Everyone has biases and different opinions on what a car should or should not do.   Even the reviewers for magazines, who try to be as objective as possible, cannot help but let their personal preferences color their opinions of various cars.

Even so, people constantly seek the opinions of others, and when it comes to cars it is almost impossible to discuss a car without comparisons coming up.  So here are some reviews of various cars as they relate to the NSX.  All are written by NSX owners.


Integra Type-R

[FG – 98/4/2] I secured a test drive of a broken in Integra Type R a few days ago and  here are my impressions (comparing the Type R with my 95 NSX-T).

The Type R feels like it is carved out of a solid billet of steel! Very solid chassis – much better than the NSX-T. No steering shake and the steering actually feels much more precise and has better feedback.

The suspension also provides more feedback (probably from stiffer bushings) and the car does not roll as much as the NSX-T. At the limit, the car is very neutral – only thing is you need lift throttle to get the tail out as opposed to a throttle stab.

The Type R is quite noisy though, and would be hard to live with on long drives, though, between 6000 and 8500 it sounds great! Not as refined a sound as the NSX – but definitely clearer and I think it is also more noticeable from the outside.

In any case, I’d still keep my Prelude VTEC and the NSX (for now).

[MB – 98/4/10] Well, I finally got my chance to drive the new Type R. It was about time considering that one of the first pictures of the car that made it to the web was me sitting in one at the Acura Lyndhurst event (thanks to Don Gallo). It was easier to arrange than I thought, but then again, when it comes to that car, I’m a salesman’s wet dream. I currently have the Prelude VTEC, which replaced my ’89 Integra. Combine that with the NSX, and you won’t find a better potential customer for that car! I took it on the exact same test drive loop that I used when I drove the ’97 NSX for comparison sake. I was surprised to find that it didn’t feel like it was made from aluminum foil. It really is a solid car. It took me
about a fraction of a second to get comfortable and start driving it like I’ve owned it all my life.

Without question, this was the best Integra I have ever driven. The power was good, but it has the same problem as every other Integra VTEC I have ever driven. It is too slow when it is out of VTEC, and the acceleration is no where near as linear as my Prelude. For this reason more than any other, it really didn’t remind me of the NSX at all. This is also the area where I think the Prelude VTEC is most superior. I had a blast trying to shift it exactly at redline so I could stay in VTEC first to second. I was very satisfied and impressed with the handling, but I would like to see it sitting on more rubber. I really had a blast driving the car, but I should mention that my friend Josh (who some of you might remember from the Nockamixon event) did not like the car at all. He thought the handling was "twitchy". In defense of the car, he drove it on cold tires, I took the second shift, if you will and experienced no twitching – and I was pushing it. I must say neither of us had ANY complaints about the brakes. The one place that I thought the Integra is superior is the sound. It really makes a glorious noise when you wind it out. It really is fun to run it to the redline.

After the drive, I parked it next to my 94 Prelude and discovered that even with the ground effects and spoiler, the Prelude is still a much more aggressive looking car. Next to the Integra it looked VERY low and wide. Interior wise, the guages were great, but I like the Prelude’s leather interior a lot more. Having owned both, I realize that the main difference between the two cars is HOW it achieves performance. The Prelude does it with more power and larger displacement while the Integra does it with weight. This makes the Prelude a more substantial car on the road, and gives it an overall solid feeling.

As you can tell, I liked the Type R a lot, but I would never give up my Prelude for it. Furthermore, I disagree with the title of "NSX jr." In my opinion, this is more of a marketing thing than anything. The Prelude is much more like the NSX, and I am still confused as to why Honda made the more luxurious of their two sport coupes the Honda instead of the Acura. Any ideas?

[BD] I have an NSX and test drove a 98 Integra. In fact, it spent the night in my garage. I’m not technically proficient enough to write a review like most of you. But I can briefly say this. I fell in love with the car. It was in its own way as exhilirating a drive as my NSX or even my Ferrari 355. I liked the idea of a non glitzy, no curb-appeal, nondescript car that would go like crazy. I also felt you could drive it every day and never get tired of it or really think much about the per mile cost. BOTTOM LINE: In its own way I liked the car the equal of anything I ever drove. I didn’t buy it for some different reasons.

[CL – 2000/2/20] Q: Does this car deserve its often overused "Baby NSX" moniker?"


A: Driving (track and street) the NSX and Chris Marsh’s ITR(s) <G> have been great experiences in my book. The stock NSX is greatly under-powered (IMO…especially at 6-7000 feet) and I feel the same about the ITR. Both cars have there assets…both can brag great handling, different types of great handling, but great none-the-less…both have pretty good power for the engine size (NSX especially in ’91…not so good today). Both break well, and have great overall feel.

The two configurations, however, make any real comparisons impossible. They feel completely different. ITR being the best fwd car I have ever driven, hands down (though I’m not a very good ITR driver), NSX being a mid-engine car (easier to rotate, lower cowl, and other mid-engine benefits). Each are above the top of their class (maybe NSX is a little behind, but it was WAY ahead in ’91) and are bragging rights for Honda.

They are completely different, but equally outstanding…Let’s call them Tochigi Babies and stop comparing apples to oranges…incomparable complements.

[MF – 2000/2/20] I have driven both the Integra Type-R and NSX on VERY brisk drives through curving country roads, and I can say that **FROM MY PERSPECTIVE** the Integra Type-R is every bit as much fun as the NSX. When I first got out of the Type-R I was instantly reminded of the first time I drove an NSX. Everything seemed to work perfectly, and the car inspired great amounts of confidence. The brakes on the Integra Type-R are phenomenal. They never seem to fade. The car may not be as fast as an NSX, but it is every bit as much fun. It is very deserving of the title of "Baby NSX". Drive one, you WILL agree.

 NSX Coupe vs. NSX-T

 From: Eric Kerub,
 Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 10:31:04

Eric, what do you base this information on? Acura states that because of increased stiffening in the structure, a targa is very close to a coupe in torsional rigidity. With the roof in place it may be 5% less stiff. Is this enough to make a "night and day" difference? Do you have comparative stiffness information or lap times?

I’ve driven a few same model cars around the track (coup & targa) and it was a generalized statement for sure. I cannot provide any engineering background to my coup vs. targa comparision, only driving experience.

I was approched last year by the sales director of my local Acura dealership when I popped in for a visit. He had a new ’95 unsold and was trying desperatley to sell it. Something to do with if he sells 6 (that was #6 BTW) that year he would get some sort of exclusivity for Quebec on NSX’s (don’t ask me if this is true). Anyhow, The price he quoted me for the car *and* the offer he made me for mine (15K more than I paid for it), made it very tempting for me.

I started making some calls to find out if anyone had tracked one of these targa’s and what their impression was. I called Tim at Comptech, Randy at RM, and a few others that I figured could fill me in. Nobody had any solid feedback from anyone regarding the "trackability" of the targa.

I knew somebody that had a ’95 but would take alot of convincing to bring him to a driving school. I finally managed to get him in my next event and we swapped cars a few times.

n.b. I have to admit at that time I had already done the Comptech suspension, headers, RM brake package, and chip. So that test on that day was not "fair." But OTOH, The year before my NSX was stock and I remember It’s characterisitcs quite well.

Anyway, to cut this long story… Everything that was written about the NSX in that Car & Driver Handling Shootout article was representive to how I felt driving my friends Targa and not my coupe. Maybe that 5% is enough on that design to make a big difference. But I admit it’s just *my* impression, others may have a different view.

Needless to say, I did not go for the Targa, even with a sweet sweet deal.


1995 BMW M3

 Lloyd W,

I have a ’95 M3 with just over 5000 miles on it. The M3 reminds me of a "wolf in sheep’s clothing" situation. It drives like an "ordinary" sedan but it definitely has lots of performance (acceleration, cornering and brakes) if you want to push the car beyond regular street driving limits. However, the "fun" the car gives me just can’t compare to the NSX. The unique exterior appeal, engine sound, cornering performance and acceleration of the NSX all give me more driving enjoyment. While the NSX has good brakes, the M3 seems to have the NSX beaten in this category. The M3 has great reliability (so far) and can be used to bring home the groceries or at the track.

The M3 isn’t that much slower than the NSX at the track, but it just doesn’t give the same emotional feel. FYI, I have modified the NSX, but the M3 is completely stock and driven daily…and this probably sums up my use and idea of each car.

 Donald Gallo,
 Tue, 3 Mar 98

Viva la difference! If you are not interested in reading yet another comparison between these two fine vehicles, hit delete NOW. If you are wondering what to buy for a daily driver while your NSX avoids rain, snow and sand, then read on…

I replaced my CRX-Si this week with a 1998 BMW M3 4-door in cool silver. Although I’ve only driven only about 100 miles so far (over a wide variety of terrain), I have some very distinct first impressions — I’ll try to summarize them by way of comparison to our beloved NSX. Here goes…

OVERALL: Man, the M3 is hot! It really hauls ass, and is much more "sports car" than sedan. It is, however, VERY different from the NSX in overall feel and mission.

POWER: The car is very strong, though it doesn’t feel quite as torquey as the NSX. Off the line acceleration feels very similar to the NSX. I haven’t had the opportunity to really explore the car’s capabilities yet, though. Damn, waiting another 1,100 miles till the break-in period is over is gonna kill me 😉 Winner: Too soon to tell.

ERGONOMICS: Although the M3’s seats have about a zillion adjustments, they can’t match the snug bolstering and feel of the NSX’s. Also, in typical Germanic style, the engineers make concessions to the driver but never really welcome him into the car. The steering wheel doesn’t tilt or telescope, the climate control gear is not intuitive, and the overall feel of the switchgear is a notch below Japanese standards. Winner: NSX.

RIDE: The M3 rides very, VERY firmly. In fact, it feels like a go-cart. You always know you are connected to the road, but surprisingly, you lose some of the quality of the road-feel through the steering. For comfort over harsh road conditions, the NSX is the choice. Winner: NSX.

STEALTH: I’ve enjoyed the fact that my black NSX doesn’t attract as much attention as a red one, and that unsophisticated viewers mistake it for a 3000GT. But how much more obscure can one be while zooming the interstates than by driving a silver 4-door sedan? Winner: M3.

PASSENGER ROOM: Oh, never mind. Winner: M3.

EXOTIC GOOD LOOKS: Oh, gimme a break. Winner: NSX.

TRANSMISSION/GEARS: Having been vastly disappointed with the tall gearing of the 5-speed BMW 5-series, I was very pleasantly surprised by the much tighter and shorter gearing of the M3. Gear spacing and engagement are about ideal. Plus, the illuminated shift know looks really cool at night 😉 Winner: M3 (vs. NSX with stock gearing); Winner: NSX (with short gears).

HANDLING/CORNERING: Sacrilege!! There is a car that seems to beat our beloved NSX! The M3 is so balanced, so poised, so razor-sharp in its turn-in and execution that it nearly handles telepathically. The crisp feel and perfect weight distribution combine to create an exhilarating experience in the twisties. The car feels more nimble than the NSX, and   (as hard as it may seem) even more "intuitive" than the NSX. Wow. Winner: M3.

VISCERAL THRILLS: The M3 executes its mission with Teutonic efficiency and solidity. It is the ultimate taskmaster: you tell it what you want to do, and it obeys, flawlessly. The NSX, OTOH, engages your senses and your passions. It reaches into the deep recesses of your brainstem and triggers the release of adrenaline, endorphines and hormones. The engine sound, driving position, road feel, looks and overall package combine to create the ultimate driving experience. Yes, many of the M3’s paper stats and handling may be better than the NSX, but they do NOT make it a more exciting car. Winner: NSX, by a landslide.

BRAKES: Holy s**t! The feel and stopping power of the M3’s brakes are magnificent! The grab and deceleration are the best I’ve ever felt, leagues above those of a stock NSX. Granted, I was VERY impressed with a short drive in Ron Cook’s NSX with RM Racing’s pads installed, and I have a set of these sitting in my garage awaiting installation — I hope they make the car perform even CLOSE to the M3. Winner (vs stock NSX): M3 by a wide margin.

I can’t imagine having to choose between these two excellent vehicles. I’m glad my choice is limited to WHICH to drive each day 😉


 Donald Gallo, 
 Tue, 7 Apr 98

After buying the M3, I became VERY disappointed with the performance of the NSX’s brakes. I also felt the M3 handled better and cornered with greater confidence.

Turns out that several things about the NSX were not up to snuff:

  1. My tires were getting quite worn -- the inside of the fronts were down to nothing
  3. The alignment was out of spec (discovered during the post-tire-change alignment)
  5. One of my front rotors was warped, and the others were glazed
  7. The stock pads are fair, but not great (even though mine only had a few thousand miles on them).

After fixing these minor maintenance problems [and installing RM’s brake pads], I’m far less "disappointed" with the NSX. The brakes grab REALLY well, better than they EVER did with the stock pads in my car or any other NSX I’ve driven.  And, the handling is back to its nimble, confidence-inspiring levels.

I can’t wait to hit the track!

 Phil Mirenda,

Sorry Don, but have to disagree. Test drove the new M3 for quit a few hours 2 weeks ago. Great Car and I may buy one for a daily driver, but as good as it is I’ll take the NSX on any track vs the Bimmer. Besides, just read in the current issue of the Bimmer Windy City publication that the M3s were losing engines at Road America a few weeks ago. Not good.

 James R,

[From the BMW e-mail list]

The people that keep bringing up the fact that the NSX is expensive are in denial. One can buy a used NSX with less than 10k miles on it for the same amount as a new M3. The Acura WILL be faster get more look’s sound better and

 in my opinion be more confidence inspiring with it's exotic mid engine design.

The NSX will also have fewer problems than the M3 and feel much more like a true sports car than an M3. I love the M3 that’s why I bought one over another NSX. The NSX spoiled me, I thought all exotic cars had the creature comforts that the NSX has. I was dead wrong and I wasted 6k finding out on that crappy Viper GTS. I don’t care if it’s not made in Europe. I love both BMW and NSX’s equally.

The truth is, if you want to obtain the closest thing to an F1 for under 50k buy an NSX, then put the money you were going to use to modify the M3 into the NSX and you will have one of the fastest street legal cars in the USA. You can have all this for the same amount of money you were going to spend on your new M3. The bottom line is that the M3 is a fast great handling sport sedan, and the  NSX is a true sports car. It’s low to the ground, has a mid engine, the body weights 340 pounds (all aluminum), The engine is supper tuned, the interior is total ecstasy. It’s like sitting in the head of an arrow.

Trust me, I know both the Acura NSX and the BMW M3 inside and out. I know how they handle at their respected top speeds. I’ve put many hours of driving time on the track with both of them. The NSX is the superior car in my mind, and you can purchase one with very low miles for less than 50k. It’s all relative.

