What makes a Gen 1 NSX-R better?

RYU

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Lately the early NSX-R has started to grace our shores. Every respectable journalist, podcaster, and owner of whom have driven the NSX-R seem to rave about it and equally dislike the standard USDM NSX at the same time. Just this year I've heard of 3 accounts in my normal media consumption that speak quite highly of their experience with the NSX-R. I don't tend to listen to "hype" media so I'd like to think these folks know what they're talking about. I haven't driven one yet (NSX-R), and quite frankly, I'm not a fan of driving a RHD car in a LHD country, but after 13yrs of ownership and several iterations of own NA1, i'd like to think i've stumbled upon the NSX-R recipe in one flavor or another.

While I believe we can all agree that the pinnacle of NSX-R development was the 02+ spec R, the NSX-R was available for most of the car's life cycle in Japan. Less than 500 were ever made.

So what makes the R different? Let us put this prime hive mind in overdrive and come up with a list of parts.

Here's what I can recall.
* maintained the manual steering on all R's, but did it maintain the same ratio and quickness?
* 4.23 final drive and shorter gearset on the 5 speed
* Mr. Yamamoto was telling me that the rubber bushings on most of the R's suspension is different and of higher durometer
* all were coupes
* Is it a stich welded chassis? or somewhat better reinforced like the Integra Type R?
* Showa dampers have an insane amount of rebound. About 2-3x more than the stiffest rebound settings on my JRZs.
* Rumor is that the engine is blueprinted to higher tolerances than a standard C30/C32. Is this true?
* All the aero updates claiming "negative lift" in the 02+ spec
* 00+ had a different ABS pump/logic
* Momo steering wheel
* lighter wheel package in all years
* Round shiftknob
* Alcantera interior for most years
* Bucket seats - which I'm too big for. They were super tight for me with a 34 waist. They also sit too tall for me and a helmet.
* Front sway bar was stiffer, but I can't recall if rear was stock or perhaps the Type S spec
* lightweight deletes, such as radio, engine lid, and some had the AC delete correct? In total almost 100kg lighter

I believe this article specifies the changes which i'll read later. My point with this post is to review how easy it is (or not) to update a standard USDM spec to R spec.

art-mg-hondansxr2d.jpg
 
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There are also lots of "little things" beyond the commonly-listed changes that don't make it into the press releases.

Gen 1 NSX-R
  • Many of the wire harnesses are different (i.e., lighter) because the car doesn't have power locks, audio, etc.
  • Several of the harness plugs in the engine by are shielded against heat.
  • The front brake dust shields are ventilated.
  • The muffler is different (internally).
  • The clutch pedal has a different geometry and engagement point.
  • The left quarter panel is different (deletes the antenna hole).
  • The rear spoiler is lighter due to thinner material and a different internal construction
  • The engine is indeed balanced. First, piston/rod assemblies are weighed individually and matched to a very tight tolerance. Next, the entire rotating assembly (including clutch) is dynamically balanced. This results in a highly responsive engine.
  • The ECU map is different. Timing is advanced in many spots (for use with JDM high-test gasoline).
  • The tire compound is different for all available brands (Dunlop, Yokohama and Bridgestone).
  • Alignment settings are different.
  • Front and rear motor mounts use higher duometer rubber.
  • Different left mounting bracket for the upper bulkhead trim (due to no TCS computer).
  • Circuit-spec brake pads.
  • A/C ducts have special shields.
  • Rear chassis bar is thinner and lighter.

I'm probably missing a few things. Also, the heads were allegedly ported and polished by hand (along with the Integra Type-R's heads) in the engine assembly area at Tochigi. Another unconfirmed change is the throttle body does not have the TCS stepper motor.

You can do all of this to your US-spec NSX coupe, except for the wire harnesses. On my car, I went with CF side scoops and B-pillars to offset this weight difference.
 
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The na1 nsxr also had a special aluminum front bumper beam. I have one on my car, but can provide pictures if people would like to see them
The lightweight rear spoiler was NOT later put on other models. Just na1 r and type s variants as well as zanardi. (I have one and compared its weight with 2002, 2003 and 2005 Usdm models)
Single pane partition glass
Special mount for ignition to accommodate engine cover prop rod for special engine cover
Special lightweight rear engine cover
Special enkei forged wheels (I have a set and the neutron white color is amazing). I am an idiot and managed to get all variants of wheels (nsx r, type s, etc)
 
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I drove a real na1 R around the block.

