The Wako R&D Center in January, 1984 began the basic research on a new drive system, as a means of achieving a shift from Honda’s FF (front-engine/front-wheel drive) vehicle type to another format.
In those days, FF was the mainstream of Honda cars, and Honda models used it to ensure superior interior comfort and accommodations.
However, the development team believed a change in drive format could enhance the flexibility of frame design and packaging.
This could combine higher packaging efficiency along with the sporting characteristics with which rear drive was associated.
The potential in such a change also presented numerous obstacles. It was Honda’s first experience to design a car with the engine in the rear half of the vehicle.
During the test drive, the team members were amazed by the unique handling of the car, which differed greatly from the original FF specification.
Unfortunately, further development had to be set aside because the level of technology then available to Honda placed certain limits on the car’s ability to present any real advantage over the normal FF version.
Moreover, comments had been raised by supporters at the evaluation meetings that the rear-drive City’s dynamic performance should somehow be replicated.
The emphasis in research was therefore modified from drive format to dynamic performance - that which was typically achieved with a vehicle having a lower center of gravity, meaning a sportscar.
"It’s the dream of every development engineer to create a sportscar," said Shigeru Uehara, who was engaged in the development project as LPL.
This was also the year Honda made its much-heralded return to the F-1 Series. Thus, of course, spirits were high at the R&D Center, in anticipation of the possibility that Honda might indeed build sportscars.
I think the company wanted a car that could bridge its mass production FF models and F-1 cars," Uehara recalled. "They needed a car that would become the new face of Honda.
This was the ultimate question facing the development team, and they repeatedly engaged in long discussions in the hope of finding an answer.
they began to define key words in the development of their new car, code-named the NSX.
The diagram was a means of representing power-to-weight ratio (running performance) along the Y-axis and wheelbase-to-weight ratio (turning and stopping performance) along the X-axis in clear, accessible terms.