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2001 Acura NSX - The Ferrari Alternative

Go directly to jail…for about half the price.

Aaron Bonk
Feb 16, 2012
Photographer: Chad Burdette
Htup 1203 01+2001 acura nsx+cover Photo 1/8   |   2001 Acura NSX - The Ferrari Alternative

With a transvestite hooker to his left and the sorry half of a bar fight to his right, you’d think Alex Farrington would’ve regretted the day he’d set such boisterous power goals for his NSX. He didn’t. Despite the six-hour stay in the urban resort that is Atlanta’s downtown jail which was a direct result of his NSX’s power rating, Farrington remains the bearer of the occasional high-boost joyride.

It began innocently enough. Farrington’s friend called on him in hopes of a test ride in his newly turbocharged ’01 NSX. Turns out he wanted to feel the difference between the more commonly supercharged V-6 and a turbocharged one. Like any respectable American male with nearly 500whp perched above his rear tires, Farrington obliged. At moderate boost, the duo quickly reached 120 mph. Unfortunately they weren’t alone. The three-time NSX owner tried weaseling his way out of the ticket he knew he was about to get, compelling to the officer that he was simply “testing something,” but he soon enough found himself with his face toward his car, his arms behind his back. Things could’ve been worse, though. Despite the trannies and marred-up fight victims, Farrington’s NSX wasn’t impounded—the officer allowed his friend to drive it home. That’s a good thing, too, because Farrington’s NSX is something really special.

2018 Acura NSX
$156,000 Base Model (MSRP) 21/22 MPG Fuel Economy

From 1990 to 2005, Honda churned out roughly 18,000 of its prized flagship that it, incidentally, didn’t profit from (directly, anyways). About half of those made their way to the United States. A good chunk of those have been totaled, parted out, even stolen. The remnants—those that can be accounted for—are few. The 488whp turbocharged ones that’ll do upwards of 180 mph are even fewer. “I love the uniqueness of the NSX,” Farrington says. “It’s not a car you see very often on the streets, especially here in the South. Even though the design is over 20 years old, people still flag me down, thinking it’s a new car.”

Htup 1203 02+2001 acura nsx+wheel Photo 2/8   |   2001 Acura NSX - The Ferrari Alternative

Farrington called upon famed NSX turbo kit producer LoveFab when the time came for more power. A 14-year NSX veteran who once fancied himself a would-be Ferrari owner, Farrington was well aware of the more obvious naturally aspirated and supercharged alternatives. Instead, he sought the sort of powerband that only a turbo could provide. Mid-engined enthusiasts understand the drawbacks of turbocharging. LoveFab does too, and its kit addresses all of them. The company’s boost solution begins with its stainless steel exhaust manifolds that position the Precision T4 turbocharger and TiAL wastegate with little room to spare. An air-to-air intercooler, also from Precision, thoughtfully positioned under the rear, cools the charge while an AEM FIC teams up with the factory ECU for fuel and ignition choreographing. On paper, it all sounds quite simple. It isn’t. Honda allocated little room beyond what Farrington’s 3.2L powerplant and six-speed gearbox already occupy. By all accounts, cramming in a bunch of turbo components really shouldn’t be possible. Thankfully it is.

The added power bump’s led to Farrington positioning himself quite competitively throughout a handful of cross-country road rallies, one of which began with questionable brakes, paused for a blown turbo, and ended with a Ferrari owner sitting in the back of a cop car. Farrington signed up for the 6,000-mile AKA Rally not but a month before it would take place—a short time span to have his NSX delivered to LoveFab’s Michigan headquarters and have its turbo system fabricated, installed, and tuned. A few weeks later and Farrington’s NSX was back home and ready for its rally rendezvous in New York. Boost proved its worth immediately. Early on Farrington took out an Evo IX, handily, and hung with both a Nissan GT-R and Corvette Z06. At only 4 psi, such accomplishments were nothing short of acceptable. Before the race even started, though—and while nearly every other driver was enjoying the kick-off party—Farrington along with his co-driver were left to install fresh brake pads in the middle of the night—a procedure that, before the turbo was installed, was little more than a non-issue. By the time they reached the end of the first leg of the race in Columbus, Ohio, they determined that the turbo was defective. (Turns out the GT-R and Z06 got lucky.) Farrington contacted LoveFab’s owner, Cody Loveland, who he’d been communicating with since the trip began, for guidance. Loveland could’ve just as easily advised Farrington of the proper way to load his NSX onto a flatbed trailer but instead made the eight-hour drive, not just with another turbocharger in his trunk, but with the tools and wherewithal to install it and have it completed by 6 a.m., just in time for the race. With the new turbo, Farrington would later walk away from BMW M5s, even Ferraris, with ease.