If the M3 fit’s your lifestyle better than an NSX, then the M3 is the victor. M3- just picture -Baby seats, dry cleaning, lot’s of trunk space, tires last forever, quiet, look’s classy and doesn’t stick out, many BMW dealerships to service it, 4 seats, everyone has one (because their great), don’t have to worry about the front or underside scraping on the ground, it has the BMW name, fast, great handling, too much body roll (stock), smell’s great new, no one look’s at you (well not like in the NSX)

For now I’ll take the M3. It fit’s my lifestyle at the current time. But don’t put down what you haven’t owned, you have no right.

 Euro-Spec M3 (E36  Evo)

[CMA] I found this on the web, I thought it was interesting not only just because it is about driving but also because it compares the Euro M3 with an NSX, mirroring the debate my mind has been having for the past few months and will continue to have. Anyway its very long. Here you go.

 Flying the BMW M3 to Le Mans

 by Nicholas Frankl, TACH European Bureau  

I knew from the start of the trip that it would have a Bavarian flavour to it. Piloting a brand new BMW M3 Evolution from Kingston – just south of the river Thames – to La Sarthe in one quick controlled blast and then enduring no sleep, poor food and general smellyness for 48 hours. Yes, I know the race is only 24 but by the time you get there at 8am and

 leave and the following evening it feels like 48 believe me. 

The drive down was as pleasant as I could have hoped blue sky and 25’C following me across the continent. Having got acquainted with my new toy on the way down to the Shuttle, which once again proved to be a superior method of crossing the Channel, I used the initial (empty) stretch out of Calais towards Paris to breath a little life into the straight six, letting the 320 horse play for while. This thing is probably one of the quickest cars you can buy today, and almost certainly the most user-friendly. At a steady 130mph the wind simply parts momentarily to allow one to continue

 without noise or buffeting. The engine a distant hum, the tyres ( 245/40 R17 rears and  225/45 front) unobtrusive and the miles rushing by. Sure it doesn't have the presence of a  super car on the out side lane, but with the lights on, very little proved unmoveable as I  swept into Paris in just over an hour and a half. The most demoralising aspect of this  particular route being that no matter how fast you go ( unless equipped with an F1  McLaren), you are constantly passed by the TGV which runs along (at 180mph) the adjacent  track 200 meters on your right. Even at an indicated 150mph the shark nosed Euro-bullet  eats you up laughing all the way as various travellers relax and tuck into omelettes and  frites.

The M3, now in it’s most potent form, provides for awe inspiringly hassle free journeys. Similar in concept to the NSX I drove a month ago both attempt to whisk you (plus 3 mates in the beemer) to the destination of your choice as fast and comfortably as possible, all the while extolling the qualities for their existence; namely the gratification of their drivers. Both have huge reserves of power and grip and allow the occupants to enjoy everything that is best in modern motoring, the NSX may be ultimately more involving, as a one would expect from a mid engined super car, and expensive ($70,000 vs $38,000), but the M3 does it all for less, with more, and in an altogether more subtle way.

No, the steering is not as precise as it should, and no doubt could be, the front wheels some how not communicating quite crisply enough, like talking into the phone with a handkerchief over your mouth, but once familiarised with the chassis and the way the car feels and performs, the BMW will get you where you’re going very quickly indeed, it’s abilities even more incredible when you consider that I had full wet weather gear in the boot (trunk),plus two duvets and two pillows and a brolly. Now try that in a F355! Although it was never called into serious action, the grip levels simply to high, the chassis to finely tuned, I found the car some what nervous over bumpy surfaces and at high speed, not nearly a match for the NSX which swallowed the same autoroute at 168mph and felt like it was riding on a giant pancake.

Calais to Le Mans was dispatched, without fuss, in 3 hours and 40 mins (about 475km/350miles) including getting lost around Paris which is par for the course and all part of visiting the place, like going up the Eithel tower, but without the view. The race itself you know about, one big extended beer festival. The winner (German, it was never going to be any other way) being the one who drank the least amount, fastest, and drove circles around his companions.

BMW-V-Porsche. Porsche won the day, although not how they would have liked. The factory GT1 cars coming home in second and third, whilst a private entry from Joest racing leading from the first hour and, apart from pit stops, for the remaining 354 circuits of the 13.6 km track at an average speed of 200.600 kph. McLaren, who won so spectacularly on their first visit last year, resigned to 4th,5th,6th, 8th and 9th spots, with various handling and gearbox problems, even the great Derek Bell, who has won this automotive orgy five times, was sick on the day " too much Ribena mixed in with Coke and peaches, I started feeling very unwell half way through my stint, but I just couldn’t stop". Don’t cry for the Bavarians yet though, as Gordan Murray explained, "they’ve (Porsche) opened the flood gates and set a precedent for full blown ground up racers", that can only mean that the man behind the McLaren is already twitching his wrists into action on the design tables in Woking.

I decided at 2pm on the Sunday, that given the current state of affairs a hasty exit for the train was my best option. There’s something very satisfying, a buzz if you like, to know that a journey has to be made, I always refer to it as a mission, rather than just driving, and that your car is something special, something that you’d drive the long way home rather than merely commuting. Well that was the feeling when I got into the M3, bloody hot as it was, ( how is it that you get air conditioning standard on a Daewoo for $10,000 and not on a $38,000 item?) shut the door and started off for the return trip to London of 500 miles. I didn’t have a particular games plan just to drive consistently quick and get home

 in time to catch the end of the GP from Canada. 120,140,and even an indicated 160mph got  me to the train into time for the 5.30 crossing. Of course you can do it faster but  cruising is the whole idea and it's the average speed that counts. Lessons learnt? You bet  ya!

Once again I over took and inturn wasted minutes at the peage (tolls). All you need in a dumb tourist who’s either lost, or dropped their money and starts asking questions and that’s it. All the traffic you just spent an hour flashing off the fast lane comes rolling past. There is no game plan, it’s luck every time.

But, the big lesson is coppers, smoky’s, bandits, call them what you like. The police are out to get the Brits, no question. You may have already read about my father, Frankl senior, getting practically arrested and fined big time for having a radar in his car. ( He was actually in the petrol station at the time with it switched off, but that didn’t seem to matter.) Well I escaped, and that’s the only word for it, not one but two radar traps on the last 75 miles of the run to Calais. Look out for dark coloured estate cars and little white boxes.

Dark coloured estate cars parked on the hard shoulder or in a lay by with their boots open facing the on coming traffic. They have massive cameras in the backs of them and are difficult to spot. If they’re feeling particularly slimy then they pop the bonnet (hood) up as well so it looks like they have broken down. You sail past at 100 mph and the next thing you see is a large police van in the distance and loads of men with radios waving and smiling.

I was so happy to spot the afore mentioned bastard that I immediately called my father in Hungary to tell him. Little did I realise that the Frogs are really mean and must be completely pissed off at this BSE beef scandal, cos they went and set up an even more sneaky one just 20 miles down the motorway.

Closing at 110 and rounding a left corner I noticed a white box just beyond the barrier. Now never one to over react and slam on the anchors for the hell of it I continued until I could see the tripod feet of this box from hell, which stands only about 1.5 feet and about 1 foot wide. I hit the stop button so hard the ABS came on at 100, and by the time I went by, only 100 meters or so later I looked round and saw the fun bus parked up with two bewildered faces looking and wondering what the this rapidly decreasing object was. I thought that was it, but as I left the peage, two miles up the road, and looked over at the PC plods they just ignored me.

Oh thank you BMW for the best floating discs around.


C5 Corvette

 Bob Larson,

As most of you know, I hit the lease termination on my NSX about a month ago and the car sailed off into the sunset. On the top of a flatbed truck, actually. Quite unexpectedly, its former place in the garage has already been filled. On Wednesday night of this week, I took delivery of a 1998 Corvette 6-speed coupe. I’d been thinking of ordering a Corvette… my plan was to test drive, order, and take museum delivery down in Bowling Green, KY, all before summer.

However, the availability of new 6-speeds for order in the ’98 model year fell deeply into question due to supplier (Borg-Warner) problems, and I was getting so frustrated trying to find a car to test drive (I could tell you stories!), and then with the prospect of having to possibly wait  until the ’99 model year that I was just about fed up and resigned to the  idea of not buying a sports car for a while until the dust settled. That was this past Monday.

Then on Tuesday a miracle occurred, thanks to my good friend Jay Levine making a fortuitous phone call on my behalf. From that, we learned of one that was available for immediate delivery at Curry Chevrolet in Scarsdale, the sister store of Curry Acura where Jay got Bad Blue. Amazingly, it is almost the *exact* car I was planning to order from the factory, and it practically just fell into my lap like a gift from above.

By Wednesday night I was through the complete process (following the mandatory test drive) and the car was mine. Well, at MSRP anyway, which is the going deal on manual Vettes, that is if you don’t have to pay over sticker. Allegedly, it was one of only seven 6-speeds available at that time on the entire east coast. Black with "light oak" interior just like I planned to order, sport seats, manua ltranny (an $815 option!), factory remote 12-disc CD, and several other goodies. I feel very fortunate to have found and obtained this car.

I snapped a few photos during those first two nights and put them up on the web if you’re interested:

As some of you know, I owned two examples of the Corvette C4 during the late ’80s: the first I loved despite its faults and the second was so riddled with assembly and design defects (there were many running engineering changes to the car) that I hated it and managed to negotiate an early lease termination, whereupon I swore off the "plastic fantastic" like a bad habit. I am NOT one of those guys that thinks of problems and defects as "character", and I go into my C5 ownership fully spoiled by the very high standards set by the NSX.

I have only burned my first tank of gas, yet I have some initial impressions to share, which are about 99% positive. I realize not everyone here will be interested in hearing these, and I promise I will not drone on about the Corvette to this list after today. But I also think there are people here who have interest, especially coming from the perspective of a former NSX  owner and still huge fan of the NSX.

Here on day three, I’m getting that "Mike Niday" feeling of genuine love for my new car. Not that the Vette merits more affection from me than the NSX, but I think that having bought a *used* NSX I never quite had the total feeling like that car was mine. After all, I would smell the pungent aftershave  of the previous owner every time I’d get in the car for like the first 6 months, and the instinct of territoriality associated with scent can be very deeply ingrained in the human animal! So for whatever reason, my affection for my NSX was strong but mostly coming from the intellect,   while I already feel like I’m getting an emotional attachment to the Corvette. Maybe it’s the gas emanating from the new plastics?

While its too early to definitively say, I have the early impresion that Chevrolet has done an amazing job of transplanting the historic Corvette character into a fully modern, world class sports car. In so many ways it reminds me of my old Corvette, and yet it also strongly reminds me of my old NSX, in both cases for the right reasons. There is, amazingly enough, a sense of iterative refinement and attention to detail in this car, both in the way it presents itself and how it goes over the road.

The car is brutally fast, although the sensation of speed (which I think brings many more factors into account than raw acceleration) is not significantly different than the NSX. Both are excellent in that regard, but I think when the Vette is fully broken in it will win the drag race. Magazine numbers suggest as much. Every time I’ve driven mine it seems to get faster. Between the Corvette and NSX, each has a noticeably different flavor to the powertrain, like two distinct but similarly enjoyable, fine wines. This is probably not an analogy I would have used with an older Corvette, even though its powertrain was always its strongest suit.

The all-new, all-aluminum 5.7L V8 effectively combines the rumbly V8 character with the sound of happy, mechanical precision. The intake air sound and valves opening and closing give muted accompaniment to a healthy and deep exhaust note, without me having to look to the aftermarket. Supposedly, Chevy fine tuned the exhaust for 1998, a little different than the ’97 C5. Cruising on the highway the engine/exhaust sound fades to a very comfortable db level. 70 MPH in 6th is all of 1500 RPM, and it seems happy to do it. The thing that impresses me most about the drivetrain is how smoothly it transitions between steady rpms, acceleration and deceleration in any gear. No driveline slop at all, and you can idle the engine smoothly all the way down in gear slowing down without getting any low rpm surge, unlike when the NSX fuel injectors kick back in. This lack of slop and surge combined with awesome power really makes the  Corvette powertrain feel expensive, and I’m so glad they worked on finer points like this. As a side note, the new Corvette (LS1) engine won Automobile magazine’s "Technology of the Year" award. This year’s 345HP (350 lb-ft of torque) is alleged to rise to 390HP in ’99.

The Corvette has always been a big tires and big motor kind of car and that hasn’t changed, but I think for the first time the vehicle around those components feels like their master, not just along for a squeaky ride. Body structure feels first rate, on par with the NSX coupe I would say and possibly better than the NSX targa, and NVH levels are well-tuned to this type of car. The ride is smoother than the NSX and road noise more subdued, even with the (optional) adaptive ride control set to the stiffest setting. On the down side, the car still has a trace of the old Vette’s tendency to get laterally displaced (side step) over large pavement imperfections, possibly due to its still massive run-flat tires. The NSX is amazing in that regard, holding its line like a guided missile regardless of earthquakes or New York City potholes. The Vette’s magnetic power steering is really well-done, great feel, perfect self-centering action, and seamless in its application of variable assist. My NSX  steering was manual and I loved it, but I am not a big fan of the NSX’s power  steering, which feels artificial and sometimes overboosted to me.

So far my car has not revealed the slightest squeak, leak, or rattle, and the first night I had it I drove home 80 miles in a terrible rain storm (all Corvette coupes are targas.)

The cockpit is functional, attractive, and straightforward on initial read, yet can also do some neat electronic tricks with a little poking around — like read out all four tire pressures in psi, show precise oil and coolant temperatures, split temperature zones between driver and passenger, adjust radio volume to ambient noise level, remember individual driver setting for everything from mirror position to where they left off in the CD changer (which has a real random mode for juke-boxing around all 12 discs BTW!), switch the analog speedometer to indicate MPH or KPH (it’s fun to watch the needle swing over to the corresponding numbers), I could go on and on. It can even be programmed to lock and unlock the car (and work the alarm) based on proximity of the key fob to the car. I realize these are just gadgets, but they’ve been integrated into the car in a way that feels thoughtful and modern. Best of all they actually work. So far, I have not found one non-super-picky build defect in this amazingly complex car. Of course it is not the masterpiece of hand assembly that the NSX is– this is a car designed for mass-production. But it’s a surprisingly good one, especially knowing the historical crappiness of previous Corvette assembly.

What should the next NSX copy from the Corvette? Number one, without question, is to offer a tinted, acrylic targa top like the Vette’s. It is just the coolest, and a major reason I didn’t spring for the Vette convertible. Number two is to add some of the same benefits of modern electronics in luxury features. For example, the $90K NSX has no business whatsoever making keyless entry a pricey, dealer installed option. And many of the other features of the Vette are not available at all. Number three would be to study how GM does its new power steering, which is just plain better IMO. Finally, the Corvette’s stereo just kicks ass.

There is more I could tell you and compare to the NSX (just for reference, not to judge which is a better sports car), but I’ve already clogged up this channel enough. Let me just say one more thing in that regard: nothing has seats like the NSX, it is simply unrivaled for comfort in my book, a fact that became especially obvious to me after driving it across the country.  Even with all their whiz-bang adjustments, the Vette’s optional sport seats are no match.

