The ultimate body kit!!
Driving The Avengers Acura NSX Roadster
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Driving The Avengers Acura NSX Roadster
An NSX Built for a Superhero
By John Pearley Huffman, Comic Book Guy | Published Apr 16, 2012
It's sunrise at Honda's test track outside of dusty California City in the Mojave Desert when the plain white, unmarked semi pulls in. We know what's coming. We're here to drive Tony Stark's personal Acura NSX Roadster, the only one like it in the world.
"That truck came from Stark Industries," someone cracks as the crew opens the trailer. "It could be powered by that thingie in Iron Man's chest."
Then the car rolls out onto the ramp and no one says a word. The Acura NSX may just be a movie prop for the new superhero action blockbuster The Avengers, which opens May 4, but it's gorgeous. Stop and stare, devastatingly, truly gorgeous.
Watching it move off the truck in slow motion is like watching Ursula Andress come out of the ocean in Dr. No. Or Phoebe Cates walk out of the swimming pool in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Or Megan Fox get off her motorcycle in Transformers. It could only be better if it were backlit and there had been an Aerosmith ballad playing in the background.
Stark Raving NSX
It's not the 2015 Acura NSX, which has been making news on the international auto show circuit since January, but it looks enough like it to fool most people. Nope, this is the Acura NSX that never will be, but is. It's a leak over from the parallel universe that's run by Marvel Comics. And we're as shocked as you to learn that its role in The Avengers is just a cameo in the final few seconds of the film.
There aren't any headlights or outside door handles or a roof, but it's not merely a cobbled-together movie prop either.We've driven enough movie cars to know that, more often than often, they're beat to Hell and barely ambulatory. Not this time. Unlike many movie cars, The Avengers Acura NSX Roadster wasn't built to perform stunts. Therefore it wasn't beat on. The script never asked this car to do a single burnout, Rockford or jump.
Avoiding such antics means this car remains in show-ready condition. But because it wasn't engineered for such extreme driving, it also means it's a bit fragile. In fact, the NSX Roadster rides so low it'll scrape its nose running over loose change and needs to be unloaded from the plain white truck with kid gloves...and another pair of kid gloves over those kid gloves.
The doors open easily and feel solid — like a real NSX. Once they're open, however, what awaits the driver is a throwback interior barely changed from 1990. That's because, under its skin, The Tony Stark Acura NSX Roadster is really a 1991 Acura NSX.
Since the interior wasn't getting screen time, there was no reason to screw around with it. With the exception of the Procar seats, some Iron Man red paint on the center console and a hunk of electrical tape where the top center vents should be, the interior is untouched right down to the tape deck.
"We knew it would have to be reliable for filming and we couldn't come up with anything that would be more reliable than an original NSX," explains Dave Marek, division director for Auto Design at Honda. Don't complain about them chopping up an NSX. How cheesy would it have been if they had used a Fiero?
So the base for Stark's movie car is a 1991 Acura NSX similar to Inside Line's current long-termer. However, where IL's machine has around 53,000 miles on its clock, the car upon which Stark's was built shows a stunning 252,000 on its odometer. "We didn't want a car that was too nice to rip apart," said Marek.
Marek's designers were already deep into developing the NSX Concept that was shown at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit when The Avengers Acura NSX assignment was handed to them. It was natural that that concept would define the styling themes used for Stark's ride. "It's not an exact copy," says Marek, "but it's definitely inspired by the Concept car."
That inspiration is obvious, but in some ways the movie car is even more beautiful than the Concept. Stark's car has a more gently rounded nose and a more pronounced dip behind the front wheels to the doors. The tail is more rounded, too, with a voluptuous taper the Concept lacks. And, of course, Stark's car is missing a roof.
Although it was designed by Marek's team at Honda HQ in Torrance, California, the car was built by the Trans FX prototype shop in Oxnard, California. That's where the resin and fiberglass body was formed, equipped with custom-fabricated LED taillights and covered in the same shade of red as Iron Man's suit. "I know it doesn't look like the same red," explains Marek, "but I think with the movie lights and such it looks brighter."
The Avengers Acura NSX sure looks like a real car. There aren't any headlights or outside door handles, but it's not merely a cobbled-together joke either. Even up close it seems ready to rocket.
