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Open letter to Mr. Klaus - second generation NSX suggestion

18 January 2004
Dear NSXPrime and Mr. Klaus,

I wanted to post my thoughts and suggestions on the second generation NSX in the hopes that Honda Motor Company occasionally looks through this forum.

I don't post much, but I am a real fan of the NSX and am always impressed by the wit, energy and exuberant excitement in the NSXPrime community. Below is an open letter to Mr. Klaus and the second generation NSX development team on my experiences of ownership and things that I think would contribute to making the next NSX a hall of fame car. If you have any suggestions for improvement or sections where you disagree with my findings, I'd like to discuss in an open forum.

Finally Brian, if you have the ability to forward the letter to Mr. Klaus, I would greatly appreciate it. :smile:

Thanks in advance everyone and looking forward to contributing.

Max - GeNSX


Mr. Klaus,

“The day I stop dreaming is the day I die.” – Soichiro Honda

For the past 10 years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience of owning, driving, learning about a truly unique and outstanding vehicle in the form of a Berlina Black ’91 NSX. What make the superbly designed and executed vehicle stand out even more is the excellent group of enthusiasts in the community. I had an opportunity to attend NSXPO 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed your talk during the factory tour and during our conversation at the dinner event. First and foremost, thank you for your involvement in the NSX community. After listening, reading, and reflecting on the next generation NSX development, I commend you and your team on developing a first rate successor to what many consider the best Japanese supercar ever produced (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLJ2lw0bCkk ). I am writing this letter in an effort to express my analysis on the universal appeal of the NSX and to suggest ways to infuse the spirit and intangible qualities of the original NSX into the current project.

Purchasing a luxury performance vehicle an emotional exercise. I submit that the clamor for manual transmissions, demand for air cooled Porches from the late 80s, and muscle cars that fetch $90k on TV auctions are based on an emotional rather than a rational decision making process. Even the original NSX far exceeded the legal driving limits on all but a few select superhighways in the world. Performance capability is just one aspect of owing a luxury performance vehicle such as the NSX. The original MR2 with its T-square drafting tool inspired styling or a formula Ford would provide a purer track experience. However, the NSX balances stunning visual shape, creature comforts, solid performance, and reliability to provide a platform where track junkies, tuners, daily drivers, and weekend cruisers can enjoy and sometimes modify the vehicle to meet their interests and needs sets it apart.

I had a chance to talk to Larry Bastanza during NSXPO 2014 and asked him which component in the NSX was particularly done well and why he liked it so much. I was surprised to hear his response. “Balance. The overall balance on how the suspension works with the body structure, engine power, and driver ergonomics. The NSX is superbly engineered to bring balance to the entire vehicle.” The answer hit me like a ton of bricks because I realized that although I had examined the interesting aspects of the NSX, I had never stepped back to look at it as a cohesive, tightly integrated, and balanced work of art. Like a beautifully balanced knife, the engineering principle of a vehicle focused on complete harmony in the driving experience is really what NSX owners have discovered and rediscovered as we fall in love with the vehicle over and over again. In Freudian terms, the NSX hits your id and super-ego: NSX owners are initially smitten by the visual shape, the song of the V6 at at 8,000 RPM, and telepathic steering, but we learn to grow and love the NSX for its purity in design, reliability, and balance. It all comes together to sublimely soothe our emotional and rational needs as it moves, natch, slithers down a twisting road.