- NSX-r seats are surprisingly comfortable, I am 5'4" 132 so it fits me like a glove. I did not realized I was in bucket seat until trying to get in and out.
- The knob is smaller than my type s knob, I just found that out.
- The alcantera interior is nice. All I saw was $$ signs.
- Love the NSX-r gauge cluster
- Kept hitting the wipers to change lanes :)

- The rest I feel right at home since I have the same steering wheel and transmission.

I think the NSX-R package is very nice and it is definitely something I am working towards (besides the OEM nsx-r suspension). The good thing is we can fit NSX-R parts into our cars piece by piece slowly to replicate 90% of what the R is about. The last 10% might be the difference in engine balance and bushings?

Can one unofficially name their LHD NSX a type R if they fit all type r parts into it and import a NSX-R engine to drop in? I know the shift lever and some other RHD specific items will not be transferable like the dash.
 
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The lightweight rear spoiler was NOT later put on other models. Just na1 r and type s variants as well as zanardi. (I have one and compared its weight with 2002, 2003 and 2005 Usdm models)

So Zanardi has a lighter weight spoiler? interesting! May you share the weight difference?
 
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9519E025-A1A0-481A-9AE8-AEBB9390122B.jpg9749B7D5-7558-45F8-848E-4B308AE8D784.jpg pics of the na1 nsxr aluminum front bumper beam



Mr Hugo. Yes the zanardi I believe has the spoiler. The weight difference is small. Like 4lbs. Also I loved sitting in my nsxr seats, but getting in and out they dig into the back of your leg
 
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The lightweight rear spoiler was NOT later put on other models. Just na1 r and type s variants as well as zanardi. (I have one and compared its weight with 2002, 2003 and 2005 Usdm models)

This surprises me since na1 r, type s, type s zero, zanardi, and 02+ all had the same P/N suffix in the catalog (900ZZ). The other USDM's were (000ZZ). Of course now all have been replaced with (901ZZ) in the catalog so back tracing is difficult to know when the switch happened and if the (900ZZ) listed for 02+ happened after initial release. In Japan it appears that all 02+ cars were always the (900ZZ) part number.
 
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Nsx noob. I validated it with Honda corporate, and by actually weighing spoilers. Your part number information from the catalog was not accurate versus what Honda looked up for me in the corporate parts database
 
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Nsx noob. I validated it with Honda corporate, and by actually weighing spoilers. Your part number information from the catalog was not accurate versus what Honda looked up for me in the corporate parts database

The definitive answer on this is definitely good information/trivia to have.
 
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- The rest I feel right at home since I have the same steering wheel and transmission.

I think the NSX-R package is very nice and it is definitely something I am working towards (besides the OEM nsx-r suspension). The good thing is we can fit NSX-R parts into our cars piece by piece slowly to replicate 90% of what the R is about. The last 10% might be the difference in engine balance and bushings?

Can one unofficially name their LHD NSX a type R if they fit all type r parts into it and import a NSX-R engine to drop in? I know the shift lever and some other RHD specific items will not be transferable like the dash.

You can replicate the R engine by having a competent engine shop (i.e., one that works on real race car engines- not some tuner shop) replicate the Honda balancing process. It's called "balancing and blueprinting" the short block. It's not cheap.

I think you can definitely make an "unofficial" R and think it is a great idea. I am doing that with the S Zero, after all. The nice thing about the NSX is that all of the trim models start out with the same unibody basic frame and Honda is kind enough to continue to supply nearly all the parts you would need to convert it to be nearly indistinguishable from the real deal. IMHO, to make it a true R, you really need to do the R suspension. The NA1 version is still available new. It's such a part of the personality of the car- it wouldn't feel like an R without it.

I think if you work in all of the R unique parts (at least those that fit a LHD), even without the B&B engine, it's gonna be really, really close and it will deliver the R experience for you. A 1,270 Kg NSX is just a thrilling car.
 

RYU

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In regards to the dampers and springs, there's an undeniable elegance to using the OEM Showa NSX-R parts. However, on my roads and as a car I wouldn't hesitate to grab keys for in almost any condition, I'd have to think long and hard if I want something that harsh. Actually "harsh" is probably an understatement. Those dampers are like rocks. If I had a NSX-R on the side or a 2nd NSX it would make total sense to have a secondary NSX with those dampers but man... I'd still have a tough time considering it and I have many times.

It's a great point though.

You can replicate the R engine by having a competent engine shop (i.e., one that works on real race car engines- not some tuner shop) replicate the Honda balancing process. It's called "balancing and blueprinting" the short block. It's not cheap.

I think you can definitely make an "unofficial" R and think it is a great idea. I am doing that with the S Zero, after all. The nice thing about the NSX is that all of the trim models start out with the same unibody basic frame and Honda is kind enough to continue to supply nearly all the parts you would need to convert it to be nearly indistinguishable from the real deal. IMHO, to make it a true R, you really need to do the R suspension. The NA1 version is still available new. It's such a part of the personality of the car- it wouldn't feel like an R without it.