Off the Trailer
The familiar driving environment is such that for a moment you can be fooled into believing it's just another NSX. It gets even more familiar when the ignition key is turned and the familiar sound of the 270-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 is added to the mix — a little louder in this open car than it is in an NSX coupe. Even after all those miles, the Stark NSX's five-speed manual transmission feels solid as it shifts into 1st gear.
Second gear, however, would have to wait.
In deference to the Stark NSX's compromised structure, that it was engineered to run only up to 30 mph and its near-future life as a promotional item for the film, Acura asks that we keep our driving speed to under 20 mph. Since it's Acura's car, its PR guy is standing right there and there's a severe vibration in the structure, we oblige. So what we can say is that, up to about 20 mph, the Stark NSX feels and drives like the NSX that it is.
With no top or side windows, The Avengers Acura NSX has better visibility than an unmodified NSX. The front windshield is larger and more steeply raked than standard, but the driver can still locate the front corners easily.
Onto the Road
The Stark car's 245/35R18 front Hankook tires are a big chunk wider than the 205/50R15s that were standard on the 1991 NSX. Add the 2-inch-lower ride height and you've got severely restricted steering angles. The steering circle of this car is nearly in geosynchronous orbit — so huge that when you turn it around you have to worry about hitting communications satellites. That said, though the steering is heavier than stock, at our low speeds it seemed talkative enough.
Out back, the 255/35R20 rear Hankooks also represent a big step up in size from the standard 225/50R16s, but clearance doesn't seem to be a problem. Then again, there aren't many potholes in the test track to really test clearances and we aren't running through corners quickly enough to load the suspension.
Purely for aesthetic reasons, the Stark NSX runs new, oversize brakes with detailed rotors and calipers. In non-panic stops from upward of 17 mph, they feel pretty good.
Even an NSX with a quarter-million on its clock and some of its structure hacked away is still a great car. Given time and a budget to chase after the Stark NSX's bugs and glitches, this thing could be an epic, street-driven roadster. But it's more likely destined for a spot inside the Honda Museum.
Built To Star
For a vehicle constructed only to survive a few fleeting moments of screen time, the Stark Acura NSX is beautifully crafted. "We found the base car in Arizona," recalls Rick Bordanaro the vice president of business development at Trans FX. "We just needed one that was straight and complete for the project. I'm pretty sure we paid something like $18,000 or $20,000 for it. Then we flew a guy out to Arizona and he drove it back to California." No one at Acura will share how much was spent transforming the car into Stark's ride.
The base car was so straight that Trans FX was able to remove the bodywork, index the car on one of their 5 axis milling machines, cover the car in big blocks of foam and then carve out the new body shape right there on the car. "The whole aft end is milled foam, while the nose is mostly fiberglass. It's less fragile in real life than we assumed it would be."
As such, this car is yet another testament to how great a car the original NSX was and is. When the next NSX gets here in three or so years, The Avengers Acura NSX will be one more element in a heritage it needs to which it must live up.
After a day with the movie car, we're convinced that Stark's NSX is one of the most impressive movie cars ever built. It's right up there with the Batmobile and the Eleanor Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds. Not the original, the one with Nic Cage.
Honestly, it was tough to see it loaded back onto that plain white truck. If we're lucky it's destined for greater things in Iron Man 3 and The Avengers 2 and whatever other movies that might come along that threaten the Marvel Universe.
Last edited by NSX69; 04-16-2012 at 17:01.
1992 Acura NSX; 2004 Acura TSX
The ultimate body kit!!
'05 silverstone. CTSC. Arc Titanium. GT1-F1 headers. KW Competition dampers. Stoptech BBK. VRH lift.
*hoping the previous owner chimes in on this thread..*
2001 New Formula Red/Tan NSX-T, member NSXCA
who can hook up this body kits?
Last edited by PoohBEAR; 04-17-2012 at 23:12.
Looks nice, but of course I would need my body kit to be viable over 30mph though
There were more photos of it next to the original (as seen in the video) in one of the related edmunds links: http://www.insideline.com/features/p...akeotot4051231
Very cool. Love that they kept the interior. Shows even a 21 year old car had a good interior.
