The 1991–96 NSX is catching up to its more powerful siblings


It’s been more than 30 years since Acura first unveiled the NSX, and after a long hiatus, a new model is back on sale. But it’s the first generation that still captivates enthusiasts with its lightweight, communicative chassis, and clean styling. Pop-up headlights don’t hurt, either.

In the latest Hagerty Vehicle Rating, the early NSX continues to be a strong performer, as potential buyers research the car and new buyers add them to their insurance policies quite frequently. Add to that their increased values and the 1991-1996 Acura NSX has earned an HVR score of 85, up from its previous 79.

[Editor’s Note: The Hagerty Vehicle Rating takes auction and private sales results, insurance quoting activity, and the number of new policies purchased into consideration, to sort hundreds of car models and compare them to the collector car market as a whole. Our valuation team then assigns a score from 1-to-100, with a 50 denoting a car that’s aligned with the overall market trend. Popular cars that are gaining interest and value will score higher, those with flagging interest or sale prices score lower. A vehicle’s position on the list isn’t always a sign of future collectibility—it’s more of a pulse of the current market and an indicator of what’s hot and not.]

Acura NSX
Acura NSX

Acura NSX

Hagerty valuation specialist James Hewitt weighed in on the classic NSX market, which has given the new NSX market a run for its money. “The most recent HVR was the highest for the NSX since March 2017,” Hewitt explained. That’s up from a dip in interest noted in early 2019.

Ever since that early 2019 slump, things have been headed up for the NSX. “So far early 2020 was very strong for quoting of the first-gen NSX, the strongest since double-digit growth of 2016/2017. Five of the last 12 months had double-digit growth.”

While the 1997 model brought powertrain upgrades—a 290-horsepower 3.2-liter V-6 replaced the 270-horsepower 3.0-liter—and are still more expensive, the later cars have been losing value while the early cars are catching up. The median #3 (Good) value of the updated first-gen NSX is down 8 percent to $59,200 while the 1991-1996 models have increased 15 percent to an average #3 value of $52,400.

Acura NSX

Hewitt sums it up, “The NSX appeals more to the European sports car crowd, such as Porsche owners, than enthusiasts of cars that are much easier to tune such as the Supra and RX-7. As late-model Porsches are rising and Japanese cars are becoming accepted as collector cars, an NSX for the price of a 996 Turbo is looking ever more enticing.”

Indeed, an NSX is a rare sight compared to its six-cylinder competition from Stuttgart. It’s not crystal clear where where the market is headed, but for now, the early NSX and its 8300-rpm V-6 are proving that outright power isn’t always necessary in a well-rounded driver’s car.

To be clear, though, I personally wouldn’t begrudge horsepower-hungry fans—provided the move is reversible—for swapping in a trusty LS motor. There, I said it!

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