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Cool Cars: Honda NSX

Like certain restaurants, gentlemen’s clubs and postcodes, the supercar club used to be a closed society consisting solely of Italians and Germans. And everyone else was barred.

This was partly down to a lack of heritage from any Terry-come-lately, which theoretically meant that you could not show off your racing medals and glossy pictures from yesteryear.

And the fact that any gent who had £X,0000s to spend wanted to wow his friends with something red and sleek, with a name that would bring hidden, rampant, all-consuming jealousy.

But along came a Japanese car company called Honda, which, after close analysis of the potential competition at the time, concluded they were all rubbish and it could improve on the formula.

And it wasn’t wrong. Because at the time Porches and Ferraris were difficult to drive anywhere except in perfect conditions…that is if they didn’t overheat, seize up or explode.

Visibility was the equivalent to peering out your own coffin. The gearshift required the will of 20 men to move when cold. The steering effort was on par with the construction of the Pyramids, complementing the oil-tanker-like turning circle.

Add to this, electrics that made British Leyland look efficient and you get the picture. So for all those Athena posters with girls collapsing over the bonnet back in the 80s, the reality was akin to torture.

And Honda knew this. So to sum up the impact the NSX had on the supercar world when it arrived in 1989, one journalist described it like driving a Honda Civic, in a good way. And unlike any other supercar they had drive…also in a good way.

The chassis had been developed by that Brazilian bloke Ayrton Senna, while the engine was a VTEC screamer, spinning up to 9,000rpm. It never broke down, you could see out the back and you could change gear without crying.

Basically it was a massive kick in the knackers to the European manufacturers and forced them to up their game and make supercars actually usable, such was its impact.

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