I like the seats!
So who is the designer of the new NSX? There are a couple of members in the forum that said that the designer is an ABC ( American Born Chinese), but in the video, I think Mr. Dave Marek is the one who is the designer. Which is the correct one?
Without a doubt, audiences walking out of The Avengers are going to remember seeing 1 brand among the many that pop up throughout the movie: Acura.
The automaker filled the film, literally start to finish, with its models. And it capped it all off with at the end with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony "Iron Man" Stark hopping into a new, attention-grabbing Acura NSX roadster — and straight onto the carpet at the movie's premiere.
In the product placement world, The Avengers tie-in is a bit of a coup for Acura, with Stark having preferred Audi R8s in both previous Iron Man films. But by providing only a concept car for its most high profile role ever, has Acura dropped the product placement ball?
In 2008, Audi partnered for the first time with Marvel to put "genius billionaire playboy philanthropist" Tony Stark behind the wheel of its new R8 super car. The partnership was a hit, with both the character and the car complimenting one another.
2 years later, Audi revised its Iron Man role, putting Stark in the seat of the R8 Spyder.
In both cases, Audi was using the cars to create a Halo effect for the whole brand. In something of a coup, Audi models appeared in the background of the first Iron Man film, but the focus, and what audiences left remembering was the R8. At the time, Audi hoped that even those who could not plunk down the cash for the R8 might consider, say, a similar-looking TT.
In Acura's case, while the NSX roadster is the icing on its this product placement partnership, it's the RDX model that sparkles throughout The Avengers that audiences will probably remember. A fine little SUV to be sure, but hardly inspiring as it is basically the fleet car for the faceless and nameless agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Essentially, it's what the Ford Taurus was to government vehicles 20 years ago.
The reason the RDX is the featured Acura model and not the NSX is that the NSX isn't a real car, red carpet showboating notwithstanding. The concept vehicle isn't even a true concept. From the Edmunds Avengers test drive:
"The doors open easily and feel solid — like a real NSX. Once they're open, however, what awaits the driver is a throwback interior barely changed from 1990. That's because, under its skin, The Tony Stark Acura NSX Roadster is really a 1991 Acura NSX."
Essentially, the NSX roadster is the equivalent of guys with expert reproduction Iron Man costumes: great looking on the outside, but on the inside it's just a costume.
Audi itself has learned that cool looking concept cars placed in films often don't go beyond just cool concepts. In 2004, the brand garnered tons of media and audience attention with its RSQ sport coupe concept car in the sci-fi film I, Robot. See, also, the Lexus concept in Minority Report.
By comparison, the R8's Iron Man role was the beginning of a role for the model. Soon after Stark was seen on the car, the R8 was showing up in TV shows and movies like NCIS, The Mentalist, Date Night, Surrogates and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It was a real car whose halo effect washed over the entire Audi lineup.
Speaking of Transformers, this "real car" importance is one Mercedes also seems to understand. For the latest installment of the series, Dark of the Moon, Mercedes hit the screen with its awesome Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, nearly upstaging its Victoria's Secret model co-star. Again, it's a real car that you can buy right now (but probably not).
The opportunity afforded to automakers by a high-profile tie-in and placement is more complex than just creating a temporary buzz. Practiced most successfully, auto product placement works best when its done with a highly characteristic new model that plays a major role and that's available in the immediate future. Examples include not just the R8 and the SLS AMG, but also the wildly successful Dodge Charger placement in Fast 5 and the king of all auto placements, James Bond's BMW Z3.
Again, the RDX may be a car you wouldn't mind driving, but it, and its role, doesn't inspire heroism.
In practice, Acura's dilemma can be best illustrated in its tie-in marketing. For both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Audi was able to fill its tie-in websites and video commercials with its premier product, the R8.
Meanwhile, Acura's Avengers website is all about the RDX, never once mentioning the NSX everyone is talking about.
1992 Acura NSX; 2004 Acura TSX
I hope Honda has a close to production concept next year for Ironman 3. This would be in their best interest and allow more screen time too...
I did not even notice the RDX in the Avengers movie tho
Saturday Drive: The story behind 'The Avengers' Acura NSX
Start off your weekend of motoring with a quick take on something fast, fun or rare that's recently grabbed our attention in the automotive world.
