This past Sunday, on my way back to the paddock after shooting track-side action at Twin Ring Motegi while Blake and Ron drove RWB Violetta in the idlers 12 hour race, I took a little detour. There was no way I could miss sneaking in a quick visit to the Honda Collection Hall.
I can’t even remember how many times I’ve visited this this amazing museum since it opened back in 1997, but I can tell you that it never gets old.
With the 20th anniversary celebration this year, the Honda Collection Hall has some cool cars on display, and I plan to share those with you in two other posts. But when you take a tour through the production car floor, it’s the Type R trio that captivates enthusiasts.
I just love thinking back to the ’90s when Honda was creating a number of performance machines. 1992 was the year the NSX-R was first released, setting the tone of the red Type R emblem for decades to come. But back then things were far more simple, functional and to the point. These days, most car manufacturers get lost in the details, often details that even don’t need to be there. The NSX-R defined what a spartan car should be. There were hardly any noticeable changes to the exterior, aside from the Championship White paint that was offered and staggered, lightweight white wheels by Enkei.
Oh, and a subtle pair of badges on the doors.
Inside, the red carbon-Kevlar Recaro seats gave it away, but there was also the trademark titanium shifter and the suede-wrapped dashboard to set it aside. However, the real differences were skin deep; small refinements here and there that defined what the ‘R’ badge would come to mean during the course of the next 10 years. The 3.0L V6 was blueprinted and fitted with titanium connecting rods; the changes were small so Honda never declared any more than the 280PS the engine made in regular NSXs, but the motor revved more freely and felt better across its whole RPM range. A shorter final drive (4.062 to 4.235) was also added. Suspension was given much attention with stiffer springs, new dampers, tighter bushes and chassis bracing to stiffen the aluminum shell up. 120kg of weight was lost thanks to ditching the sound deadening, the heavy electric seats, and some electronics.
The same recipe was applied to the DC2 Integra Type R in 1995. No longer was the R moniker reserved for the prohibitively expensive NSX (they only made 483), it was now totally accessible in a front-wheel drive package. The refinements made the car another legend and with it the B18C, which in Japanese trim developed 200PS. There was even a four-door DB8 Type R variant for the domestic market.
1997 was the turn of the EK9 Civic with the screaming B16B at its heart. The philosophy of stripping weight, tightening the chassis and handling was one that would then be applied to the next (and final) generation of the Integra (the DC5), not to mention the various Civics we’ve seen throughout the years, and of course the daddy of them all – the NA2 NSX-R of 2002.
It would be cool if the Honda Collection Hall created a proper Type R lineage display with every single generation of the red-blooded models lined up one after the other. That said, it was still a very fun few minutes thinking back how it all started, drooling over the simplicity of the NSX-R, and wondering if or when a Type R version of the new-gen NSX will ever become a reality…
Dino Dalle Carbonare