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    Thread: Gordon Murray talks about the NSX

    1. Banned 1SICKLEX's Avatar
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      03-03-2008 11:39 PM #1
      http://docs.google.com/View?do...nscht
      http://docs.google.com/View?do...nscht
      To this day, the NSX is still a car that is near and dear to my heart. I put 75,000 Km on my NSX over the course of six or seven years.
      It's very difficult to discuss the NSX using current values and sensibilities. When the NSX debuted, the word "supercar" was still a relatively new idea in Europe. There are some who would say the Lamborghini Miura from the late 1960s was the first supercar. However, the truth is the explosion of modern supercars really started at the end of the 1980s.
      At the end of the 80s was the time when McLaren Cars was conceiving the idea for the McLaren F1. To that end, I was concentrating on coming up with what I wanted in a road car.
      To my thinking, the ideal car is one in which I could get in the driver's seat and be out for a drive in downtown London, and then want to continue straight on to southern France. A car that you can trust, with functional air conditioning, and retains daily drivability. No offset pedals allowed. No high dashboards restricting your view either. Having a low roof hitting your head every time you go over a bump in the name of aerodynamics and styling is out of the question. It is essential that a supercar be a pleasure to drive, and anything detracting from that must be excised.
      I started by driving the cars known then as "supercars." The Porsche 959, Bugatti EB110, Ferrari F40, Jaguar XJ220. Unfortunately, none of these fit the pattern of the supercar we were trying to build. What we wanted was a relatively compact, usable driver's car. The Porsche 911 had the usability, but with the engine packed in the back, it had a weakness in its handling stability.
      During this time, we were able to visit with Ayrton Senna (the late F1 Champion) and Honda's Tochigi Research Center. The visit related to the fact that at the time, McLaren's F1 Grand Prix cars were using Honda engines.
      Coincidentally, I spotted an NSX prototype parked near the course. I also learned at the time that Ayrton was assisting in the development of the NSX. And that Honda rear mid-engined sports car--the NSX--was the friendly supercar that we had been looking for. This car had perfectly functional air conditioning, a reasonably roomy trunk, and of course, it was a Honda, with the high levels of quality and reliability that implies.
      Then I had the opportunity to drive it. Along with Ron Dennis (President, McLaren Cars) and Mansour Ojjeh (Tag McLaren Group Representative), we drove the prototype on the Tochigi Research Center test course. I remember being moved, thinking, "It is remarkable how our vision comes through in this car."
      Of course as you know, the engine has only six cylinders; however, the NSX's very rigid chassis is excellent and would easily be capable of handling more power. Although it's true I had thought it would have been better to put a larger engine, the moment I drove the "little" NSX, all the benchmark cars--Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini--I had been using as references in the development of my car vanished from my mind. Of course the car we would create, the McLaren F1, needed to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX's ride quality and handling would become our new design target.
      When working on the development of a new car for years, it's easy to be caught in certain pitfalls. When you drive the car under development for testing every day (in truth, I was responsible for two-thirds of the testing for the McLaren F1), in that time, you can unknowingly convince yourself you are making progress when in fact you are not. For example, it's human nature that at the end of a long day you may want to think that your efforts to reduce low speed harshness are working better than they are. It is at times like this when you need a car to compare with. In those situations, the NSX time and again showed us the path in the areas of ride quality and handling, and also helped us recognize when we weren't making as much progress as we thought.
      In my opinion, the NSX's most special quality has long been overlooked.
      That could be summarized with the words, "The NSX's suspension is amazing."
      Both the body and suspension are aluminum, and it probably couldn't be helped that journalists' attention has been focused on praising the aluminum body. However, the suspension is the much more impressive use of aluminum.
