Buying used: Honda NSX

Buying used: Honda NSX
Buying used: Honda NSX

A car where high mileages are a good sign

Supercars often lead the sort of life that makes enthusiasts equal parts sad and enraged. The cars spend their lives in special garages that are temperature and humidity controlled, with covers keeping out the dust, trickle chargers keeping the electrics going, and regular cleans and tyre inflations. The cars do everything except actually cover any miles.

But that’s not the case with the Honda NSX. At the time of writing, there were 23 for sale on the Pistonheads site, with seven of them having way over 50,000 miles on them, of which four had over 100,000. This is a car the owners want to use and enjoy.

The Honda supercar first appeared in 1990, with input from the mighty Ayrton Senna to give it legitimacy. The mid-mounted 3.0-litre VTEC V6 made 270bhp, which doesn’t look like much nowadays, but the car only weighed 1400kg. Everything was handbuilt, and within the aluminium panels there was a space-age cabin replete with reliable, easy to use Honda switchgear and controls.

At first you could have a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto but by 1995 you could get a 3.2-litre V6 with 276bhp with a six-speed manual – the auto stayed with the 3.0-litre unit. Production finished in 2005, 15 years after it started.

Get into one now and you’re aware that someone getting into a late car at the time would have thought it looked a bit dated. But it still looks remarkable, unique. This isn’t a Ferrari, it’s a Honda, so it all works, it’s all sensible and there’s precious little of the showman’s flash on view.

At lower speeds it feel remarkably easy to drive, working with you all the way. Then you press on. And the same feeling persists. This is a supercar built to make you look good, just as much as the car itself.

What was light steering at town speed gains some useful weight, but not too much. You can place that low nose precisely, with the car rotating wonderfully, a sign of perfect poise. There’s a deftness to the handling that is totally addictive. It’s so perfectly judged, weighted and delivered.

And the V6 sounds wonderful as you press the accelerator, starting with a deep, sweet growl from the induction that roars up the range as the revs soar. The power blossoms like a Tokyo cherry tree in April, building and building, with a strength that belies the relatively low power output. This is about balance, finesse, not bludgeoning and scary horsepower.

No wonder the owners can’t get enough of driving their NSXs.

What to look out for

The ECUs are getting old and can suffer from water damage so check that. And also check that the cambelt and clutch have been changed on schedule. Since either of those has a £2000 cost that’s something to really focus on.

On the other hand, annual servicing is only £200, which seems an impossible bargain, and rear tyres only cost £120 each.

What to pay

Honda NSX prices are rising fast. You won’t find anything under £30k, and even £30k to £34k will only get you an early 3.0-litre auto with a lot of miles on it.

Above that, but below £50k, you’ll find a broad range of 3.0-litre models with high mileages or more mint examples nudging the £50k mark.

From £50k to £80k we’re in the area for really good examples with lowish miles on them. Although you might get some cheeky prices for less wonderful examples.
Above £80k all the way up to £100k is where you find the facelifted model with the 3.2-litre V6.

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