I think if you work in all of the R unique parts (at least those that fit a LHD), even without the B&B engine, it's gonna be really, really close and it will deliver the R experience for you. A 1,270 Kg NSX is just a thrilling car.
 
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In regards to the dampers and springs, there's an undeniable elegance to using the OEM Showa NSX-R parts. However, on my roads and as a car I wouldn't hesitate to grab keys for in almost any condition, I'd have to think long and hard if I want something that harsh. Actually "harsh" is probably an understatement. Those dampers are like rocks. If I had a NSX-R on the side or a 2nd NSX it would make total sense to have a secondary NSX with those dampers but man... I'd still have a tough time considering it and I have many times.

It's a great point though.

It's funny you mention the ride. I've had some seat time in a few cars with the NA2 R suspension and found it quite comfortable, even over rough roads. I got to drive a NA1 R equipped car (just for a little bit at a local meet years ago) and it was a little stiffer feeling, but still ok. I feel like suspension "harshness" is very particular to the driver. For example, I think the Koni yellows are a jackammer even on the "softest" rebound setting, but many owners use these as a replacement for the OEM shocks. Same with the Tein Flex, which I think feels like you're riding on cinder blocks. Yet I think the R shocks are relatively compliant and people say I'm nuts. Go figure.
 

RYU

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It's funny you mention the ride. I've had some seat time in a few cars with the NA2 R suspension and found it quite comfortable, even over rough roads. I got to drive a NA1 R equipped car (just for a little bit at a local meet years ago) and it was a little stiffer feeling, but still ok. I feel like suspension "harshness" is very particular to the driver. For example, I think the Koni yellows are a jackammer even on the "softest" rebound setting, but many owners use these as a replacement for the OEM shocks. Same with the Tein Flex, which I think feels like you're riding on cinder blocks. Yet I think the R shocks are relatively compliant and people say I'm nuts. Go figure.
Another good point. I should qualify the one I tried. It was the stiffest 2005 spec R dampers. In fairness it's one of those suspensions that really come alive and into it's own say above 45mph. At city speeds <45mph I particularly did not enjoy it at all.

I have considered revalving my dampers to mimic the R dampers for both compression and rebound at least in the max settings, but I just can't bear to do so as I currently find no use case with my current setup. For sake of authenticity (if that's the right word), if I was building an R clone, i'd probably do it if I was doing everything else in there like the softer sway bars.

Maybe I should find an NSX shell and start a 5yr+ NSX-R build
 
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Another good point. I should qualify the one I tried. It was the stiffest 2005 spec R dampers. In fairness it's one of those suspensions that really come alive and into it's own say above 45mph. At city speeds <45mph I particularly did not enjoy it at all.

I have considered revalving my dampers to mimic the R dampers for both compression and rebound at least in the max settings, but I just can't bear to do so as I currently find no use case with my current setup. For sake of authenticity (if that's the right word), if I was building an R clone, i'd probably do it if I was doing everything else in there like the softer sway bars.

Maybe I should find an NSX shell and start a 5yr+ NSX-R build

Were those 2005 shocks my set? :) I think a legit NA1 R LHD project would be a LEGENDARY Prime thread. Problem is, even shells these days are going for stupid money. I stumbled onto my 92 auto as my "shell", though if I had to do it again, I would start with a MT car.
 
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NA1/2R chassis are stiffer from spot/stitch welding.

Never heard the fuel/ignition maps to be different, aside from standard Japan spec to use the 93 Ron fuel

Might need to ask the expert @SpeedyPartsJapan for the minute details


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RYU

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Were those 2005 shocks my set? :) I think a legit NA1 R LHD project would be a LEGENDARY Prime thread. Problem is, even shells these days are going for stupid money. I stumbled onto my 92 auto as my "shell", though if I had to do it again, I would start with a MT car.
now you're making me feel old and forgetful lol
 
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Tbh I think that most people (Americans especially) would be sorely disappointed with a LHD NSXR since it’s purely a bunch of circuit-focused upgrades without any additional power umph (biggest complaint from Americans is the NSX doesn’t have enough)

There are many things about the R that are very nice, but as a whole can be replicated and improved upon.


