A Rare Car from a Mainstream Brand
The Acura NSX: a newer classic.
There’s something special about a rare car. A rare car has the ability to draw stares and twist heads from just about everyone, regardless of his or her car knowledge.
You just know one when you see one.
And for some reason, there’s something a bit more special about a rare car that was built during an era of beige, cookie-cutter, reliable sedans. Sure, a Plymouth Roadrunner is rare ... but so is a Plymouth Valiant.
Richard Bookler, of Newtown Square, has one of those newer rare cars. It’s a 1992 Acura NSX. And, if you want to feel old, the 21-year-old coupe wears classic Pennsylvania tags. (I suppose it’s possible to put classic tags on a rarely-driven Corolla of the same vintage, but it just wouldn’t seem right.)
I think Bookler’s Berlina Black NSX qualifies as a rare car for the era. Honda sold fewer than 9,000 NSXs worldwide during the lifespan of the car, which ran from 1991 through 2005, according to nsxprime.com, and sold just 1,271 in 1992. If you happen to want a manual equipped black-on-black example like Bookler’s, good luck. Honda made 288 of them. A quick search for NSXs within a 500-mile radius on autotrader.com yields 11 cars.
Though the NSX looks like an exotic, it doesn’t have exotic car problems. (Just imagine maintaining a similar-looking 20-year-old Ferrari 348.) Bookler, who bought the car when it was 1-and-a-half years old from a neighbor for $49,000, said he drives the car on weekends and will run errands in the car. He drives it all winter, as long as there’s no precipitation; when he’s not driving it, it rests happily in a heated garage.
Power comes from a 3.0-liter V6. While that configuration may not sound particularly interesting, the engine sounds interesting. The 270-hp mill rests just inches behind your shoulder blades and emits a metallic-sounding trill. In 1997, manual equipped NSXs got a 3.2-liter engine with a bonus 20 horsepower. Handling is crisp and stiff, though not too stiff, as the car rides on 15-inch (!) wheels up front, and slightly larger 16s in the back.
According to nsxprime.com, early NSXs could hit 60 mph in the low to mid 5s and reach quarter mile in the high 13s — fast back then, and still quick today. Bookler’s 20-plus-year-old example didn’t seem to have lost any juice; it felt plenty quick as he ripped through the gears of his 5-speed manual (and sounded great when he perfectly rev-matched the downshifts).
The interior is cozy (especially for those who are 6-feet tall) and raked with nicely bolstered leather seats. Most of the switchgear looks like it could have been taken out of an Accord — especially the clear, white-on-black gauges (though the NSX has an un-Accord-like 8,000 redline).
There are nice little NSX touches throughout — like badging on the door sills and on the doors near the B-pillars. There’s also a little plaque that reads “NSX DOHC VTEC” on the center console … for some reason. It seems a little cheesy, and Honda must have thought so too; according to nsxprime.com, the manufacture dumped the plate for the 1997 installment.
Though the car isn’t fast by today’s standards, there’s just something special about having a car with timeless looks … and having a car that confuses the dealership. Bookler said the last time he took his car to the Acura dealership for inspection, one of the techs said he didn’t know how to do the emissions test, as it was the oldest Acura he had ever seen. It was a moot point, as the car was exempt from the test.
“It’s just a doll of a car—it’s livable and usable,” Bookler said. “I have too many cars, too many toys—my wife has always been a supporter of my cars and my nonsense—and this is the last car I would get rid of.”
Bookler also owns a Z3 2.3 and a Marlboro Maroon ’67 Corvette with a 427, which he has owned since new.
“This thing [the Corvette] has enough torque to change the direction of Niagara Falls and to pull a redwood out of the ground, but technology beats brute strength,” he said.
If you've got an interesting car, or know of any car events coming up in the area, shoot me an email at email@example.com.