Walking up to it I run my hand along the front wing, up over the A pillar, onto the roof and down the rear window. Moving across the spoiler I remember the first time we met…
It was nearly 2 years ago, and a lot had happened to this golden beauty since then…it was all but written off by another ‘journalist’ at an industry driving day. The vehicle in question had only been on Honda’s heritage press fleet a matter of weeks…but let’s slow down, as I am getting ahead of myself. I shall save this cars history to the very end.
With it now back in one piece I came home to see it sitting on my driveway. Like a childhood dream come true it was time for the weekend to begin.
Keys in hand I approached the car, unlock it and fall into the driver’s seat, forgetting how ridiculously low the NSX is. It takes some practice to gracefully enter and exit.
Looking out of the vast windscreen you feel awkwardly high up, but the dashboard is just above your knees, giving you that stunning unhindered view of the road ahead.
Belting up I put the keys in the ignition, push in, and turn. The 3.2 litre engine sat 5 inches behind my shoulders fires into life.
It sounds awful. Rough. Coarse. Like a real bag of bolts.
Adjusting the seat, mirrors and wheel I get comfy. After about a minute that bag of bolts has completely smoothed out.
It sounds silky now, like a real highly tuned thoroughbred.
Pressing the clutch down needs a lot of force. This is no modern hatchback. Slotting into first gear the mechanical feel of this car starts to come back to me.
The throw is ridiculously short, there must only be about 5 centimetres from 1st to 2nd. And it’s precise, no ambiguity about what gear you’re in, no hitting the middle ground. It’s perfect.
Heart pounding I slowly edge it off the drive. There’s just something special about the NSX, about this car. Knowing what it has been through and how careful I’m going to be with it. But also the short memory of that 20 minutes I spent with it 2 years ago. I never thought I would get to drive one again, let alone have days with one.
Inside the NSX is pure 80’s. It may be a 90’s car but the interior was definitely 10 years earlier. Even in 2005 this model came with a tape deck as standard. Honda never redesigned the centre console to fit in a CD player.
You do get one, it just sits in the boot as a multi disc changer. And funnily enough it’s MP3 compatible. New and old, side by side.
The Bose stereo is actually awesome. Ridiculously clear audio and deep bass from what appeared to be just a 2 speaker and small sub setup. Naturally I purchased a Cassette to Aux adapter well in advance to hook my iPod up to.
To adjust the treble and bass there is the tiniest of dials, a dial within a dial in fact. It is about the size of the end of a pen. But it kind of sums up the whole of the interior of the NSX. Space is at a premium.
The glovebox looks quite big, but upon opening it it’s actually half that height. There are no cup holders, there are no side pockets in the doors. The only actual space is below the arm rest, a rectangular cubby hole (about the size of a brick) is directly below and there are two shallow, flat compartments above it. Funnily enough the larger of the two fits the iPhone 6 perfectly. Honda knew.
There is barely any wear on the leather interior. It has the original deep pile NSX embossed carpet mats. I even think the Honda badge keyring is the original. You wouldn’t expect anything less for a car that has covered just 25,095 miles in 10 years.
Every mile I put on it I felt a little guilty.
15 minutes since pulling off the drive and we are all warmed up and ready to go. Finding a suitably open section of road I change down and plant my foot to the floor, all the way from 3,000 to 8,000 RPM. Once it gets above 5k it really roars.
Because you’re so low the road is really within touching distance. The asphalt fills the bottom half of the windscreen and looking out the rear view mirror you see that low, flat, built in spoiler. This has to be THE coolest car ever.
It has to be. The attention it gets everywhere is simply ridiculous. You see, the NSX is a unicorn car. People have heard of them, looked at pictures of them, driven them in video games, but never actually seen one in the flesh.
But the attention it gets is the well-deserved, respectful type. It isn’t the “look at that flash tosser in a brand new Ferrari”, it’s more of a thinking mans, head nod in approval type.
Everyone comes up to you and asks about it. You fall into it at the local shops and teenagers say – and I quote – “Mate. Your whip is sick!” They were but a twinkle in their father’s eye when the NSX first hit showroom floors. It transcends age, gender, car aficionados, everything.
This particular NSX is fitted with power steering. And purists will say that this took away steering feel and what not. But over the time I had the car I was lucky enough to drive a pre facelift without it – this one as it happens.
Personal preference – it made no difference. The feel is still superb with the power steering, and it just makes the car more useable every day. You just don’t end up with arms like Hulk Hogan when manoeuvring on and off the drive.
Turning into a corner in the NSX is so direct, the body stays flat. No roll whatsoever. It just deals with it. You know what the wheels are doing and where they are, it just feels connected…which you don’t get these days.