      It's lightweight, tough, yet compliant. Also contributing to the refined NSX's handling and ride quality are 17 inch wheels and tires that are not overly large. The NSX's suspension is truly an ingenious system, and back then I imagined the development costs must have been enormous. To achieve that unparalleled accuracy and superior ride quality, longitudinal wheel movement is allowed via the use of a compliance pivot. (※)
      (※) Compliance refers to when you travel over a bump, the tire experiences a longitudinal force, which the tire and suspension must move with and absorb the shock. The pivot couples the upper and lower arms. It is connected to the arms via ball joints so that they move as a unit. When encountering input, the pivot rotates, keeping alignment changes to near zero while retaining compliance (see diagram). The inspiration obtained from this NSX suspension system would later influence the development of the McLaren F1's suspension.
      The NSX was also the first car to use DBW (Drive By Wire). It felt very pleasing. DBW is when instead of using a mechanical cable, an electronic signal is used to communicate throttle position. It achieved a very natural, linear feeling throttle, and I can now hide my embarrassment and confess that I copied the idea during the development of the McLaren F1 (laughs).
      The low-slung NSX's driver's seat position also provided just the right head clearance and an amazing field of view. The NSX development team moved the air conditioning unit away from the dash and deep into the NSX's nose in order to obtain more space. That air conditioning unit is an excellent one, and normally, you don't notice whether it's on or not.
      On the day I bought the NSX, I pressed the "Auto" button and since then until selling it, I never had to touch it. It was that perfect. Ah, I also remember the audio system as being very good.
      However, the media wrote up the aluminum body, and the many merits and advantages I perceived in the NSX have largely been overlooked.
      In my opinion, the NSX, while being such a great sports car, had two large flaws in it's marketing. First, at the time, the public was not ready to accept a Japanese car that was this expensive. The second is that for supercar customers, the power figures were not quite high enough. Of course, the prototype's engine was not bad, and soon the VTEC engine was added. Whenever I hear that VTEC sound it's amazing. I am repeating myself, but the NSX's excellent chassis would have been capable of handling much more power.
      With just a slightly lower price, or possibly selling it with a different brand name and a different badge, or perhaps endowing it with a touch flashier and more aggressive styling and additional power, there is no question the NSX would have reigned as a cult star of the supercars.
      However, during that time, in Honda's philosophy there was a resistance to large engines with many cylinders. I am not certain, but probably at the time, the voluntary restraint on power limits was a factor. Being a fan of Honda engines, I later went to Honda's Tochigi Research Center on two occasions and requested that they consider building for the McLaren F1 a 4.5 liter V10 or V12. I asked, I tried to persuade them, but in the end could not convince them to do it, and the McLaren F1 ended up equipped with a BMW engine.
      The NSX's development costs must have been enormous. Everything on it is unique. The chassis, powertrain, even the air conditioning are peerless. That aluminum body was very expensive. The numerous hurdles overcome by the NSX to reach production in areas such as spot welding, corrosion, and repairability make it a monumental work in automotive history. The philosophy of creating a car for human beings is apparent throughout. If it were me, I probably would not have obsessed over the aluminum and would have settled for a steel structure with aluminum panels to try to achieve a similar weight reduction. But what I really want to emphasize is the suspension. It is a a groundbreaking use of aluminum.
      There are a few things that could be improved on the NSX. First, the tires are too soft. Over the seven years I ran mine, I went through 14 sets of tires. After changing over to harder-compound Michelins in the rear, my tire life increased. As a result, rear grip was decreased slightly, but driving became more fun. The NSX's traction control and ABS are first generation systems and as a result are somewhat slow-acting. I also missed having more storage space in the interior. However, such things hardly seem significant in a sports car of this caliber.
      The NSX is a landmark car. It awoke not only a lazy Ferrari, but Porsche as well and sparked advances in usability, ergonomics, and handling. It may not have achieved success from a marketing standpoint, but many influential and important people have owned them. The NSX is also unusual in that it continued to be on sale for so long. If I were to looking for that type of car now, I would--without a doubt--gladly own an NSX