My intention is not to encourage anyone to trade in their NSX on a Vette. The NSX is an exotic, superb sports car built with the precision of a Swiss watch. One of the finest and most fun-to-drive cars of the modern era, IMO. By all means, hold onto yours. I just wanted to tell people about another cool car out there that could change some preconceptions, as viewed by a former NSX driver. As Automobile magazine said, it deserves serious consideration by anyone in the market for a high-performance sports car. As I see it now, they were being inclusive of very discerning drivers, not just speed freaks on a budget. I think that is what’s so surprising, that the car feels rewarding in subtle ways.

In time, I will do a new web page talking about the car, like I did for my NSX ( )

 and give a pointer to it here. I will have the Vette at the Spring Fling, and probably  also for NSXPO, and those wishing to switch off and drive it for themselves are welcome.

 Larry Long,

This quote led me to report on this afternoons test drive of a ’97 vette. A local dealer had a red 6-spd. with 3,500 miles on it so I was able to wangle a test drive. Me and my 100 lb wife, no salesman, Ahh!, or so I thought. I ran it quite hard for about 20 minutes straight line and hit an infinity type cloverleaf. Surprisingly, and I guess happily, It was a pretty big let down.

First the good, or possible goods. The perceived torque is at least *double* a 300hp NSX. It was funny watching my wife bounce back and forth when I did multiple 2nd gear roll-ons/ABS. Even a supercharged NSX won’t snap the neck like this. And this torque is available at most all rpms. Roll-ons for g-force impressions must be done from a very small rpm band in our rides. There is a little high rpm roar like we have, but much less. Launches fairly well, did full power shifts to second affording a healthy patch. The brakes feel very similar to the NSX, but are much more heavily boosted requiring/allowing a softer and more precise foot. The actuation point was a little vague. I got the impression though that with a little familiarity, overall they would be excellent brakes.

Now the bad. Car feels very high like a sedan. Body seems to float a bit on the chassis. Feels detached from the road surface compared to an NSX, sort of the charactaristics that overinflated tires gives. In power oversteer, it didn’t communicate well, found it a bit scary (scary-bad, not scary-fun — I *do* know the diff). Was able to play the rear on the ramps just like the NSX though. Needed more time to compare actual ramp speeds. Lots a cops out this weekend. While visibility wasn’t bad, their is no cab forward "head of the arrow" feel. Shift throws are way too long and effort is too high, shift knob looks like something out of a truck. Drivers side door handle was broken on one side, I had to be careful not to pull the whole thing off (get this Brian!). Dash styling a bit too much for my tastes, some vinyl "bundling" here and there. I didn’t take time to properly adjust the seat bolsters, but I couldn’t feel any side bolstering at all, loosy goosy, and the leather looked well worn already! Tried the stereo for a minute, didn’t sound too good. Exhaust note is just OK. This car is a somewhat refined camaro. What a surprise! At 40k though, it is certainly a good value. While I’m of modest wealth, value is weighted very lightly in my automotive decisions.

My purpose for driving this car was mainly to judge the "character" of the engine. From my automotive beginings I’ve had a deep love for the simplicity and power potential of the small block chevy. While I’m leaning away from it, a very high horse smallblock with a sequential tranny is on my list of considerations for my car. This new engine did seem to use it’s available rev’s better than it’s predecessors. It still didn’t seem to "embrace" the rev’s like the NSX does though. You *can* get 8k out of these V-8’s, but they don’t *like* it. Experience dictates both torque and high rpm’s are desirable, but until we can afford that BMW Mclaren engine….

In summary the quote Ken posted earlier sums it up well for me "But if you turn a blind eye to the unmatched sophistication of the rest of the car, you’re missing the best part." I love my car!

 Phil Mirenda,

I also drove the vette a few weeks ago. Bottomline, this car would be a great replacement for my Mark VIII, especially after driving the NSX to the Vette and immediately getting behind it’s wheel. The car did feel more like a sport coupe than a sports car, especially when the front end started to lighten at approximately 110. The dealer Corvette specialist

 acknowledged that this is a problem but that the Z51 suspension may handle it. The car I  drove had sports seats which allowed the side bolsters to adjust thereby aiding lateral  support. May consider a convertible but just for what it is. A normal daily driver. Track  time??? I'll take the NSX.

Bill Townsend,

Thought I’d post my impressions of the new Corvette as I seriously considered purchasing one this summer.

The C5 is greatly improved over earlier versions. The power is awesome. The ergonomics are wonderful; in fact, the seats in the C5 are a tad more comfortable than the NSX’. Fit and finish is very good.

I drove 2 C5s, one with the Z51 suspension and one with the 3-way adjustable suspension. The Z51 susp. is the stiffest but really gives you a harsh ride on roads with rubber strips every 50 feet. It rides much like the Viper. The adjustable suspension is not as stiff as the Z51 and the touring setting is useless (unless you like the feel of riding in a 1986 Monte Carlo). On the 3-way, whenever you floored it, it would pull heavily to one side.

On both cars, the wind noise was terrible. The engine is not smooth like the NSX but instead feels like it is struggling to produce power. This may be in part due to the engine sound which almost grinds upon acceleration.

Nice try, Chevy, but I won’t be buying one.

 Corvette ZR-1 (and LPE)

 Dick Hackman,

Work with a gent who owns a 1990 ZR-1 LT5 Vette. He calls me, invites me to an open house at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, LPE. LPE is perhaps the global guru of horsepower performance in the Corvette world. I accept. How much HP you ask…well over 600 HP is possible!

Asked many of these Vette freaks about the 97 and they all had little tolerance for the auto. Most seemed to view it as a sell out to the mass market. Two fellows had driven 97 Vettes and felt the car was bland. A committee vehicle, as I recall.

My friend bought his ZR-1 after I convinced my wife to purchase the NSX. (note: clever situation where my wife owns the NSX & I drive it) He enjoys autos and I convinced him life was to short to pass without the car of ones dreams. Thus the Vette.

I live in Cincinnati, he lives in Indianapolis. LPE is located in all of the off the wall places, Decatur, Indiana. Can you say, "middle of no where". Up at 5:00 am to meet him in Indy. See, free dyno testing on a first come, first serve basis. We meet and are off to LPE in his ZR-1.

This is a 2 hour drive. The noise in the car is incredible! The Gator Back tires make so much noise, it is often difficult to talk on the concrete highway. At 6 feet, 2+ inches, I have no room as the passenger. Plastic is the theme in the interior. Boy, I long for the NSX.

We arrive at LPE. Huge place. They are very hospitable. We are number 11 on the dyno list and it is 9:10 am. Tour of the shop follows. This is the first open house LPE has ever entertained. Plus, with the huge after market Vette market in the USA, they have enormous stock of take off parts. An auction will be held the next two days for an incredible   assortment of parts.

As we make our way to the dyno testing, I notice the Car & Driver Anniversary Vette in the parking lot. This car does 214 MPH. It is stored in the back lot in pathetic condition. Discover, LPE is remaking this sled for a future issue. May be close to 700 HP.

Finally, we get to dyno my friends ZR-1. Totally stock. He is the first stock ZR-1 to dyno on this day. The gent who designed the ZR-1 engine worked for Lotus in the past and within the last month has secured employment with LPE. He is extremely interested in the dyno results of this stock 1990 ZR-1 with 40,000 miles. LPE techs secure the Vette on the dyno, and we are off! Three runs later, the ZR-1 peaks at 5500 RPM @ 318.6 HP @ the rear wheels.

Very educational. LPE is totally fixed at more power. The concept of any handling of the chassis escapes their market. A very educational trip.

We are now ready to depart LPE. My friend is tired and throws me the keys to his ZR-1. I bite. What a chance to compare one of the best Vette’s to the NSX.

The clutch is similar to a truck. The interior is very GM; large order of plastic. Feels like cheap junk from the driver seat type impression. No ergonomics and a rough, course environment. More leg room on the drivers side. My friend sits on the passengers seat for the first time. "Wow, no room at all", he remarks. He is 4 inches shorter than I…no wonder my legs cramp.

The transmission has very long throws and the first to second is impossible. The RPM’s run much lower than the NSX. The six speed at 75 MPH will post 1,700 RPM. The exhaust has a great, deep, rough sound. I have heard enough of this noise after 30 minutes on the expressway. So loud, no reason to use the CD player at 70 MPH cruise speed.

Acceleration is impressive, but the car is no where close to the agility of the NSX. Over bumps, during turns, the chassis floats. Very vague. In general, it is very, very fast in a straight line, but ithas little, if any precision. The noise of the car really wears on you. The number of strange squeaks and vibrations is overwhelming. The NSX is so civil by comparison.

I drove the ZR-1 over two hours and I was exhausted. Perhaps the day was just to long, but I firmly believe the Vette just beat the heck out of me. I was more tired, and less satisfied, after driving the Vette for two hours, when compared to the Fall Color Tour. I drove well over 8 hours that day. My 91 NSX is very easy to live with when compared to the ZR-1.

Granted, the ZR-1 has much more power than my NSX, but the NSX is a far superior auto in build quality. In a straight line, the NSX has no chance, yet in cornering the NSX will shine.

A very interesting day. I learned about a different side of auto enthusiasts. We all have our preferences, and the NSX still suits me. It’s just perfect.

 Corvettes (LT1 In Particular)

 Chuck Mirenda, nsx1995@pitnet or

 Let me begin by saying I've owned five newer Corvettes, the last an LT 1, slightly  modified. Fun car, great bargain but aside from build quality, which was awful, the car  couldn't hold a candle to the NSX at Road America or anywhere after you would reach  130mph. That is not saying its bad, you just got what you paid for. The NSX cost more and  you get more (although never enough). 

Also remember it has taken GM thirteen years to upgrade the Vette and we still don’t know what its real road manners are like. I would venture to say that the REAL next generation NSX will take a major leap forward if Honda decides to remain a player. Right now, lets be realistic and realize that Honda is a corporation and as such has some pretty rigid

 build cycles. 

I’m not ashamed to admit, if the Corvette is such a great car I’ll buy another. But, I’ll say it again, its tough to beat the

 overall performance (spelled...go, stop, fit, finish, feel, look and reliability) of the  NSX

 C4 Corvette

 Dean Sadamune, Mon, 10 Aug 1998

I had a c4 corvette (I havn’t drove the C5), it moved OK, but it could not handle well (tooooo heavy) the C5 seems pretty heavy too. The performance specs seemed good on the corvette but when you drive and compare the two, in my humble opinion, the NSX felt much better.


’91 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo and ’91 Lotus Esprit SE

 Richard A. Relph,

Sure – with the proviso that these are my impressions. I’m not going to defend them based on published numbers or others experiences to the contrary.

I bought a 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo in October of 1990. I’d owned Z’s pretty much continuously from 1978 until then, with a brief 3 month stint with a Pontiac Trans Am SE (the KIT car – a piece of junk, even new).

I’d been following it’s progression in Autoweek for at least 18 months and knew I had to have one when it became available. The car was great in a fullback sort of way. Nothing graceful, but it moved well. I couldn’t spin the tires. The car REALLY gripped well. But what would you expect from a heavy car with 4 driven wheels? It was fast – – once you got above 2500 RPM and the turbos kicked in. You could definitely feel them. It was a real kick in the pants. It cornered

 fairly well, relative to the 1985 ZX I owned. And it stopped very well for such a heavy  car. I liked it's balance of luxury features and performance, too. And I must not forget  that it could actual be configured to move things by dropping the seats down.

I traded that in in 1994 for a 1991 Lotus Esprit SE (Turbo is redundant in 1991). Now THAT was fast! Acceleration was incredible. And it cornered very well, with it’s very low center of gravity. But it’s brakes left a lot to be desired. And it was always leaving me little messages in the garage. The only one I fully comprehended was the clutch slave cylinder leak, though the car provided an extra hint in that case – – you couldn’t fully engage the clutch. I loved the full leather

 interior of the '91 and was very disappointed by the interior of a '94. But the A/C system  was a joke (and in Austin, Texas, it was NOT a laughing matter). The Lotus is the most  purpose-built of the cars - getting there is the purpose, and nothing else mattered - like  driver comfort or convienence. But it sure turned heads! In football terms, this would be  the Dexter Carter of the bunch. Not exactly reliable, but very worthwhile otherwise.

The NSX is the Jerry Rice of the trio. I bought my ’94 just a couple of weeks ago. Refined performance. Balanced. Nothing to extremes, but nothing average. No weak points. I LOVE the handling (though I dread the frequent stops at the shoe store). The feel is superb – even better than the Esprit, though the Esprit had fully manual steering. The shifter is amazing for it’s brevity. Short strokes, never missed. A real joy after the Lotus’ hunting. The creature comforts are exceptional (though I could use someplace to put my wallet and sunglasses). This is a car that realizes it needs a driver, and is designed accordingly. I haven’t really been on the brakes yet, so I can’t say much there. As for the power, I’ve gotten used to a turbo kick and kinda miss that. The car is still fast, and the power is really smooth, but as you’ve all observed, there are quite a few cars out there that can out accelerate the NSX. There are no ‘quirks’, which defines it’s character to me.

My neighbor says this lack of quirks is why it has NO character. My NSX is black, while the Stealth and Esprit were both red. The NSX gets noticed, but not as frequently as the Lotus did. I attribute at least part of that to it’s lack of an in-your-face color. The rest is probably due to the move from Texas to silicon valley, where unusual cars aren’t all that unusual. Of course, the NSX is the most expensive of the bunch, but in my opinion, worth it. As my wife observed, this is the longest I’ve owned a ‘new to me’ car without suffering buyer’s remorse. And that says something…


Ferrari 355 Spyder


The F355 was a much lighter car [than the 512 TR]. It has power steering, and all the creature comforts that the NSX has. This car was mostly fun because of it’s top downability. It has 6 speeds which is nice on the highway. Again, exhaust is very pleasant to hear! Speed was very nice. About equal to the NSX. If there is one car that I would trade my NSX for, this is it!!

 Bart Durham,

I have had a ’94 NSX since August, 1995, and a ’95 355 coupe since ’96 which I traded on a 355 spider in June of ’97. My advice is to keep them both if you possibly can. They are entirely different cars for different purposes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Ferrari. The social aspects are staggering. There are a lot of nice people who love to share their Ferrari enthusiasm with you. You will meet so many people at the Ferrari club events and just in general. I founded the Nashville Ferrari club a few months ago. On some pretty weekends we get together with others with

 Ferraris and even a few NSX's and a Countach and do tours of the beautiful countryside in  this area. Our organizational meeting was February 19th at a local country club and we had  thirteen Ferraris parked outside the clubhouse. Later that night we visited a local bar  and restaurant and had almost that many parked curbside in a reserved area.

The Ferrari is not a daily driver. I repeat, not a daily driver. You can keep the NSX for that. Cruising Beverly Hills in the Ferrari is fun but you can hardly run to the grocery store or to a movie in it. I kind of have a rule that the Ferrari usually doesn’t leave the house unless it has a passenger. There are other conditions — pretty weather, somewhere safe to park it, etc. Of course, there are exceptions to all the foregoing.

