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The Acura NSX: a timeless beauty and engineering marvel

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 June, 2016, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 4:41pm

Canadian business advisor William Lau, 60, says he was attracted to the NSX by its precision-crafted performance

“I drive this 1991 NSX. I was an Acura dealer in Toronto when the NSX was launched [in 1990]. The model was an engineering marvel and a real game changer for the Italian and German marques, as it had class-leading performance and the reliability of a Honda. It was also introduced by the late Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger to the Canadian dealers at a race track in Quebec.

In the year before [1989], I attended the Tokyo Motor show and first saw the model. It was a market success, and we dealers were allocated a limited number of customer orders. I managed to have the use of the factory demonstrator, a manual model, and just knew from its precision-crafted performance that I had to own this car. I also loved the Legend LS Coupe, but it’s more a luxo-barge than a true sports car.

I wanted to own an NSX when I returned to Hong Kong [in 1994]. However, it was inappropriate to own one at that time as I was the managing director of a dealership representing a leading British marque [Jaguar Hong Kong].

In 2000, an ex-client of mine from my advertising days had one, a “garage queen”, with 20,000 miles [32,000km] on its clock. So I offered to put some miles on it, and within a few hours I decided I had to own it. The owner was gracious enough to sell it to me. It was a 1991 automatic version from the Hong Kong dealer with a full service history.

I have done quite some work on this car; including an engine-out rebuild with full works such as belts, water pump, engine mounts, gaskets and hoses. All parts were directly sourced from a well-known supplier in the US.

The car was originally in “Grand Prix White” and I repainted it in “NSXR Pearl” with matching 16/17 R rims. I recently refreshed the interior with new seat covers, door cards and console. As the original exhaust was rather mild, I changed it for a Flowmaster unit from the US, as well as OEM shocks and all new bushings from the dealer.

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I also reconditioned the then state-of the-art Bose sound system, but stayed away from adding side skirts, scoops and wings.The car retains this classic’s profile and garners a lot of looks when it’s driven. Now it has clocked around 75,000 miles. For a 26-year-old car, that is about 3,000 miles a year, which is quite average.

All older cars should be driven frequently, with a blast to and from the airport. I take the NSX there occasionally to clear the engine. I used to drive up to Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay at weekends, but not in the summer, when it’s not the best for daily use and definitely not in traffic.

The car’s weakest link is the air-conditioning system, which is very expensive to repair, and the power-steering and automatic gearbox and body parts are hard to source or very poor quality here. The local dealer also lacks parts or technicians who are familiar with this model. We have a few independent garages but proficient mechanics are rare.

Even so, the NSX is quite a small car, really, and very manoeuvrable. It can get out of the way fast, and even when the road is wet, traction is excellent if you don’t push it to the limits. The only annoyance is the sound of Honda’s horns. They should have installed an air horn as there is hardly any room to install an after-market alternative.

I still aspire to Ferrari ownership some day, but a really elusive one. I still love high-power cars such as AMG, and briefly owned an E55. Eventually I would like to get back into a Jaguar XJR for the grace, pace and performance. I consider that as the best driver’s sports sedan. Having said that, I am loyal to my NSX.

My family had many Jaguars and Mercedes-Benzes when I was growing up, so I am partial to those brands. My late father was a true petrol head in his days and owned MG, TR, Vauxhall, Mustang, Lotus, Cortina and almost the full range of Benzes. My family had several diesel versions of the 180/190/240 when it was mainly used locally as taxis.

In Hong Kong, there has been a huge influx of older NSXes from Japan, but one must watch their history. However, these imports are usually automatic; manual versions are being snapped up in the domestic market. There are some later NA2 models on sale, but all are grey imports from Japan or Britain. I think the Hong Kong dealer sold the last NA1 around 1997.

There is an NSX Club here, and we celebrated our 15th anniversary last month. We have about 50 members, but unfortunately we’re not as active as other car clubs in Hong Kong.”