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Wind Resistant - 1998 Acura NSX

Aerodynamic Performance For Your Acura NSX

William Law
Apr 1, 2008
Photographers: Steve Demmitt, Scott Tsuneishi
Turp_0804_02_z+1998_acura_nsx+front_bumper Photo 1/18   |   Our '98 NSX received some cosmetic revisions with a '02 front-end conversion. The front bumper is a Downforce fiberglass front bumper, which is a more economical alternative to spending $1,500 for the factory piece.

The NSX was Honda's first attempt at building a supercar and was dubbed by many, the Japanese Ferrari. Based on its design, the automobile was considered exotic by many. With a mid-engine layout and superior handling capabilities, the NSX was engineered with the prowess of showcasing Honda's superior race technology. Powered by a 3.0L, DOHC, 24-valve, V-6 engine mated to a five-speed, the Honda NSX was regarded as the most exotic vehicle to ever be produced in Japan. With superior attention to craftsmanship, each NSX was hand-assembled by a special team of technicians at a dedicated factory in Tochigi. With the Tochigi plant producing 25 vehicles per day at a cost of $65,000 to build, the NSX was labeled as the most expensive Japanese car in history at the time.

With all the hype and attention that the NSX offered to the general public, the 270hp VTEC machine enjoyed a limited run in the U.S. from 1991 to its abrupt end in 2005. As a testament to the NSX's engineering and technological advancements, the vehicle has remained unchanged with only minor revisions during its production cycle from 1991 to 2001. From 2002-2005, the NSX received aero enhancements in the way of a redesigned front bumper, headlight revision, lower stance side skirts with door caps, lower rear bumper and small trunk lip spoiler. Even with these various minor changes to the exterior, none were as noticeable or as impacting as the aerodynamic modifications on the '02 NSX Type-R.

2018 Acura NSX
$156,000 Base Model (MSRP) 21/22 MPG Fuel Economy
Turp_0804_03_z+1998_acura_nsx+aero_kit Photo 2/18   |   Downforce offers a four-piece under panel aero kit for the NSX with promising results. Shown here is an image of the under tray, battery tray, gas tank cover and rear diffuser.

Various under panels and aerodynamic modifications were added to the second-generation NSX Type-R to create more downforce, minimizing parasitic drag and improving overall high-speed stability. Independent track testing has shown the Type-R's aggressive rear spoiler, hood vents and rear diffuser have improved its handling capabilities over previous NSX models and higher-powered vehicles on the track without horsepower improvements. The only setback found in the Type-R is the very limited production of NSX-R's produced in Japan; these parts were never available in the U.S. To say that getting their parts is difficult is definitely an understatement.

Turp_0804_04_z+1998_acura_nsx+under_tray_and_front_battery_tray Photo 3/18   |   Based on the conceptual aero package design from the OEM NSX-R, the Downforce under tray (under the front bumper) and front battery tray is a simple bolt-on procedure that takes no more than one hour. Both the Downforce front tray (under the front bumper) and front battery tray was designed off of the OEM NSX-R piece.

Downforce, located in Orange, Calif., was our answer to improving our '98 Acura NSX's aerodynamic dilemma. Downforce has a reputation in the Acura community as specialists in carbon-fiber fabrication and manufacturing for the NSX. Downforce offers a full under tray package consisting of a front bumper under tray, aluminum battery tray, fuel tank cover and rear diffuser. The idea of having a better flow on the bottom of the car is to create two separate pressure zones. Ideally, if you want to have more downforce without raising the coefficient of drag you can design the car to work like an upside-down airfoil (airplane wing). When air hits the top of the car, it flows slower over the top compared to the bottom. Naturally, the air from the top wants to equalize the bottom (lower or negative pressure) so it squeezes the car down into the ground. This doesn't increase the drag; therefore, this is the most efficient way to create downforce without losing top speed power. Spoilers are becoming more dated because they aren't efficient and do more for fashion rather than performance. While spoilers can offer tremendous downforce, they also produce a lot of drag that will affect your fuel consumption, top speed, acceleration, etc. "Many people think that leaving the tailgate down on a pickup truck will reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency," says Peter Chou, owner of Downforce. "This is the exact opposite. By lowering the tailgate it will allow the high- and low-pressure air to create an excess amount of turbulence and this is parasitic drag."

Turp_0804_14_z+1998_acura_nsx+metal_brackets Photo 10/18   |   Metal brackets are also included within the package to mount securely to the NSX's aluminum chassis frame.

Driving ImpressionsAfter installing the under panel aero from Downforce, we tested the new products and spread the NSX's wings with some spirited driving. While taking the car on a testdrive, the NSX was more stable at high speeds and also surprisingly quieter from road noise. This was possibly due to the fact that the air was basically gliding underneath the panels and didn't stumble into any open patches under the car. Some promising test results came when we encountered a sweeping 45-degree freeway interchange. We hit triple-digit speeds before we realized how fast we were going, but then had to slow down due to slower moving traffic. The NSX didn't flinch one bit and remained stable through the turn. We still haven't taken the car to the track to see how it performs, but we have good expectations for the aero mods.

Turp_0804_11_z+1998_acura_nsx+rear_undercarriage Photo 11/18   |   Here's a shot of the rear undercarriage before the diffuser is installed.
Battery tray $350
FRP front bumper under tray $350
Carbon-fiber front bumper under tray $500
Carbon-fiber fuel tank cover $435
Carbon-fiber NSX-R OEM small diffuser $450
Fiberglass DF-R diffuser $675
Carbon-fiber DF-R diffuser ${{{825}}}
NSX-R hood exact replica FRP (MSRP $9,800) $1,750
Carbon-fiber hood duct exact NSX-R replica $450
Carbon-fiber hood duct exact NSX-R replica DF-R version $650
Carbon-fiber rear wing exact NSX-R replica (MSRP $6,800) $1,390


Anaheim, CA 92806
By William Law
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