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Reflections on 20 years of NSX ownership

29 March 2005
Phoenix, AZ
I've updated the car page on my site with my NSX story. I'd love feedback. Many of you here have helped me over the years and you may see yourselves in the story. One caution, I'm a retired writer meaning there's no editor, so it runs on a bit. If it were a magazine story, it would never make it past the first cut. But for this audience, there will be much to make you smile.

Here is the link: https://stevelarsen.net/cars/

Again, it would be fun to hear what you think or any feedback at all.

Thank you!

Steve Larsen
2002 Yellow NSX
Awesome, Steve.

You and I joined nsxprime at the same point in time, and are still care-takers of our 2002=newers. Way to go!
That was a great read and an awesome journey through your NSXs history. When I have time today I'm looking forward to reading through the history of your other cars.
Totally awesome. I'm pretty sure I've checked that out before but interesting nonetheless. It's refreshing to see some old school owners still around after all these years.
Thank you! Interesting we joined so close toether and that are NSX's came, I suspect, from the same part of the US.


Awesome, Steve.

You and I joined nsxprime at the same point in time, and are still care-takers of our 2002=newers. Way to go!
About looking through and reading about my other cars ....

There are some genuine similarities between my 1969 Lotus, 2002 NSX and 2014 McLaren - beyond them all being yellow. (I expanded on this a good deal, but here is a shorter summary)

- Weight - as in light: Colin Chapman of Lotus had a thing for weight and is famous for saying “Simplify, then add lightness!” The same applies to the NSX and McLaren. Colin Chapman is to light-weight cars what Dumbledore is to magic. He pointed out that adding power makes you faster on the straights, but that subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere. He also said that any car which holds together for a whole race is too heavy and was heard to complain that when he left the factory for a few days he’s come back to find his cars had added weight. When I rebuilt my Elan I found the frame to weigh just 76 lbs. The body, all fiberglass, is around 200 lbs. The entire car is about 1,550 lbs. The McLaren’s frame, all carbon fiber, is about 275 lbs., and the entire car with fluids is just over 3,000 lbs. Watching the BBC documentary on the creation of the MP4-12C you hear repeatedly of the fierce commitment Ron Dennis and his team had to make the car as light as possible. Frank Stephenson, the 12C designer said, “Weight is the enemy.” Sometimes it seems almost silly. For example, it doesn’t have a gas cap because, well, it adds weight. And of course, the NSX was designed with a similar emphasis on being light. The car is pretty much all aluminum, from the engine to the chassis to the body. It weighs just 3,000 lbs. as well.

- The Ayrton Senna connection: One of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. Ayrton Senna may be one of the strongest connections between the three cars. Senna drove for Lotus between 1985 and 1987 before moving on to McLaren in 1988, winning many Formula One races on his remarkable driving skills. In addition to his driving, Senna was renowned for his ability to provide very specific technical details about the performance of his cars on the track long before the advent of telemetry. His sense of the car under racing conditions was unequaled along with his ability to convey that to the engineers at Lotus and McLaren. So it’s extra special that Senna played a key role as a test driver for the NSX. In 1989, Senna was in Japan testing his Honda-powered McLaren and while there, drove and evaluated the NSX prototype for Honda, which resulted in the chassis being fine-tuned and stiffened by over 50%. Later, at the first dedicated Japanese test facilities at the Nürburgring, he provided further input to help Honda’s engineers fine-tune the NSX. Senna’s perfectionism helped create a masterpiece and Senna ended up owning several NSX’s personally. But that isn’t the end of it. Senna convinced Ron Dennis and Gordon Murray to see the NSX as well, which they did. Murray, who was just beginning his design work for the McLaren F1, has spoken about how influential the NSX was in his thinking, especially the suspension design, driver comfort and road visibility. Murray has said that from the moment he drove the “little NSX,” all the benchmark cars – Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini – that he had been using as references for the development of the F1 just “vanished from my mind.” In the BBC documentary on Gordon Murray and the F1, he reveals that other benchmarks discarded included the Ferrari F40, Lamborghini Countach, BMW M1, Porsche 959 and the Bugatti EB110 as he felt the NSX stood head and shoulders above them. Of course the McLaren F1 would need to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX’s ride quality and handling would become their new design target. He copied the NSX aluminum suspension and drive-by-wire for the F1.

- The Gordon Murray connection. Renowned as a car designer (McLaren F1) and for a string of Formula One title wins for Brabham and McLaren, when asked about his dream car, said: “I’ve actually got my dream car, a Lotus Elan. I’ve never driven a better sportster. It’s just what I like in a car, and has the best steering feedback ever. The F1 was close, but the Elan nails it. It looks pretty, too, and makes a nice noise. I had one in 1970 when I first got married and I’ve had two since.” Murray grew up in South Africa where he first fell in love with the Elan. When he immigrated to Great Britain, his goal was to work for Lotus. Lotus had no openings and so he went to Brabham, the British racing car manufacturer instead. And of course, as every NSX owner knows, Murray modeled the F1 on the NSX.

How these cars are different: The Elan is just about half the weight of the other two. The Elan has a fiberglass body, the NSX is aluminum and the McLaren is mostly carbon fiber. Two of them, the NSX and McLaren, were designed to be daily drivers while at the same time offering the option of some pretty incredibly high performance on tap any time you want it and succeeded quite well at that. One just happens to have more than 350 horsepower than the other. And of course they’re very different ages and as much as I love older cars and the ability to work on them, the handling, performance, reliability and comfort of newer cars is just remarkable. The Elan is an incredible experience to drive. It is so precise and requires your full attention. Then you get in the NSX and you appreciate things like air conditioning, a bit more room, not having to check the oil and water levels all the time. Plus, you can take off on a 2-3 day drive and be totally comfortable the whole time. The NSX, until you put your foot in it or take it on the track, handles just like a Honda Accord in some ways. Now the McLaren has the same easy-to-live-with comfort boxes checked, but the performance is so intense it’s hard to describe. It’s the first car that has ever scared me, it is so fast.

So, why these cars are yellow: Well, I like yellow. But that’s another connection. According to Frank Stephenson who designed the MP4-12C for McLaren, the volcano yellow color on the 12C is taken from Ayrton Senna’s helmet. If you look closely you can see a bit of green inside the yellow, which is a tribute or nod to Senna.

Full, non-abbreviated write up, with pictures, is here: https://stevelarsen.net/cars/ (Just scroll down a bit)

Great write up... lol and here I am with a 911 and wanting a McLaren. I think we both know the answer is to make more room!
fun content...I'm shopping for lifts now..:redface:
Awesome, Steve.

You and I joined nsxprime at the same point in time, and are still care-takers of our 2002=newers. Way to go!
Well, its time to let mine go. If you've forgotten, its a 2002 NSX-T. I'm putting it on Bring-a-Trailer. Everything is uploaded and ready to go. I expect it will be live the in early May, 2023.


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