The NSX Concept seen here and in the final scene of 'The Avengers' has an interesting backstory to it. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times / May 13, 2012)
By David Undercoffler, Auto Critic May 12, 2012
If you were one of the 18 billion people who went to see "The Avengers"recently, you probably noticed the film concludes with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark getting into a dark red Acura convertible and driving off with Bruce Banner. (Calm down, that's no spoiler).
But unlike the other Acuras making cameos throughout the film (the automaker having stolen the product placement mantle from Audi, whose R8 supercar was Stark's ride in the two Iron Man films), this model doesn't currently exist.
Photos: 'The Avengers' Acura NSX
It's a concept of the forthcoming Acura NSX, due out as a coupe around 2015, about the time the just-announced sequel to "The Avengers" will hit theaters. You may also recognize the coupe from the funny, yet controversial Super Bowl commercial featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno.
Details on the powertrain of the NSX haven't been released, though Acura has said it will have a mid-mounted V-6 VTEC engine with direct-injection and a dual-clutch transmission routing power to the rear wheels while a pair of electric motors power the front wheels.
Sadly, the car you see here has none of that. But unlike other concept mockups that are as functional as a foam chainsaw, this one is a working, drivable model. And the car it's based on may surprise you.
"It's bitchin'," says Dave Marek as he looks at the concept.
We're in a vacant parking lot in Torrance on the sprawling campus of the North American headquarters for Honda, Acura's parent company. Steps away is one of the company's key R&D centers, a fortress holding the future products for both brands that not even Iron Man could break into.
A bit of an institution at Honda, Marek has been designing Hondas and Acuras for well over two decades. His work includes the original Honda Accord station wagon, the Honda Ridgeline and Acura MDX. He's now the director of design at the company and was integral in bringing the NSX concept to life for its silver screen debut.
Marek says the project began in June 2011, when he was handed the final pages of "The Avengers" script and told that a car was needed for Stark's parting shot. Initially the plan was to mock up just the rear of the car, since that's all that was needed for filming. But at the request of none other than the film's director and screenwriter Joss Whedon, it was decided to use a full car.
This meant that Marek and his team had 3 months to create a working, film-ready car in time for the scene to be filmed in New York City's Central Park during Labor Day weekend in 2011.
Deciding exactly what this film car would look like proved to be a bit of a challenge.
As you may know, Acura didn't officially unveil the NSX concept or even confirm the company planned to bring the car to market until the Detroit Auto Show in January 2012. Yet Acura knew that photos of the film car would hit the Internet immediately after filming its scene in September 2011, four months before the Detroit show. This was because New York City doesn't allow film crews to block public access while filming in Central Park.
(And hit the Internet they did, sparking breathless speculation as to whether the concept seen filming indicated a revival of the NSX nameplate.)
In anticipation of this, Marek and his team took the already-finalized design for the official NSX Concept and tweaked it a bit to throw off people who were on the scent for NSX clues.
The biggest difference is the film car is a convertible while the official NSX Concept is a coupe. The front end of the film car was also deliberately left vague (there are no headlights, functional or otherwise) and the sculpting of the hood and front bumpers is relatively straightforward when compared to the concept shown in Detroit.
Once the design for the film car was finalized, Marek's team had Oxnard-based Trans FX build it. While the name might not sound familiar, TFX are the minds behind such film vehicles as the Fantasticar in the 2007 "Fantastic4 ," an alien spacecraft in "Men in Black II," and life-size replicas of the cars from Disney's "Cars 2."
But rather than build "The Avengers" car from the ground up, Marek's team and the crew at TFX drew on the history of the Acura NSX as inspiration.
Underneath the sleek body panels of the NSX film car sits an original, fully-functional 1992 Acura NSX with more than 250,000 miles on it. The general, mid-engined proportions of the film NSX were strikingly similar to the original NSX, made from 1990-2005. Thus, only minor mechanical modifications were necessary to create a drivable concept for the movie.
TFX simply stripped the original NSX of all its body panels, save for the doors, and built the concept NSX around it. The front panels are made from fiberglass while the rear panels are milled epoxy resin. Cladding was added to the doors so they matched the look of the rest of the car.
