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HondaTuning: 1994 Acura NSX - The Paralllel

16 November 2009
HondaTuning: 1994 Acura NSX - The Parallel


1994 Acura NSX - The Parallel

Building what you can’t have
From the July, 2011 issue of Honda Tuning
By Aaron Bonk
Photography by Shirakiphoto

For many, Honda’s mid-engine, alloy-bodied NSX is the stuff of dreams. For the rest, it’s regarded as little more than an aluminum Civic. The rest are fools.
The NSX’s unique, Formula-derived suspension, aft-driver-mounted engine architecture and unprecedented-for-its-time lightweight construction remain, by all accounts, foreign to Honda’s more utilitarian Civic. One need not make Dan Nguyen aware of any of this, though, as the chronic NSX devotee is mindful of all that makes Honda’s 1 and only supercar the illustrious dream for many that it is. As he came of age, thoughts of one day owning a twin-turbo Nissan 300ZX clouded Nguyen’s head. “Growing up in Vietnam, we loved Honda motorcycles, but I idolized the 300ZX after coming to America,” Nguyen says. Despite all of this, a chance encounter with an NSX brochure left inside a shopping cart at the small grocery store he worked at soon put an end to his infatuation with Nissan’s sports car. Not much later, and after a brief stint in the United States Navy, Nguyen took delivery of his first NSX.

Not unlike Honda’s Civic, the NSX’s road to modification perfection often begins by looking to the brand’s most upper-echelon trim—the Type R. Members of the NSX pantheon worldwide have long turned to Honda’s NSX-R for more performance, improved aerodynamics, even more attractive styling cues. The NSX-R’s rarity, along with the limited quantities and high costs associated with obtaining any of its unique components, prohibit entry-level NSX owners from such undertakings. Despite all of this, assembling an NSX-R replica of his own was simply all too predictable for Nguyen.

Aggressive aero adds even...

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Should Honda’s limited-edition NSX-R fail to excite, 1 need only look to the company’s all but fabled NSX-R GT. Said to be built with a production run that could be tallied up on a single hand, Honda’s Japanese-only, GT-spec NSX is noted as being a more agile, more responsive, quicker version of the already impressive NSX-R. As the story goes, Honda’s GT was built to comply with Japan’s Super GT regulations that call for production vehicle counterparts to each race vehicle. Distinguishing between an NSX-R and an NSX-R GT isn’t difficult. Like JGTC NSX race cars of its day, Honda’s GT wears a similar rear-mounted intake snorkel that feeds directly into its six-cylinder individual throttle body plenum. A more aggressive front spoiler, bulkier rear diffuser and widened body all add to its individuality and elusive nature. Despite the possibility of an NSX-R GT reality, the truth is, for years Honda has failed to address the model’s existence, as has any of the 5 purported NSX-R GT owners at revealing themselves and, incidentally, their cars. Such are the makings for a Hondaphile’s fairy tale if there ever was one.

Examine Nguyen’s replica and his belief or disbelief in Honda’s NSX-R GT becomes evermore inconsequential. The Everett, Washington, citizen and 2-time NSX owner understood that finding, buying and importing an NSX-R GT of his own—real or otherwise—was an unreasonable undertaking. As such, Nguyen manufactured his own. He began by purchasing an NSX that had been partially converted to an NSX-R state. Like any Type R conversion, the blueprint for a proper NSX one is no secret. Aside from its left-hand-drive layout, Grand Prix White exterior and DOT-compliant rear side-marker lights, little else disqualifies Nguyen’s pseudo NSX-R GT from passing as what believers consider to be genuine. Nguyen turned to Japanese NSX aero tuning firm Route KS for the company’s NSX-R GT conversion, which includes the obligatory snorkel, bumpers and wide-body components—the first ever to make their way Stateside. A poor-fitting front bumper foiled Nguyen’s plans of debuting his conversion at 2008’s NSXPO, Portland, event, but a capable body shop and fiberglass craftsman has since ensured Nguyen’s attendance at subsequent gatherings.

Having already traveled down the NSX modification path, Nguyen was just as familiar with what he didn’t want as he was with what he did want. “I wasn’t proud of my 1st NSX,” he says. “So I sold it and got out of the NSX scene for a while.” Nguyen returned triumphantly, culminating with what is arguably the most well-replicated NSX-R GT conversion on Earth. “Regular NSX-R conversions were popping up everywhere,” he says. Carbon composite companies offering replica rear spoilers, hoods, even seats, have slowly diminished the R’s once exclusivity. The likeness of Nguyen’s NSX to that of the GT ensures individuality. For now.

