NSX-y! The ridiculous Mugen NSX RR was the ultimate ode to its time
When you sit down and think about the growing industry of Honda tuners, you’ll notice this Unlimited Then there are others. Closely related to Honda carsThere’s the legendary flagship NSX, and every other car Honda makes. Which begs the question: What happens when Mugen, for the first time in nearly two decades, creates a concept car based on Honda’s peak performance? For Honda fans everywhere, this can be summed up in three words – a miracle!
As you may have read in the April 2009 issue of [Super Street] magazine, I visited the Tokyo Auto Salon for the first time in 2009. While almost the entire show was an ordeal of shock and awe for me, when I visited the Tokyo Auto Salon for the first time, I looked NSX – parked on the rotating platform. – I had a near heart attack/ejaculate in my pants experience. When I finally got back, I remember frantically taking photos and there were other photographers frantically trying to make ends meet. After about two minutes and fifty takes, my boss JDM Wong came up to me and said, “So… you like this car, huh?” sarcastically “Ah…yes!” I couldn’t help but mutter. John smiled and replied, “Great, you can shoot on Tuesday!”
When I got back to my hotel room that night, all I could think about was making sure the car looked the best it could. Sure, I’ve photographed a lot of amazing cars in Japan, but for the die-hard Mugen fans out there, this is probably the coolest car I’ve ever seen. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, not equipped with female genitalia, and I still can’t wait to get my hands on it.
On the day of the shoot, I woke up late as usual and Tetsuo and Jun were getting ready to go out and load our JDM rental car with the equipment we needed for the day’s shoot. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally arrived at Mugen’s headquarters in Saitama, Japan. While I’ll admit that the first thing I thought of was a picture of me wearing my new Mugen gloves and doing the Birdman sign in front of the Mugen logo (Johnny unfortunately declined), I soon became interested in shooting Mugen. Hands down as we turn down the street into the parking lot behind the building.
As we passed the staff parking lot on our way to the main area where I was going to be filming, it became very clear that I had died and gone to heaven. While the drivers sitting in the employee parking lot every day look like they’ve been wearing Honda tuners all year round, we have bigger fish to fry—and very little time. I didn’t realize this until I was unloading my gear and Tetsu explained frantically: “They were having a meeting sometime…” This left me about an hour to photograph the NSX RR and Civic RR Advanced… nope let’s say I spent most of my time with this beast.
When I finally finished setting up my equipment, I decided to scour the grounds to find the best place to photograph my dream car… Unfortunately, although by Japanese standards, M-TEC is actually a huge facility, there is no such place. . I had all kinds of nooks and crannies – all in the same 40 square feet of concrete covered in harsh shadows, ugly grilles, and a very distracting background… but I got over it, hell, I’m in Japan, in Mugen – for free! So I did what I do best and tried to do the best I could with what I had.
Mugen realized that time was of the essence and assembled a team of workers to take on the arduous task of transporting this automotive masterpiece. Once the location was determined, the team quickly moved the car into place and I began moving under the lights. Photographing a white car in the afternoon can be one of the most difficult scenes to shoot – and coincidentally, it’s also one of my favorites. When setting up the lights, I knew how difficult it was to show all the technical aspects of the car through photos.
While I was putting the car together, there were a million things running through my mind. Will the photos look good? Should I ask the museum? Do they want to sponsor my EK? The list goes on, but once I started shooting, I got into a rhythm. Looking at the car’s graceful curves, I did my best to accurately capture every intricate detail. The way the brushed aluminum badges reflect light, how the fenders tumble over eerily sharp shoulders, and the carbon fiber grain are all equally important.
It’s a work of aerodynamic genius, with styling and performance derived directly from the SuperGT. The way the spoon peeks out over the rooftops sends shivers down your spine. It’s easy to tell that Mugen takes great pride in his handiwork – there were less than five employees watching my every move at any given time, making sure nothing on the car was hurt and that every last mark was straight and clean, and moving the car wherever I needed to – usually… A photographer would have to pay $2000 a day for this type of assistant team.
After photographing most of the exterior, I started photographing the engine compartment. For those who are not familiar with the NSX, the car’s engine design has been completely changed. C Series engines are usually mounted transversely, in other words, from left to right. The Mugen team decided to take the car’s development to another level and move the engine directly in the middle of the cabin in a longitudinal or front-to-rear configuration. This engine design allowed the team to create custom headers that now lead directly from the rear into the exhaust instead of wrapping around under the engine like an OEM configuration, resulting in a shorter/freer exhaust system.
Once I finished the engine bay, I moved on to the interior which is all red suede. After taking some quick photos, I decided to try my luck and asked Tetsuo if I could take some photos while sitting in the car. Fortunately, Mugen complied and I took off my clothes and entered. It took all my willpower to stop myself from grabbing the wheel and pretending to tear up the statement. Some pictures of the transmission, console and instrument cluster will suffice.
Before I knew it, John was looking at me with a “you better hurry” look and I knew my time with this car was almost over. As I walked up the stairs toward the upstairs cafeteria overlooking the RR, I allowed the team to reposition the car one last time. Once in position, I steered the car into position and had JDM Wong run around the car to reposition the lights. It seemed like 5 minutes of my 50 minutes of driving had passed – but I didn’t care. That’s all the time I need.
Of all the cars I’ve photographed, this is not only my personal favorite, it’s probably the most important and has the best story yet. While putting together the very vague spec sheet and talking to Charles about the car, he mentioned something I never realized – being a huge Mugen enthusiast, he talked about how we had studied as much of Mugen as possible over the years. The concept, or the car that never was. Everything we know is basically hearsay, and now, I’ll be the one with the inside scoop. I will be the one to document this fact so that others can credibly replicate it in web forums. I’m now the one who knows the unwritten secrets…but unfortunately for you, what happens in Mugen, stays in Mugen.