Using the words "cheap" and "NSX" in the same sentence may seem ridiculous, if not downright sacrilegious to the Honda faithful, because this legendary mid-engine supercar was hand-built by a small team of highly trained technicians in a special plant in Tochigi, Japan, throughout its 14-year run. With build quality equal to or better than all of the high-end sports cars of this era from Italy and Germany (in 1991, Motor Trend named it the best sports car ever built), this aluminum-body masterpiece was certainly not cheaply built, but with a price tag of just $65,000 in 1990, the Acura NSX was a serious bargain in the exotic two-seater sports car category.
But Marc Richmond, a former executive with one of the big car audio companies, was never really into Japanese cars. He'd always had German sports sedans like the Audi S4, but while on a business trip to Mississippi in 2002, a client of his mentioned that nobody seemed to be able to successfully turbocharge an NSX. Marc, being a real car guy and speed freak, thought this was a ridiculous claim, so he challenged his client to find him an NSX for $20,000 or less, which he'd buy and turbocharge to prove that it can be done. The next day, Marc flew home to Phoenix and found an email in his inbox about a $20K NSX for sale.
A man of his word, Marc suddenly found himself the owner of the $20K NSX. Not exactly pocket change, but still a heck of a bargain for a very exclusive supercar (only 8,733 NSXs were ever sold in America), especially when you compare it to the price of a Ferrari or Lamborghini of the same vintage. That's when Marc's journey into NSX tuning took an even more interesting turn. Having spotted a '93 on www.nsxprime.com that had been built as a race car, Marc noticed that the thread was full of posts by ignorant NSX wannabe owners who were slamming the car as being "riced out," failing to recognize all the high-quality performance parts that had been bolted to it. Marc was smart enough to see this as an opportunity, so he quickly e-sniped this race-prepared NSX on eBay for just $28,000. Better still, when he went to Dallas to pick it up, the owner loaded the back of Marc's truck up with a ton of spare parts (see sidebar for a fairly complete list) at no extra cost.
Once he got home, Marc did what any enterprising go-fast junky would do-he assembled a list of all the spare parts and parts off the race car he didn't plan to keep and posted them for sale on eBay. Before he knew it, all the parts were gone and he'd raised $26,000, virtually covering the entire cost of the race car. Next, he unloaded the original NSX he'd bought, which he sold to a local buyer for $25,000 (which was still a great deal given the work Marc had already put into it). Just like that, Marc had an almost free NSX in his garage and a solid budget to build it the way he wanted to, including a serious turbo setup.
Given its race car roots, the "free" NSX had already been lightened and had all the usual bolt-on power-adders. Converting it back to a street car, Marc decided to build on the stock engine block, since he wanted to see how much power the factory pistons and rods could handle. Building a custom turbo kit with a Turbonetics T62 turbocharger and small-diameter intercooler piping for faster spool up, Marc took it to the dyno for some tuning, but the AEM base map the tuner used made full boost so quickly that it unexpectedly leaned out the air/fuel mixture. This sudden lean condition caused detonation severe enough to kill the ring lands on four out of six cylinders. Ouch.
But that didn't discourage Marc because he was still way ahead of the game thanks to his mad crazy eBay skills. Retaining the titanium rods that Honda equips the C30A V-6 with, the cast pistons were replaced with forged low-compression ScienceofSpeed pistons fitted to the sleeved block. Additional bottom-end improvements included a polishing of the crankshaft's journals as well as a full blueprinting and balancing of the rotating assembly. Up top, the cylinder heads also underwent serious upgrades from ScienceofSpeed's bag of tricks, including 36mm stainless steel intake valves, 30mm Inconel exhaust valves, dual valvesprings, titanium valvespring retainers, billet camshaft plugs and some porting and polishing. And as you might expect with a motor that's going to see some serious boost, ARP studs and fasteners were used during the assembly process, expertly handled by Ffej at ScienceofSpeed in Tempe, Arizona.
Marc initially stuck with the small turbo and intercooler setup, which combined with the built block and tuning of the AEM EMS by Tony at UMS Tuning, churned out an impressive 515 whp back in 2005. This made it one of the most powerful NSXs in the country at that time. But then last winter, Marc decided he wanted even more power, so he made some revisions to the turbo system himself, installing a Precision Turbo PT67 turbocharger, building his own custom headers and turbo manifold, installing an air-to-water intercooler, and building a 4-inch downpipe that breathes out through a single exit exhaust of the same diameter. He also upgraded to a very slick PWR radiator with a built-in oil cooler. With the ECU being retuned by Tony again, Marc's new big turbo setup spun UMS' Dynapack to the tune of 665 whp at 17.8 lbs of boost on 91-octane pump gas on a 108-degree-Fahrenheit day.
