The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension.
The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda.
Honda spent a great deal of time and money developing the NS-X. With a robust motorsports apparatus, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X’s early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda’s main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after testing the car at Honda’sSuzuka GP circuit in Japan. American Bobby Rahal also participated in the car’s development. Senna was given two cars by Honda. The newer one, a black 1993 model, license plate BSS-8888 (the letters meaning Beco – a childhood nickname – Senna Silva and the number 8 is a reference to his first F1 championship in 1988) is still in his family’s possession.
The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Sports car enthusiasts focused their attention on its low height, body lines, and pronounced forward cockpit. Honda revised the vehicle’s name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The Honda NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990 at Honda Vernodealership sales channels, subplanting the Honda Prelude as the flagship model. The NSX was sold under Honda’s flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong.