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How much would I regret getting an Auto (and old ABS, NA1) instead of a 6MT

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29 January 2024
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TLDR: I want a daily that I can make look pretty and not worry about costly maintenance surprises due to wear or parts availability.
Should I focus on 2000+ specimens due to ABS? Should I consider 4ATs?


This is kind of a 2 part dilemma:

I originally set out to look for a 2000+ NA2 to avail of the improved ABS as well as the 3.2. motor. Unfortunately pricing appears to be trending pretty high for these so maybe compromises have to be made.

Is the improved ABS worth the premium or will expanding my search to 1997+ give me some possible lower priced opportunities?
If I forego the improved ABS, should I also be considering NA1s?

With all that being said - How (un)Fun is an Auto NSX. IT's an NA1 motor w/ 4 speeds. With lower demand and pricing to match - would it be sufficient for an around town daily and weekend twisty mountain road warrior?

I'm old enough to brush off any "why is it an automatic" comments and would really focus on show vs go.

@Honcho I didn't see a NA1/NA2 perspective owner area so please move to wherever this should go!
 
As someone with NA1 (JDM gearing) and NA2 manuals, the joy is the razor sharp handling and cornering on rails, which will be be present with either transmission. That and the wind in your hair (if you like that.) It accelerates fine, but any EV will blow its doors off - the joy is holding speed through the corners, and it's breathtaking looks that were so far ahead of their time. I'd say the 20 hp loss with the auto and the slight decreased acceleration caused by the 4 speed falling out of VTEC is pretty trivial for this classic car. They're all very enjoyable - get the transmission you want, the majority sold in Japan were automatics! If you want an auto, then go for it. Getting one to save $ is difficult to comment on since everyone is in a different financial situation - only you can judge that. The big decision is whether you want the targa or not. The older ABS is definitely not as good, but I'd say it's fine. The issue is parts availability if anything goes. From what I understand, the upgrade to NSX 2000+ ABS is now gone, and the S2000 ABS update is getting to be NLA shortly as well? Also, the 3.2 (C32, NA2) only came with the 6 speed. Autos up to 2005 are still NA1 with the C30 engine.

That said, evaluate your time frame for this ownership because there are starting to get to be some parts are hard to get already. I already buy most everything from Japan because it seems like the only thing Acura Canada stocks is air for refilling the tires, but even the Japanese parts supply will not last forever. A pretty daily with no maintenance surprises is maybe a new car.

I think sport shift was introduced in 1994, so all the years you're talking about would have that.

Hope that helps,
 
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Is the improved ABS worth the premium or will expanding my search to 1997+ give me some possible lower priced opportunities?
Can't answer that question because we do not know what the $ value of the premium is. Price out the cost of a used S2000 ABS and the wiring harness required to integrate the S2000 ABS. Add $1000 - $2000 for sundries. If the price premium exceeds that value then the premium is not worth it if the premium is just based upon the merits of a 2000+ ABS system. To put this in perspective, I have had my 2000 since 2011 and the ABS has only ever operated once - to brake for a dog. I would not put a lot of value on that.

In terms of braking performance, spending more money on high quality tires probably has more value in terms of reduced stopping distance and that is something that you can do on any model year (notwithstanding rim size issues). Most owners probably age out their tires long before treadwear becomes a consideration
If I forego the improved ABS, should I also be considering NA1s?
I don't understand this question. All NA1s and all NA2s up to 1999 will have the older design ABS system. If you are willing to forego the revised ABS system that opens up all NSXs from 1991 to 1999 which includes NA1, NA2, 5 speed, 6 speed and automatics.

With all that being said - How (un)Fun is an Auto NSX. IT's an NA1 motor w/ 4 speeds. With lower demand and pricing to match - would it be sufficient for an around town daily and weekend twisty mountain road warrior?
The Automatic will not be un-fun. The later cars have a sport shift function which allows you to shift the gears if you are so inclined. WT covered most of this; but, this is now a vintage sports car and you should probably be looking for the vintage sports car driving experience since you don't appear to be heading to the track. Think a much more reliable and comfortable version of an Austin Healey 3000. About 40 years ago I had a first hand chance to observe that a Lamborghini Countach was just as slow as a Volvo 242 GT in rush hour traffic and three times as painful to drive based upon the number of lurching starts the Lamborghini driver was making. The Auto will definitely be + fun if your around town daily involves any traffic.

As an observation, my 2000 has the 6 speed. When the transmission is cold I find it to be a very notchy borderline unpleasant gearbox - the synchros appear to be very slow. When it is cold I shift very deliberately to avoid grinds. Once it gets stinky hot it shifts wonderfully; but, on a day when the ambient is 10C it takes a long long time to warm up, long after the engine has come up to temperature

There are other factors to consider beyond the transmission and ABS which changed by the model year
- T roof. All early cars are coupes.
- OBDII arrived with the 1995 model year. If everything on the car is perfect this may have no value. If something goes off the extended error code set compared to the earlier cars can help with diagnosis. The ability to view OBDII PIDs data in real time with a scan tool can help with a lot of diagnostics.
- Wheel sizes changed during the production run. However, all the wheel sizes probably have issues if you want to find exact size tires
- The interior leather changed during the production run. I prefer the perforated leather on the later cars.
- The air conditioning switched refrigerants in the later models. A consideration if your system develops a leak in the future.

Purchase the best cared for NSX that you can afford and worry less about whether it has the 2000+ ABS.
 
The AT is just as crisp as the MT for any non track driving. It is really good.

The ALB vs ABS. Meh, it has no concern for me. It's pretty much crap IMHO. My wife's Legend/RL with SH-AWD was phenomenal.

I'm from West Coast and currently in NZ. I've had an NSX for 25 years and a daily driver for 15. Daily spirited driving on mountain roads with a CTSC. In NZ it rains weekly, but the roads are migrating to anti car philosophy.

The only time the ALB kicked in was when I was doing a solenoid exercise on sandy roads. It might be useful on ice, but that is rare in So Cal (though it did snow in Malibu a few times).

If you are concerned about ABS and AT, then I recommend the NC1.
 
TLDR: I want a daily that I can make look pretty and not worry about costly maintenance surprises due to wear or parts availability.
Regardless of transmission, I suspect a 30 year old NSX is probably the wrong choice for a low cost worry-free daily driver.
 
Ooh, I missed that requirement.

Maintenance on the NSX is cheap enough. However, any repairs are going to be expensive, possibly cripple it for years, or even total out the vehicle. A smashed side window will salvage out the NSX. A couple of Aussies waited 2 years with their cars as museum pieces wanting a transmission gear and were looking into custom cutting a gear before Honda shipped them.

Japanese OEM suppliers don't deal with the public and don't license their molds or tech. It's just a remote black box that doesn't like to deal outside of Japan.

The lack of parts is very concerning. If you don't work on your car yourself, then the NSX is probably not for you. Clutches, transmissions, and timing belts are getting to be rare old tech.

You might consider a Lotus with a Toyota engine. A 1965 Mustang, 1967 Camaro or a 1960's Corvette restromod might be a good alternative as body and interior parts are widely available and inexpensive. American OEMs will allow licensing and specs are widely available. One can build these 50-60 year old cars completely from scratch using new parts today.
 
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For 97+, you can still do a S2000 ABS unit as an alternative to the OEM 00+ unit.

I would get into an NA2 over an NA1 as long as you can handle the cost of entry. The gearing and engine are nicer. Nicer exhaust manifold, nicer interior, bigger brakes, bigger wheels, etc. Worth it to me. I got a NA1 and poured a ton of money into it. Wish i'd purchased a nice condition NA2.
 
I own an NA1 automatic. It's great. All my other cars are manual. I wanted an auto. Never regretted it once. And, it's a very capable trans.
May add a 5spd NA1 at some point but perfectly happy with the auto.
 
I had a chance to drive my car (MT) and a 97 (AT) back to back on a twisty road and I remember thinking how great it would be to have an auto NSX as a daily driver. As someone has said if you really want an NSX buy the best documented and well maintained one that you can afford. ATs are usually more casually driven so there's gently used ones out there usually at a lower price point than a manual.
 
One issue to consider with the NSX as a daily is insurance. Your insurance company may under value a 30 year old Acura. So many people get collector/agreed value insurance, but you typically aren't allowed to daily drive it and must have another car.
 
Don't worry- this is the right forum for this discussion. I'm also glad to see it has not devolved into the "IF IT'S NOT MANUAL IT'S NOT A REAL CAR!!!!" nonsense.

I've owned and driven both the AT and MT NSX versions. The AT is fantastic. You get all the same NSX feels. The trans shifts crisply and with a sporty authority. It's more like an "automatic-manual" than a true slushbox like you'd get on a Buick Roadmaster. It uses clutch packs to engage and disengage the gears, more like the PDK and GR6 DCT units on modern sports cars. It's really fun- especially with the 94+ "Sportshift" setup, though you'll rarely use it. The AT computer is very good at selecting the right gear. It reminds me of the R35 GT-R in terms of feel and behavior, thought the Honda is less clunky. ;)

You won't notice the power differential unless you track the car- the horsepower loss only shows up at the end of the straight. The AT actually makes more torque than the MT below 5,000 RPM due to the cam profile. It feels "snappier" off the line than the manual cars. A "sweet spot" would be a 2000+ AT. You can get them at a pretty good discount, but they have all the updated NSX bits (big brakes, ABS, suspension tweaks, interior, etc.). 2000 or 2001 if you like pop-ups or 2002+ if you like the bug eyes.

Keep in mind that the AT requires specific maintenance to prevent a catastrophic failure. The internal filter and shift solenoids (including screens) must be replaced around 100,000 miles. Doing so will allow the clutch packs and torque converter to last a long time. You want to prevent line pressure loss as much as possible to avoid slam shifting the clutch packs.
 
One issue to consider with the NSX as a daily is insurance. Your insurance company may under value a 30 year old Acura. So many people get collector/agreed value insurance, but you typically aren't allowed to daily drive it and must have another car.
Both my NSX and S2000 are insured through agreed value policies but the only conditions I had were that I had to be over 25 years old and own a primary vehicle that has a typical insurance policy. I asked about daily driving in the summer time and they didn't have any problems with that or fine print that could void my insurance.
 
1993 AT JDM/RHD owner here. Yes, I prefer if it was a manual, but couldn't find one I could afford in the same condition as this AT was. But I do not regret buying the 4AT one bit. It's just as much fun to drive as any of the manual sports cars I currently own (Lotus Esprit V8, Honda Beat) or have previously owned (Mini Cooper S, Thunderbird SC). As mentioned, the suspension and handling is the same in either transmission, and that is what this car is famous for. And regarding slow shifts with the 4AT, you can install aftermarket ECU that change the shifting performance quite a bit, I'm currently running a Mine's Racing 4AT ECU which revs much higher than OEM before shifting gears and changes the timing slightly but also requires 100 RON Octane fuel.
 
TLDR: I want a daily that I can make look pretty and not worry about costly maintenance surprises due to wear or parts availability.
Should I focus on 2000+ specimens due to ABS? Should I consider 4ATs?


This is kind of a 2 part dilemma:

I originally set out to look for a 2000+ NA2 to avail of the improved ABS as well as the 3.2. motor. Unfortunately pricing appears to be trending pretty high for these so maybe compromises have to be made.

Is the improved ABS worth the premium or will expanding my search to 1997+ give me some possible lower priced opportunities?
If I forego the improved ABS, should I also be considering NA1s?

With all that being said - How (un)Fun is an Auto NSX. IT's an NA1 motor w/ 4 speeds. With lower demand and pricing to match - would it be sufficient for an around town daily and weekend twisty mountain road warrior?

I'm old enough to brush off any "why is it an automatic" comments and would really focus on show vs go.

@Honcho I didn't see a NA1/NA2 perspective owner area so please move to wherever this should go!
Did you decide or are you still deciding?
 
It's quite serendipitous that this thread got 2 updates today..the same day I closed a deal and ended up with an Auto...but not an NA1,NA2 will post when I have her!
 
Congrats on the new purchase! You will love it!

However, all automatics are NA1 with the C30, unless someone did an auto-swap on a NA2, which would be a bad idea since the auto can't handle the 3.2 C32.
 
@RYU That was a consideration!
What I will say at this point is that the NSX community is awesome and has connected me with so many like minded individuals and enthusiasts - in turn allowing me opportunities that you just can't find otherwise.
 
Im not sure what everyone likes so much about the nsx auto trans, maybe everyone is referencing the newer trans with the paddle shifters.. but I own a 91 auto (that ive now converted to manual), and the trans shifts and performa literally like any other automatic trans from the 90’s. The shifts were not quick or “crisp”. Shifted just like an accord, and unless you were really mashing the pedal, it would shift gears before 3000rpm. And no it was not slipping or anything, it had fresh fluid and shifted fine..but again, just like any other honda automatic of the time. I dont know, but to me it wasnt fun at all. Sure its still an nsx that youre driving, but to get any fun out of the car you pretty much would have to be pedal to the metal. If you want an auto its best to stay away from the early ones if you actually want it to be fun.
 
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