1991 Acura NSX
The next car on our list is the Acura NSX. Introduced in the 1991 model year, it was Honda’s attempt to compete with some of the most respected exotics in the world. The company didn’t merely want to build a better mousetrap; it was gunning to change the rodent-extermination game entirely.
The problem with sports cars at the time was they could be temperamental, maintenance intensive and challenging to drive. Ferraris and Porsches could also be uncomfortable in daily use. Honda was known for building high-quality vehicles and it was taking a no-nonsense approach in creating its crown jewel.
The NSX was the result of a development program that began in 1984. It was a mid-engined, two-seat thrill machine weighing a whisker more than 3,000 pounds. Honda kept the weight down by turning to the periodic table of elements. Rather than conventional steel, the car’s structure and chassis were made out of aluminum, a first for a production vehicle.
Initially it was powered by a 3.0-liter V6 delivering 270 horsepower. It featured dual overhead cams, titanium connecting rods and the company’s VTEC system that varied the timing and lift of the engine’s valves to make more power while maintaining driveability. Today, practically every new vehicle sold features some kind of variable valve timing.
Drivers could choose between a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, but honestly, who would do that? Honda called the car “groundbreaking” and “visceral,” and it still is, even today.
Upping the fun factor, in 1997 an enlarged 3.2-liter engine was fitted. It boosted the horsepower count by 20 for a total of 290.
Honda discontinued the NSX in 2005 but is currently working on a replacement.