The Ultimate NSX?</br>Esprit’s Time Attack Monster
The everyday exotic

With Honda and Acura preparing to reintroduce the NSX to the market after more than a decade’s hiatus, now is a better time than ever to look back on the original NSX – a car which many consider to be one of the greatest Japanese cars of all time.


In the late ’80s and early ’90s, cars like the Skyline GT-R, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 helped establish Japanese makers as global performance threats thanks to things like turbocharging and complex AWD systems. But when it came time for Honda to build its performance flagship car, they decided to things differently.


Rather than taking an established platform and filling it with high performance technology, Honda created a brand new machine from the ground up. While it didn’t have turbos or AWD, it would instead be a highly advanced mid-engined halo car with plenty of Formula 1 DNA. It was called the NSX, and the rest is pretty much history.


The motoring press and enthusiasts quickly fell in love with the car, praising its style, performance, driving dynamics – and perhaps most importantly, its simplicity and reliability. What they had created was an exotic car with the dependable heart of a Honda.


And while the NSX might have the look and feel of an Italian exotic, we’ve seen over the years that tuners have had no issue tearing into the mid-engined machine trying it to maker faster, cooler and better. Of these modified NSXs, few are more exciting than the time attack machine from Esprit in Japan.

Full evolution

At a glance the car looks like a full-on racing machine. And well, that’s pretty much what it is. But rather than just appearing like this, Esprit’s NSX has slowly evolved into the mad machine you see here – all in the name of shaving fractions of seconds from its lap times.


This car was once a factory fresh NA1 NSX Type S, but in the quest to go faster, every square centimeter of the car has been altered in some fashion. And while the wide-body is rather extreme looking, it’s nothing compared to the work done beneath the skin.


The car is still powered by a double overhead cam Honda V6, but that’s about where the similarities to a stock NSX stop. For starters, the car’s CA30 V6 has been flipped 90 degrees and now sits longitudinally in a custom-built subframe – the idea of course being better weight distribution along with more space…


… to fit the custom-built turbo system, which uses a pair of Trust T517S snails.


With one turbocharger on each side, everything is set low in the chassis – further aiding in the car’s weight distribution.


Aside from the turbochargers, the V6 has been fully strengthened internally and is running custom Esprit cams and an Esprit intake manifold, along with a custom dry sump oiling system.


The trunk area meanwhile is filled entirely with a custom twin-entry intercooler set-up. Sorry, no space for luggage here.


The result of all this engine work is 690hp and 496lb/ft of torque. These might not be mind blowing figures by today’s standards, but we all know that time attack is about so much more than just making a bunch of horsepower.


The engine is mated to a six-speed Hewland sequential gearbox which delivers both quick shifts and plenty of durability during those all-important time attack meets. From there, motive force is fed out through a heavy duty OS Giken LSD.


Aside from the custom rear subframe, the chassis has also been spot-welded for additional strength and fitted with a 12-point roll cage for safety and rigidity. Here you can also see the custom carbon fiber firewall that shields the cabin from the engine bay.


Elsewhere, the car has been fitted with a set of custom-built HKS Hiper Max Pro coilovers, while a combination of Endless six-pot and Brembo four-pot brakes help bring the NSX to a stop with ease.


As for wheels, the car is running a square set-up with 18″x9.5 Prodrive GC-010Gs all round. Tires are the grippy Bridgestone Potenza RE11S in 265/35R18  at each corner.

Aero dreams

The exterior of the car has been completely reworked, and it now runs a full Esprit wide body conversion developed for maximum aerodynamics. Carbon fiber can be found all around, with the hood, diffusers, wing, doors, headlight covers and more all using CF construction.


Here you can see the custom NACA ducts which send cool air directly to the rear brakes.


With all of the carbon fiber bits and other weight savings, the NSX tips the scales at a scant 1,100 kilograms, or about 2,400 lbs.


The cockpit of the NSX is basic and functional, with a single Bride Low Max bucket seat, a Momo steering wheel and a STACK dash unit.


Here you can see the HKS EVC boost controller, P-Lap II timer and a monitor connected to rear bumper camera ( a necessity given the car’s lack of rear visibility).


