King Of The ‘90s

It’s time for another I Am The Speedhunter submission, and this time around Trevor Yale Ryan takes us on a tour of a tastefully modified NSX from Northern California that’s equally at home on the track as it is on the street.

The first version of this car rolled onto the showroom floors the same year I was born. Long before my interest in cars really took off I remember the excitement I’d feel when spotting one cruise through my neighborhood. I also remember my disappointment when the car wasn’t in the popular racing games; even in the digital gaming world it seemed unreachable. The NSX was one of the first vehicles that ever really caught my attention: there has always been something truly special about this Honda.

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Even into the 2000s, the mighty mid-engined NSX sat at the top of the Honda family. My friend Tony Pham, like so many others, always had his eyes on one. His car knowledge accelerated when he began building and racing Civics and Integras on the track ages ago; he’s been a long-time member of the Honda family. But a few years back Tony made up his mind that he would acquire the coveted top of the line model before the market made them unattainable in the States.

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He sold his prized K20-swapped 2000 Civic hatch and started to save (and save, and save). After a long search, he found the one that would become his own: a single owner 1996 NSX-T. The previous owner was a Hollywood screenwriter who originally purchased the car new after his first successful movie.

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A true enthusiast, the screenwriter was very attached to the car. But some investment opportunities arose that encouraged him to pass it on to another worthy owner, along with a minor issue.

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While the exterior was extremely well-maintained the engine was not as lucky – the other motivator for the Huntington Beach owner to part with the Honda. The original engine was blown and the car was not running when Tony found it.

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Typically it would be a hard sell, but the owner had everything required to get the car back on the road in superior form. Tony took the leap of faith.

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Like so many others, though, the stock power output and styling never quite satisfied him completely; Tony began to build the car the way he had dreamed of doing as a kid. With a supercharged engine replacing the defunct original unit, Tony enjoyed track days here and there along with countless mountain runs and cruises with friends. After a couple years of ownership, he bit the bullet and the car underwent a major overhaul last winter. Finally, Tony’s vision was nearing completion.

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We picked up the NSX from Carzwerk on a dark and stormy day, freshly detailed and protected by a Kamikaze Enrei Glass coat. Right before dark, the sun just started to peek out behind thick and angry clouds; the original shoot location was cancelled due to flooding and we were beginning to run out of daylight.

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Somewhat worried that we would get dumped on by the uncharacteristically wet California weather, we set out with the NSX. We were not disappointed. I was taking in the details of the car as the sun went down and simply didn’t know where to start. Diving into the drivetrain, we can immediately see the results of Tony’s hard work and dedication.

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An NA2 3.2L NSX engine with forced induction from a 2.3L Comptech supercharger safely delivers 9psi of boost through a Laminova air-to-water intercooler.

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Coupled with the rest of the upgrades and an AEM Infinity 6 engine management system with X Series sensors, the setup makes 417 horsepower to the rear wheels. Good for plenty of grins in a car that weighs in around 1,400 kilograms.

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A rare RFY Yamamoto carbon intake accompanies a Comptech lower intake duct which feeds the motor the air it needs through a Hitachi drive-by-wire throttle body. RC Engineering 550cc injectors deliver fuel to the engine, all controlled through the AEM unit. The spent fuel is then pushed out of the engine into Comptech headers, a Taitec GTLW exhaust, and Pride test pipes.

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Let’s just say when I was trying to get a photo of the exhaust during warm-up, I almost fell over when Tony gave it the gas. It’s not too loud when cruising, but the quick-revving V6 is truly explosive when you need it to be. It’s also worth mentioning that Tony finally got his custom black and gold CA plates that read ‘COM TAM’ or ‘Broken Rice,’ a traditional Vietnamese dish. Sadly, they were held up in the DMV when we went out to shoot.

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Even before the extra work Tony put into the car, the original owner, who shall remain unnamed, felt similarly. After completion of the original build, the screenwriter whimsically wrote the following about the car: “And the noise! Dear God, the infernal sound of it. Tectonic… like the plates of the planet growling beneath the oceans; keening, like harpies in orgiastic choral abandonment. My monster: 413rwhp, 317 torque… kitten-like to 3000rpm, Godzilla-like past 4000, Death Star-like beyond 5000. More would be insanity. Lamborghinis pull onto sidewalks, Porsches hide in the bushes.”