The Ferrari is not a car to let a friend borrow. It’s too twitchy. Parking and opening the doors is a nightmare. Right now my girlfriend drives the NSX on a daily basis. That’s only because my 91 Jag convertible is in the shop for an extended ($5,000) visit. I drive a ’95 Lexus LS400 as a daily driver.

I noticed your comment about all the Ferraris being serviced, etc. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find that it is adequate in the reliability department. At least you live near a dealer and don’t have to send it to Atlanta $500 each way to have it serviced. I have finally found a great mechanic here in Nashville but you won’t have that transportation problem.

 Ferrari 355 F1

 [DH] - March 31, 1998

Do you ever have flashbacks of a memory that you know you will never forget? Maybe that first babette? The day you made the shot/pass/run/hit/defensive play that won the big game? The first time you set eyes on your wife/husband (hey, Dagmar might read this, and I don’t want her to kick my ass….)

Tonight, I got to drive a Ferrari F355 with the F1 paddle shifter. It is uh…..shall we say…..extremely, extremely,extremely impressive.

It sounds absolutely bitching, shrieking at 8500 RPMs.  After you slam shifts at the redline, the "fuzzy logic" kicks in, and your shifts get faster. After buzzing it at the redline for a bunch of shifts, when you come to a stop sign, you blast off in 1st gear to redline, shift into 2nd instantly and chirp the tires. Not sure exactly what the gearing is, but these are some really short gears. Seems like when you shift at 8500 RPMs, you drop to about 6500(maybe even higher??) RPMs and start over again ripping to 8500 RPMs, then repeat experience over and over again. (note: you must shift at redline to get those neck jerking, 15/100ths of a second upshift, other wise it shifts slower)

I only drove it for about 20 minutes, buzzed it to about 100 mph or so down some relatively uncrowded roads. I didn’t thrash it handling wise, as I didn’t want to even come close to breaking the rear end loose,. but the owner of the car says it is scary good at the race track at high speeds due to aerodynamics of the car. My friend buzzed it to 130 mph down the same uncrowded road, and when you have the gas pedal firmly planted to the floor (no need to lift when shifting) and you blip the paddle at the redline through the gears, 130 mph comes up FAST, and I mean REAL FAST.  He slammed on the brakes at 130 and the car came to a crushing halt… really great brakes.

The car had the special seats, very comfortable, and the 355 Challenge rear grill. Looks exquisite close up in silver/titanium, or whatever the Italians call that color.

Only thing I didn’t like about the car was that it had power steering, I prefer the non-assisted steering of my 92 NSX.

Comparisons? I have driven a Viper Roadster for about an hour, Lamborgini Diablo for about 100 miles, 1997 911 TT for 5 miles, and the F355 F1 is WAY more exciting and desirable.

Compared to the NSX? I would have to say the F355 is way cooler. But is it twice the price of a new 1998 NSX? Depends on how much credit you have left on your credit cards, and whether or not you want to retire in comfort or retire poor and penniless on the streets when you are 65 years old.

Doug "Gotta get that 8500 RPM sound out of my head" Hayashi

P.S. Yo Honda. Before you finalize specifications of the next generation NSX, BUY THE F355 F1, PARK IT AT MOTEGI, AND MAKE ALL YOUR ENGINEERS ON THE NSX TEAM DRIVE THE F355 F1 EVERYDAY ON THE RACE TRACK TO LET THEM KNOW WHO THE ENEMY IS, AND CRUSH THOSE ITALIAN BASTARDS. (no racial slur intended, but you know what I mean…. the F355 F1 means WAR AND WE NSXERs DON’T WANNA LOSE TO THOSE ITALIAN BASTARDS, SO GET MEAN AND SHOW THOSE ITALIANS WHAT HONDA IS MADE OF) And of course, make it less expensive and more reliable THAN THOSE ITALIAN SOBs! (again, no racial slur intended, but we gotta say SOMETHING TO LIGHT A FIRE UNDER YOUR BUTTS TO BEAT THE ITALIANS).

 FRAME OF REFERENCE: The Italians are winning. 
 1992 - NSX

270 hp, 8000 RPM redline. Ferrari 348

296 hp, 7700 RPM redline
 1998 - NSX

290 hp, 8000 RPM redline. Ferrari 355

380 HP, 8500 RPM redline
 92 Red NSX
 116,000 miles
 RM Exhaust
 Comptech Headers
 Comptech R&P
 Comptech Street/Competition Clutch
 Eibach Springs
 Koni Adjustibles
 stock 92 wheels with A032R 255x50x16, 225x50x15 for street
 stock 92 wheels with BFG R1 255x50x16, 225x50x15 for DRY track events
 OMP Seats
 Simpson 5 point harness
 Dali Racing Harness Bar
 Porterfield R4S pads, stock rotors, Motul 600
 Alpine Stereo
 And yes, the flame decals are still on the car

 [PG] - 19 Aug 1998

Everyone’s doing test rides in 355’s these days. I test drove last weekend and agree with the comments so far – it just didn’t seem that much faster. But it is Ferrari and I think I’ve been blinded by the name – the deposit might be paid next week! I can always sell it and come back into the fold after a couple of years.

 Ferrari 355

 [BK] - 19 Aug 1998

I used to own a 95 NSX-T, and I’m currently a vintage Ferrari owner. I’ve driven 355’s (and NSX’s and other Ferraris) extensively on the road and on the track. Before I get flamed for this post, I must say that I loved my NSX and will buy it back someday. In the meantime, though, I’m completely hooked on Ferraris…I don’t dare say one is better than the other without my Nomex on.

Regarding maintenance and other practical aspects of Ferrari ownership, the Ferrari will be much more trouble and much more expensive to maintain. The current generation of Ferraris is much improved in this area, but it still is not Honda. Preventative maintenance is VITAL. Oil at least as often as prescribed by the factory. Interim and major services MUST be performed on schedule. A major service (I believe the interval is every 2 yrs or 15K miles) on the 355 will be about $3-4K at a authorized dealer, maybe $2K if you have a good independent Ferrari shop. (The major service on the V-12 in my 400i was $12K…ouch!)

But, in my opinion (and this is just my opinion), the pleasure derived from a 355 is well worth the pain as you pay the bill.

 [KS] - 18 Aug 1998

When I reported on my last test drive, of the Porsche 993, I described what I liked about it and what I didn’t. What struck me most about it, though, was how different its overall approach was from that of the NSX, with most of the differences like night and day. What struck me most about the Ferrari 355 is that it really is quite similar in many respects to the NSX. Here are my impressions, using the NSX as a basis for comparison. This 355 is a stock ’95 coupe.

First impression: this sucker is L – O – U – D ! The sound is very different from the NSX, though. With the NSX, what you hear is the engine. From outside the NSX is very quiet, though, because the exhaust isn’t all that loud. Whereas with the Ferrari, most of what you hear is the roar of the exhaust. Sure, it sounds great, but do you REALLY want everyone (yes, EVERYONE) to get advance warning that you’re coming, and your neighbors to know when you’re getting home late?

The seating position, and in particular, the relationship of the seat, steering wheel and pedals, is somewhat tricky. I found a comfortable setting but only when the seat was moved (forward and aft) to just exactly the right spot; otherwise it was uncomfortable. The pedals are offset somewhat to the right, although this was fairly easy to adjust to. The dead pedal is much more definite than in the NSX, much easier to find and get comfortable in. However, the three operational pedals are very, very close together, so you have to be very careful in order to be stepping on the one you want.

The ergonomics are generally nowhere near as good as those of the NSX, but at least the controls were mostly laid out logically. I’m not a big fan of symbols on the controls, and these were somewhat cryptic, although not as bad as the hieroglyphics of the 993. One thing I absolutely hated is that the speedometer and tachometer are difficult to tell apart at a glance, because some idiot decided that the tachometer should have two-digit markings (10, 20, 30, 40, etc) just like the speedometer.

Okay, let’s go for a drive. The famous gated shifter really isn’t all that difficult to get used to; if you operate it by feel, rather than by sight, it wouldn’t be any different if it had a shift boot on it. It wasn’t as silky smooth as the shifter on the NSX or the 993, but it was only slightly clicky, not bigtime notchy like on some cars. Reverse requires a surprising amount of downward pressure (down onto the end of the stick) in order to move the shifter into the reverse gate.

Acceleration (you know, what you were waiting to hear about)… The horsepower curve seemed similar in shape to that of the NSX. If you’re under 3500 rpm, the 355 is a dog. Woof! But once you start spooling up the revs, you feel some nice power behind you. However, the power onset doesn’t seem to continue as you approach redline (8500) the way it does in the NSX. The 355 should be faster than my ’91 NSX, a half second quicker to 60 according to the magazines (but about the same as a ’97-98 NSX) but it never felt any quicker at all. Compared with the ’91 NSX, the 355 has 40 percent more horsepower and about 10 percent more weight, yet it just didn’t SEEM any faster.

I was quite surprised by the steering. I felt it was slightly unresponsive compared with the NSX. I find that the NSX steering changes direction about as soon as you make the decision to do so – instant, immediate response. You’ll recall that I thought the 993 really was unresponsive, taking about half a second before turning the wheel would have any effect at all. The 355 has the same kind of lag as the 993 – maybe not quite as slow to respond as the 993, but without the instant slot-car feel of the NSX. This was a big disappointment, as it prevented the 355 from feeling connected to the road.

I didn’t really get on the brakes HARD but from looking at those double-piston calipers, I can only believe that they are awesome.

So what’s the bottom line here? The 355 is certainly a nice package, but $128,000 is a lot of money. I guess I was expecting the 355 to be a car that would really knock my socks off, that would be demonstrably better than the NSX. And it just isn’t. The power doesn’t feel all that different. The steering just isn’t up to NSX standards. The brakes may be awesome, and that’s commendable, but you can get the same awesome braking performance by putting Comptech’s big Brembo kit onto your NSX for a fraction of the price difference of the 355. The more I think about it, the best description I can come up with for the 355 is that it’s an NSX with a $50,000 logo added onto it. No more "Ferrari lust" for me!

 Ferrari F50, F355 F1

 [BT], Thu, 06 Aug 1998

While in Greenwich, CT last week I got the opportunity to drive a 1996 Ferrari F-50 down the streets of Western Connecticut. This $695,000 car made one great taxi.

First thing I noticed upon getting into the car was that there is no radio. Good thing, too. It would need about a 2,000 watt system just to overcome the engine noise. This thing is loud!

I pulled out onto Route 1, and in what must have been a quarter to half mile, I had the thing up to 70…screaming as I pushed it into 2nd gear. I took it onto I-95 the fun way: jumped on the entrance ramp at about 65, lept to just over 100 and entered the freeway. I punched it and it flew up to 130 in what I would guess is about 4 seconds. Dang fast! Unbelievabley fast! I don’t think it corners as nicely as the NSX, but boy does it scoot!

But loud.

Anybody want to start an Internet company, take it public, make millions and buy a couple of these?

Oh, yeah, I also drove a new 355 F1 with the paddle shifter. Man is that sweet! I hope Bill P. buys one soon so I can drive it.


 [BK] - 27 Aug 1998

I’ve driven a few TRs of various vintages on the track and on the street. My impressions:

1) 86-87 Euro-spec TR, and 87 US spec TR. I drove these on a tight little track with two straights no longer than a quarter mile. Very big and heavy through the twisties, but a blast on the straights. The rear end is huge and heavy and snaps into oversteer very easily without much warning. After driving a nimble little 84 308 Quattrovalvole and a 97 355 on the same track, I felt like I had to wrestle the TR. Very weak brakes. Both TRs toasted their brakes. It’s simply too much car for the stock (early vintage) brakes. The shifter on one car was very easy to shift, whereas the other was a bear, so I think it was a problem that was specific to the second car. But then again, there was so much torque everywhere I could leave it in 2nd or 3rd all the way around without losing too much on my lap times.

2) 92 512 TR. What an improvement! A far more attractive package, with wheels better suited for high performance use, more torque, more power across all rpms (400hp peak vs. 375 for the TR), updated exterior and interior, and better brakes (cross drilled, vented, larger swept area, bigger calipers). Very fast on and off the track (umm…I mean on the road, not the grass…) Still a big car, but noticeably easier to throw through the twisties, and much faster overall.

Never had the pleasure of a 512M, but from what I’ve heard, it’s another step up from the 512TR, though less of a jump than from the mid 80s TR to the 512TR.

My overall impression of the TR series is that it is more of a high performance super-tourer, not a nimble track race car. For that reason, I’d rather have a 328 or 348 rather than the series 1 TRs, or a 355 over the 512TR/512M. Of course, for the same money, I could buy my old NSX-T back and install all of the goodies and then….

 512 TR


The 512TR was very heavy feeling. The non power steering was tough to turn when going slow, but does well at speed. It doesn’t seem too much faster than the NSX, but the exhaust is like a symphony! The visibility was excellent. I expected it to be horrible, but was very pleased to find it easy to see out of in all directions. The whole car felt incredibly solid to me. Suspension was stiff, but not bone jarring.



 Dr. Alex A. Vizcarra,

I just want to relate to you about the interesting, and rather unusual weekend I had. I had spent most of Friday afternoon at the shop of a very good friend of mine, who also happens to be a Mercedez-Benz master mechanic, and a POC Porsche racer. I borrowed his lift so it would make the task of installing my new RM/DALI Racing swaybars a lot easier, as well as replacing the defective RM cat-back exhaust, of which Randy sent me a replacement with no questions asked.

Anyway, (enough of the plugs;) I was wrenching away underneath my car, while bench racing with my friend, and guess what? A black Lamborghini Diablo pulls into his garage! "Oh, by the way, this Diablo’s coming in to have his cat back exhaust replaced…" my friend says. OH, YEAH, I say.

It’s a brand-spanking-new 98 Diablo VT (as in four wheel drive). As the doors move skyward to unload the driver, who looks like a cool guy in his early forties, I continue to wrench away, trying hard to contain my excitement, as after all, I own an exotic, too!

Hell, I just drop the wrenches and approach the fella. It turns out that he almost bought an NSX as well. But he decided that he had 210K extra dollars more and went for a Diablo instead. He actually paid 300K for the thing. At this time, home mortgages were going through my head, do you think the banks would loan me 300K for a house made by Lamborghini Homes with no fixed address? Maybe not.

I walk around the car, admiring its huge Brembo brakes beneath those huge OZ racing modular wheels. And those steamroller 315/30/17 P-Zeros in rear! Paintjob is awesome, and found out the paint is by PPG.

If you think the NSX was low, this car is even a foot lower. But surprisingly, ingress and egress wasn’t any harder, for me at least, maybe because of the jacknife doors. Inside, the leather smelled like no other. Reminded me of my expensive Italian shoes I used to have back then when I cared about impressing the girls. Once seated inside, a cursory look indicated that the Italians have gone a long way in terms of fit and finish. Looks pretty good actually. The tan interior looked flawless from where I was.