    2. 03-03-2008 11:43 PM #2
      Murray is brilliant, I love his sensibilities, and love reading his articles... But EVERYTHING is always discussed alongside the F1. Granted, the car is brilliant, and really is a fair benchmark in many respects... But sheesh!

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      03-03-2008 11:45 PM #3
      Quote, originally posted by SebringMGB »
      Murray is brilliant, I love his sensibilities, and love reading his articles... But EVERYTHING is always discussed alongside the F1. Granted, the car is brilliant, and really is a fair benchmark in many respects... But sheesh!

      Murray is right behind George Washington on the scale of men

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      03-03-2008 11:47 PM #4
      man he really likes that air conditioning
      good read [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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      03-04-2008 12:03 AM #5
      great read

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      03-04-2008 01:11 AM #6
      I don't think he is right in the part of the numbers not being impressive enough.
      I can recall several magazines praising the NSX for its performance, comparing it to the Ferrari 348. Basically it beated it in every single aspect, except for the badge.
      I think it was road and track, but the last line in the article was something like "The NSX is the better supercar, but the 348 is the better exotic".

    7. 03-04-2008 01:12 AM #7
      Whoa I didn't know that bit about going to Honda first for the McLaren engine. That was definitely a nice read.

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      03-04-2008 01:21 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by SebringMGB »
      Murray is brilliant, I love his sensibilities, and love reading his articles... But EVERYTHING is always discussed alongside the F1. Granted, the car is brilliant, and really is a fair benchmark in many respects... But sheesh!

      If you were responsible for the McLaren F1, wouldnt YOU talk about it constantly?
      Quote Originally Posted by Doug Butabi View Post
      Moderators: lock it up. TCL is not worthy of this thread.

      Lock it or ban me, because one of us has to go.

      335- 12.2@115

    9. Member BTM's Avatar
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      03-04-2008 01:38 AM #9
      Quote, originally posted by cray Z »
      Whoa I didn't know that bit about going to Honda first for the McLaren engine. That was definitely a nice read.

      kinda caught me off guard as well, but it makes sense when you consider that mclaren f1 cars were honda powered in the late 80s/early 90s around the same time the f1 was being developed [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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      03-04-2008 01:50 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by Internal Combustion »
      If you were responsible for the McLaren F1, wouldnt YOU talk about it constantly?

      Damn straight I would! I'd call its name out in my sleep!

    11. 03-04-2008 01:58 AM #11
      Quote, originally posted by 1SICKLEX »
      Murray is right behind George Washington on the scale of men


      That is the best pict I've seen in yrs!

    12. 03-04-2008 02:38 AM #12
      i would rock an NSX right this instant.. still one of my alltime favorites [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    13. Vortex Media Group Staff Tim@VMG's Avatar
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      03-04-2008 08:05 AM #13
      Heh...
      That was a pretty good read. The man has a large ego, but he does know what the hell he's talking about!
      Unfortunately, reading that makes me want an NSX. I've always kind of had a thing for them.
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      03-04-2008 08:14 AM #14
      Quote, originally posted by SilverSLC »
      Heh...
      That was a pretty good read. The man has a large ego, but he does know what the hell he's talking about!

      I concur. I still disliked reading it, awaiting for the required GM self-high five with handjob that he always gives himself.
      I don't think I have every read an article or interview of his that didn't include "...but the f1 was different..." or "but we had a better plan with the f1".
      It reduces the image of the F1 in my mind everytime he fawns over his own creation and tells the world how much better it is than all others. There is a lot ot be said for allowing something to stand on it's own merits.

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      03-04-2008 08:25 AM #15
      I have had wistful feelings for the NSX since its debut. Maybe one day. I regard it as the Honda of exotics - perfectly refined and executed, then kissed by Soichiro himself. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emgift.gif[/IMG]
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      03-04-2008 08:30 AM #16
      I would still love to own an NSX-R. Hopefully the 15 year rule still applies when the 05 JDM cars become available. Murray is absolutely right about the NSX's ride though. It has the best primary and secondary ride of any sportscar that I've driven.
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      03-04-2008 08:31 AM #17
      Quote, originally posted by atomicalex »
      I regard it as the Honda of exotics

      Which it is?