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With the upgraded engine pushing power through a short JDM gearset, the car is extremely quick on the street as well as the track. Fresh off the alignment rack at Trackspec Autosports, a later trip to an OnGrid track day at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California with another NSX completed the shoot.

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Other upgrades to the drivetrain include an ATI super damper, Science of Speed oil pan baffle, Radium Engineering catch can, and other little details like the Feel’s oil cap. The more closely you look, the more goodies you find.

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Looking at the dynamic areas of the car, the suspension has been completely reworked as well. Lowering the car are KW V3 coilovers with Swift Springs and some Stanceparts air cups to help over speed bumps; because why not have the best of both worlds?

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A Viair tank and compressor handle the air cups with Dali Racing front and rear sway bars to help keep the car flat through the twisty bits. LoveFab upper and lower front chassis braces help stiffen things up along with a three-point custom rear custom rear targa brace. Handling and stance are further improved with Cedar Ridge Fabrication non-compliance toe links in the rear.

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The car sits on RAYS Volk Racing CE28 wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenzas; Tony fit 17×9.5-inch wheels with 235/40 tires up front and 18×9.5-inch 265/35s out back. They nestle in nicely with some help from a subtle but extensive kit up front that we’ll get into shortly.

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Stopping the forward motion, the Honda is set up with a Brembo GT1 big brake kit front and rear with slotted two-piece floating rotors. With all the extra power, it’s nice to know a sufficient and reliable setup is there to slow you down, especially on track.

Moving on to the inside of the car we have even more high-end upgrades. NSX-R gauges keep the driver informed about how the machine is running, along with a Zublin Engineering Smartshift setup connected to NSX-R shift lights.

Other NSX-R goodies include the shifter boot, topped off with a Mugen 5-speed shift knob. A Momo Tuner is coupled with a Works Bell Rapix GTC flip hub and completed by a billet A.S. Motorsports Honda Horn. Downforce Carbon Alcantara NSX-R seats finished with custom red stitching and NSX-R buckets keep you in place at speed while Science of Speed rails keep the seats where they belong. A Science of Speed short hub and Zanardi shifter stalk help finish the driver feel along with Autovation pedals.

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Luxuries include front and rear cameras as well as a Pioneer AVIC 8000NEX. But that wasn’t quite enough, so it’s topped off with a JDM navigation pod and a 7-inch IPS screen with custom digital gauges for the sole passenger and driver to enjoy. Zanardi floor mats keep you cozy and make for easier cleaning of the car. A JDM/Euro center console switch plate has been fitted with a variety of custom switches and the red stitching is consistent through the custom dash, tying the tidy interior together.

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Finally, the exterior. Subtle yet aggressive, the Advance JP front half bumper starts the car perfectly.

Cantrell Concepts fenders, totaling 60mm wider than the factory setup, help house all the rubber neatly beneath them. A beautiful and rare Gruppe M hood adorns the NSX giving it an even more exotic feel and a Morimoto HID kit complete with flush S2000 side markers finish up the front end.

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OEM Honda NSX side skirts, door caps, and rear valance from the 2002+ version can be found around the edges of the car while custom carbon fiber mirrors hitch rides on both sides. A Pride carbon rear engine vent and carbon side vents continue the theme back towards the Downforce NSX-R wing and DF-R diffuser.

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JDM NSX tail lights with an ARCLight JGTC LED kit further elevate the dreamy video game retro feel of the car. Back up front, an ARClight LED kit is used for the turn signals.

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JDM emblems and a GREYMRKT winker cover set, along with countless other small touches finish the car off with functional aesthetics.

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All in all, it’s a very complete build. Tony has looked into every single area of the car and made improvements. Of course, there are many differing opinions when it comes to building a car.

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Plenty of fundamental philosophies exist in contradiction to each other: form versus function, grip builds or drift builds, canyon carvers and hard-parked show queens. This NSX strikes the perfect balance. It hasn’t deviated from the factory intentions but instead enhanced them.