He popped the engine cover. The kevlar cover flexed as he lifted it to reveal the humongous engine, about the size of two NSX engines with the corresponding amount of horsepower. I asked him why he wanted to change his exhaust, he says because it is too quiet. Hmmm… Ok. He starts up the engine and blips the throttle, and while there is this wonderful mechanical sounds emanating from the engine itself, it is rather quiet. Kinda like the stock NSX engine. I go, "yeah, I know what you mean…" Then if you guys think aftermarket exhausts for the NSX is expensive, this guy just paid 5K for an even more compact set of catback exhaust, which looks like any respected race car fabricator could put together for much much less. Exoticar mentality at work here, I guess.

You wanna go for a drive? He says. I stop in my tracks, as I couldn’t believe it. I guess he’s just a nice guy. Sure, and I stop what I’m doing, wash my hands and jump into the driver’s seat. Of course, he settles into the passenger seat. (He’s not all that nice, after all. 😉

I start the engine, and blip the throttle a few times. Hmmm…. it does sound like the NSX from the inside… Anyway, I back out of the garage, and wow, this is one WIDE car. It has huge shoulders on either side, but actually, I found rear visibility not to be as bad as I thought, even with that huge rear wing. I thought the rearward visibility was worse on the Lotus Esprit Turbo I had for a short while a few years ago. Steering is also powered, so it is not as heavy as I thought, but not light either. Overall the feeling is just right.

I take the beast a couple of runs around the neigborhood, and I must say, it is a very, very impressive machine. Low end torque was lacking a little bit, but I’m used to that. Once the revs got into the 4K range the engine just comes alive and shrieks with delight, giving you a very satisfying push from the back. I couldn’t imagine how much better the engine would sound with the new exhaust. It is also next to impossible to break traction with the four wheel drive, the thing just launches.  The gated shifter wasn’t too hard to use, I was doing power shifts in no time. The down side was the stiffness of the clutch. My gastrocnemeus muscle (calf muscle to the rest of you folks) was worked out quite a bit, when we came back to the garage and parked the car carefully at one of the other lifts. Another downside I also noticed was the lack of visibility of the front fenders. It simply disappeared, and all you see is the road. This is one of the things I actually liked about the NSX, is the visibility of the left and right fenders, which helps locate the front wheels, and the visualization of the road immediately in front of you. There is no such thing on the Diablo.

Overall, I was really surprised to find the Diablo a very easy car to drive. This is not to say that it will be easy to drive at the limit, as I did not get a chance to do this. I am also not sure how this latest model will compare with the older ones, as I hear they are quite a bit harder to drive. However, with the exception of a rather heavy clutch, this is one car I could live with everyday. (Yeah, right, I don’t even drive my NSX every day).

But one thing I was really surprised about, was the willingness of the owner to let me drive his Diablo, and even let me drive the way I did!  I guess it’s just the way we got along, or maybe it’s an co-exoticar owner bond that I did not know existed. You meet the nicest people with an the NSX…

As it turns out, it was a very exciting day. I learned more about this car than I ever did before. Someday, when I grow up…

Whoever said that "the difference between the men and the boys are the cost of their toys" was right. This guy also owns a Ferrari 512TR.

This makes me feel like a little kid.


 Tino Stramotas,

I dreamed and drooled over Lambos eversince 1967 when I was taken for a ride in London in one of the first Miura’s in England. Many years later, a friend of mine, now chassis designer at Lambo took me for a tour of the plant and asked me why on earth wouldn’t I consider buying one of those awesome US-bound Countaches parked in their delivery yard. Well, a few months later, I did buy a new 88 and lived to see my dream turn into a nightmare.

When I sold it two years later with only a few thousand miles on it, I had four flat-bed towing receipts, more than $10K of warranty repairs and a couple of fires on the freeway to brag about. How much better is the Diablo to own, I wonder…


Ralph Brown,

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for a long time for Loti, however, so far the softness hasn’t extended to my head (in this respect anyway). I’ve several books on Lotus, and more than one ex-Lotus person said that Colin Chapman (RIP) always was a lot more interested in getting cars out than making them correctly. Apparently, racing was a much higher priority.

Several friends have bought different flavors (Elan, Europa, Elite) and all had ridiculous problems, the worst being the Europa which one cold winter night, sitting in his garage, cracked it’s body about a third of the way from the bottom of the rear up to the rear deck!

 Lotus Esprit Turbo (8 cyl)

 Matthew Bookler,

All this Lotus bashing has inspired me to share my Lotus V8 test drive story. Warning: Other than a few comparisons, this has no NSX content.

I’ve always wanted to try driving an Esprit. I think they are as seductive as just about any car ever made. Needless to say, when I set up my test drive I was excited beyond words. My father and I went over to the dealership (we always test drive together) and arrived to find a gorgeous red Esprit V8 waiting for us. He got in it first (well, dropped into it) and cranked it over. It had a very nice sound. I’ve heard the turbocharged 4s before, and they don’t compare to the new 8.

He put it in reverse and stalled it. I was laughing so hard I almost lost bladder control. He looked out of the car at me with a look of confusion. This is a person who has been driving stick for 40 years without a problem. He started it again, brought up the revs, and got it out of the dealership for his drive. When he got back he informed me that he stalled the car twice more on his drive.

He got out and I got in and stalled it. I have never in my entire life driven a car with absolutely no clutch feel before. I might as well have had my foot on the dead pedal. Leaving the dealership lot I stalled it again. The salesman told me that the only way to drive the car smoothly is to slip the clutch. (Very helpful). I figured: fine, it’s not my car, I’ll do what he says and ruin the clutch.

The car is like driving a rocket. Aim and shoot. As much as it pains me to say it, it is much faster than our stock 92 NSX. The car launches off the line and the tach goes soaring. When you get on the power, you feel like you are shifting about once a second. I don’t know how long it really was, but it was fast. I missed winding out the gears like I do in the NSX. Another thing, when you are about 1000 RPMs short of red line, the stick starts to vibrate like you just dropped a quarter in it. When you are 500 RPMs short of red line, the whole damn car starts shaking and vibrating. Let me tell you, it’s very confidence inspiring. I was looking in the mirror for parts that I might have to pick up on the way back to the


The car draws attention like Pamela Anderson in a bikini, and I must admit, that I LOVE. Unfortunately, you have to guess if there are people looking at you, because you can’t see a damn thing. Unless you are getting attention from somebody working on a roof, you won’t know it. Speaking of visibility, only Lotus would place their spoiler directly in line with the gun slit rear window.

The handling was nice, but it didn’t feel any better than the NSX. I didn’t have the confidence in the car while whipping through turns like I do in mine. Don’t say it’s because I have the NSX and use it all the time, I have been comfortable driving that car since the first time I sat in it. In fairness to my father, I ended up stalling the car a third time, leaving us tied at three stalls each. Overall I was very disappointed with the car. The clutch sucked, it vibrated, you can’t see out of it, and faster or not – the NSX is more fun (and nothing else matters). I told the salesman, "I’ll keep the NSX, thank you for your time."


P.S. I was informed that the clutch in the early V8s was an overcompensation for the stiff clutch in the earlier generation Esprits. I was also told that this problem has since been fixed, however I’m not going to waste my time driving another one to find out.

 Lotus Esprit Turbo (4 cyl)

 [CS] - 31 Aug 1998

The Lotus Esprit was the first monster car I owned, way back in 1988 when they debuted with a totally new look. It was $72,000 back then, and it was an awesome car. It sucked horribly on the maintenance though.

The new V8 is much faster, and I am still in love with Lotus handling, which I consider the best in any car I’ve driven. I don’t know about the maintenance on the new one, but my past experiences destroyed any desire to ever own a Lotus again. I just don’t know aboput the British being able to make a reliable car. An old neighbor owns a Jag XJR and is having a miserable time keeping his car running. His worst problem are the brakes, which he is constantly replacing.


Envision, for a moment, a special heaven created just for automotive engineers. They’d pass through some pearly-looking gates, perhaps pluck a few chords on oversize, gilded harps, then maybe recline for a few moments on a

 comfortable, puffy cloud. Before long, I'd venture, they'd carefully place their halos and  wings aside, roll up their sleeves and set about designing the perfect exotic car.

These chosen-from-above gearheads would be given free rein and many clean sheets of paper for the task; after all, this heaven would be recompense for cruel earthly toil involving the design of power-steering pumps and license-plate brackets. Before the first sketch was rendered, though, an essential prerequisite would have to be met: careful study of the Acura NSX and Lotus Esprit Turbo, two benchmarks in the evolution of the exotic car.

Ground-scrapingly low slung. Room for two. Mid-mounted engines. Largely handcrafted from lightweight materials. Possessing enough forward thrust to keep one’s backside pressed firmly into the seat, enough deceleration under braking to suspend driver from seatbelt like a bottomed-out bungee jumper, and enough mechanical stamina to repeat the process over and over again without breaking a sweat. They attract small crowds when parked, and even when driven–they’re sort of the Pied Pipers of the automotive world.

While both the Acura and Lotus are fascinating means to the same end, their origins are decades apart and their approaches, a study in contrasts.

The Lotus has been in production since 1975, and the sharp-edged Giorgio Giugiaro-designed prototype dates back to 1971. Through the years, it has been significantly updated mechanically and had its edges softened visually, but it remains true to the original inspiration of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman and his tightly knit, intensely focused band of engineers. Its structure follows traditional Lotus practice, with a galvanized steel backbone chassis whose tubular aft structure cradles what’s currently the highest-specific-output production car engine sold in the U.S.–a 2.2-liter twincam inline-4 that, with help from a turbocharger and water-to-air intercooler, makes 264 bhp. Its shape, crafted of fiberglass composite panels and made famous through the years in James Bond films (and more recently at the gearbox-gnashing hands of Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman), continues to grab its share of admiring glances from even the car-callous denizens of Newport Beach.

The NSX is a computer-engineered child of the Nineties, brought into this world screaming at the top of its lungs. Its aluminum 3.0-liter dohc V-6 develops its 270 bhp through ingenious valvetrain technology and expensive bits such as titanium connecting rods, which enable it not only to spin to 8000 rpm, but to make usable power at those revs as well. Its structure? While the unit-body method of the NSX’s construction is nothing new, the material itself is unconventional–aluminum stampings and extrusions are used for body panels and all major load-bearing members, with the exception of a steel tube that runs the width of the car to support the steering column. And the NSX is thoroughly modern in its approach to occupant comfort–the car’s generous interior dimensions were carved in stone first, then the mechanicals designed around them, a rarity in a class where providing adequate space for people can seem like an afterthought.

The NSX lists for $68,600. The Esprit, pegged last year at $86,750, is now $67,345, within a whisker of the NSX’s price tag; the nearly $20,000 reduction is Lotus’ response to the high-end sports-car market that’s recently sagged like the jowls of a Saint Bernard. With the playing field of price nearly level, we thought it was high time to see how England’s Old Guard exotic stacks up against Japan’s only mass-produced mid-engine supercar, on both the Streets of Willow race track near Lancaster, California, and in that acid test of low-speed temperament, the daily commute.

On entering the Esprit, the scent of leather overwhelms. no wonder with what seems like acres of the supple tan stuff covering just about every exposed surface, stitched with just enough imperfection to suggest it’s been done by hand. You face a battery of thick-bezeled round gauges, all too small with rather crowded markings, set in a panel sheathed with polished wood veneer. The nonadjustable steering wheel is–aaargh!–pulled straight from the Firebird/Camaro parts bin, replete with bulbous airbag and rubbery covering, but at least its rim is thick and leather-wrapped. The seating position is low, semi-reclined and cozy, and now there’s enough room for six-footers to be comfortable, thanks to a newly revised firewall bulkhead and stretched footbox. It’s real work to see out, with the base of the almost flat, steeply raked windshield seeming very far away. And the view straight back is neatly bisected (and heavily compromised) by a large wing, restyled for 1993. Rear-quarter outward vision? Slim to none, making lane changes and reversing maneuvers exercises in neck craning…and faith.

Where the NSX gives away some of the warmth and the fussed-over look of the Esprit’s cabin, it gives back in day-to-day livability. The dash and  the instrument panel, done up in imitation leather and dark gray plastic, feel as though they’ve been poured in around your knees, so low is the cowl and so good the forward vision. Tach and speedometer are huge and clearly marked, offer information without study, and are visible through a three-spoke wheel with tiny airbag and what’s possibly the most supple leather ever to encircle a steering-wheel rim. Footwells are generously wide, with a proper dead pedal and room for even big, clumsy feet–in the Esprit, there’s no room to the left of the clutch pedal, leaving your left foot to flop against the sizable wheel arch when it’s not helping change gears. Seat

 facings are genuine bovine skin, as are the door panel inserts, and the seats themselves  are either vastly more supportive or somewhat more confining than the Esprit's rather  flat-cushioned devices, depending on the way your own particular chassis is put together.

Fire up the engines, blip the throttles, and you’ll see why variety is said to be the spice of life. Our test Lotus, after two or three twists of the ignition key, settled into a slightly thumpy idle. Once underway, accomplished with a light, easily modulated clutch action, whine from the toothed timing belt just inches behind your head ascends in concert with the

 tach needle scurrying around to the Esprit's 7400-rpm redline. At each shift, the turbo's  wastegate titters just a little, keeping that little compressor ready to deliver its full  12.5-psi wrath for the next gear--which it does with just a half-beat of lag. And those  gears are served up through the most mechanically exact shift linkage Lotus has offered  yet, though its throws seem long when compared with the economical wristy motions required  to select the NSX's different cogs. Whether puttering down Main Street or going all-out  for acceleration runs, there's always a certain amount of mechanical ruckus competing with  the noises made by your passenger and/or the excellent JVC sound system. And equally  satisfying lunges of acceleration are at the command of your right foot.

The NSX’s V-6 leads a double life–it’s the engine of a sophisticated, refined GT when cruising or at small throttle openings; but crack the throttle wider and the monster within awakens. Induction sound segues from a subdued purr to a series of sharp, honking pulses, which meld into one of the most mellifluous mechanical symphonies of all time–almost as if someone slipped in the soundtrack of a recent German Grand Prix into the NSX’s commendable Acura/Bose stereo/cassette system and turned it up full blast. At between 5800 and 6000 rpm, Acura’s Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC) comes into play and hydraulically shifts valve actuation to a second set of camshaft lobes with higher lift and longer duration, and voila!–instant top-end charge without sacrificing low- to mid-rpm smoothness and punch. For passing, you’ll still want to drop from 5th to 4th, or even 3rd just for the sheer exhilaration of spinning the engine to its 8000-rpm redline–even though the NSX serves up one of the broadest, tastiest platters

 of torque anywhere.

With the 5th wheel fitted, both cars get off the mark like a Fred Couples tee shot; the Esprit shows just a little more Boom Boom, reaching 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, versus 5.8 for the NSX. Hethel’s finest holds most of its advantage

 through the quarter mile, posting a fleet 13.7 sec. in the face of the Acura's 14.0-sec.  time. The odds shift in braking, where the NSX's big 11.1-in. vented discs and ABS give it  easily reproducible, incredibly short stops from 60 and 80 mph of 120 and 200 ft., edging  out the still amazing 121- and 225-ft. efforts of the smaller-rotored, ABS-equipped  Esprit.