The windshield was cut off and a shorter, smaller unit from an unspecified car was mounted a few inches forward of the original position. The car's rear track has been widened to fit the new panels, and wider wheels and tires were also used for a clean look. The "Stark 33" license plate comes from the fact that 33 is Downey's favorite number. "Maybe he's a Larry Bird fan," Marek surmised.
Photos: 'The Avengers' Acura NSX
The original six-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission from the 1992 NSX remain, though the car will probably never need the high gears since any speeds above 20 mph would shake loose the new panels. Also unchanged is the cockpit, save for an updated set of seats.
As such, one can drive this film car and quickly forget its exterior doesn't match its 20-year-old interior. There's nothing to tell you otherwise save for the stares you get.
A few laps around the parking lot revealed this NSX to be an easy drive; the engine, brakes and transmission are all plenty capable. The only change to the driving dynamics is the new body cladding lowers the ride height and widens the turning radius significantly.
But you're still tempted to just floor it and hope no one can catch up to you, before you remember the numerous security guards making frequent laps around the campus.
Thus, this NSX is reserved for the closing scenes of blockbuster superhero movies and light duty at movie premiers with none other than a certain genius billionaire playboy philanthropist at the wheel.
They have all the fun.
Last edited by NSX69; 05-12-2012 at 08:33.
1992 Acura NSX; 2004 Acura TSX
A few more photos of the original silver 91 NSX and the process of making the avengers car.
The Avengers hero car: How to make a one-off Acura
From zero to hero: How a 21-year-old, 250,000-mile Acura NSX became the star of this year's biggest movie
May 15, 2012, by Bradley Horn
It would seem by now that most of planet earth has seen Marvel's new Avengers film. It's made hundreds of millions of dollars at this point and made everyone fall in love with a giant, green rage monster (read: The Hulk).
Still, spoiler alert for those unable to make it to the cinema in the past couple of weeks: Acura vehicles have major cameos. It's all part of a massive, multi-picture deal Honda's luxury arm signed with Marvel Comics to have its vehicles appear in a seemly perpetual slate of superhero films.
For The Avengers though, Acura's gone a step further: Though its screen time is fleeting, we see actor Robert Downey Jr. piloting what appears to be an oh-so-sexy, roofless take on the car brand's recently-debuted NSX concept car.
But you can't buy one.
It's a bespoke machine that only exists on the silver screen. Says Dave Gardner, VP of sales and marketing for Honda Canada: "The fact that it's Tony Stark's, the Iron Man character's car, fits. Over the course of the three Iron Man movies, it's what he does: 'I've got one and you don't.' It fits with the character… Ninety percent of things in that movie you can't do or buy, anyway."
Building the beast
We wanted to know more about the car that made Tony trade in his Audi R8 for an Acura. So we phoned Oxnard, California's Trans FX, the fabrication shop that actually built The Avengers' NSX for Acura.
"We were approached as soon as they knew they had the need. [But] we had to build the car in five weeks." That's Rick Bordonaro speaking, the company's VP of business development.
Acura's studio in Torrance, California handled the roadster's initial design before handing the build over to Trans FX. "We've built a lot of vehicles for the movies over 20 years, two of the Batmobiles, the electric car that was in A.I., a promotional model, full-scale Speed Racer Mach 5. We've also supported Honda in the past with other projects, we did some scale models for them."
One of Acura's overriding demands for the project was that Stark's vapourware roadster be based on an original NSX to keep the creation at least in the family. "The donor car is a 1991 NSX that was found out in Arizona," says Bordonaro. "The car has 250,000 miles. We flew one of our guys out there and he actually drove it back to California."
"The high-mileage wasn't exactly selected, it was for the budget: $18-$20,000. [Still] we needed a perfect donor car because of the fabrication process we were using. It had never been wrecked. It was in good shape… We used 3D data on the original production NSX and the 3D data of the concept from Honda and nested the data over each other to make the design fit perfectly. We had to know when we got on the shop floor that all the work done digitally would fit."
Trans FX stripped the vintage NSX of all it's original sheetmetal, plus removed the windscreen, its frame and the area behind the seats. The naked car was then scanned on a massive CNC router so that the surfaces of the new roadster could be machined directly on the old car.
