I started a little war on my Facebook wall the other day. Noticing that one of my friends had organized an event called something to the effect of "hardparker's meet," I left a status update querying why and when it suddenly became cool to be a hardparker. I didn't even take a side at first; no writing about how cars should be modified to be faster and perform better, or how lame I thought the people are who build cars just to trailer them to parking lot meets and show off the money they spent making them not fun (since I would never say something like that . . . out loud). But damn! Homies left and right roasted the holy shit out of me. I guess I missed that memo. Apparently so did Daniel Martinez.
A Honda service advisor by trade, Daniel's the man who breathed new life into the NSX seen here. Cars he's previously built over the 12 years he's been in the game: a turbocharged '91 Integra, '98 Civic hatch, and a '92 Integra GS-R, all street driven. He's a self-proclaimed Honda boy at heart, and lists his ultimate dream project car as a '64 S600 fastback. It was after he'd loaded a ton of hard-earned coin into his '91 Integra, it got stolen, and Daniel subsequently screwed over by the insurance company for its low resale value, that his wife made him get the NSX. Kind of. "She told me that I had to get something that would hold its value," he explains. "And I knew it had to be Honda, so what better than an NSX?" He lucked out in finding a friend who was selling a track-prepped Brookland Green NSX, and, "After he took me for a ride in it and I got the impression he was babying it," he tells us, "I told him to get on it. He popped the clutch, floored it, and slid around this huge, sweeping corner like butter. I told him to take me to the bank."
We first met him a couple years back at the annual Eibach Honda meet in Corona, CA, to which he drove his NSX 400 miles from Fremont, CA. Slammed tough on its two-piece Volk GT-Ns (necessary to fit the car's oversized AP Racing brakes, we later learned) and flexing contrasted carbon/Kevlar accents, it drew polarizing opinions from the show-going populace: Some of the other NSX guys hated it. "It's different," admits Daniel. "But I don't care-I built it so I could enjoy it." Maybe that's saying something in itself.
When the NSX debuted in 1990 nearly a decade after it was conceptualized, it was regarded as perfect. It was said to be inspired by a mixture of F1 race car and F-16 fighter jet. Honda assigned their top in-house conceptualist, lead engineer, and the world's most highly regarded automotive designer to scheme it, dedicated two facilities entirely to its build, invented machinery and aluminum extrusion processes to bring it to life, and hired top F1 drivers Satoru Nakajima and Ayrton Senna to shake it down. And when they weren't immediately astonished by the car's performance, Honda built an all-new facility in Germany where the car would be rebuilt from the ground up and tested daily at the Nurburgring for eight months until they were. In the eyes of NSX purists, no one is anyone to improve upon that.
Of course, that was 1990. Fast forward 20 years and things have changed. People like Daniel are no longer afraid to test the limits of reliability and performance only Honda could simultaneously bring to the top-tier sports car market. "The carbon/Kevlar was first," explains Daniel, about the authentic Taitec JGTC rear diffuser the previous owner fitted to the car. "I liked the look and strength of it, and had Downforce make me a front lip splitter, canards, rear window garnish, engine cover, and twin-scoop hood to match." The result: About $5K worth of street-worthy aero. "I've nailed some crap in the road that cracked other cars' fiberglass and carbon-fiber pieces," he attests, "with barely a knick in the Kevlar."
No one could really argue with this NSX's drivetrain or suspension mods, but then there's the nitrous-the proletarian's power-adder-that now elevates the C30A's power to about 400 at the wheels; this one a mix of NOS nozzles, Cold Fusion solenoids, and Redzone Performance custom hard lines and billet fuel and nitrous rails, fed by two bottles in the trunk and the same in-tank fuel pump feeding the engine. Some might find adding it to a drag car or old-school V-8 proper; an NSX, sacrilege. "It's different, practical, and it works," says Daniel, plainly.
Inside, things get a little showy. But there are reasons for that: "I bought this car to drive," Daniel explains. "I like having audio in my street car." Fair enough, and he even points out that the carbon/Kevlar seats not only recline and match the exterior theme, but they offer the weight savings and rigidity of fixed-back buckets, and come in a size that's more accommodating to his, um . . . "strongman" physique.
Back to Daniel's penchant for hard driving, we find another facet that might make NSX purists and hardparkers cringe. "There are over 130K miles on the car," he admits-a large portion of them racked up by himself, like when he drove it over 1,350 miles in the Modball Rally from Fremont, CA, to Las Vegas for the SEMA Show (by way of L.A. and San Diego), where Daniel's NSX took "Craziest Car" honors among a field of Aston Martins, Ferraris, Lambos, and Audi R8s. The next year he would do it again, detouring even further through Death Valley. And he has even more driving planned for it in the future. "I want to do Modball again," he says. "And after that I want to be the first to completely tear down an NSX and build it groundup like a lot of the guys up here have done with other Hondas: full inside and outside paint, new wiring-everything." I'm not sure I like where this is going. "But I'm still going to drive it. How could you not drive something like that?!" Good man.
Behind the Build
Honda Service Advisor
Family, lifestyle goods
5 years and counting
"To build a solid automotive investment that I could thoroughly enjoy."
'94 ACURA NSX
Output: 400 WHP (EST.)
Engine C30A engine; custom Kevlar air box; Comptech Unifilter; RC 550cc/min injectors; custom Redzone Performance/B-Fab direct-port nitrous injection, billet fuel and nitrous rails; NOS annular nozzles; Cold Fusion nitrous solenoids; AEM EMS; Science of Speed coolant reservoir; custom powdercoated valve covers; Carbing rear strut tower bar; Downforce Kevlar engine cover; Top Speed headers; Taitec JGTC lightweight enter-exit exhaust
Suspension Koni adjustable dampers; H&R springs; Comptech front and rear sway bars; NSX-R upper and lower chassis bars; Science of Speed noncompliant toe links
Wheels/Tires Volk GT-N wheels (18x8.5 inches front, 18x9.5 inches rear); Toyo RA-1 tires (225/40-18 front, 275/40-18 rear)
Brakes KVR Performance 13-inch crossdrilled front and rear rotors; AP Racing front calipers; Hawk Performance front and rear brake pads
Exterior Shine Auto lower front bumper; Wings West side skirts; Taitec JGTC Kevlar lower rear diffuser; Downforce front lip splitter, canards; Type R Kevlar rear spoiler, rear window garnish, engine cover, twin-scoop carbon-fiber hood; Brookland Green paint, applied by Fremont Collision Care Center
Interior Momo 320mm Monte Carlo steering wheel; F1 Spec Kevlar seats; custom diamond-stitched Alcantara upholstery, painted center console, gauge bezel, by Umbrella Auto Design
Electronics Pioneer AVIC-D3 head unit; Memphis Car Audio Hybrid MClass MC5-1400 amplifier; 6-inch speakers; SClass 10-inch subwoofer, 0-gauge wiring, digital capacitor; Zeetool Man fiberglass footwell enclosure