A once exotic car shopper in search of what Italian dreams are made of, Farrington has since had his epiphany and now simply says, “I’m glad I own my NSX, and with the LoveFab treatment, I can compete with 95 percent of cars on the road.”

The Turbocharged Dilemma
Perhaps the trickiest aspect of turbocharging a mid-engine vehicle like the NSX is intercooling. With the engine out back, positioning an air-to-air intercooler up front, several feet away from the engine, is simply impractical. The results are increased turbo lag and decreased efficiency. Liquid-to-air systems that recirculate coolant past the intercooler instead of air are certainly an alternative but are also fairly inefficient, especially at full throttle or during higher boost conditions. That leaves the air-to-air alternative, which is typically positioned in one of two places: on top of the engine, which requires some sort of rear scoop to direct air toward it, or underneath the vehicle, where there’s little room for it. The disadvantage of placing it above the engine bay is the amount of heat the intercooler can soak up. And in terms of the NSX, a custom rear window must be used to allow air past its scoop. Provided the intercooler is shielded from hot exhaust components and it’s angled to receive an appropriate amount of airflow, positioning the intercooler under the vehicle works better than you’d think.

Bolts & Washers

Propulsion
AEM air filter
Precision T4 .67-trim turbocharger
LoveFab exhaust manifolds
Precision air-to-air intercooler
LoveFab intercooler piping
TiAL BV 50mm blow-off valve
TiAL V44 wastegate
LoveFab exhaust system
Walbro 255lph fuel pump
AEM fuel filter
AEM fuel pressure regulator
AEM fuel pressure gauge
RC Engineering 750cc/min fuel injectors
AEM methanol injection system
NGK spark plugs
AEM FIC engine management system
AEM wideband controller
Custom billet-aluminum fuel injector covers
Custom billet-aluminum coolant reservoir
Custom billet-aluminum fuse box cover
Custom billet-aluminum coil cover
Science of Speed intake manifold cover
Exedy Stage III clutch
Exedy lightweight flywheel
Power
Nearly 500whp
Suspension
Buddy Club Racing Spec Damper coilovers
Dali Racing front antiroll bar
Dali Racing rear antiroll bar
NSX-R front chassis reinforcement bar
Resistance
Brembo rotors
Hawk HPS Plus pads
StopTech steel-braided lines
Motul RBF 600 fluid
Wheels and Tires
Front: 18x8.5 Tecnomagnesio, +37 offset; 225/40-18 BF Goodrich KDW
Rear: 18x10 Tecnomagnesio, +37 offset; 285/35-18 BF Goodrich KDW
Exterior
Downforce carbon-fiber hood
Wings West front spoiler
Wings West side skirts
’02–’05 NSX rear valence
Taitec NSX-R style rear spoiler
Interior
F1Spec Type 3 carbon-fiber seats
Buddy Club seat rails
Comptech harness bar
Schroth 4-pt harnesses
Superstars Alcantara interior
NSX-R–style carpet kit
NSX-R–style floor mats
AEM Tru Boost boost controller
A’PEXi turbo timer
NSX-R shift knob
JDM NSX steering wheel
Alpine/Pioneer audio/entertainment
Props
Cody at LoveFab
Dani at D&I Body Shop
James at Exedy
Jeff at Cars of Atlanta
Bucky at Superstar Customs

Owner Specs

Daily Grind
Prestige Valet Services Director of Operations
Favorite site
www.nsxprime.com
Screen Name
ARFNSX
Building Hondas
20 years
Dream Car
Pagani Zonda F or Aston Martin DBR9
Inspiration For This Build
My love for anything with an engine
Future Build
A complete paint refresh, new seats and side skirts

Sources

Exedy Clutch
Belleville, MI 48111
800-346-6091
http://www.exedyusa.com
Dali Racing
San Diego, CA 92108
http://www.daliracing.com
AEM Power
Hawthorne, CA 90250
310-484-2322
http://www.aempower.com
LoveFab
231-499-3912
http://www.lovefab.net
By Aaron Bonk
405 Articles

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