1991 Acura NSX

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chicagotribune.com
As we approached the red light, a little girl no more than 10 years old peered out the rear window of the car stopped ahead. She gave our Corvette a long, hard appraisal, then looked us dead in the eyes as her thumb shot straight up in the air.

The Vette was green.

For the 1991 model year, there`s not a great deal of new technology or innovation in the Corvette. The rear ends of the regular coupe and convertible have been given a rounded treatment similar to the ZR-1, so the $30,000 entry- level model now looks like the $64,000 King.

But there is that new color-green.

The tyke in the car ahead who gave us the universal sign of approval hardly could have knownthe 5.7-liter, 245-horsepower V-8 under the hood sported a performance axle to help boost horsepower to 252 with the standard four-speed automatic.

She couldn`t have fathomed the quickness off the line from that 5.7-liter V-8 or the cornering capabilities from the FX3 sports suspension complemented by the 17-inch unidirectional tires.

But she knew the car was green.

She had no way to determine that the Vette sported antilock brakes, driver`s-side air bag and a trio of touring/sport/performance settings ($1,695) for the suspension, depending on whether you were in the mood to be pampered or pummeled.

And there was no way for her to know of the low tire pressure or low oil level warning lights in the instrument panel, which are designed to keep the Vette owner from messing up a $40,000 machine, or that it carried a cellular phone plug so the owner could call for help if he or she failed to see the warning lights go on.

Yet she could see that the car was green, a shade similar to that on the Chevy GEO Storm.

Actually the color is called turquoise metallic, a new exterior finish for 1991. The same color was used on the Chevy Beretta pace car at this year`s running of the Indy 500. In addition to the pace car anda host of Beretta dignitary courtesy cars, Chevy painted some Vettes that hung around Indy the same color.

Thinking, ``Why not?,`` Chevrolet put the turquoise metallic Vette into production this fall.

It`s a traffic stopper, though some Chevy folks we talked with said it actually is designed as a traffic builder, an unusual color that consumers will come into showrooms to see and then be talked into buying red, white, blue and black Vettes, Camaros and even Cavaliers.

The green Vette sticks out like a gold piece in a pile of pennies. Adding to the eye-boggling effect is the fact even the bodyside moldings are the same color, as are the side ``gill`` panels, which resemble four wide venetian blinds along the front quarter panel.

Other than the color (did we mention it was green?), or perhaps we should say after the effects of the striking color have worn off, what you have to keep in mind is that you have a Corvette.

Until the Acura NSX came along, the Vette basically was the only game in town. No longer.

The NSX is roomy and comfortable, whereas the Vette is cramped and rather uncomfortable when equipped with the optional ($1,050) adjustable sport seat with inflatable bladder that serves to conjure up pain and direct it to lower back, thighs or tush.

You sit in an NSX, you fall into a Corvette. You step out of an NSX, you crawl up and out of a Vette.

The Corvette is powered by a 5.7-liter, 252-horsepower V-8, the NSX a 3- liter, 24-valve V-6 that develops 270 horsepower with 5-speed manual and 252 horsepower with 4-speed automatic.

Make it a draw when it comes to power, even though the NSX scores a point for packing such punch in a V-6. In the mileage category, the NSX is rated at 18 m.p.g. city/24 highway, versus 16/24 for the Corvette.

The Vette, however, is offered in convertible version as well as two-door coupe, plus the high-powered King with a 32-val ve 5.7-liter V-8 that pumps out 375 horsepower, while the NSX is offered only as a two-door coupe. And the NSX isn`t green-only red, black or silver.

The Vette`s convertible top is extremely easy to use. Raise the rear ragtop window to expose the tonneau cover, pop open the cover, lower the ragtop inside, snap shut the tonneau, and off you go in seconds. A very neat and tidy package.

Aside from the Vette`s convertible top, the NSX gets the nod for styling. The aluminum body features more dramatic flair than the fiber glass body on the Vette. Only a green Corvette will attract as much attention as any NSX.

Both the NSX and Vette offer antilock brakes and driver-side air bag as standard. The NSX goes a step further by offering traction control to keep the wheels from losing their grip when starting from the light or making a quick, un expected turn.

The NSX is built on a 99.6-inch wheelbase, the Vette 96.2 inches. The NSX is 173.4 inches long, the Vette 178.6 inches.

The NSX starts at $60,000 with manual, $64,000 with automatic, although reports of $90,000 to $100,000 asking prices are common. The Vette convertible we drove starts at $38,700, versus $65,121 for the top-of-the-line ZR-1 or King.

The turquoise Vette might turn some green with envy-for an NSX.




    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

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