With test equipment stowed and all fluids up to operating temperatures, Streets of Willow awaited. Time to brush up on the old heel-and-toe technique, brush off any preconceived notions and find out what these cars really do when pushed hard in a safe, controlled race-track environment.

First, the NSX. In a word? Precise. In three words? Precise, predictable, stable. This is a ridiculously easy car to drive quickly, a car that doesn’t require you to put forth the skills of a Fangio to rattle off some pretty impressive laps. Grip is excellent, as is the feel through the brake pedal that allows you to threshold brake and just barely invoke the ABS, time and time again. Steering is precise, with a nice linear increase in effort as more lock is used, and isn’t darty at all under hard braking. With its traction control switched off, the rear tires are willing partners  in pointing the fronts, either through very subtle, catchable drop-throttle- induced oversteer, or squeezing the throttle on–in 2nd gear. With taller

 ratios and less torque multiplication, options disappear and the NSX reverts to  steady-state mild understeer. Lap after lap, you think of the line you'd like to take  around a particular corner. You brake, steer and accelerate, and the NSX just flat  executes it, with lots of g-force and a bare minimum of heart palpitation.

Sweetening the experience is–I’ve mentioned this before, but it merits repeating–the excellent outward vision. Confidence can’t help increasing when you can clearly see the outlines of the front fenders (and thus the car’s position relative to the road) and the immediacy of the asphalt ahead. And pedals are ideally spaced for second-nature throttle blips when braking.

On to the Esprit, which will lap Streets of Willow about as quickly as the NSX, but it’s more of a wrestling match than a dance. The culprit? Lots of understeer, which calls for careful planning in the early stages of a corner so that pavement remains at its exit. Sudden drop-throttle will pivot the car briefly, but as power is reapplied, strong understeer resumes, predictable as sunrise. Classic Nuvolari power-on drifts are entirely out of the question. The steering, normally jabbering with feedback, goes strangely silent when the front tires start scrubbing; and the braking system, though possessing nice, firm pedal feel, shows a hint of fade and doesn’t quite spawn the confidence that the Acura’s system does.

There’s a likable lightness in the way the Esprit changes direction, but that dreaded understeer, not-insignificant body roll and a relatively less precise handling feel tarnish its overall entertainment value when pushed to the limits at the track. Driven at aggressive speeds on the street, though, the Esprit returns more of a race-car feel than the NSX, by virtue of its more high-strung engine and steering that reacts more quickly just off center.

For 1994, Lotus will be offering the S4 Esprit, claimed to be a tauter, crisper-handling car with 17-in. wheels and tires, stiffer springs and significant styling revisions inside and out. Said Roger Becker, Lotus’ director of vehicle engineering, in Britain’s Autocar & Motor: "We engineered understeer into the old Esprit to keep its handling safe but, to be honest, we overstepped the mark. For the S4, we wanted quicker responses, a neutral to oversteer handling balance, less roll and more grip." That’s music to our ears, inner and otherwise.

And much like people’s taste in music, taste in exotic cars is a highly subjective thing, having no completely rational explanation. On one hand there’s the NSX, dynamically superb, exceedingly well mannered and civil to a fault. If a fault is to be isolated, it’s that the car is a little too ordered and antiseptic, with styling that takes few risks. On the other hand

 there's the Esprit, certainly a little rougher around the edges but thoroughly saturated  with personality, style and heritage. Observers who didn't give the Acura a second look  have been known to trip all over the Esprit parked adjacent to it; evidently the essence  of Giugiaro's original design has weathered the test of time.

 Christopher Anders,

…..and anyone over 5′-10" has a very hard time getting comfortable at all, I had a Esprit S4 for a week, fun to drive, but ergonomics *SUCKED* for a lack of better descriptives….I am 6-1 and would not, could not drive this car for very long…I fit in the NSX well, maybe not with a helmet, but for the most part I can drive across country easily!  Reliability is another factor I take seriously, this leaves anything British built at the dealer. Sure its fast, so is a ZR-1 and Viper….I ll take the NSX over all of them.

 '91 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo and '91 Lotus Esprit SE

 Richard A. Relph,

Sure – with the proviso that these are my impressions. I’m not going to defend them based on published numbers or others experiences to the contrary.

I bought a 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo in October of 1990. I’d owned Z’s pretty much continuously from 1978 until then, with a brief 3 month stint with a Pontiac Trans Am SE (the KIT car – a piece of junk, even new).

I’d been following it’s progression in Autoweek for at least 18 months and knew I had to have one when it became available. The car was great in a fullback sort of way. Nothing graceful, but it moved well. I couldn’t spin the tires. The car REALLY gripped well. But what would you expect from a heavy car with 4 driven wheels? It was fast – – once you got above 2500 RPM and the turbos kicked in. You could definitely feel them. It was a real kick in the pants. It cornered

 fairly well, relative to the 1985 ZX I owned. And it stopped very well for such a heavy  car. I liked it's balance of luxury features and performance, too. And I must not forget  that it could actual be configured to move things by dropping the seats down.

I traded that in in 1994 for a 1991 Lotus Esprit SE (Turbo is redundant in 1991). Now THAT was fast! Acceleration was incredible. And it cornered very well, with it’s very low center of gravity. But it’s brakes left a lot to be desired. And it was always leaving me little messages in the garage. The only one I fully comprehended was the clutch slave cylinder leak, though the car provided an extra hint in that case – – you couldn’t fully engage the clutch. I loved the full leather

 interior of the '91 and was very disappointed by the interior of a '94. But the A/C system  was a joke (and in Austin, Texas, it was NOT a laughing matter). The Lotus is the most  purpose-built of the cars - getting there is the purpose, and nothing else mattered - like  driver comfort or convienence. But it sure turned heads! In football terms, this would be  the Dexter Carter of the bunch. Not exactly reliable, but very worthwhile otherwise.

The NSX is the Jerry Rice of the trio. I bought my ’94 just a couple of weeks ago. Refined performance. Balanced. Nothing to extremes, but nothing average. No weak points. I LOVE the handling (though I dread the frequent stops at the shoe store). The feel is superb – even better than the Esprit, though the Esprit had fully manual steering. The shifter is amazing for it’s brevity. Short strokes, never missed. A real joy after the Lotus’ hunting. The creature comforts are exceptional (though I could use someplace to put my wallet and sunglasses). This is a car that realizes it needs a driver, and is designed accordingly. I haven’t really been on the brakes yet, so I can’t say much there. As for the power, I’ve gotten used to a turbo kick and kinda miss that. The car is still fast, and the power is really smooth, but as you’ve all observed, there are quite a few cars out there that can out accelerate the NSX. There are no ‘quirks’, which defines it’s character to me.

My neighbor says this lack of quirks is why it has NO character. My NSX is black, while the Stealth and Esprit were both red. The NSX gets noticed, but not as frequently as the Lotus did. I attribute at least part of that to it’s lack of an in-your-face color. The rest is probably due to the move from Texas to silicon valley, where unusual cars aren’t all that unusual. Of course, the NSX is the most expensive of the bunch, but in my opinion, worth it. As my wife observed, this is the longest I’ve owned a ‘new to me’ car without suffering buyer’s remorse. And that says something…

 Lotus Elan

 Robert Larson,

My $.02 on the Elan: I seriously considered buying one before it came out. Then I needed a car quick when my lease was up, the Elan was late, and I bought an Eclipse 4WD turbo instead.

Later, I had the chance to take an Elan to lunch with a friend of mine who worked at the Lotus dealership. It’s a neat car but the body structure feels pretty shaky– downright scary at 80MPH on a bumpy road, the top of the windshield A-pillar feels poised to put your eye out with the top down and seems right in the main line of vision. Motor is nothing spectacular, finish and materials seemed more like a $25K car than a $40K one. In fact, I think the Lotus made the Corvette convertible look like the bargain of the century. Still, I think it looks terrific and is certainly a rare sight. Probably on the used car market it’s an interesting choice. Used NSX’s are still all pretty pricey, but honestly there is no comparison between an NSX and an Elan– they’re like from two different planets.

I have a (motorcycle) riding friend (Bill) who has an Elan, and he likes it a lot. He also has an Audi A4 Quattro and a Ducati 916, so I don’t know what he’d think about it if it were his only vehicle. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you asking him about his impressions if you email him: bill "at" and explain that I put you in touch with him.

 Lotus Elan

 Kenneth Sax,

Anyway, I test-drove one of these this past August. (Hey, it was sitting on the dealer’s lot, and it looks great, and this one had all kinds of mods to it, so what the heck?) I didn’t post anything to the list at the time, thinking, hey, it’s an NSX list, what do they care? But since you asked… Fortunately, I did record my comments in a private e-mail (remember,  Andy?) so what follows were my impressions at the time. Enjoy…

It was a ’91 Lotus Elan, the convertible with the Isuzu motor. This one has 17k miles and is in great condition. It’s been loaded with mods, supposedly some $20K worth – beefed up suspension, aftermarket turbo, alarm, $6K stereo, Momo wheels, welded roll bar, etc etc. It’s taxicab yellow. They’re selling it for $24K, which is substantially more than a stock Elan would go for. I had seen this car last year at Road Atlanta and now it’s here in town. It’s really quite eye-catching.

I took it for a drive and was disappointed, especially in comparison with the NSX but even with the FWD GS-R. The power kicks in only at the very top of the rev band, so it doesn’t feel like it just wants to spin the way the VTEC cars do. The shifter was rubbery. And the suspension bottomed out when I took a couple of sharp turns at slow speed.

I was just so surprised that a car with so many mods could seem so inferior to a stock GS-R.


Mazda RX-7

 Thu, 07 May 1998

My last car was a 93 RX7. Killer fun to drive, nowhere near the build quality and standards of the NSX. although #’s look similar on paper, the NSX is a much better vehicle. This is my opinion, I am not inviting arguments here.

 [CWI], Wed, 21 Jun 2000

I owned a 1993 RX-7 before my 1991 NSX purchase. I found the NSX a tad slower however appreciated the torque curve of the NSX much more after spinning my RX-7 twice in rainy conditions (largely due to poor driving abilities).

 However, I mostly appreciated the 'ease of use' of the NSX vs. the  RX-7. I didn't have to watch coolant shooting out of the engine  compartment from overheating and could adjust the steering column.
 For the money, the RX-7 is excellent. It is easy to see that the car needs refinement of it's engine mostly.


NSX Twin Turbo v. CBR900RR

 Paul Delia,
 Mon, 22 Sep 1997

Here’s the deal. I have probably had about 50 motorcycles in my life. I’ve been riding since I was 5 years old. I’ve road raced for the past 10 years. I currently have a 96 CBR 900RR, a 98 VTR 1000, a 95 Ducati 916/955 (this one I race), a 97 CBR1000, a CR250 and CR500. And I just purchased a 250cc shifter cart. Point being – I know what fast is.

Like I said before, I am motorcyclist first and foremost. And until the other day I would have sworn that my CBR would make my NSX TT look pretty bad. That was not the case. And here’s the deal, I WAS RIDING THE CBR 900! My brother, who had never driven my car with the turbos was at the wheel. I was giving the 900 all it had. Not to brag, but when it comes to riding a bike, I know what I’m doing and I have several championships to back it up along with over 30 1st place trophies. I’m not trying to brag just underscoring the fact that I was giving the 900 hell and it was all I could do to stay with the NSX TT.

We did not accelerate from a dead start. Without question the CBR would have ate the NSX’s lunch. However, from third gear on, the NSX TT will hang right with the CBR and up to 150 MPH – so long! The NSX TT is gone!

I would not have believed this but believe me – I saw it first hand. I’ve messed around with other bikes on the road when I’ve been in my NSX and always pretty much put the hurt on them. I just figured that the guys riding the bikes either didn’t know how to ride very well or just didn’t have the balls. After that head to head run I now know that my NSX TT will hang right with today’s best superbikes.

And truthfully, it hurts me to say that.

 God forbid a 900RR hooks up with the new Viper GTS. 


Richard Hutte,

I have owned Porsche cars for 20 years, 356 S-90s, Speedsters, 912s, 911 Turbos, 993 C-4, amoung others.. I just sold the last of my collection in Jan. 98. I just purchased my first NSX 8-10 weeks ago. It is the best auto decision I have ever made. It is more comfortable for long trips, I believe more fun to drive, and more exclusive.

In my neighborhood there is a 993 in every other garage, nice cars but I am done with them. Porsche dealers in the states don’t know the concept of goodwill repairs. I have had premature head stud breaks ($2,200), Factory clutch problems, Starter motors cook, premature oil leaks, dual mass flywheel problems. I could go on but I don’t want to appear jaded!!

If you are going to keep a 911 for 20 k miles you might be ok, but then the fun begins. I made the change based upon the fact I have gotten tried of sending the owner of the dealership’s son to Ivy League schools. As my young Porsche Crazed nephew says, "NSX rules" and my wallet agrees.

Rich Hutte

 Former Porsche Club of America Member, 9 years/ Until March 98
 356 Registry Member 5 Years, Until July 98
 NSX convert

 Porsche Twin Turbo

 Michael A. Molitor,

"Feel" is a hard thing to quantify.  The best way I can do this is to give an overview of the Porsche 911 twin-turbo, and how it compares to the NSX:

I have a ’93 NSX, and a ’96 993 Twin Turbo. The NSX was my first "sports" car, and maybe I’m biased, but….I like the NSX better.


The NSX "feels" like a formula car- low, great visibility, responsive, nimble, agile, great road feel, etc.. (you all know what I’m talking about). The Porsche "feels" entirely different.

While the NSX feels like a formula car for the street, the Porsche feels like a street car for the track. You sit higher in the Porsche, the suspension is stiffer and a little harsh- almost like a street car was tuned for track use. With the driving position and the almost vertical windshield, you don’t get the feel that you’re driving an exotic car- you almost feel that you’re driving an everyday car- until you mash the throttle (more on that later.)


The Porsche has power assisted steering, my NSX has manual. The Porsche gives up road feel for steering effort, while the NSX gives great road feel without requiring significant steering effort. My only critique of the Porsche is the steering rack. I’ve driven older 911’s with manual steering, and the feedback was amazing. I’ve driven the new 993 Carrera 2 (with a different steering rack than the C4s and the Twin Turbo) and even these have more steering feel than the twin-turbo.


In quick, tight maneuvers, the short wheelbase of the Porshe helps it turn quicker, and in these maneuvers the Porsche outshines the NSX, but on exit ramps and faster turns, the NSX feels more nimble and responsive to steering inputs and provides more feel. Overall, the level of grip on the NSX is lower than that of the Porsche, but in 90% off street driving conditions, we’re not going fast enough (or shouldn’t be going fast enough) to appreciate or discern the difference. On the track- it’s a different story though.

The absolute cornering ablity at skidpad speed and higher is vastly superior in the twin-turbo- probably due to it AWD system, stiffer suspension, and extremely low profile 18" tires that are wider on the front tires than our NSX’s are in the rear. The Porsche has even wider rear tires. 225/40/18f, 285/30/18r.

