura," I tell her as I watch her grin turn into a fake smile.
"Oh," she says as she gives me that same look as when I "forget" to leave a tip.
The disappointment is familiar, which makes ordering my drink from her-which seems to confuse even the best of baristas-all the more awkward. But Cindy isn't alone. A good portion of the free world wouldn't recognize an NSX if one crashed right into their homes...or a Starbucks.
Ah, the NSX; overlooked by most, misunderstood by many, embraced by the rest. But don't automatically assume that owning an NSX and fully understanding it are one in the same. There are those who over-analyze the car, assuming it to be more than what it really is. And there are those who simply dismiss it as a "wannabe Ferrari." I fall into neither category. I'm what I call an NSX realist.
NSX realists recognize the car for what it is, coming to terms early on that the so-called Honda supercar indeed shares more in common with the Civic than it does with more conventional aluminum-bodied, RWD wonders. And, as realists, we also understand the NSX's shortcomings, but we welcome its strengths just as much as the fanatics do. It's difficult to become an NSX realist having only driven one. The realist attitude comes not so much from driving one or owning one but from working on one. It's only then that the NSX's similarities to other Hondas become so obvious, its reliability so blatant, its simplicity so clear.
Non NSX realists tend to overcomplicate their cars, some going so far as to live in fear. Nowhere else within the Honda kingdom will you find such paranoia than among this small sect of the NSX realm. Listen closely and you'll find that NSX timing belts are more susceptible to eventual catastrophic engine failure than the legions of crusty, old B16A and ZC engines that rot away in the wrecking yards only to be resurrected for swaps some 15-20 years later...original timing belts intact. Online debates ensue as to how one can go about purchasing the "freshest" timing belt possible. After all, how long can one expect a timing belt to survive within Honda's plastic packaging prior to its sale? Two years? Three? Four? Please, don't be absurd. Non NSX realists are also afraid of rain, trust only forum-approved mechanics who've received official blessings from the non-realist tribe leaders, and generally seek permission from fellow NSX owners prior to making radical decisions, like where they should position their custom cup holders or by what numerical value they must decrease their torque wrenches to when applying lubricant A to their spark plugs versus the more common lubricant B.
Such NSX owners are few though, like the one I had a conversation with shortly after purchasing my own NA1 who insisted that I waste no more time and immediately take my car to his "guy" for a checkup. To be sure, he seemed to understand that I too was once a Honda mechanic, but for one reason or another, I just didn't match up to the likes of his guy who happened to be "NSX-certified," whatever that means. Shortly after, I was approached by another non-realist who offered to lend me his ears when the time comes for me to run potential mod ideas off of a more experienced NSX'er. Thanks, guy, I never knew picking out coilovers for the NSX would be so much more challenging than when I did the same for my old hatchback.
The NSX is misunderstood by many, but perhaps mostly so by NSX owners themselves. By building the world's simplest and most reliable supercar, Honda did what no one else at the time could. Why would you want to overcomplicate that?