Friday started very early for some - the earliest tour group started at 9:00 AM at the Honda engine manufacturing facility in Anna, OH - about 90 minutes from the hotel. Then they went to the Marysville assembly plant on their way back. The Marysville plant was about halfway between the hotel and the Anna plant.
The weather was overcast but it wasn't raining much. Well, at least not at first.
I signed up for the 10:30 AM tour group (whichstarted at the closer Marysville plant and went to the Anna plant in the afternoon) so I could get all my computer junk set up and sleep in a bit.
Click on any picture for the high-resolution version.
Sign-in at the Marysville plant. The guards just laughed as we rolled in.
They announced our arrival to all their employees; many came out to take a closer look at the cars during their breaks.
From the front, note the widened front quarter panels, the black mesh front grille insert, the new one-piece nose, and the driving lights.
The rear view shows widened rear quarter panels, a custom elongated rear spoiler, redesigned lower valiance (it's just empty space instead of plastic), and a black mesh-style lightweight cover which is hard to see in this photo (or even in person unless the lights are on).
Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) Honda did not allow cameras inside the assembly plant, so there are no photos of the tour itself. It was very impressive, though. A more detailed write-up will follow; I'm just trying to post some pictures right now.
Noting the number of unexpected customers vs. the number of people working to serve them, a couple of us decided to find another place to eat further down the road. We ended up taking a very, very scenic route to Anna, but got to really see Main Street, USA.
After our little detour through several small towns in the area, we made it to the Anna plant about an hour late. Luckily it had taken everyone else so long to get and eat their food at Dairy Queen we were only 10 minutes after them.
They had all kinds of goodies set up in the reception room. Shown here is a slot car race track where NSX owners got to race custom-made NSX slot cars.
The slot car races went on for some time; they ran elimination heats and the winner(s) got T-shirts. These little cars really flew around the track; they just show up as blurs here, and that's about how they looked in real life too.
This Honda employee is Mr. Hayashi. He was on the original NSX design team in Japan and owns an NSX over there, but right now he's working in Ohio. He brought his personal NSX memorabilia collection, which is the most impressive I have ever seen. Many of the items he had were things I didn't even know existed. Honda of Japan obviously supports and promotes the NSX much more actively than American Honda/Acura. He also owns the model NSX race car track and cars pictured above.
Again, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, no cameras were allowed on the tour. This was probably a good idea on Honda's part, because a few of us got a pretty good look at their new mini-van which we weren't supposed to see. It looked pretty nice, despite the camoflage tape.
Returning to the parking lot at the hotel, I found a snazzy Ferrari 355 had snuck into the middle of our NSX parking. I parked next to him (on the right) figuring I'd be pretty safe from door dings. As you can see here, red cars are very popular at NSXPO '98!
I met the owner of the F355 (and the NSX to the left of it) at the pre-dinner cocktail hour. He's a great guy named Ed who lives just an hour and a half from me. His cousin flew in from CA and drove the 355 up and Ed drove the NSX.
It started pouring rain less than two minutes after this picture was taken.
...Stay tuned for more tomorrow!