Friday, February 10, 2012

Spoon Sports NA1 NSX - Street Level

Until now there were only two ways you could own an NSX-R in the United States. You could build one using mostly OEM parts mixed with select aftermarket pieces-an expensive and difficult task that requires significant compromises-or you could purchase a real one from Japan, import it into the U.S. as furniture, and let it sit and collect dust, because that's about the only thing you'd be able to do with it, legally speaking.
Spoon Sports of Japan officially introduced a third option at last January's Tokyo Auto Salon-an option that's entirely legal but every bit as costly. The company begins with a pre-existing, run-of-the-mill, North American-spec NSX chassis, but what happens after that is anything but ordinary. Imagine: an NSX, one that's wrapped in NSX-R GT garb, one that's completely legal in America, one that features more than a few special touches that only Spoon could provide. The result is a LHD NSX-R GT modeled after Spoon's very own RHD NSX-R GT replica, a car similar to the fabled NSX-R GT of which supposedly five were built by Honda itself and sold for roughly a half-million dollars each, all to buyers who've yet to reveal themselves.

  Earlier reports and online hearsay regarding Spoon's now-available LHD NSX-R GT conversions have been, to put it bluntly, wrong. Indeed, Spoon will not be using "white body" chassis from Honda for its conversions, and the companies have not partnered for this venture. There's no indication that Honda does in fact have any leftover white body NSX chassis to dole out to the aftermarket to begin with. The truth is; building several dozen extra NSXs only to sit on them for close to a decade in hopes that someone might purchase five or six of them down the road for such conversions simply doesn't make sense. The NSX was not and is not a product of assembly lines and mass production in which leftovers abound.

At the encouragement of its U.S. sales and marketing arm, Opak Racing, Spoon purchased a pair-no more, no less-of used LHD chassis from Japanese private parties for experimentation. North American-spec, LHD chassis are not an uncommon sight in Japan due to the country's lax importation regulations in comparison to the U.S. In other words: The two chassis are not of North American origin, and Spoon will not be converting RHD NSX chassis to LHD specifications. It won't need to.
Those who attended last January's Auto Salon got a glimpse of Spoon's first conversion, one that has been freshly painted red, is of NSX-R GT specifications, and is entirely legal for American soil. And it's ready for a homecoming. This car's purpose is to test the market for would-be American buyers. If the market responds, more will follow. But the price tag is not for the faint of heart. The $125,000 base price includes a used NSX, several OEM NSX-R components, select Spoon add-ons, shipping, and the appropriate registration documentation. But truth be told, Spoon's first buyer will not be registering this car as an NSX-R GT or even as an NSX-R for the same reasons that Honda never exported one in the first place. American DOT (Department of Transportation) testing simply proved too costly for such a limited-edition vehicle. Although, technically speaking, the car must be documented as no more than a standard Acura NSX due to its corresponding U.S. VIN numbers that remain stamped into the chassis, it shares many features with the real-deal NSX-R.

What then does $125K get you if not a true-blooded NSX-R GT? Specifically, a Spoon-built, LHD, NSX-R GT replica...loosely speaking. Following strict standards of comparison, Spoon's offering doesn't qualify among the ranks of a genuine NSX-R. The reasons are many, but citing each of them is irrelevant since the car will be sold in a LHD configuration only-a characteristic no NSX-R shares. In order for Spoon to build its NSX-R GT replica, the company decided to forgo R-specific components like the suspension and brakes, instead relying on its own components, which to be fair, are more versatile and far more tunable when compared to OEM NSX-R fare. To build such a car with a North American-spec driving configuration, Spoon simply added genuine NSX-R components and complemented those with the same setup used in its RHD car.
Spoon's NSX-R GT development is an extension of Honda's original philosophy it used to create the NSX-R, which relied not on raw gobs of power but reduced weight, higher precision, and a perfect balance. Spoon uses genuine Honda parts and specs where it is required, but elsewhere adds the components that are responsible for making the company the premier tuner that it is. Replacing the OEM bumpers with Spoon's own carbon-fiber GT replicas shaves a total of 88 lbs from the car. The fixed headlights represent a 22lb savings compared to the pop-up ones. The carbon-fiber hood is 30-percent lighter than the original aluminum one. The NSX-R's Recaro carbon-fiber bucket seats and Momo made-for-Honda steering wheel further reduce weight and keep the R look consistent. Titanium engine mount bolts replace the steel ones and a smaller alternator and lightweight aluminum bracket reduce yet another few pounds. Lighter suspension and brakes bring the total weight savings to 440 lbs less than a regular NSX-R, according to Spoon's owner and founder Ichishima San, who introduced the car at the Auto Salon.

Genuine NSX-Rs' powertrains received special attention at Honda's factory and Spoon's car is no different. Its reciprocating internals were balanced to ten times the accuracy of standard editions, but Spoon is not one to ignore the benefits of fundamental engine tuning. Spoon's NSX-R GT engines each undergo blueprinting processes, which bump engine output to a claimed 300 hp, but available options can further increase power to 350, even 450 hp with the help of a turbocharger-a considerable amount of power for a car weighing just over 2400 lbs. Of course, such power bumps come at a price, which will be tailored to consumers on a case-by-case basis.

Spoon's development of its own RHD NSX-R GT copy and its newly offered LHD NSX-R GT replica tie them both so closely to the genuine NSX-R in specification that their differences are virtually non-existent. Virtually. With Spoon as the common denominator, JDM and USDM models become one. As such, two lucky North America buyers can now legitimately claim ownership of a genuine Spoon NSX-R GT replica, the only NSX-R variant to ever reach U.S. shores...sort of.

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