Aside from its Route KS garb, the remainder of Nguyen’s NSX build follows the mythological NSX-R builders’ handbook to the tee. Familiar with genuine Recaro NSX-R bucket seats, Nguyen fitted his GT replica with one of the handful of sets he’s owned—sets that, in a seller’s market, have been known to fetch as high as $20K. Nguyen relied on his own wherewithal and a friend’s shipping container to transport the remaining components Stateside, like the NSX-R mesh engine cover—one of but a handful that exist in North America. Recognized as one of the most difficult NSX-R parts to acquire, Nguyen prides himself in keeping tabs on the few who share his penchant for such Honda rarities and who are fortunate enough to own their share. “If somebody in the U.S. has genuine NSX-R parts, I probably know who they are,” he says. A tight-knit community if there ever was one.

Non–NSX-R bits like Science of Speed 48mm individual throttle bodies and an AEM Series 2 EMS round out the conversion and boost the C-series to a respectable 274 whp. Ask Nguyen what he thinks of the newfound power and he’ll simply tell you “the sound of 6 throttle bodies shrieking in sync is priceless.”

Despite the dollars and hours invested, Nguyen’s the 1st to recognize that his NSX is and always will be meant to see the road. In 2010, he embarked on a journey that began near Seattle and ended in Las Vegas where he brought home “Best NSX-R Conversion” honors at NSXPO, 2010. The following year he traveled more than 800 miles south to San Francisco to secure yet another trophy—Wekfest’s prestigious “Best NSX” award. When asked of his NSX-R GT replica and what exactly he uses the car for, Nguyen says candidly: “I built it to drive it.” It’s as simple as that. Exclusivity and accolades are just by-products of the dream.

Bolts & Washers

Dali Racing cold air intake scoop
Science of Speed 48mm ITBs
DC Sports headers
Comptech straight pipes
ARC titanium exhaust
Science of Speed fuel rails
RC Engineering 370cc/min fuel injectors
TWM fuel pressure regulator
Science of Speed fuel pressure gauge
Science of Speed AN fittings and lines
AEM Series 2 EMS
ACT clutch
SPEC lightweight flywheel
Comptech 4.55:1 final drive
NSX-R coolant tank cover
Kite Garage radiator panel
Dali Racing billet fuse box cover
Mugen oil cap
Odyssey battery
Dali Racing battery holder
NSX-R shocks and springs
Do-Luck front and rear antisway bars
Do-Luck bushings
Custom titanium rear shock tower brace
12.9-inch Brembo slotted rotors, front
RL 4-piston calipers, front
Project Mu pads
ATE Super Blue fluid
Goodridge steel braided lines
Wheels And Tires
Championship White ’02–’05 NSX wheels
NSX-R center caps
225/40-17 Toyo T1R, front
255/40-17 Toyo T1R, rear
Route KS NSX-R GT aero kit
NSX-R HID headlights
JDM NSX front fenders
Procar NSX-R-style hood
Kite Garage NSX-R-style hood scoop
Spoon Sports sideview mirrors
Procar NSX-R–style rear spoiler
LED taillights
NSX-R emblems
NSX-R engine cover
Custom aluminum fender bolts
FAL rear hatch
Custom carbon-fiber intake ducts
NSX-R Recaro seats
NSX-R MOMO steering wheel
NSX-R horn button and ring
NSX-R steering wheel hub
NSX-R instrument cluster bezel
NSX-R shift boot
JDM NSX navigation pod
Pop! Design NSX-R-style gauges
Pop! Design NSX-R-style carpet with NSX-R badge
Custom suede interior
Custom carbon-fiber center console
Custom carbon-fiber door switch panels
Custom carbon-fiber knee bolster
AutoVation billet pedals
NSX Type-S shift knob
Wife, Chris Wilson at Science of Speed, Tony at UMS Tuning, Z Sports Automotive, Charles at Acura of Lynnwood, Lud at www.nsxprime.com, Liem Bui at “the hangout joint,” everyone on www.nsxprime.com

Owner Specs

Favorite Website
Screen Name Or Nickname
NA1/2-R GT
Building Hondas For How Long
Since 2001
Your Dream Car
A real NSX-R GT
Build Inspiration
The ultimate naturally aspirated Honda machine
Current Stable
’04 Acura TSX (Accord Euro R-converted)
What’s In Your iPod/CD/MP3 Player Right Now
48mm ITBs
Greatest Movie Of All Time
Enter the Dragon


AEM Performance Electronics
DC Sports
Science of Speed

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