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You can easily make it across the parking lot to pick up some eggs, you can take it to the track, you can take it to a car show filled with hard-parked princesses. It’s an exotic all-rounder that would make anyone happy.

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Again, stealing words from the screenwriter who purchased the car new in 1996: “Even the terminally jaded valets at the Peninsula Hotel have run out from behind the parked array of Zondas, Royces, and Bentleys to walk around the beast and give thumbs up. An orbital ring of excitable moons, smiling as widely as me.”

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Regardless of your fundamental philosophy behind how or why you build a car, isn’t the end goal simply to bring a smile to your face? This Honda does just that.

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto
TYRphoto.com

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58 comments

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1

WOW! What a beauty. I love everything about this car. Wouldn't change a thing!

2

My thoughts exactly! This NSX is definitely is definitely "SpeedHunters 2017 Car of the year" material.

3

"Wow" is all I can say about this thing... The attention to detail on this gem, is really outstanding. Everything done looks almost as if it were done that way by the factory, and that's really hard to do, when it comes to modifying a car.
I can't really think of another NSX that comes close to this particular one. I pretty sure I've scrolled through the pictures of this thing...3 or 4 times so far, so that should tell you how much I personally love this NSX.

4
ReallyForeverAlone

Normally I don't like changing the interior center console on 90's cars to include updated tech, but the way this guy has done it is just flawless. It doesn't look tacky and looks like it could have come that way from factory.

5

This thing is not a trailer queen for sure!! what a beautiful build and ride. mods and execution is perfect for an all around beautiful street car.

6

Yes! Right there!

THAT'S how you set up a wheel and tire package!

7

Lovely images. Looks like a computer game! The NSX sits so well, too. Thanks for sharing Trevor.

8

Thank you Ben! Happy to be part of the site after reading for so many years.

9

Perfection on wheels ...
Why today designers can't do something like this ... too much sake? or lack of sake?

10

Ridiculously clean

11
Dino Dalle Carbonare

What a stunning example!! NSX is king

12

.....and down goes the wallpaper... up with this red beauty. Damn its very well built.

13

Hot damn. Tony and Carzwerk should offer this as a package for other NSX owners.

14

Now that's an idea!

15
Christian Clark

Loving the Hondas this week. This car deffo should be one of the best of 2017 (if SH ever does that sorta thing again)

16

Just WOW, in my opinion a perfect build. Not that he did just what I'd do, I just think his vision and results are amazing and make an amazing car better. THAT is often hard to do when you have something as good as an NSX to begin with, and he's done it.

17
Chris Nicholson

Wow! Fantastic NSX build. Great car, and awesome pictures and write-up. Nicely done!

18

More iamthespeedhunter!

19

It's perfect...

20

Reading all the comments what more can one say. This car is of the hook, one of the best i have seen on Speedhunters this year.

21

Taking one of the best cars in the world and making it better is a hard task. However, this NSX is pure heaven. Subtle changes, tasty modifications, tech upgrades which don't stand out to much from the 90's interior. Tony, big thumbs up from The Netherlands! Trevor, the same goes for you! Maybe the weather helped, but the ambiance in this article is popping of the screen. Thanks Speedhunters from publishing this story, already made my day even though I just rolled out of bed.

22

Much appreciation from abroad!

23
DerbyCityGinger

Wow! This car sent shivers down my spine, what an amazing ride!

24

OH MAH GAWD!! Seriously the best looking NSX I've seen in a long time. It's perfect. Not overly done, not clapped out in any way, not stanced, not stickered up, not flared out with plastic...........perfect. Holy hell. Proper, proper build. It's simply amazing. For some reason it just reminds me of when I was getting into imports in the late 90s. Most of the cars I can remember were featured in Super Street and Sport Compact Car. They had the right 'stance' because there wasn't much going on as far as 'moar low' back then. Slight lowering, subtle aesthetic changes, nice wheels, tires proportioned to the width of the wheels, and some power under the hood. I miss that stuff. But yeah, this car is amazing, and i usually don't even like red cars, hahaha.

25

I grew up around imports in the 90s! So I know exactly where you are coming from :).

26

So good, though if you're gonna put wide fenders then why only 235/265 tires?
Really really nice job checking all the boxes with quality parts throughout. Basically perfect street machine!

