415,000-Mile Acura NSX Proves that Supercars Can Be Reliable

When the original two-seat Acura NSX debuted for the 1991 model year in the United States, it introduced the automotive world to the notion that a car could be exotic-looking, performance-oriented, and reliable all at the same time. Over thirty years later, some owners are truly putting that promise to the test.

Power for the NSX came from a mid-mounted, naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V6 that produced 270 horsepower and was available mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transaxle. While 270 horsepower did not sound like a big number, the true expertise of the NSX became evident in its handling: this car was built to cut up canyon roads like a razor-sharp scalpel. Its all aluminum body and optimal weight distribution made for confidence-inspiring balance that even Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna embraced.

In all, the first-generation NSX sold a total of 8,949 units between model years 1991 and 2005 in North America. About a decade ago, I scooped up a moderately-used 1992 unit in Formula Red with a black leather interior and 80,000 miles on it. I have since added about 40,000 additional trouble-free miles to its odometer. Some people are surprised that I have driven my car that much. After all, relatively few people who bought the NSX did so with the intent of driving it daily. Most folks stored the car away for weekend use under a cover and hooked it up to battery tender. According to production statistics, my NSX is 1 of 421 units that were made of its configuration for 1992.

I recently attended an open house at ScienceofSpeed (SoS) in Chandler, Arizona. ScienceofSpeed has established a foothold in the enthusiast communities for the Acura NSX and the Honda S2000 over the past 20 years as a premier developer of performance parts, a provider of mechanical service, and an overall resource on the ownership experience for some of Honda’s beloved high-revving sports cars.

Tyson and Sean with the 400k+ mile NSX

During the open house, I met a local NSX owner named Sean who has an NSX that looks a lot like mine, aside from the fact that it is sitting on a set of chrome finished SSR wheels. Coincidentally, his car is also one of the 421 cars in Formula Red over black with a five-speed manual from 1992. But Sean’s NSX has one very unique characteristic: it has left mine in the dust as far as mileage goes. The car has over 415,000 miles on it.

The proof’s in the odometer

I caught up with Sean for some brief Q&A and a walkaround of his special car. He purchased it in Sedona, Arizona, about 18 years ago with about 70,000 miles on the odometer and put the wheels into motion with the car as his daily driver. He has kept up on all of his maintenance at ScienceofSpeed. “I’m religious about routine maintenance,” he said. “I’m on point when it comes to every service interval; always taking care of the engine like clockwork.” Like many Honda motors, the C30A engine in the NSX calls for a timing belt and water pump every 60,000 to 90,000 miles but overall, Sean said there have been no major surprises.

Sean was awarded recognition at last October’s annual NSX Club of America meet-up, dubbed “NSXPO.” While his car has a few rock chips and some faded paint, the fact that this 32-year-old supercar has driven to the moon, and is well its way back, is truly remarkable.

We wish Sean a safe journey as he continues to 500,000 miles, and we’ll share an update when he gets there!

The ClassicCars.com Journal

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