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Honda History: The Recalled Acura NSX Emblem

No detail was overlooked by Soichiro Honda -- right down to a seemingly minor design element on the Acura logo. In the late 80s, the Acura brand would be new to the world. Soichiro felt every emblem on Honda's luxury lineup must have a visible connection to Honda's heritage and engineering roots. So when hundreds of "incorrect" emblems were already installed on every brand new Stateside NSX, a unique recall was performed.

The following story about Acura's last minute NSX emblem change comes to us via Ed Somers, an NSX owner who originally posted this story on the Facebook group Honda Toys & Collectibles. Many thanks to Ed for sharing it and letting us re-post it here!

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Several years ago when I purchased my first NSX and drove it back home 1500 miles, I got stuck in Louiseville, KY due to a master and slave cylinder problem. While I was waiting, I walked into a book store and purchased a Hemming’s Sports & Exotic Car Magazine. I happened to spot a letter to the editor in response to a past article on Acura’s history. It was from an employee of the ad agency that helped develop the Acura logo. In 1989, with the role out of the NSX quickly approaching, the agency had already printed brochures with the logo on the prototype cars and incorporated in the text. These brochures were printed early. In fact, so early that Soichiro Honda, who was retired but was still the “Supreme Advisor” of the company that bears his name, hadn't approved the logo which resembled calipers without the cross member of the Honda H. When he saw it he went ballistic and had it changed to the current logo of the Honda H pinched at the top to resemble the letter A to symbolize the connection of Honda to Acura and calipers of precision engineering.

However, some printed brochures had already gone out. And the NSX prototype used in the brochures had the unapproved hood logo as well. The first printing of the silver and black table book also had the wrong logo and the reprint of the August 1990 Road & Track First Test article had the wrong logo also. Most were returned before they were given out. There are also supposed to be some hood emblems out there with the wrong logo that the ad agency had. This story is per the letter to the editor.

Now, move to a year ago when a thread was posted on the NSX Prime forum about the first brochures. I posted that I happen to have two brochures with the incorrect logo. Told the story from the letter to the editor. And I mentioned how cool it would be to have one of those hood emblems.

“Well ask and ye shall receive.” Prime member LMR (Les), who is also the NSXCA southwest rep, posted, that a week earlier, he was contacted by a gentleman that worked for Honda/Acura in Torrance, Ca. And that the gentleman had one of the "original" emblems for the NSX. He wanted to sell it to an NSX owner who would appreciate the history behind them. He told Les, basically the same story I had posted. Les got me in contact with the owner of the emblem and I got the emblem in its original package, part number 75700-SL0-A02 which no longer exists. The current emblem for 91 to 01 NSXs part number is 75700-SL0-A03.

I spoke at length to the seller who retired from Honda/Acura after 27 years service. He told me that few people know that the first load of NSXs (300 of them) that came to America had the wrong emblem and the Honda president in Tokyo ordered the emblems taken off the cars as they left the boat and replaced with the correct emblem. The incorrect emblems were to be sent back to Japan and all had to be accounted for. He told me that they were pried off with a screwdriver and most all of them broke but all were sent back. I asked him how he got this emblem and he said he worked in the parts division. All of the spare parts were sent back to Japan except for the one he has and one that the now retired Honda PR director Kurt Antonius showed in an interview with Honda Tuning Magazine in August last year. He (the seller) said there may be a few at the ad agency and one or two in Japan but it was his understanding that the rest were all destroyed. I also found a small blurb on Wikipedia that verifies the story:

"Honda emblem inACURAte"

Peter, Nunn (October 1990) Wheels (Sydney): 28.
"Development of the Acura badge you see here — destined for upscale American Hondas such as the NSX and '91 Integra and Legend — caused an enormous amount of agro for company underlings. The original design was okay-ed without Mr Honda's approval, getting as far as full, final production before “The Man” cast eyes on it. With 5000 examples stamped — 309 of which had already been fitted to US-spec NSXs and the balance on Integras and Legends — "Honda San" firmly suggested the vertical goal posts be joined by a small horizontal bar. The bar, he reasoned, made the design A (for Acura) and an H (for Honda) — and his was the final word. The decision caused a flurry of activity, with badges being pried off and on paintwork with screwdrivers. Every single original badge has been accounted for — and destroyed." [Mr. Nunn wasn’t entirely accurate.]

The timing of all of this is just incredible to me as I hadn’t given much thought to “emblemgate” since I read that letter to the editor. I couldn’t imagine seeing one of these much less actually owning one. I’m not sure but it just could be one of the rarest of Honda/Acura NSX artifacts. I found out later that some of the Honda executives have emblems that were pried off the cars-- and one of those sold to another NSX owner but it has damage from its removal.