One upping Ferrari – this was what Ferruccio Lamborghini dreamt of and ended up accomplishing with the Miura. Of course it was like ‘way back when’ and these days getting all nostalgic might just get you bumped out of the ‘circle of coolness’ whatever that may imply. But on this matter it is quite a piece of automobile history, and the story itself of how Signore Lamborghini got truly flustered with the Ferrari he’d bought and vowed to come up with something better, which ultimately led to the iconic 350GT – the first Lambo.
About half a century later, a Ferrari was again ‘relegated’ to being second best only this time the mighty mechanical protagonist that literally outdid a Ferrari at the Nurburgring itself was unabashedly Japanese; enter the NSX-R in its NA2 guise. Indeed, the magnitude of the legendary Honda supercar’s achievement could not have been more earth-shattering. Despite having a 15-years-old base design, the NA2 NSX-R clocked a few clicks under 8:00 around the Ring equaling the benchmark Ferrari of the time – the F360 CS. Even more amazing was the fact that the Jap mobile was down 100 ponies on the prancing Italian stallion!
The other correlation between the NSX and Ferrari albeit an unflattering one is it was being labeled (back then anyway) as the Japanese Ferrari. Of course nowadays, with the reputation of the NSX itself a serious entry in the upper echelon of sports cars, though it being considered as exotic as a Ferrari is debatable. But that was the non-R-Type NSX variant. The NSX-R, first introduced in 1992 (the NA1) and then in 2002 (the NA2) was a showcase of Honda’s less is more approach with the weight reduction was the primary focus for performance enhancement.
The chassis is based on the fixed-roof coupe, due to its lighter weight and more rigid construction. Carbon fiber was used to a large extent throughout the body components to reduce weight, including a larger, more aggressive rear spoiler, vented hood and deck lid. The vented hood was said to be the largest one-piece carbon-fiber hood in production cars. Additionally, the original NSX-R weight reduction techniques were repeated, including deletion of the audio system, sound insulation and air conditioning. Furthermore, the power steering was removed. A single-pane rear divider was again used, as were Recaro carbon-kevlar racing seats. Finally, larger yet lighter wheels resulted in a total weight reduction of almost 100 kg (220 lb) to 1,270 kg (2,800 lb).
The 3.2L DOHC V6 engine received special attention as well. Officially, Honda maintains that the power output of the Second-Gen NSX-R engine is 290 bhp (220 kW), which is identical to the stock NSX. The automotive press, however, has long speculated that the true output of the engine is higher. Those in the know would recall a gentlemen’s agreement amongst Japanese manufacturers on ‘limiting’ the max power output of their performance-inclined models, albeit only on paper.
This rather rare NA2 NSX-R right here, with a full customized exhaust being one of only two performance upgrades, the other having been a tinkering of the ECU by parties unknown, was dynoed at 378 hp at the crank! On the little matter of stopping power a set of Endless big brakes kit was installed, with rotors sized 370mm up front and 360mm around the rear. Even the cosmetics were left well enough alone and rightly so. The NSX-R even more so with the redesigned head lights is a real stunner, and the owner apparently agreed, deciding only on a set of new monoblock wheels and matching tyres from Rays CE28 and Yokohama AD08R.
Why should anyone with a taste and penchant for sheer class in both appearance and substance want to mess with a mechanical manifestation of something bordering on perfection? We can’t state for the record that any car’s perfect, even if we deemed it to be so in our gut.
Car: Honda NSX-R NA2
Engine Modifications: 3.2 liter 24 valve V6 VTEC, full custom exhaust system, retuned ECU, 378hp at the crank
Brakes: Endless front & rear Big Brakes kit – 370mm front 360mm rear
Wheels & Tyes: Rays CE28 forged monoblock & Yokohama AD08R 215/40/R17, 255/40/R17
Interior: standard, deletion of the audio system, sound insulation & air conditioning; Power steering removed, single-pane rear divider, Recaro carbon-kevlar racing seats.
Exterior: Carbon fiber rear spoiler, vented hood and deck lid.