Ah, the (morally and technically) complicated ways of hitting cult cars with the electrification stick—when you’re Tesla-swapping, say, a Chevy C10 for SEMA, defending oneself against traditionalists comes easily, but doing this with the OG Honda/Acura NSX will raise another kind of hell. Is it worth it, though? Guess we can’t answer that without a real-world build of the sort, which is precisely why we’re here.
This is a car that has touched the auto industry via legends like the late F1 champion Ayrton Senna—he helped develop it. Then there’s British supercar designer Gordon Murray, whose F1 of the 1990s (hey, Elon Musk used to own one) was recently followed by a pair of modern supercars built under the GMA (Gordon Murray Automotive) brand.
So you don’t mess with it. Except an American builder named Jeff (aka red_goes_green on Instagram) did—do you still think this rendering of a hover-capable NSX is extreme?
A first-generation NSX in good condition will set you back around $70,000 these days, with prices varying wildly according to the actual state of the mid-engined machine and, of course, the mileage. Then again, the 229,000 miles this 1994 Acura NSX had when Jeff bought it were irrelevant, since the factory 3.0L V6 was long gone.
The iconic machine had been given a Honda K-swap. That’s impressive when involving a properly built turbo-four and a Ferrari 308 recipient (the predecessor of the 328 that the NSX was designed to beat back in the day, which it did).
However, K-swap an NSX and you might be left with a machine nobody wants to buy—that’s the lesson the former owner apparently learned, as he was forced to sell the ride to our happy Tesla-swapper sans engine.
Why would anybody Tesla-swap an NSX?
Having owned multiple swap toys over the years, Jeff decided to fulfill his EV heart transplant fantasy using Honda’s revered 1990s halo car. And he did so by filling the engine bay in the middle of the NSX with the large drive unit from a Model S—once everything is properly sorted, this should deliver up to 400 kW (536 hp or 544 PS), which is almost double the original power, with the same being true for the torque.
The manual tranny is no longer needed, as the Tesla powertrain employs a single-ratio tranny. However, in a bid to cut up as little of the NSX as possible, the man mounted this backward, with the diff now sitting behind the motor.
Figure out the details as you roll—this has to be the motto of the build. As you can imagine, Tesla-swapping an ICE (internal combustion engine) machine is not exactly a brief affair. You have to figure out batteries, inverters, controllers, charging, wiring, cooling, all while Tesla tries to prevent you from tampering with its cars and their components. Nevertheless, the dedicated aftermarket community is getting stronger by the day and has developed impressive solutions.
It’s only partially baked
For the time being, though, this Acura NSX features the minimal amount of work required to make the vehicle drivable. So while projects like this Tesla-powered 1972 Plymouth Satellite also use Tesla battery packs, often with the cells split between the front and rear of the vehicle, this Acura makes do with a few batteries borrowed from Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.
However, instead of installing the entire Tesla rear subframe as the owner of the said Mopar had to do, Jeff discovered that he could shorten the EV’s half-shafts, partially cut the rear cross member, and keep the original Honda subframe. It seems that he also maintained the factory wiring alongside the 400V architecture introduced for the swap, so perhaps he’s considering reversing the transformation one day.
Now, the open-source logic board used by the car allows it also do its top speed in reverse (given the said tranny, this is simply a software limitation on an actual Tesla). However, we hope nobody tries this at home, no matter how viral Tesla Model S-bashing videos are on social media.
So yes, quite a bit of the EV conversion steps mentioned above are still written on a sticky note found on the guy’s fridge—Eppur si muove: as you’ll notice in the final part of the vehicle below, the NSX-EV (a play on the NSX-R special Honda released back in the day) can drive under its own power and will even abuse the rear tires a bit, with no trace of a battery fire in sight, at least not during filming.
An opinion splitter
Honda/Acura mixing the NSX name with electricity didn’t end all that well for the current, second-gen car (i.e., the hybrid sportscar, which has three electric motors, fell below its main rivals in terms of performance). However, the automaker has promised a strong, all-electric future for the iconic nameplate.
So perhaps this swap is a touch of genius, or maybe it’s the opposite: we’re asking you to be the judge of that. However, if revenge is what you seek, we’ll remind you that Rich Rebuilds, the Tesla repair shop-running YouTuber who documented the NSX-EV, is currently in the process of Cummins-swapping a Model Y.