But since the Porsche sits higher, you don’t get that slot-car feel that you do in the NSX.


On the track, the NSX still feels like a street car- the brakes fade, the suspension is too soft, not enough mid-range torque. The Porshe has all of this right. No brake fade, suspension that’s just right, gobs of power- and four wheel drive.


The four wheel drive system in the Porsche transforms the typical tail-happy Porsche into a usable, livable, manageable beast. In the NSX, you don’t know where the engine is. It doesn’t plow, it doesn’t oversteer- it just goes. The car is so finely balanced. The Porsche AWD system overcomes the inherent imbalances of it’s rear-engine design. While driving the Porshe in street conditions, you don’t know where the engine is. You cannot spin thet car- period- only in the rain will the rear break. On the track, you only know where the engine is if you trail-brake into a relatively high speed turn.

 Trust me- you don't want to do this in a Porsche. However, you can lift (mildly) in a turn  with this Porsche- it will not bite back. It's the most forgiving Porsche ever made  (probably).


Where to begin- the Porsche’s fortay is power. Porsche claims 400hp, 408lb-ft of torque. Stock engines have been dyno’d over 450hp & 440 lb-ft torque. So clearly the typical 993 twin turbo engine is a killer. You cannor compare 270 to 450 horsepower, so there is absolutely no caomparison to the NSX is this category.

When you step on the gas in the Porsche- it just goes like all hell broke loose. The tach advances through 4,200 rpm, and hold on. Before you know it, you’re reaching for the next gear. The car is truly the fastest car I’ve ever driven- you can’t appreciate it’s power until you drive one. Magazine editors and journalists expound on it’s power- and they’re justified. The car just goes.

But the power is manageable. Driving around town you don’t know you’re in a super-fast sports car, until you step on the throttle. The power comes on strong, but it doesn’t blow you over. It’s so smooth ane predictable that there are no surprises. There’s NO turbo lag- none. You only know you’re driving a turbo due to the turbo whine- it’s amazing.

The car does to 0-60 in 4 seconds, does the quarter mile in the low 12’s, and goes from 60-100 (in fourth gear) in 5 seconds. It’s amazing.


I gleaned from the list recently that a member was selling his NSX for a Porsche C4s. I think that’s a lateral, if not downward move. The Porsche has inferior ergonomics (although they have improved dramatically in the current iteration 993.) It’s not that much quicker- barely noticable, and just doesn’t turn heads or grab your attention like the NSX does. Maybe certain people are biasd towards Porsche’s, but the C4s doesn’t strike me as a step upwards- just sideways.

The Ferrari f355 is a diffent story, though. This is the only car I can say is a "better" NSX. It’s faster, has pretty good ergonimics (still not as good as the NSX, though, but excellent for a Ferrari) and handles like the dickens. It has the grip of the Porsche, with the feel of the NSX. What more can I say? It’s just a better NSX- speed, cornering, braking- and

 sound- glorious sound (especially with the Challenge car exhaust). The emotions run wild!


The Porsche clearly has the NSX beat in the power department- but a 400hp supercharged NSX would surely tell a different story. But for everyday driving enjoyment- the NSX still "feels" better. The driving position, the grip of the seats, the agile/nimble feel to the car when it reacts to steering inputs- it’s just better than the Porsche. For this, I enjoy it more. If I need to go someplace in the quickest possible time- it’s the Porsche. If I want to have the most fun getting there- it’s the NSX.

If the Porsche improved the steering rack, set the car lower, and improved the ride, then maybe I’d tell a differnt tale.


You cannot get a 993 TT for under 100k. New- some dealers are STILL asking (and getting) above sticker. The car is that good.

Sorry for the long-winded essay. It’s hard to quantify "feel"- so I thought rounding out my description of the car will help you to read between the lines.

 Tino Stramotas,

I may not be particularly nice to Porsches but, first, please note, I am not an NSX owner (I did come close last week as

 explained at the end of this message) but I HAVE been a Porsche guy. What follows is not  to show-off but probably of good relevance. I have owned half-a-dozen 911's including an  early 1969 911E, a 1978 911 Turbo, a 1982 SC, a 1982 935 Twin Turbo race car. I have  driven newer examples. I am an engineer and have raced Formula SV/Atlantic thru 1992. I  hope this somewhat qualifies me for a comment and maybe acceptable advice for the  poll-taker on your list.

I have always considered 911’s "tricky cars" in the hands of enthusiastic owners with somewhat lower than professional aptitudes. I have had my share of close calls on and off the race track. There is something inherently wrong with the concept and Porsche has to be commended for having been somewhat successful and very resourceful in making an outdated and bad concept work in competitive conditions. For the road, 911’a have been nothing but dormant weapons that looked "good" and gave their owners "status" while driving at city speeds. 

I had the good fortune of knowing a good gentleman who worked at Weissach in the mid-eighties and, with a bunch of colleagues, tried to push Porsche management in a new direction (mid-engine, air cooled) but failed and was shown the door with many colleagues including the president (you may recall). The excuse was that "America" wanted the 911 and it had to be massaged through at least another ten years. The often-heard joke in Weissach at the time was " Three turbochargers and three ashtrays". (Neither came about of course). Recently, all-wheel drive was yet another band-aid solution to avoid greater disaster with 400HP in a wrong configuration. The dashboard/ashtray joke did not pan out either. (Sitting in a ’97 TTurbo is no different from sitting in the ’69 911E).

Last year, just as the first TTurbo’s came out , I spotted a neighbor of mine in a sparkling new Arena Red example. That same week, I saw an identical car on a flat-bed, seemingly totaled. I never saw my neighbor drive his car since. Autosport recently reported the death of a very promising F3 young star who "lost it" in a new 911R3 car in Germany. I once (briefly) followed Hans Stuck at the old Neurburgring while he constantly battled and corrected a Carrera around the track. I also watched helplessly as Rolf Stommelen "lost it" in a 934 in Turn 9 at Riverside and  lost his life in the process. Enough said!

I drove a 1991 NSX (rented from Budget/Beverly Hills) in 1991 and thought the world of it. Never bought one! Last month I test drove a green 94 5-speed with 6000 miles (advertised on the NSXchange). I agreed to buy it, theorizing that there could be no better sports car for every-day use. It may not go as fast as a TTurbo but it is a much better mount for good spirited driving and every-day enjoyment. One day before the transaction, the seller called to ask for $2K more. Out of disgust and disappointment I refused to give in. I think I will keep looking !!

 Francis Gan,

Well, I’ve actually driven one. If you are interested read on, otherwise, delete. Most comments are in comparison to the NSX coupe.

Chassis: Is very stiff – maybe slightly better than the NSX coupe. The feedback and feel as a result is very good.

Suspension/Handling: As supple as the NSX normally, but a bit flatter in the turns when pushed hard. The chassis probably has something to do with this. For all intents and purposes, the handling is very NSX like. The engine may as well be in the middle. The rear does not feel like it is going to come around and overtake you. However, accelerating out of turns feels more planted than the NSX and braking feels more flat.

Steering: Get ready for this one. The 996 steering is sharper than the NSX! It’s turn in is a bit more precise. The feel is also better despite the power assist.

Brakes: On street driving (and some highway ramp braking), the feel is the same as my 95T with the 97 pads. However, I would assume that for track use the 996’s brakes would be better.

Comfort/Ergo: The NSX’s seats are still more comfortable and supportive. The driving position is very similar to the NSX now (the 993 was not), though the cowl is a tad higher and you do not get that road in your lap feel. You still see more of the road through the NSX windshield.

Interior: The NSX’s interior is much much more elegant. The 996’s interior feels dated already.

Transmission/Shifter: As a 6 speed, it’s ratios are well spaced. The manual shifter feels very much like the NSX but a bit less precise (i.e. does not center itself well when in neutral), but otherwise, would be the 2nd best manual transmission on the planet (IMHO), displacing the BMW manual.

Looks: This one is subjective. Despite the more swoopy lines of the 996, the NSX still looks like and exotic.

Christian Holmgreen,

I’m a former NSX owner (’94 NSX) that’s recently bought a ’96 993TT.

Performance: Can’t comment on the acceleration of the non-turbo  993 – never tried one, but I don’t suspect you’ll feel it’s much different from the NSX. My NSX didn’t feel particularly faster than the 3.2 carrera I had before the NSX – mostly due to the relatively high revs needed with the NSX (and much less weight in the 3.2l 911). Maybe you’ll feel the C4S needed more power because the AWD can handle much more than RWD.

Handling: For the handling part it’s about even in my opinion, with a small edge for the 993 because of the AWD. The NSX is lighter, yes, but seriously it’s not really THAT light anyway – 3100lbs for an alu-car?

Interior: NSX is boring – too Honda-esque as you put it. Both cars feel very "tight" and well built though. Far better aircon on the NSX if that matters 🙂 – equally good gearboxes – better electric seats with more adjustments in the 993 (at least on the turbo) than the NSX. On-board computer with the 993 (option in S4?) – no-go with NSX. Luggage space?

 Forget about it in either. 

Reliability: I don’t think that’ll be a problem with either. Never had any problems with either Porsches or the NSX.

Durability: Same as above.

Fun factor: For me the NSX never really did it, I guess. I fell in love with in when I rented one 1.5 years ago, and bought one shortly after. But after half a year the romance faded and I sold the car shortly after having owned it for only 10 months. It was just too nice and orderly I guess. It didn’t really inspire me. Really nice car and all, but I didn’t want to get

 into changing exhaust, wheels, lowering the car etc. etc. that I think it would have  required to make it fun for me (and required to be able to hear the engine below 4000).

On the other hand the 993 turbo DOES inspire me. Drives like a maniac on speed. Try persuading the dealer to try one when looking for a C4S. It’s a riot. (Not really possible in the states, but trust me – there’s a kinky sort of fun involved in driving the German Autobahn with the speedometer steady at 325km/h – about 200mph).

Both the NSX and the 993 feels extremely stable under high speed (150+mph),  if that means anything to you. The 993 DEFINATELY has better brakes. The C4S has the turbo-brakes and they kick a**. That car has some serious stopping

 power. The NSX brakes are only mediocre (15" wheels as the first NSX had won't even  fit  your C4S - minimum with turbo-brakes is 17" !).

Mastering a Porsche is not that hard. I did learn to master my old 3.2 carrera, and it wasn’t at all as bad as I had heard. Now with the 993 it’s a piece of cake. About as hard as with the NSX I’d say. Haven’t seen any track action with a C4S vs. a NSX with the same driver which would be needed for a true comparison, so I can’t say which is faster.

I think you’ll discover that the 993 C4S feels like it lacks power because of  the AWD. I’ve tried a 911 Carrera 4 (’91) with 250HP, and it definately needed more punch, especially off the line where it could handle much much more. I’d

 say the same would go for an AWD NSX as you mentioned - WAY too little power for that.

All of the above is ofcourse just my personal opinions and observations, and I have no doubt you will get a second opinion from other NSX owners. All I can really advise you to do is go drive a C4S – and see if you can arrange a

 drive in the NSX the same day to compare. 

Have fun, and good luck choosing.


Jeez! Now I know why you guys are NSX fans … after owning five 911’s and poised to buy my sixth, I drove this spa yellow 98 NSX-T today … what a fabulous car! The car is owned by a friend of mine who brokers mint low mileage high-line exotics through a local Volvo dealer; he’s helping me locate a Porsche 911 cabriolet. I occasionally help him find enthusiasts for his nicer stock.

This is probably boring to most of you, but comparing the NSX to my last 911, a 1987 911 Turbo, and my soon-to-be 911, a 1995 911 Carrera 2 cabriolet, I found the NSX to be faster than the 95 911, and probably a close match for my 911 Turbo, which had some slight modifications and was probably putting out 330 hp or so. I was flat out amazed at the clutch and short throws of the shifter on the NSX, and the smooth power delivery was far more refined than the brutal turbo lag and sudden acceleration on the 911 Turbo. Ergonomically, the NSX beat both cars hands down (not hard to do on the quirky Porsches of old). In braking, I’d have to give the edge to the tremendous brakes on the 95 911, but not by much at all, the NSX brakes were very good indeed, much better than the big brakes on my 911 Turbo. I drove the 95 911 and the 98 NSX back to back today. I just about fell in love with that damn NSX, but it’s about $20k more than the 911 I’m poised to buy, so I may have to wait a while.

The feel of sitting in that low car, with all that yellow paint around you, and the joy of watching other drivers’ heads snap around as you rocket by, you just can’t put a price on that! And there’s no constant fear that the engine is going to hiccup and cost you $10k the way there is driving a Ferrari.


Vic (brand new NSX fan)


 Robert Larson,

I just went at lunch with a friend who’s seriously considering a newBoxster. I didn’t get to drive it. 🙁 But I have a few impressions.

When I first walked up to the red/black Boxster, I was underwhelmed. Cute, but the closer I got the more flat it seemed. Like the clay mound they started with to sculpt the Karman Ghia. The top was up, which at least looked OK. Peeked inside, and it looked simple but modern.

The salesman showed up and he and my friend took it out for a test drive while I kicked tires on Porsches and Audis sitting around the lot. Let me tell you, Japanese (and American) designers should be made to live in Audi’s A4 interior for about 2 weeks. Everything says expensive, modern, and tasteful. A little cramped, but that’s the size car it is. Amazingly classy at the price.

The Boxster returned with a distinct Porsche whir/rumble, and now seeing it with the top down and I was starting to understand. The fast power top is marvelous and the motion of the decklid top cover is mechanical poetry, not a whirlygig show like the Mitsu. 3000 Spyder. The plastic rear window is the only downer.

Good, deep storage space in the front compartment along with a full-size (diameter) spare, but there’s nothing you can open up to really see the engine. Access is from below. The interior turned out to be as hip as pants hanging below your undies. The windshield shape with the top down is sensational, with low height and rounded corners. Perfect.

Deceptively simple at first, various design nuances reveal themselves around the interior the more you study it. The

 automatic climate control was unexpected at this price (40K), and a decent stereo/cassette  is included with a removable face-plate. 

I never noticed this in the magazine photos, but the cowl over the instruments is more like the wing on the NSX– light and air pass through an opening between the hood of the dash and the top of the instruments, whose coverings are the round, black plastic bumps defined by their interlocking shape. VERY cool– it reminded me of a motorcycle layout.

 Analog gauges are dominated by a center tach and supplanted with good LCD display windows  (that also allow a digital MPH display below the tach in addition to the speedo dial),  which to me is the right blend of tradition and technology. Passenger room was good.  Opening the door into sunlight reveals lovely sculpting of what initially appeared to be
 a bland surface, continuing a motif defined by simple arcs. The door armrest opens up over  a partially concealed storage compartment. The side windows electrically tuck beneath the  roof seals upon opening, a la BMW.