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      03-04-2008 08:44 AM #18
      Your search for "McLaren" returned 11 results.
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      03-04-2008 09:10 AM #19
      Ferraris and Lambos are supercars that you drool over as a youth... or when you have money to burn as an adult.
      The NSX is the car you can actually ponder (consider buying... pseudo within reach of some of us) new or used as a middleclass/uppermiddleclasser, because it is... a real car... with quite enough performance for the "common man/woman" and without the eccentricities of exotics.
      That is my dreamy car (the Testa Rossa is still my dream car). The thing that makes it so damn cool to me is how HONDA it is. Everything about it epitomizes what Honda's philosophy in cars are... even as a super one.
      Great driving position without negatives like insanely horrendous exotic visibility.
      Great powertrain engineering.
      Great Chassis/supsension engineering.
      Great god almighty, I need one before I die! [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]


      Modified by uncleho at 6:12 AM 3-4-2008

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      03-04-2008 09:16 AM #20
      Yeah... in that regard it's a lot like the Corvette, though with a decidedly more "exotic" design, even if the performance envelope isn't much different (comparing same years - obviously newer 'vettes are faster). It's got exotic performance... but it's a Chevrolet that can get warranty service in Butt Fudge Egypt.
      The NSX has been an object of lust for me since before I knew what lust was - the original US magazine tests on the car's release just happened to coincide with my 10th birthday, and my 10th birthday present was basically every car magazine on the rack at the time.
      I had no idea Gordon Murray was such a fan, too.
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    21. 03-04-2008 09:24 AM #21
      Quote, originally posted by BTM »
      man he really likes that air conditioning
      good read [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

      OK, so I'm not the only one who caught that. I guess good A/C in a supercar is really impressive

    22. 03-04-2008 11:04 AM #22
      Quote, originally posted by kerridwen »
      I don't think he is right in the part of the numbers not being impressive enough.

      The problem was, Honda moved the target for these kinds of cars, and then Ferrari and Porsche moved the performance target even higher. Honda failed to respond afterwards and got left behind.
      By 1995 the car should have received the styling update that it finally got in 2002, and they should have introduced a V8 powerplant what was comparable to Ferrari's. There is no doubt that Honda has the technical knowledge to build such an engine, but it simply never has.
      Nonetheless, I love the NSX. I used to think that I would own one, but now I'm not so sure. The S2000, though much less of a car that it is, pretty much satisfies my sports car cravings, and the roof folds down.

    23. 03-04-2008 11:16 AM #23
      Murray is really spot on with this article.
      People today tend to overlook the NSX because it only had a 3 or 3.2l V6 with the hp of an average family sedan today at onset, and at the end of an entry level sport sedan, but the NSX was so much more. If the NSX wouldnt have been developed I'd ventue to say that we wouldnt have the current F-cars we do today, or maybe not een the super exotics like the Veyron.
      Simply put it woke upo the entire high end car industry. The NSX did everything so well, but it was comfortable, well built, not extremely expensive to maintain and you could drive it like a honda, which means you follow the mainitance schedule, replace brakes and tires, and your fine. In contrast the ferrari's of the 80's to early 90's were trash, same with lambo's, astons, etc.

    24. 03-04-2008 11:18 AM #24
      Quote, originally posted by riceburner2 »
      The problem was, Honda moved the target for these kinds of cars, and then Ferrari and Porsche moved the performance target even higher. Honda failed to respond afterwards and got left behind.
      By 1995 the car should have received the styling update that it finally got in 2002, and they should have introduced a V8 powerplant what was comparable to Ferrari's. There is no doubt that Honda has the technical knowledge to build such an engine, but it simply never has.
      Nonetheless, I love the NSX. I used to think that I would own one, but now I'm not so sure. The S2000, though much less of a car that it is, pretty much satisfies my sports car cravings, and the roof folds down.

      this is true also, honda did rest on its laurels with not releasing bigger updates, but it is interesting that in its 10 year run the car only had minor updates, and even at the end it was still a fantastic car that besides outright speed, could still run with some of the best.

    25. 03-04-2008 01:17 PM #25
      I remember in the earlier part of the 90's a friend of our was bragging that he had the NSX engine in his Acura and so his car could go just as fast and I rolled my eyes.
      I don't think anybody said "It's just a Honda." about the NSX even when it first came out (although they might have roled out the "It's got no soul!" trope).
      I think the majority of people were blown away by it.

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