Roughing it all in
"We took a variety of materials and tooling foams and bonded them to the car in roughed-out block form," says Bordonaro. "We used the CNC machine to make the design… we machined the basic geometry into the foam, then hard coated it, then machined it again. It went on for two days, round the clock."
"After that was a lot of detail work. The front end is a fibreglass clip. We made epoxy front panels from moulds…We had to use a different windscreen. We had to fabricate lenses for the taillights. The car has updated wheels and tires and suspension and brake rotors. We had to update it beyond its 1991 looks because the brakes and calipers were exposed."
Not surprisingly, Bordonaro says the biggest challenge was making the 21st century NSX body take to the 90's-era chassis: "We had to mod the data, transition blending. Our job was to make it fit over the donor car, there where adjustments we had to make. Honda was out here many times throughout the build… The new design is wider.
"We had to use the original doors… the cuts and opens are original. Because of the budget [Bordonaro couldn't disclose the total...], and timeframe, it was the only way to build the car in five weeks. All the mechanicals and hinges would have to be changed. It would have been a huge undertaking."
The finished car
So what's left of the original car, then? Bordonaro says the chassis, engine, drivetrain and interior are mostly original. "We did some paint work on the console, update the seats to some basic racing seats, but because it's a movie car, the interior was going to get little attention in the film, so there was not a lot to do there."
In a twist, The Avengers NSX really wasn't meant to be drivable, yet to create buzz for the film, it's been shoehorned in as a promotional piece. "It was designed and fabricated to not exceed 30 mph [50 km/h]… that was just what the film needed… Unfortunately, because it's an Acura and [Iron Man's] NSX, it's getting a lot of attention, so some of the features we couldn't address initially are coming to light now.
"It's a complete runner, the only thing is, the turning radius is really wide. We had to drop the body to get it to fit the way it's supposed to, to keep the design intent of the concept. It's a little tricky getting it loaded in and out of a trailer."
The roadster's hue by the way? "It's the colour of the Iron Man suit," says Bordonaro. "It's been modified a little."
Sounds like a lot of work for a few seconds of screen time, then. Not to mention, is it a smart decision to associate a luxury car brand with a movie where men in spandex fight space aliens? We'll leave the last word to Acura Canada's, Dave Gardner: "We had that discussion up here. On the one hand, we're talking about premium automobiles that need to be appealing to a certain demographic, but from a personal perspective, I was a fan of Iron Man when I was a kid. I remember the cartoon. I'm 52, so we're going back more than a few years.
"What's interesting is, I have kids 24 and 25 now. This stuff appeals to them too. It's not just nostalgia and remembrance. It's cool now. There's a very broad spectrum of people this film appeals to."
I want that CNC machine.
Acura’s latest concept steals spotlight from the Germans.
Iron Man Audi, ay Big Sean? The Detroit-bred MC may have been too busy writing bars to catch an advance screening of The Avengers; cause that burgundy ‘vert coupe piloted by Tony Stark? Yeah you saw right, the billionaire crime-fighter was back in an ‘Ac.
For those steeped in automotive gossip, the changeup came as no surprise. But for those that don’t follow road rumors and reveals like the Kardashians, the news is still quite thrilling. Acura’s NSX – the modern day classic supercar from Honda’s luxury leg – is finally getting a complete overhaul.
Officially unveiled at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show and publicized in that (now somewhat controversial) Super Bowl ad, the NSX (New Sportscar eXperimental) concept is officially off to its final production stages, to be built in the US and due at dealerships sometime during 2015 – coincidentally the same timeframe an Avengers sequel is scheduled to drop.
Though it’s a bit early to speculate on horsepower, Acura has commented that the refresh will be driven by a hybrid powertrain. And while that may make you purists green with disgust, don’t expect some underachieving tree-hugger. Like the original, the new NSX’s rear wheels will receive power via a mid-mounted VTEC V6, while the fronts will now spark instantly into action from a pair of electric motors. Just don’t get too hung up on the idea of a drop. Right now, production plans center more around the finalized concept, a hardtop coupe; so don’t drop them lyrics too hastily, fellas!
1992 Acura NSX; 2004 Acura TSX