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By Warren Brown
June 23, 1995
I WAS LOOKING for a reason to dance, and found it in the rhythms of Honda's 1995 Acura NSX-T. But it was a brief and clumsy performance, hampered by the burden of beauty in a covetous world. I was seeking solitary pleasure, the movement of bodies --
the car's and mine -- over distance and time at speed. But the NSX-T was too pretty. It called meddlesome attention to itself wherever it went, which meant it spent more time parked and guarded than on the highway. That left me with feelings I hadn't felt
since Marguerite Poitier in the eighth grade. I took her to a party at Holy Redeemer School in New Orleans or, rather, she took me. Marguerite was so spectacularly beautiful, she attracted boys like ants to wet sugar on a summer sidewalk. I danced with
her once and spent the remainder of the party wishing I had come with someone else. Background: Beauty has its price, and sometimes the price is rejection. Witness the fate of Acura's NSX sports coupe, originally introduced in August 1990 as a 1991
model. The NSX has been a slow seller, with only 5,696 copies sold in the United States to date. The car's attractiveness is a big part of its problem. Thieves love it so much that Acura requires media test drivers to keep the NSX in a locked and
guarded garage when the car isn't in use. Also the NSX has a complicated anti-theft system that involves the insertion of two keys before the car can be started. One key electronically disarms an engine shut-off system; the other cranks the ignition.
Garage attendants must be told about this system before they retrieve your car. Such preciousness is off-putting to many consumers, even the well-heeled. The tested NSX-T comes with a removable targa top, which is the essential difference
between it and its NSX siblings. The cars' bountiful commonalities include two seats; mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout; dual-diagonal, four-wheel disc brakes with a four-wheel anti-lock backup system; all-aluminum bodies; 1997-standard side-impact
barrier protection; dual front air bags; and all-aluminum, 3-liter, V-6, 24-valve engine. The NSX engine is rated 270 horsepower at 7,100 rpm when linked to a standard five-speed manual transmission. Max torque with that transmission comes at 210
pound-feet at 5,300 rpm. The engine puts out 252 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with the optional four-speed automatic transmission. Torque, according to Honda's techfolks, remains the same with the automatic transmission in place. One version of the NSX's
automatic transmission includes Acura's Sports Shift system, which allows drivers to change back and forth between automatic and manual drives. The 1995 NSX cars also feature Acura's electronic throttle system, which eliminates the conventional
throttle cable. The electronic system employs a series of computers and sensors to control vehicle speed. Complaints: The NSX is too precious for its own good unless
you're shopping for a museum piece instead of a car. Praise: A Ferrari with manners; a Lamborghini with class. I love the car but can't live with it. Head-turning quotient: Snap! There goes another neck! Ride, acceleration and handling:
Smooth. Whoosh! Damned fine. Braking was excellent. Mileage: With the manual NSX-T, about 20 miles per gallon (18.5-gallon tank, estimated 358-mile range on usable volume of recommended premium unleaded gasoline), running mostly highway and driver
only with light cargo -- the latter of which isn't saying much, considering that the NSX-T has a skimpy five cubic feet of cargo space. Sound system: AM/FM stereo radio and cassette, Acura/Bose Music System. Excellent. Price: With manual
transmission, the Acura NSX-T is listed at $81,000. With automatic, the price goes to $84,500. Dealer's invoice for the manual version is $69,522; for the automatic, $72,526. The total price for the tested manual NSX-T is $8
,525, including $4,800 in federal luxury taxes and a $725 destination charge. Estimated total price for the automatic version is $90,375, including $5,150 in federal luxury taxes and a $725 destination charge. Purse-strings notes: The Clinton
administration's proposed 100 percent tariff on Japanese luxury cars would only affect 13 models, excluding the Acura NSX because so few are sold in the United States. Compare the NSX with Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.