The original Acura NSX is one of those cars most of us don't consider needing modification. But if you get your hands on one someone else already sullied, you may as well go hog wild—perhaps by building what may just be the first Wankel tri-rotor NSX.
So thought master mechanic and custom car builder Javier Cantres, who saved for years to afford an NSX before simply winning one in a raffle. It had already been modified with an unknown widebody, so he bought all the parts to build a 1,000-horsepower K-series for it—only to change his mind at the last second. Instead, he'd swap in a Mazda rotary engine.
"I'm Puerto Rican, so right off the bat, we love rotary motors," Cantres told us.
That's when a golden opportunity landed in his lap. Someone was selling an FD RX-7 project car, and it came with something special: a custom three-rotor short crank. Tri-rotor 20B engines are as desirable as they are expensive, and a market has popped up for custom cranks designed to use more attainable parts from the 13B two-rotor. They're still not cheap though, and getting one as a package deal with the unbuilt project car was a steal.
Then came the hard part.
Cantres planned to mount the engine transversely using the manual transmission from an Acura RSX, modified to shift sequentially. But sourcing an adapter plate was delayed a year by a middleman who kept giving him the "run-around," in his words, never delivering on his promise. Eventually, Cantres got in touch with a machinist who better understood what he was looking for, and the part was done in a flash. With that and the custom starter motor bracket sorted too, in-car mockup could finally begin the following weekend.
Cantres says he's making every mod a bolt-in, so the car can be reverted to stock if desired. The tri-rotor setup will apparently improve the weight distribution, even with a turbo and flex-fuel setup added on. He'll cut weight with a full handmade titanium intake and exhaust setup, as well.
Because too much power made his 1,378-hp, all-wheel-drive, eight-second Honda Accord drag car no fun on the road, Cantres' plan for the NSX is to keep it a street car. It'll get air conditioning, a heater, and just for the hell of it, electric motors in its front hubs, like the second-generation NSX.
He still hopes to use it for time attack, though, and expects it all to be ready for 2024's SEMA Show. It's hard to imagine a tri-rotor, hybrid NSX being anything other than the belle of the ball.
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