This gradual unfolding of delightful surprises I also found to be true on the outside. The more I studied the shape, the more it seemed exactly correct. Certain angles from the side showed a very tasty forward jutting of the center of the nose, with the light assembly wrapped beautifully into the framing fenders. Seen from the front with the top down, the haunches over the rear wheels are just right. Muscular without becoming a cartoon (BMW should have been so lucky with the Z3). Taillights are interesting and simple, helping to punctuate the curve of the rear fenders. Elegance.

So I didn’t drive it, but I was impressed with the design. Confident, artful, historical, modern, supple, chic, all balanced in fine proportion. IMO, Porsche has produced its next masterpiece, at an unexpectedly reasonable price. A hopefully non-pretentious "Bravo" from me. I believe they will sell every one they can make for many years to come.

 Boxster S

 [BC - 2000/7/29] 

I was checking up on my NSX engine transplant operation at my Acura dealer and noticed a new Silver Boxster S parked out front, visiting from a the Porsche dealership under the same ownership. It’s impossible to get a test drive in one of these around here since they are all special ordered… except in this rare case. So soon of course I found the keys had materialized in my hand and I was off on a test drive. I always wanted to try out an ‘S’ because the performance specs approach those of a stock 91 NSX.

First thoughts that came to mind as I sat behind the wheel:

– Interior feels very cramped, deep and tublike with the top up, though a bit larger than an S2000, nothing like the spacious open feeling of the NSX with its big windsheild and low dash. – Can’t see anything out the rear quarters with the top up, and the back plastic pane is too murky for visibility as well. You are either blind or myopic for 180 degrees. – Why aren’t the window controls on the doors? Instead buttons with cryptic icons aft of the shifter, indistinguishable from some identical seat heater buttons. – Non user friendly climate control, so many tiny buttons where the NSX has two large simple knobs. – Material quality in the cockpit is certainly better than the standard Boxster, but just doesn’t seem as classy as the NSX. – I have no idea which gauge is for the fuel level or engine temp, and the funky speedo and tach numbers are hard to read. I can only guess how fast I’m going. The wrong place for a stylistic statement.

Finally moving I did a little zig zagging at what looks like 40 mph (still guessing) to get a feel for the steering. Must have extra low speed power assist because it felt very vague, though the chassis had a super solid feel, you’d never know it was a convertible. It had the 18 inch? turbo style wheels with big red brake calipers and big drilled rotors inside that make the NSX brakes look pathetic. The brake pedal felt solid as a rock, though because the pads had really never been used they didn’t grab at all. Giving it a little gas I noticed the gearing was fairly short and there was a lot of torque available at all rpms. Upshifts were very smooth. A very easy but strong clutch, nothing like the monstrous comptech single disc racing clutch I’m used to. A child could use the Porsche clutch. A tight U turn at 5 mph which confirms my suspicions about the extra power steering boost (super vague at low speeds like the steering wheel is disconnected from the front wheels – The Sony Playstation Effect), and I’m set up to run through the gears up to third. Even short-shifting by 2000 rpm (hey the car has no miles on it) the engine feels very strong and the car builds speed deceptively due to the power linearity and quietness of the exhaust (I’m used to the supertrapp shriek). I was really impressed with the motor’s performance at the 2-3 upshift, good acceleration even though I was nowhere near redline. The ‘S’ must have more low and midrange torque than a 91 NSX (the spec numbers agree). Another U and 1-2-3 run and I hit the brakes and make a hard right to end the fun where I started. Despite bumps in the hard turn the car doesn’t bounce or bob or roll. A really refined suspension setup. In this same maneuver the Koni/Eibach/RM Sway setup on my NSX is just as flat but far more jarring. I’d need to see what the Boxster S could do on my favorite 90 mph turns though to say if it’s really in the same league as my NSX as far as handling. I suspect it corners flatter than a stock 91 however, which are known to roll.

Conclusions: – You need to drive the Boxster S with the top down or not at all (too claustrophobic, no visibility). – The 250 hp engine is strong. A little tuning could easily make it as strong as the NSX 270 hp 3.0L, maybe even the 290hp 3.2L. The S2000 can’t possibly have this much easy torque (unless you stuck a supercharger on it). – The S has serious brakes. The NSX doesn’t. – The six speed gearbox is only slightly notchy, nothing to complain about. Its gearing is much better than the stock 91 NSX five speed but similar to the short gears with 4.55 R&P. – The exhaust note is nothing to get excited about. Not even close to a stock 91 NSX. You’d need to run the Boxster with open pipes or something radical. – The S sport suspension’s handling may be close to a 91 NSX. – Power steering boost makes the car feel too disconnected and numb at low speeds, not sporty at all, but then nothing is when compared to the crisp 91 NSX unpowered rack and pinion.

So I wouldn’t trade my 91 NSX for a Boxster S, which is a relief since I was afraid of being easily seduced since my NSX has been out of action. The S isn’t quite sharp edged enough to replace an NSX, but it is certainly a serious sports car compared to the normal Boxster, and would be fun to own if you could always drive topless.


’97 NSX-T v. ’97 Supra Turbo

 Bill Zachar,
 Sun, 31 Aug 1997 18:40:53

Two weeks ago I traded in my ’97 Supra Turbo 6-speed for a ’97 NSX-T 6-speed. About a month before that I raced a pre-94 NSX (he had the old style wheels). From a couple of standing starts at stop lights he easily out accelerated me until the Supra hit 4000 RPM. By that time he was approx. 100-150 feet ahead of me. At that point the Supra generated enough boost/power to keep the gap from getting any bigger. These were only acceleration duels to 90-100 on a straight road, no curves nor corners. The Supra has 2 turbos, one small, one large. The small one runs across the entire rev band. The big one starts spooling-up at 3000 RPM and comes on-line at 4000. The lack of low-end torque in the Supra was it’s Achilles heel.

After driving my NSX for 2 weeks the differences:

 '97 NSXT

     Has all kinds of low-end grunt relatively-speaking.
  • Soaks up bumps in the road with little fuss.
  • Smooth as silk clutch engagement.
  • Smooth as silk shifting action.
  • Shorter shift throws.
  • Slower steering.
  • More pedal effort needed for braking.
  • Power steering assist seems to disappear completely at lower speeds.
  • Quiet inside except when induction howl makes it's appearance.
  • Climate control needs to run wide open when you first get in car like it does when you set temperature at lowest setting and then spool down more as car cools off. (I live in Arizona)
  • Better factory stereo. Specifically, flatter frequency response curve.
  • Common-sense cruise control: Powered-on state survives engine off/on. Remembers cruising speed even if you come to a complete stop.

 '97 Supra Turbo

     Quicker steering.
  • LOTS of road noise transmitted to interior.
  • Firmer ride than NSX.
  • Clutch shudder (even when new)
  • Shift action not smooth (Getrag 6-speed)
  • Monster brakes
  • More power steering assist at all speeds. (I can't recall it ever completely disappearing)
  • Climate control runs at MAXIMUM cooling initially and then lowered fan speed more as car cooled off.
  • Factory stereo had a V-shaped frequency response curve.
  • Dopey cruise control: Has to be powered-on each time you start the car (no mechanical switch that stays in the "on" position and survives engine shutoff). By design cruise control clears it's memory if you drop 10 MPH
  • below cruise speed, you can’t just hit "resume".      Apparently all Toyotas do this.

I like my NSX better.

 Supra Turbo

 Bryan Chow,

I’ve driven both the NSX-T and the Supra Turbo. The Supra was fast, but didn’t FEEL that fast. You sit upright like you would in a normal car. The shifter does not feel as precise and short as the NSX, but it has 6 gears (okay, so does the ’97 NSX). Aside from financial considerations, there are only two advantages to the Supra: practicality (real trunk and midget-sized rear seats) and the upgradeability. You can get 400 hp with about $1000! And there are companies in Japan that offer 6-800 hp bolt-on kits. Also, there is hardly any turbo lag with the stock sequential turbos.

The NSX offers better handling, more exclusivity and a much more striking mid-engined appearance, better engine sound, much nicer interior. Basically, it is much more fun to drive.

Performance-wise, stock-vs-stock they are very close. Don’t let the incredible numbers it received when it first came out (13.2@109 mph) fool you – Toyota has admitted that the early test cars ran on increased boost (ie. they cheated.) I’ve also heard that, along with the $10,000 price cut for ’97, performance is slightly reduced (read it on the Supra list).

Seems like a bunch of people who can afford NSXs are upset about Supras doing a better showing on magazine acceleration specs. Big Deal! Drive a Supra, then drive the NSX. In terms of the quality of the driving experience, the

 Supra is a Buck Knife and the NSX is a surgeon's scalpel. On a road course with a driver  experienced in low polar moment (mid engined) car, the NSX will have a clear advantage.  Magazine editors who don't commute with mid-engine cars are confused by the "on the  edge" characteristics of mid-engined cars; they feel "alien" trying to  balance braking and power application for a true CG "parabolic" line through a  constant radius turn. Also, Honda has specified 33 - F / 39 - R psi for the NSX's tires.  Reverse that and the car is both a tad bit edgier, but much quicker by the watch (really  helps
 alleviate low speed understeer).

Besides my "new" ’94 NSX, I own a 1970 Trans Am w/auto trans, and no external engine mods (The inside is almost all Pontiac, but balanced, blueprinted, and heavily massaged for airflow). Despite a 3.31 rear end and old Goodyear radials (G60 x 15s) it easily clocked 13.08 at 108 mph (this despite having to nurse the throttle all the way through first gear) clearly stonger timewise than any factory NSX. Adding headers, intake, Holley 1050 carb, Hoosier tires, free flow exhaust, and a 3.90 rear put my friends similarly built 406ci T/A through the quarter around 11.8 at 125 mph shifting at 6700 rpm. Both of our T/As are lowered and have mild suspension mods for maximizing lat Gs and turn-in.

Simply put, my T/A would easily run with the NSX or Supra at Willow Springs where brakes aren’t a big factor. My friends T/A with its prodigious power, four wheel discs, and aforementioned accessorization would simply lap the NSX or Supra about every twelfth time around. He has many hours of his own labor plus a total of about $20,000 tied up in his T/A (over the initial cost of the car). If he put another $20,000 in it (for a total invetment equal to the cost of a max. discounted base Toyota Supra, he could derive another 125 reliable hp., go full roll cage w/ coil over rear suspension, Alcon or other aftermarket brake setup, and a good 5 speed in place of the Turbo 400 /B&M automatic (Cars like this pull about 1.4 Gs w/ DOT approved tires). I feel this would achieve at least parity with the Viper, because the handling is exceptional, the power output is already 520+ net on the dyno with a factory bottom end.

Pardon my long windedness, but if numbers are what you are looking for, why piss money away on an NSX or Supra to acheive it? Enjoy them for what they are; go ahead and play with boost, exhausts, K&N filters, chips, etc. Just get back to fiscal reality if screaming, bitchin speed is what you want. For real speed, combine an old Tennessee boy (or John Ligenfelter – if you please) who can build a reliable 600 – 625 net horsepower small block with anyone who has been race or autocross tuning GM F-Body chassis’ & powertrains for years, and throw in modern technology (brakes).

Aerodynamically, old Camaros and Firebirds ( circa 1970 – 1981) are scary past about 150 (stock suspension height), 165 (lowered to racing height), and about 180 (with aero mods such as active fender extractors, reshaped air dam, and larger rear spoiler). Considering that my 1970 T/A has a drag coefficient of .42, it is understandable that it can’t go more than about 155. The fact is that AC Cobras were the same way, and a 600 hp side oiler (not an S/C) would eat anything short of a McLaren F1 or an F50 at a place like Willow Springs. So if the venue doesn’t have room for more than 170 or 180, higher top speed is a moot point. A hard accelerating street car that will hit 160 – 165 is plenty fast.

The NSX is an exotic with incredible reliability, reasonable price, and a level of handling finesse unmatched by any other car available outside of a F355 or F50. I mean – HELL – IT IS A HONDA! However, on any given day it could lose a drag race to the likes of a stock Firebird Formula / T/A, Camaro Z28, Mustang Cobra, Mazda RX1, etc. I did not buy mine to street race. It is fast, but that is not the total focus of its being.

The Supra, on the other hand, is the ultimate expression of the Celica engineering portfolio, employing 5 or 6 generations of refinement with an turbocharged engine that is second only to a Chevy smallblock (among all high performance cars) in age of original design. The fact that a factory can set the boost pressure based on Toyota’s marketing strategy does not make the Supra the equivalent of (and certainly not superior to) the NSX. It simply means that power was the cheapset commodity (via turbocharging) to get the Supra into the class of "supercar". Come on guys – this car’s target was to beat the Corvette (with Toyota reliability); the NSX’s was to beat the Ferrari 512 (with Accord reliability).

One can neither quantify nor qualify the total driving experience of a street car by knowledge of or worry about its ability to outaccelerate another vehicle on the street. This concern only matters at intersection bottlenecks and onramps, and only then if your car can’t do 0 – 60 in less than 11 seconds (which my former 3 VWs would do).

If you want a raw power thrill with formidable handling, and you don’t mind noise, harsh ride, poor mileage, constantly damaged undercarriage and airdams, etc., etc., etc., buy an old GM F-Body, add 40 grand, and go chase F50s and McLaren F1s; nothing else will have a chance. For crying out loud – there are guys out there running $50,000 streetable F-Bodies that run sub 9 second quarter miles at over 160 mph!

But if you are willing to pay the price of a new Supra for a 4 year old car in excellent condition, and you want a machine that is quiet, smooth, fast, comfortable, convenient to service, a dropjaw stare magnet, great for commuting, autocross, cross country forays, and able to manuver like a Cheetah on amphetamines, NSX is for you.

In a world where marketing hype is seemingly more important than the time it takes to build an informed, experienced opinion, there is always going to be someone who believes "9 out of 10 choose New Improved Tootsie Rolls over Godiva Chocolates" and "9 out of 10 people chose the Dodge Aries K over the Mercedes 450 SEL".

If a person of means chooses a Supra over an NSX because of its 50% greater torque giving it a slight edge in acceleration performance specs reported in magazine articles, the crumpled candy wrappers on his floorboard most likely

 won't be the shiny gold ones; and he probably has a Dodge Aries K with a Pogue Fish  Carburetor and Cow Magnet on the fuel line in his past. His neck chain is hollow, his  Rolex was made in Korea, and most of the paintings in his house are from Motel 6's last  auction. 

On the other hand, if he bought his Supra because it has great performance, looks, comfort, whatever, and is a more practical car than an NSX in terms of interior capacity, or because it was the best new car for him in his price range, he’s livin’ in the real world, and I hope he’ll enjoy what I feel is a truly fine Sports/GT.

At this time, I’d likto say goodbuy to the dumbass who once told me that his dad’s 1970 Dual Gate Hurst Olds had a clutch peddle that dropped down from under the dash when he slid the shift gate on the console into the manual position. I’d also like to say goodbye to my pimply spring visitor whose ’52 Chevy Pickup (complete with twisted coat hanger antenna) can run 210 mph on a used mix of bald and ailing bias ply and radial filling station specials. Mom: I love you; don’t sell the Caddy. Dad: You’re 77 – BUY THE VETTE!!!