27

Thanks man! The NSX stock came with tiny tires (215 up front 245 in rear). The car is actually VERY small and even with the wider fenders the height increase of wider tires would require me the grind the tub of the chassis. Something I definitely did not want to do to this car! I would love to run at least a 255 in front and 305 in rear :)

28

Moar rubber = more better (-8

Seriously nice ride

29

I just replaced my wife and children on my background to this car........

30

Car of the year

31
Jordan kinberg

The only car I would trade my fd3s for.

32

This is the most insane and complete car I have seen in a long long time. It is simply perfect in every aspect, and it truly enhances the original without changing it's essence, something which is extremely rare and difficult to achieve. Massive respect to the owner - he must be as special as his car to have such a vision and go through with it. This is what 90's JDM in 2017 should look like. This is what SpeedHunters Car of the Year 2017 should look like. Amazing stuff.

33

Super Clean Car. Does anyone know what color or paint code this is?

34

Super Clean Car. Does anyone know what color this is or what paint code?

35

This is the factory formula red tri-coat from Acura. I did not want to repaint over the beautiful finish!

36

Oh damn really? Must just be the camera filter cause it looks way better on your NSX!

37

Yup. I do have the car coated in Kamakazi Enrei coating. It gives the car an extra shine!

38

Improving a legendary car correctly. Best NSX on this side of the planet.

39

Great car, but equally great photo set! Wicked job.

40

The People of Little Saigon Westminster Approve!!! Com Tam all day long!!!

I hate to generalize but I just got to say... the Viet crowd here in Cali loves us some Honda!!! NorCal San Jose has a good scene and very similar to the south...Come down to Westminster - Little Saigon here in OC and it's like stepping in the first Fast and The Furious Movie!!! And Yes, they did film the temple scenes here in Little Saigon - Westminster / Garden Grove CA. Johnny Tran....Stereotype much haha... Any given evening you can hear the roars from all the fixed up import Love roaming the hood streets of Little Saigon! There's a few NSX down here too... if you know the scene...this NSX is the Dream!!!

The Honda's this Week on SH are Awesome!!!

41

Much love! I have a bunch of nsx buddies in the Socal area!

42

Beautiful car.. But, the GT-R is and always will be, king of the 90's..

43

Also a great car, but very different philosophies behind each one. NSX has always been a personal favorite.

44
Michael John Macfarlane

Absolutely mind blowing that this is 20yrs old. It's just perfect.

45

In my top 5 favs featured on SH for sure...what a car!

46

Unbelievable! The last shot shows off the taillights perfectly. The modernized interior brings a tear to my eye.
Thanks Trevor and congratulations to your friend Tony on creating a masterpiece.

47
Ariel Ramírez

Look at the sun in the background!
How far (from earth) is it?
Do you really belive is 93 millions miles away?
YouTube: flat earth

By the way, beautiful car!

48

Holy hell, how stupid do you have to be to believe that the earth is flat? I sincerely hope you're just kidding!

Beautiful car.

49
Ariel Ramírez

Do your own research, don't be afraid.
you'll be glad to prove me wrong.

YouTube: flat earth.

50
Matthew Everingham

Amazing vehicle. This car and story belong on Speedhunters. Well done Trevor, awesome job! :D

51

Thanks! That means a lot coming from you, I appreciate it.

52
Benjamín Inostroza

I so very rarely comment on SH, but this mother of all possible NSXs just can't stop shining. Stunning build.

53

So, what's the point of the article? WHY is it the "King of the 90s"?

54

by far one of the best car I've ever seen. Also, one of the cleanest & perfectly executed street x track daily car. Kudos to the owner, Tony for building this sweet red NSX. When I saw the header image of an NSX using them JGTC LED tail light kits, I know this is not your typical, mildly tuned JDM supercar.

55

Best NSX I've ever seen period. That damn thing is perfection.

56

Really great in depth feature, some incredible photos also!!

57

one of the most truly immaculate cars i've laid my eyes on.

58

Didn't think it possible to improve on motoring perfection. Glad to be proved wrong. You have taste Tony. Never bothered with screen wallpaper until today

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