Whenever we start putting together a feature story, one of the first things we ask the owner is what other cars they’ve owned and modified. With some owners, the list is short, either because they’re young and relatively new to the hobby or they’re simply the “slow and steady wins the race” type and have been building the same car for many years.
Others, like Dennis Meriel, the owner of this spotless Formula Red ’93 Acura NSX, have a tendency to roll through a long list of cars as they search for their automotive soul mate. For Dennis, this meant starting with a ’94 EG hatchback with a B-series swap some 10-plus years ago, followed by a ’03 EVO VIII, a ’06 Civic Si coupe, a ’07 Civic Si sedan, an old school ’79 Celica GT liftback, a ’98 240SX with the obligatory SR20 swap, and his current daily driver, a ’08 BMW 335 sedan. But for Dennis, none has the timeless appeal of his beloved NSX, a machine he’s likely to keep for a very long time.
“After owning various vehicles, I was on a mission to search for that one vehicle that would take things to the next level,” Dennis says. “I wanted a vehicle that was rare, fun to drive and supported by the aftermarket. I wanted a vehicle that had exotic looks but the reliability of a Honda, so the NSX was a natural choice. I turned to an NSX forum for advice and suggestions, where I learned that modifying and maintaining one was not going to cheap or easy.”
But as an experienced tuner, Dennis wasn’t discouraged by the challenges NSX ownership might present, so in the summer of 2006 he started his search. It took a lot of scouring of the Internet, classified ads and dealership lots to finally find his dream machine, but his patience paid off when he came across this ’93 NA1 with just 56K miles on it. According to Dennis, “The car was in Illinois, but with my family still residing there, I was able to have my dad take a look at it firsthand. It had just arrived at a local exotic car dealership and already had several people inquiring about it. I knew that if I didn’t act fast, it would be sold. After negotiating throughout the day, I worked out the details and by the end of the day she was mine. I then had the vehicle shipped to my place in Texas and it was delivered a week later, though it felt like months to me. Like any true enthusiast, I immediately started planning and searching for performance parts for the NSX.”
The first modifications Dennis made to his Japanese exotic were suspension and wheels. TEIN RE coilovers with an EDFC controller custom-mounted on the center console got the party started, and a very sexy set of matte-black Advan RS-D wheels over Spoon monoblock calipers heated the build up further. After that, Dennis turned his attention to the standard bolt-on power-adders, opting for a Taitec exhaust and its beyond-sexy soundtrack, a Downforce ram air intake and Comptech headers.
Messing with the lines of a car as perfectly formed as the NSX is always a risk, but Dennis found a killer combination that maintains his Acura’s classic lines while giving it a little extra punch. The Do Luck bodykit, which took about six months to arrive from Japan, includes a front bumper with a beautifully integrated carbon-Kevlar splitter and subtly shaped side skirts. Rather than doing anything too crazy out back, Dennis simply updated things with a ’02 OEM rear valence. Add to that some subtle carbon-fiber trim pieces on the A- and B-pillars as well as the trunk lid, and the overall effect is an NSX that looks so right you’d almost think it came from the factory this way.
Dennis Meriel has been a part of the import scene for over a decade, has modified over a half dozen different vehicles, but clearly he hasn’t lost any of his passion for the hobby. “When people ask why I spend my hard-earned money on modifying my vehicles, I simply reply that it’s a lifelong hobby of mine. In my teen years, I worked two jobs just to buy performance parts for my car. Modifying cars means more to me than just following the trends. It’s a way to express my personality through my cars, and with hard work, persistence and support from friends and family, it all comes down to having fun and being passionate about the hobby.”
Messing with the lines of a car as perfectly formed as the NSX is always a risk, but Dennis found a killer combination that maintains his Acura’s classic lines while giving it a little extra punch.
Specs & Details
'93 Acura NSX
Engine C30A 3-liter VTEC V-6
Engine Modifications Downforce intake scoop w/ K&N filter; Comptech headers; Taitec GT lightweight exhaust; GT-One engine damper; NSX-R rubber coolant cover; Optima Red Top battery
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 18x8" (f) & 19x10" (r) matte-black Advan RS-D wheels; 225/35ZR18 (f) & 275/30ZR19 (r) Falken 452 tires; Spoon 4-piston monoblock calipers (f); Goodridge stainless braided brake lines, Hawk HPS brake pads
Suspension TEIN RE coilovers w/ EDFC; Comptech rear strut tower bar
Exterior Do Luck front bumper w/ carbon-Kevlar splitter & side skirts; Acura OEM ’02+ rear valence & diffuser; Downforce carbon-fiber rear window vent cowl & trunk lip spoiler; Umbrella Auto Designs carbon-fiber A- & B-pillar covers; HID kit
Interior Bride carbon-Kevlar Low Max GIAS (driver side) & XAX II (passenger side) seats; Momo 350mm Tuner steering wheel; NRG QR hub; NSX-R shift knob & boot; Downforce carbon-fiber door sills; Alpine DVD head unit; Focal component speakers; JL Audio WS series 10" sub
Special Thanks My wife Claire; my kids Alyssa, Nico & Jacob; Team Nextstage; John & Dan from Mayday Garage; JTran Studios; Edmun from Opak Racing; ScienceofSpeed; friends & family for their unwavering support & inspiration
Why We Picked It (For the Cover)
Modifying a car can be a slippery slope between race and rice, but Dennis Meriel has walked this fine line skillfully, giving his NSX a thorough overhaul without destroying its streetability or timeless styling. It takes an experienced hand to execute a build this subtle, and Meriel’s long history as an import enthusiast no doubt informed his restrained approach to modifying this Japanese exotic. We wouldn’t have minded seeing a little more work in the power department, say a ScienceofSpeed supercharger kit, since the NA1 is a chassis that shines even when you double its power output, but as far as clean and simple curb appeal goes, this NSX is as good as it gets.
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