Honda HSV-010 GT: The New NSX That Was Never Built
One of the things that has made GT-style race cars traditionally popular among fans and enthusiasts is their resemblance to road-going production cars. Depending on specific classes and regulations, some of these cars can be identical mechanically to the ones you find in the showroom, while others are drastically different mechanically but at least share brand names and similar bodywork with cars you can buy.
There have, however, been a few exceptions to this rule and one of them happened in the early part of this decade when Honda debuted an unusual GT machine that was never produced for the road. The story of this unusual car starts with the original Honda/Acura NSX, which famously found lots of success in GT racing, particularly in Japan's Super GT series.
For many years the mid-engined NSX was the weapon of choice of Honda's Super GT GT500 class racing teams. In fact, the car continued to be used in Super GT all the way through the 2009 season, well after NSX production had stopped in 2005.
Originally, Honda's plan was to debut a second generation NSX by 2010, and like the first generation NSX, this one would be powered by a naturally aspirated engine. But unlike the previous car, this engine would be a V10 and be mounted up front. In 2007, Acura even showed a vehicle called the "Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept" that strongly hinted at the direction of this NSX successor.
Unfortunately, the big global economic downturn that followed in 2008 forced Honda to re-evaluate its product strategy and the new NSX was cancelled, reportedly after it was already quite far along in development.
Honda Needs a New Race Car
Meanwhile, back in the world of Super GT, Honda's motorsports division was faced with a problem at the end of the 2009 season. For the following season, GT500 rules were changed to require all cars to use a front-engine, rear-drive platform. Not wanting to drop out of the sport but also no longer able to use the old NSX platform, Honda got to work on a new Super GT race car for 2010.
While developing this new race platform, Honda decided to go back to the cancelled second generation NSX project to source as much as it could. The result was an all new front-engine, rear-drive GT car called the Honda HSV-010 GT that debuted for the 2010 Super GT season.
Super GT rules required its race cars to based on a production car, but the HSV-010 was allowed to race because it was technically a "production-ready" car even if it wasn't actually sold. In GT500 race trim, the HSV-010 GT was powered by a naturally aspirated HR10EG V8 engine based on one used by Honda's open wheel racing teams.
Naturally, the debut of the new race car had many speculating whether this new NSX would end up seeing production after all, but it soon became clear that the HSV-010 would be a motorsport-only platform. It's still unknown exactly how close the race car was to the cancelled production version, or exactly how far along development got before the decision was made.
The New Next-Gen NSX
The HSV-010 GT continued to serve as Honda's GT500 entry through the 2013 season, but as that was going on Honda had begun development on a completely different NSX revival project. That would be the one that went on sale in 2016 with its mid-mounted V6, AWD and hybrid system.
In 2014 a GT500 version of the NSX Concept replaced the HSV-010 GT as Honda's GT500 entry, and the NSX has since served as Honda's GT500 entry and even won the championship last year.
With that, the brief era of the HSV-010 GT came to an end, and with Honda shifting to an entirely different version of the NSX, the HSV-010 became a unique footnote in the history of the brand. We'll never know what exactly the production version of this car could have been, but we can be certain that the NSX would have taken a much different path if not for the economic bust. The short-lived and strange HSV-010 race car will always be a reminder of that.