UPDATING THE NSX’S GRIP, CORNERING ABILITY AND BRAKING CLARION BUILDS STYLE

Vehicles like the first generation Acura NSX are not born out of the need to deliver the most horsepower to the pavement, but rather outperform competitive vehicles across multiple metrics of performance on the road and at the track. For the NSX this meant a rigid body and finely tuned suspension that could maximize lap times at the track and handle day to day driving needs. Like the monocoque structure, the suspension is made of aluminum, keeping the corner weight of the vehicle down. The suspension setup is double wishbone front and rear with coil over shocks at each corner. This is an ideal setup for a vehicle that wishes to maximize handling characteristics and be able to make multiple adjustments for different conditions.

For the Clarion Builds 1991 Acura NSX tuning the suspension meant more than just adjusting it, it was at a point in its life that it needed a complete overhaul. Blown shocks, sagging springs, and dry bushings had really started to compromise a car that started out as an amazing performer. To start the overhaul, Clarion Builds reached out to KW Suspension for a full coilover system. The coilover of choice for the NSX is the KW Variant 3 system that offered multiple points of adjustment to fine tune the performance of the car. This set up gives a great balance of both aggressive handling including adjustable height and compression dampening as well as a comfortable ride with adjustable rebound. With plenty of range in both dampening and rebound, the KW Variant 3 coilovers give the Clarion Builds team plenty of room to get the suspension of the car properly dialed in.

Bushings and sway bars were kept stock all around on the NSX. Honda did a fantastic job with much of the suspension on the vehicle that the Clarion Builds team did not see a benefit in moving away from all that wonderful work. With an all aluminum suspension, rust and corrosion is not a factor for the NSX, which keeps components in perfect working order for a long period. Because of the many adjustment points on a double wishbone suspension, the NSX is able to be finely adjusted for both a new lower ride height and for a much needed set of larger diameter and wider wheels.

Suspension can only take you so far if you don’t get it right where the rubber meets the road. That’s why Clarion Builds turned to the brilliant minds at Michelin to deliver a true supercar tire with the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2. Sporting a tire compound created with high horsepower cars lapping on the track in mind, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 is Michelin’s ultra-high-performance tire that offers zero compromises and was designed for true modern supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari 458. The Pilot Sport Cup 2 will be able to handle the power and performance demanded from the NSX. Wrapped over staggered Rays Engineering Volk ZE40 wheels, 18 inches in the front and 19 inches in the rear. A new set of wider tires will help improve delivery of power to the road and allow more lateral grip in the turns.

Moving from the stock 15-inch (front) and 16-inch (rear) wheels and high 50 profile tires helps bring the potential of the NSX to the surface. A wider wheel in the rear using a harder and more durable compound of tire was used to improve both the amount of power from the drivetrain and its overall delivery through the RPM range. Having a lower profile of tire that has a sturdier sidewall reduces tire compression and improves handling mid-corner once the tire has taken on greater forces. The new wheel and tire package should bring out the aggressive nature of the stiff-chassised NSX and improve the handling characteristics out on the track.

Getting the car moving and turning is only two thirds of the work. Eventually you will need to slow or stop the car. The stock 11.1-inch brakes at all corners would not cut it with all the new expected power and handling performance. Clarion Builds sought out the help of StopTech to deliver their enthusiast-approved Big Brake Kit to help slow things down when needed. Moving to a larger brake rotor and four-piston caliper setup allows the NSX to have both more surface area for the brakes to grab and more rotor area to allow heat to dissipate. This will improve stopping distance and brake feel while giving the NSX more laps around the track before the brake pedal starts to fade and negatively impacts performance.

Altogether, the Clarion Builds 1991 Acura NSX suspension is ready to take on any track the world has to offer. Even the corkscrew at Laguna Seca doesn’t scare this supercar!

Alyson Yarberry