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The Clarion Builds 1991 Acura NSX Tears Up the Track

Supercharged Acura NSX 3.2L engine

The supercharged 3.2L engine was breathing easy thanks to a custom AEM intake system.

Clarion Acura NSX at Willow Springs International Raceway

The car performed magnificently mobbing around Horse Thief Mile at Willow Springs International Raceway.

Last year, Clarion Corporation of America introduced their Clarion Builds program: a collaborative effort with specific partners to restore and restyle iconic cars. These cars are in turn sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction, with the proceeds going to charity. The first project they chose to restore was a 1974 BMW 2002. With that build being a huge success, Clarion decided to do it again. For this year’s endeavor, Clarion selected a bone stock 1991 Acura NSX to restore. The premise was the same as last year, build a clean example of the car with subtle design cues, modest performance enhancements, and classy upgrades all while keeping the integrity and heritage of the car intact.

AEM was a partner on this year’s build and it was no surprise, considering AEM’s extensive knowledge of the import market. The first part of AEM’s involvement was a custom built air intake system. The system included a carbon fiber airbox and performance air filter made from a 3D printed mold. “The whole system was organically shaped to straighten out the flow path as much as possible”, explained Matt Stevens, Product Development Engineer at AEM Intakes. This intake frees up the airflow into the supercharged 3.2L motor.

AEM-sponsored two-time Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg

AEM-sponsored Ryan Forsberg was the designated track tester for the Clarion Builds NSX project.

Helping the engine inhale was only half of the equation, getting the air out of the engine was another task and AEM was up to the challenge of creating a one-off exhaust for the Acura. Starting with removing the stock exhaust system and gathering 3D geometry, AEM CAD designed a completely custom system. They then 3D printed the fixtures, CNC mandrel bent the stainless tubing, and TIG-welded the system before testing and installing it. “We aimed to design and build a freer flowing, better sounding exhaust system for this build,” stated Ian Cannarozzi, Product Development Engineer for AEM. “One of the elements we utilized was a crossover pipe. This does two things, first it allows for pressure from the exhaust gases to expand between the two banks and second it allowed sound from each bank to attenuate the other through destructive interference producing a more tuned sound.” The mufflers used for this system are a straight flow-through, absorption type, glass pack design, which were perfect to get the desired sound from the 3.2L motor. The end result is a better flowing and killer sounding exhaust system to complement the AEM intake system. In no time, the NSX was breathing better and ready to be buttoned up.

Clarion Acura NSX

Clarion’s NSX was a fire-breather when AEM was done with it.

With everything completed, the NSX was ready for its track debut. Clarion invited its partners, media, and VIPs out to Willow Springs International Speedway, in Rosamond, California to see and ride in the final product. The driver for the day wasA EM-sponsored two-time Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg. Chris is no stranger to the Clarion Builds program, he was the test driver for the previous BMW build as well. We were able to grab a few minutes with Chris in between hot laps in the car and what was most apparent was how impressed he was with the finished product. “The car is obviously built for the street, but it is handling the track great,” he went on to talk about the AEM products, “the sound through the AEM intake and exhaust is perfect. It is nice to see amazing craftsmanship and quality going into these builds.”

It was apparent that the media and VIPs were thoroughly enjoying the rides in the NSX as each one that exited the car after a lap had an ear-to-ear smile on their face. The throaty, supercar-esque exhaust note echoed through the hills around the Horse Thief Mile track that was being used for testing. The car proved to be well-built, as even after hours of testing around the track, it performed as expected lap after lap.

The AEM intake and exhaust handled everything that was thrown at it. The IAT never rose into worrying levels and always provided the CT supercharged motor with abundant clean, cool air. While out back, the exhaust handled getting the hot, pressurized exhaust gases away from the motor and did so in a rowdy fashion.

Chris Forsberg Drives Clarion Acura NSX

With a professional drift driver behind the wheel, it was only a matter of time before he got the 25-year old Acura sideways.

AEM Exhause Clarion Acura NSX

A specially designed AEM exhaust was created to really set this build apart.

The Clarion Builds 1991 NSX has been a great project and AEM is stoked to have been a part of the build. Without a doubt, this car is sure to put smiles on lots of faces in the following months. Be sure to check back with us to see how well the NSX does at Barrett-Jackson.


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