I still remember when I first heard that Acura would be coming out with a replacement for the famed NSX sports car. It was 1987; I was still in the womb, and the original NSX hadn't even come out yet.
Yes, folks, it's true: that's how long Acura has been talking about the all-new, second-generation NSX, which finally made its debut in production form earlier this week at the Detroit Auto Show, with approximately the same level of fanfare as Bounty rolling out a new line of ultra-absorbent paper towels.
OK, fine, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But the Acura NSX launch has been bungled so badly that I think it deserves a special look back in time to highlight all the key points, using real dates, and real facts, and only the occasional hyperbolic statement, such as: "When Acura originally announced the second-generation NSX, Jerry Seinfeld was just a Long Island high school student with a mullet and a Karmann Ghia."
So let's go back to the beginning. To do that, we must return to 1991, when the original NSX came out. As I recall, the situation was this: at first, everyone was really excited about the NSX, because it combined Ferrari performance and Ferrari styling with the virtual certainty that, upon leaving your home, you would eventually reach your destination. Ferrari was not able to offer this certainty for another ten years, and even then, they couldn't promise you'd be able to get back home again.
But then what happened was, Acura let the NSX languish. Ferrari came out with another model, then another model, then another model, eventually with 500 horsepower, and yet the NSX was still basically the same old car, fifteen years later, using the same old V6, which was now only slightly more powerful than an Altima. If the NSX were a child, its parents would've been scouring the newspaper classifieds by now, trying to buy it a used Civic.
So Acura cancelled the NSX in 2005, and the entire automotive community let out a collective gasp, because we had no idea it was still in production.
Fast-forward two years, and enthusiasts were already clamoring for another one. Mind you, this was during the time of the Carrera GT, and the Enzo, and the Ford GT, and the Mercedes SLR, and everyone was really performance hungry. So Acura jumped on the bandwagon, and Honda's American chief executive announced in 2007 that a mid-engine, V10-powered NSX successor would reach the market by 2010.
Just to be clear: this was 2007, when he said this. Eight years ago. Back when "twilight" was the thing that happened each night around 6 p.m., and not some movie where Kristen Stewart sucks your blood. Back when Michael Jackson was still alive and well, hanging out with all his llamas at Neverland Ranch. Back when all you needed to qualify for a mortgage was a pulse and the proceeds from a couple vending machine robberies.
So anyway, in 2007, Acura came out with this concept sports car, called the ASCC, and everyone got all excited, because it looked like the NSX was making a return. I don't have access to the archives from the Honda forums, but I bet if you went back and looked at the 2007 posts, people would be saying things like: "HOLY CRAP THE NEXT NSX!" and "OH MY GOD THE NSX IS COMING BACK!" and "Thinking about a used car for my 17-year-old son – maybe a Civic?"
But then we plunged into the recession, and Acura sort of forgot about the NSX. The whole project wasn't mentioned again until a couple years later, when it turned out that Honda was still developing a V10-powered sports car, this time for racing purposes. Naturally, everyone assumed this would turn into the next NSX: a V10-powered Honda! Race car DNA! It's finally happening! And if you go back and look at the Honda forums, I bet you'll find some very excited people, saying some very excited things, such as: "WOOO THE NSX IS RETURNING!" and "BRING ON THE NEW NSX!" and "My 16-year-old was arrested last week for arson. Thinking about getting him a Civic."
But it was not to be. Although Honda did develop a V10-powered race car, and they did race this car in actual races, it never turned into an NSX. Instead, it only led to more speculation. Motor Trend reported that the new NSX was right around the corner. Robert Downey, Jr., drove a concept version in The Avengers. The world was again getting psyched, and the Honda forums were again abuzz with anticipation, posting things like: "NEW NSX IS GONNA BE HERE SOON" and "I CAN FEEL IT THIS TIME. THIS NSX IS HAPPENING!" and "My 16-year-old son keeps stealing prescription medication from my wife, but I'm going to buy him a Civic anyway. What should I look for?"
Unfortunately, this speculation didn't turn into a new NSX right away, either. Instead, Honda decided to release the NSX as a concept car – and they did so at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, to considerable fanfare. A month later, there was a Super Bowl commercial with Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld. Finally, we were ready. The Honda forums were beside themselves. People were wildly excited, posting titles like "IT'S FINALLY HERE!!! HOLY CRAP THE NSX!!!" and "MY GOD NSX CONCEPT OMGLOL!" and "My 18-year-old son keeps harming small animals. Is there a program for him? Also, I'm getting him a Civic."
Well folks, THREE YEARS LATER, here we are. It's been eight years since the original promise of a new NSX. Six years since the development of a V10-powered race car that we all thought would turn into an NSX. Five years since further speculation about the production-ready NSX. Four years since the NSX showed up in The Avengers. Three years since the concept car, and that Super Bowl commercial with Jerry Seinfeld.
And after all this fanfare, and all this speculation, and all this excitement, and all this waiting, what happened on the day of the final unveiling?
Ford. Ford happened.
You see, after literally years of pomp and circumstance surrounding the NSX, Ford managed to upstage Acura on the very day of the NSX reveal with a far more exciting car that nobody knew anything about. Instead of talking about the new Ford GT for the last decade, and showing people drawings of the Ford GT, and sticking the Ford GT in movies, and hiring celebrities to do commercials with the Ford GT, and telling Motor Trend that the Ford GT was coming, and creating a Ford GT race car that never became a road car, Ford just a) developed the GT, and b) showed it to people. That was it. No bullshit, no speculation, no promises. Here's our awesome car, Ford said. Don't you love it?
And the truth is, we do love the Ford GT. And frankly, we love the NSX, too. But the public reaction to both vehicles was laughably different. After years of high expectations, the collective feeling when the cover finally came off the NSX was: "About freakin' time." Whereas we went into the Ford press conference with almost no expectations, and we came out with stains on our pants.
For proof, check the view counts on Jalopnik's own articles: while the NSX story managed only 91,000 clicks, the Ford GT piece pulled in 673,000 interested readers. This is a highly scientific, tremendously professional measure that proves the new Ford GT is approximately 7.4 times cooler than the new Acura NSX.
So let this be a lesson to automakers everywhere: when you want to reveal something cool, show, don't tell. Because after years of speculation, and multiple concept cars, and dozens of promises, we all get a little sick of it. Even the Honda forums.
Now, if you'll excuse me, Acura is holding a press conference about the next NSX, which is due out in 2028. I am told it has wings.
Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.