The 1989 Acura NSX Prototype that debuted at the Chicago Auto Show had a run of the mill engine from an Acura Legend Sedan.
Today marks 30 years since the Acura NSX (or should I say NS-X) debuted at the 1989 Chicago International Auto Show and to celebrate and commemorate arguably one of the most important debuts in Acura’s history, Acura dropped a special press release (Feb 6, 2019) with some very interesting factoids about the NSX’s development. One of the biggest facts that I was surprised to find out was that the original NSX prototype at the 1989 Chicago Auto had an engine from a regular ol’ Acura Legend Sedan.
In addition to the press release Acura also made an equal parts rad and modern mashup video showcasing the original NSX and the fire-breathing NSX that we know today. Here’s that video below.
Almost a year ago I blogged about one of the more interesting moments at the Chicago Auto Show’s 1989 NSX debut when then president of Honda, Tadashi Kume, revved the prototype NSX concept right before its press conference.
When I wrote that blog, I wrongly assumed that the engine of that prototype already was the DOHC VTEC V6 dubbed the C30A as we know it today. Wrong! According to Acura today,
The evolution of the design from prototype to production would be impacted by a late change to the engine specification – from the prototype’s SOHC V6, shared with the Acura Legend sedan, to the production NSX’s bespoke DOHC V6 with VTEC valvetrain…When told that it was only planned for a 4-cylinder engine application, Kume pushed the team for a VTEC V6 design.
Although we don’t know the exact engine underneath the engine cover we do know that the Honda Experimental HP-X concept that became the NS-X sported a C20A engine from the Honda Legend. Perhaps Honda outfitted this more production ready NSX with the slightly larger 2.7L V6 found in the North American market Legend but the consensus remained, the NSX probably needed more power and DOHC VTEC technology was the solution.
All too often, when you’re referring to the C30A engine, someone will invariably mention that this engine code is similar to the engine code in the Acura Legend Coupe and Sedan since they share the same letter, “C.” And although that may be true, the designs of either engine are yards apart with the NSX C30A engine leaps and bounds ahead of the C25A and C27A.
But, for a couple of years before the actual NSX production engine was brought back to the drawing board, the NSX really DID have an engine from an Acura Legend. And that’s a fact.