And the grip. Oh the grip. In the dry it really is never ending. Even trying to unsettle it by being a twat mid corner does nothing. You could really be THE worst driver ever and still be ultra-safe in this car. During the whole time I spent with it I never saw the traction control light come on once.
And I’m pretty sure Honda have disabled the button to toggle it on or off – no doubt due to this cars previous antics – as it was firmly fixed in the on position in the dash.
When Honda said that the NSX is a supercar that is useable for everyone, they meant it. And to that extent it’s the forefather of the R35 Nissan GT-R. Quite happy to pootle around town, useable everyday but hammer it round a track at a weekend and you’ll see what it can really do.
The thing about the NSX is it just feels so mechanical. The noise of that engine sat right behind you. The heavy clutch. The short gear shift. Everything feels connected and like its working together in sync, and you’re the conductor.
You just don’t get that with cars these days. If people can hear the gearbox whirring away it gets moaned about, if a clutch is heavy that gets criticised.
All of the visceral things that make the NSX so pure have been slowly wheedled out of modern sports cars. The only thing that comes close to driving this in mechanical sensation is a Radical.
With 280 BHP and 304 Nm of torque it’s never intimidating. Never enough power to break traction. But more than enough to be rapid, even by today’s standards.
The quoted 0-60 is 5.7 seconds, but tests by numerous magazines have seen as low as 4.5. Allegedly Honda kept improving and tweaking the cars right up to the very end. Sports and Exotic Car magazine did a farewell article on a 2005 NSX Targa, they recorded a 0–60 time of 4.7s!
Also the later cars had a closer ration gearbox lower down, Honda also added a 6th gear to help compensate for this.
Cruising in 6th at 70 MPH is a breeze, and the ride is something else. It’s so well damped for being a sports car, there are no sudden jars or crashes it soaks up imperfections in the road with ease. No doubt helped by its F1 inspired front and rear double wishbone suspension.
And from what I can make out Senna didn’t actually have much input into the NSX. He drove 5 sessions in a single day at Suzuka and advised Honda that the chassis needed stiffening. Honda went back and upped its rigidity by 50%. He then drove it around the Nurburgring to fine tune the suspension settings.
After all he was a very busy man around that time. But everyone always praises it as “Senna’s car” when really he had a minimal – but fundamental – input.
The NSX is one of those rare cars that is just so perfectly balanced. But it goes a step further than that, its machine like, mechanical interface and feel just doesn’t occur anymore. So yes a new NSX is around the corner, but I can guarantee it won’t come close to the sensations felt in the original. And 10 years after the last one rolled off the production line nothing touches the analogue nature of this.
After 252 miles in the NSX I want one. More than anything else. The feel, the looks, the sound. It’s what every driver’s car should be. The blueprint that should be followed.
I reversed it back onto the drive for one last time. Sat listening to the 3.2 litre on tick over, savouring what will probably be the last time I ever drive one of these awesome machines. A quick rev and it was over.
Lights off. Key out. Doors locked. And a sad look back over my shoulder as I walk away.
This feels like a break up.
It’s a 3.2 litre, 6 speed manual finished in Imola Orange. There are only 3 other NSX’s in that colour in the country, and one of those is a Targa.
It was first registered on the 31 March 2005 on the original plate of BJ05 WYM. It was owned by Avonvale Honda in Coventry. They kept hold of it until March 2007 when it was purchased by its second owner.
It was sold by Avonvale with three years Honda warranty, which was always extended up until the 28th March 2014.
It had its cambelt changed in April of 2013 along with new rear brakes pads, fluid and a new battery.
In November 2013 it went up for sale privately. Its mileage was at 21,357 and the asking price was £59,950.
Honda purchased it and entered it into their heritage press fleet. On the 22nd May 2014 it was taken along to an industry driving day at Milbrook proving ground. That day I was the second person to drive it (pictured below), and the mileage was around 22,000 if I remember correctly.
Later on that day the heavens opened, and on the penultimate drive it was crashed just after the hairpin at Millbrook. Funnily enough directly opposite where 007 rolls his Aston Martin DBS in Casino Royale.
When news surfaced later that day everyone had feared the car would be a write off. I never saw any pictures of the damage, but I believe it was quite extensive to the chassis and panels on the passenger side.
It was repaired at what I can only imagine was an eye watering cost, but due to it being such a low owner, low mileage car it must have been deemed worth it.
Eventually it was returned to Honda nearly a year later and put back onto the heritage press fleet.
We would like to thank Honda for allowing us to put miles on such a special vehicle. Thank you for letting us devalue your car.
A big thanks also goes to Esoteric Auto in Bedford for their help in making the original and facelift images possible.
That Formula Red pre facelift NSX is currently for sale with Esoteric. It was one of the first cars to be sold in the country, and it was great to get it alongside Honda’s – which was no doubt one of the last.