With all of these elements working under the control of Mr. Tarzan Yamada, the car has laid down record-holding 2WD lap times in Japan and has also made its international debut at Australia’s World Time Attack Challenge.


While the jury might still be out on the upcoming NSX, builders like Esprit are continuing to prove that the nearly 25-year-old original still has plenty of tricks left up its sleeve. This story is not over.



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There certainly ain't no replacement for this NSX. While the new car marries old-school functionality with modern technology, this original NSX is still in a class of its own.


I saw this car a few weeks ago. Was really awesome. If i remember right it was having a few problems. But very cool.


I've work on one specific NSX for a while, from the ground up learning all the way.  Nothing is really easy on this car, save for the way it drives when it's a 100%.


I'm surprised to hear they were running 265's instead of 295's. I just assumed all the unlimited teams were running max sizes at the WTAC.

turbo BEAMS ae86

Loved esprit since the hot version vids.  nice one.  I know the new NSX will be a amazing machine but i wish the regulations of today would be gone and they could pursue the goals they really wanted to, like the old NSX..light weight..


an independent throttle setup would be the icing on the cake, and might improve response (no plenum to fill first after throttle opening ;-) ) Plus ITBs and Turbos combined are just badass, hillclimbers swear on it


How jaded are people now the 690hp is not considered a lot...


wheatgod Yah Tarzan had it on the track for a few laps at Okayama, it came in, went back out for a lap, then parked.  Maybe it was just doing shakedown stuff. Not sure. It spent a lot of time on the jackstands. It and the Kakimoto NSX were side by side in the garages. Was really awesome to see them side by side.


@AlexMason It's most likely caused by the Speedhunters' collective addiction to Gatebil cars.


Those crooked HKS stickers are killing me! its the first thing I saw, how have none of the trolls noticed yet?


Oy, Dino when's that OuterPlus coming along? Wasn't it promised in one of those "upcoming this month" posts awhile ago


That's a beautiful machine.


such a pretty car. i like how they flipped the jgtc-ish!


Is it just me or is it smiling at me? Very cool car though! :D


wheatgod Looks like Hewland's NLT Transaxle


@Philipp Ulrich I think the only ones being jaded are the speedhunters crew.  Most of us haven't lost site of the fact that horsepower isn't everything, I think the SH guys are just rediscovering for themselves and mistakenly think we're on the same wavelength.


Chris Nuggets Yeah man, delays and stuff, but I'll get there eventually!


@flushpoke lol


Acc wheatgod Like an RB26 then :)


majik16106 They were having issues at WTAC with the rear tyres overheating in about 2 laps. Lots of sliding around Tarzan said


meal stub It's a happy car!


d_rav That's how Honda should have oriented it in the first place!


speedhunters_dino majik16106 Interesting. I think whatever was going on at Okayama was more mechanical but it may have been suspension stuff. I dont think it was tires heating though.. as it was raining at Okayama that day. lol. Maybe they are just having some trouble getting the suspension dialed in all together.


Heh I used to have that exact wheel but 18x9.5 on my sti in the same car/wheel color combo! :D  This is quite a machine.


This car will never die, amazing piece of machinery. BTW, I'm guessing the NSX II will have about three times more torque than the first NSX, but I also wonder if it will become as tunable as the first one.


staryjaponiec Probably...


I like how the third picture seems to be all about the Esprit sticker on the bumper cover when it`s actually hinting at a longitudinally mounted transmission. Well done.


Why the square wheel/tyre setup? Were they like that from factory? I assumed they'd always be at least a little wider at the rear...


Unusual position for the airfilters, set very low in the engine bay, no cold air feed? maybe that's why it has very large intercooler? Interesting vehicle none the less. One day i will have a day......


Seeing FXMD's time at Buttonwillow, I think it's way beyond the Esprit NSX


Are there any pictures of the custom gearbox?


Aryton senna's vision ftw. For me, the ultimate nsx is yet to be seen, but throughout the world some other monster nsxs have also risen. Please also look for some at pikes peak and time attack events...