When Marc had the engine out for the rebuild, he figured he'd need wider wheels and tires to put the extra power to the ground. As luck would have it, when he contacted Cantrell Studios about its NSX widebody conversion package, the company was looking to do a big audio install on a project of its own, so a straight trade was worked out and Marc had the widebody kit required to clear the big Volk Racing GT-V 18x8.5-inch front and 19x10.5-inch rear wheels. Spraying the car with Grigio Telesto, a battleship-gray color developed by Lamborghini for the '07 Murciélago LP640, Marc's NSX flies about as low under the radar as a 650-plus whp widebody supercar possibly can. Combine this with a dropped and stiffened ride thanks to Tein Mono Flex coilovers, Dali Racing front and rear sway bars, Okuyama rear shock tower brace and the full complement of NSX-R chassis reinforcements and you've got an aero and handling package well matched to the big turbo setup.
Before you get the idea that this wild widebody NSX is just a dyno and garage queen, when I asked Marc what he uses it for, he quickly responded, "I drive it like I stole it! I've put 10,000 miles on it just in the last year alone. I compression-check it regularly and it doesn't burn a drop of oil. I take it to monthly Scottsdale Exotic Car Club meets, where I'm the poor guy. Without incriminating anybody, let's just say we like to do some really spirited driving on quiet mountain highways and we'll just leave it at that. My wife and I are also thinking about using it for a Gumball Rally."
Sounds like a great way to put one of the world's greatest and most affordable supercars to use, and it's clearly safe to say Marc has proved his friend more than wrong when it comes to the myth that you can't successfully turbocharge a NSX. I guess the only thing left to ask is, Where can I find me a free NSX?!
ScienceofSpeed forged low-compression pistons, 36mm SS intake valve set, 30mm Inconel exhaust valve set, LMA Kit, dual valvesprings, titanium valvespring retainer set, billet oil pump gear set, billet camshaft plugs, and Stage 2 engine mounts; big flange stepped sleeved block, ARC baffled high-capacity oil pan, MLS head gasket set, ported cylinder heads, locking timing belt tensioner, ARP head stud kit and main stud kit; Precision Turbo PT67 turbocharger, TiAL blow-off valve, custom headers, turbo manifold, 4" downpipe, 4" single-exit exhaust, 10" radiator fans, and air-to-water FMIC; Walbro 225-lph fuel pump, RC Engineering 750cc fuel injectors, PWR radiator/oil cooler
AEM EMS tuned by Tony at UMS Tuning (Mesa, Arizona)
RPS Stage 2 6-puck clutch, blueprinted NSX 5-speed with cryo'ed gears
Wheels, Tires And Brakes
Volk Racing 18x8.5" (f) and 19x10.5" (r) GT-V wheels, Toyo T1R 225/35ZR18 (f) and 295/30ZR19 (r) tires, Movit Brakes 4-piston "Porsche big reds" front calipers and 12.5" rotors, Goodridge braided SS brake lines
TEIN Mono Flex coilovers, Dali Racing front and rear antisway bars, Okuyama rear shock tower brace, Honda NA2 NSX-R bushings and chassis reinforcements (tie bars)
Cantrell Studios Widebody kit and GT-Series front bumper; custom Grigio Telesto paint, Downforce 02 Style Sports rear valance, '02+ NSX headlights and factory-style carbon-fiber hood
'92 dash (no airbag opening), Rapid Steering hub, NSX-R steering wheel and horn kit, machined-finish Signature Series billet instrument cluster rings, AEM serial gauge, Kenwood touchscreen head unit, Pioneer 8" flat subwoofers (behind seats), Rockford Fosgate 100x4 amplifier
665 whp at 17.8 psi on 91-octane pump gas
How to Buy an NSX For $2,000
Step 1: E-snipe a fully prepped '93 Acura NSX race car off of eBay for the bargain-basement price of $28K.
Step 2: Make sure all the spare parts for the race car are included in the sale. Step 3: Sell all the spare parts and any parts off the race car you don't want for $26K.
Here's a list of all the spares that went to the highest bidder:
• TAITEC JGTC GT500-style rear wing
• Lexan race hatch glass and FRP duct kit
• New OE hatch hinges
• New OE glass hatch
• Built and blueprinted transmission with short gears and 4.23 NSX-R final drive
• Momo Corse Super Cup competition seats
• TecnoMagnesium cast-magnesium wheels ProCar carbon-fiber rear diffuser
• Burn-Up JGTC98-spec hood
• OE hood
• New OE Type-Sfront and rear suspension set
• Schroth four-point race harness
• OE dashboard
• '02 lower rear valance
• Zanardi floormats
• Polished aluminum rear shock tower bar
• 93 ECU with Dali power chip
• Passenger-side airbag
• Rear engine cover
• Comptech headers and exhaust
• Front bumper with all mounting hardware
• Both front fenders
• Both rear quarters
• OE headlights
• OE side vents
• Carbon-fiber side vents
• SoS front hood Billet Aluminum Cover Kit
• RC550cc injectors
• OEM black seats
• Two OE steering wheels with airbag
• Taitec lightweight exhaust
• '99 and '00 OE headers
• RM harness bar with Crow harnesses
• OEM stereo system
• OEM lower rockers
• Taitec tow hook
• DEI Cryo intake and fuel cooling system