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[MENTION=20915]RYU[/MENTION] to your original question, I think it boils down to these factors:

  • 1,270 kg curb weight - the NSX platform just LOVES weight reduction. It makes every aspect of the car feel better, but the way Honda did it counts too because they maintained the balance of the car.
  • 4.23 gearing - the torque multiplying effect makes the car feel livelier
  • Suspension - not just the shocks, but all of the different rubber bushings throughout the car too
  • Interior - the seats, steering wheel and gear selector, alcantara, gauges, etc give it that "special" feel. Adding Sparcos to your regular NSX just isn't the same. Honda did a good job adjusting the bits that, as a whole, give you that feeling you've got something special.

I think these factors take a car with an already high level of driver engagement and put it through the roof.
 
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NA1/2R chassis are stiffer from spot/stitch welding.

Never heard the fuel/ignition maps to be different, aside from standard Japan spec to use the 93 Ron fuel

Might need to ask the expert @SpeedyPartsJapan for the minute details


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I think you are thinking of the Integra Type-R, which used seam/stich welding and additional gussets to stiffen the unibody. AFAIK, on the NSX there was no separate assembly line for R chassis with additional welding stations. All NSX unibody components are spot welded and seam welding is used in some places too (along with panel adhesive). Maybe [MENTION=25737]Kaz-kzukNA1[/MENTION] can chime in and clarify on the structure.

now you're making me feel old and forgetful lol

Face it, we're the old men of the forum now. :)

Tbh I think that most people (Americans especially) would be sorely disappointed with a LHD NSXR since it’s purely a bunch of circuit-focused upgrades without any additional power umph (biggest complaint from Americans is the NSX doesn’t have enough)

There are many things about the R that are very nice, but as a whole can be replicated and improved upon.


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I agree. For all the squawking about no R in the US, most American customers would have probably hated it. Going back to the 50's, here in the US it's all about magazine racing. The NSX-R would have been lambasted as a half-assed upgrade with no additional power. Its lightweight, driver-focused concept would have escaped most US buyers (it kinda did with the regular NSX too). Now, of course, we all realize how great it was and pine for it.
 
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Face it, we're the old men of the forum
I agree. For all the squawking about no R in the US, most American customers would have probably hated it. Going back to the 50's, here in the US it's all about magazine racing. The NSX-R would have been lambasted as a half-assed upgrade with no additional power. Its lightweight, driver-focused concept would have escaped most US buyers (it kinda did with the regular NSX too). Now, of course, we all realize how great it was and pine for it.

Im beginning to resemble that remark.

A very good thought about power and weight. I remember meeting a guy who’s comment about my NSX was it should have had a V-8. He was all wrapped up with the Lexus / Toyota 8 cylinder hype.
 

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I'm thinking back at the western auto journalist of recent past who have raved about the NSX-R. It's old news in Japan obviously. The one you all know best is Jethro Bovington (check out his latest podcast with TheSmokingTire re the NSX-R). He's one of the few journalist I respect still. That profession has just been so watered down in the Youtube era where the dillution is taking down all the authentic reviewers down with the ship. "They" love the NSX-R but equally hate the standard NSX. Jethro in particular stated the original NSX is "vague and snappy".

I don't think these guys have ever driven a properly modded standard NSX. I wouldn't even consider mine "properly modded" but it's getting there I suppose and even then it's built with all my preferences heavily weighted in the build. The majority of the reviews I see online are from modded NSXs, with, i'm sorry to say... questionable mods, from a purely handling standpoint. I know i'm going to get a lot of hate for that. Sorry, not sorry. It will probably take some kind of a Singer company to bring respect to the standard chassis because despite how objectively good the car you and/or I built, it's rare that a respectable journalist would ever go on the limb like that and it's rare for an individual to build an NSX that cohesive and good - i.e. the balance that is the NSX-R I suppose.
 
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I agree. For all the squawking about no R in the US, most American customers would have probably hated it. Going back to the 50's, here in the US it's all about magazine racing. The NSX-R would have been lambasted as a half-assed upgrade with no additional power. Its lightweight, driver-focused concept would have escaped most US buyers (it kinda did with the regular NSX too). Now, of course, we all realize how great it was and pine for it.

I kind of agree. The S2000 CR isn't on the same level, but it also didn't get a boost in power and initially I think many people were disappointed by this. Obviously worth a pretty penny now. However, I think the NSX-R would have reviewed well for the magazine racers. According to Best Motoring its about .6 secs faster the 1/4 mile compared to a regular JDM NSX. In the early 90's that's a pretty significant difference. Then of course it had the shorter gearing (JDM+4.23FD) vs the US model.
 

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I personally think proper gearing supersedes all power adders in my opinion. Been there, done that. I also think consumers, specifically enthusiast, these days have had heads bashed in with how bad (tall) the GT4 gearing is that most have been conditioned to think more highly of this mod IMO.
 
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