So why is balance in execution so critical to the success of the second generation NSX? The horsepower wars have produced midsized family haulers with more power than the initial NSX and turbocharged economy cars like the STi or Evo have power to weight ratios nearing or exceeding that of the original. More and more vehicles are using electronics to enhance safety or performance. Some are being used to enhance well engineered attributes, but in reality, most electronic aids are used to compensate for the lack of mechanical capability (ie: electronic LSD) or technology du-jour that will quickly be outdated by Moore’s Law in 18-36 months (ie: infotainment storage capacity). As in CGI movies, spectacular visuals cannot substitute for a good story line, character development, and a well written script. Similarly, Apple products may be inferior in processing power, expansion ports, and memory, but the integrated computing experience has changed the landscape of computing. Companies providing luxury goods (ie: Acura, Apple, Louis Vuitton), as defined by products where increased costs results in decreasing marginal utility, have figured out that pursuing low cost strategy to increase sales risks getting into a race to the bottom that necessitates compromises based on costs. As a case example, look at the most recent Microsoft commercials versus Apple commercials. Microsoft’s marketing is centered on specifications and how their product is better than a competitor. The Surface Pro compares itself with the rival product by highlighting how the product has a better processor, detachable keyboard, and a stylus. Apple commercials never mention the competitor or the hardware, rather they focus on ideas and concepts such as creativity, lifestyle, family and music. In this construct, Apple isn’t worried about the competition because they are setting the standard as defined by what they think are their strengths. Horsepower and technology is similarly limited by the car model refresh cycle and by Moore’s Law. For clarification, I am not advocating a wheezy under powered engine or Spartan electronics in a luxury vehicle. Rather, instead of adding every available technology or just turning up the boost for more power, everything in the vehicle should be scrutinized to look for simpler solutions and tight integration to provide a unified driving experience.

I recall reading that the cockpit layout and canopy design of the original NSX was inspired by the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. Having flown over 70 hours in the F-16, I can clearly sense Mr. Uehara’s inspiration, vision, and design philosophy in the NSX’s design execution from the way the door rest and center console gradually tapers upward to the primary instrument display, the superb outward visibility, and in its light and responsive chassis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_NSX). Albeit late into the development, I would like to understand what design principle inspired the next generation NSX. If not yet determined, I believe that it is not too late to incorporate an aspirational vision for the final tuning of the chassis, motor, and interior/exterior touches. Aircraft development, being much more classified and complex these days, may not be the best example but I think an agile and purposeful design philosophy like the EuroFighter Typhoon would be preferable to a design-by-committee, jack-of-all-trades programs such as the Lockheed-Martin F-35 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/26/opinion/Rough-Ride-for-the-F-35.html?_r=0 ).

Another interesting project during the final stages of the original NSX development involved inputs from Aryton Senna. He provided inputs to stiffen the chassis and to find the right balance for a well-rounded supercar (http://www.roadandtrack.com/go/car-culture/how-ayrton-senna-made-the-acura-nsx-exceptional ). As Honda re-enters the Formula One program by becoming an engine supplier, I think that having Alonso and Button, with 3 championships under their belts, providing tuning feedback would be highly beneficial for marketing and development. This developmental project would be a logical choice, but how about some out-of-the box thinking? I submit that Keiichi Tsuchiya would make an excellent addition for final tuning. The “Drift King” owns an NSX-R and understands the importance of balance when developing vehicles for the track and the street. He’s managed race development in JGTC GT300 and GT500 series, evaluated supercars and street tuned vehicles in Best Motoring, and raced as a driver in the JTCC and Japan Formula 3 series. I believe that his unique experience in a wide cross section of performance vehicles and cachet in the import tuning world would contribute immensely to the development and promotion of the second generation NSX.

Mr. Klaus, thank you for your involvement and contributions to the NSX community. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. I wish you and your team the very best in the New Year and during the cumulating stages of development of the newest New Sport eXperimental.

“Success is only one percent of your work, and the rest – bold overcoming of obstacles. If you are not afraid of them, success will come to you itself.” - Soichiro Honda


Max Lee – GeNSX
[email protected]
How did you get 70 hours in a F-16?

As a flight surgeon in the Air Force. Boy do I miss those days of flying!

Cheers and looking forward to the unveiling of the new NSX model today.
2015 NSX,
Yeah, you're right. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough knowledge of the new NSX and hadn't had a chance to meet Mr. Klaus until recently.
Also, all's not too late! Tuning the suspension, brake balance, tire compound, engine power delivery characteristics can still be refined. Aryton Senna's inputs were pretty late into the original NSX development as well.
Appreciate your feedback. Thank you.
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