When the first-generation NSX rolled off the production line, it came with an aluminum chassis and body, fully independent suspension, and a 3.2L V-6 capable of 290 hp. It was the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car every Honda enthusiast dreamed of owning one day. For Ben Han, he didn't exactly know what that was like. In fact, when this particular '98 NSX was sold off the dealer lot, he was only 4 years old and still learning how to tell the difference between blue and red. Ben's 23 today, and the car he owns is 19; however, despite not being old enough to understand, let alone acknowledge the NSX during the golden era of '90s Japanese sports cars, there's no question that he appreciates every bit of it, just as much as any other enthusiast who's been in love with the NSX for more than two decades.
We met up with Ben at our third annual Fresh Tokyo Car Meet and, like many of you, were surprised to discover how young he really is. But jokes and judgment aside, Ben is genuinely a good kid. He's stationed in Japan with the U.S. Navy and works extremely hard to save every last penny, which is then put toward his NSX so he can enjoy and preserve one of the automotive world's most precious sports cars.
SS: Where did you grow up and what's cool about living in Japan?
BH: I was born and raised in San Jose, California. I had a regular upbringing with no big snags in life. Then I joined the Navy since I wasn't doing anything productive. Went to school for my job, picked three places I wanted to go, and ended up in Japan. I think the best thing about Japan, other than car stuff, is the konbini (convenience store). Delicious ready-made meals, a place to pay your bills, and [you can] even get stuff shipped to you! How awesome is that? Car parts are real easy to find, too, and the shipping costs for big parts are cheap, even across Japan.
SS: How'd you get into cars in the first place?
BH: Well, my dad is like a mechanical engineering goldmine, so I'd always remember him doing basic maintenance on the family cars as I was growing up. I'd always wanted to help him do anything involving a car. I think my interest really took off though with the Need for Speed: Underground video game, and it's stuck ever since.
SS: Why the NSX and not something newer?
BH: I fell in love with the original NSX around the end of high school when I discovered it on a Yahoo! Answers question asking about cool cars no one has. I finally saw one in person—the only one before picking up this one actually—and my mind was set.
SS: We're confused... Why is it left-hand drive, especially since you bought it in Japan?
BH: Funny thing about buying this car is that it was listed as right-hand drive, but when I saw it in person, it was left-hand drive and still had all the U.S. stickers in the engine bay and a VIN number that still checks out on Carfax. Hopefully importing the thing back home to California shouldn't be too hard!
SS: What was your biggest inspiration for the build?
BH: I think the biggest influence is Japan itself. Since most people can only own one car due to limited parking spaces, your track weapon still has to be your daily driver. I particularly like Shinbori-san's NSX over at ADVANCE, and also Jun's blue, and Yoshi's white NSXs that you guys featured as well.
SS: Any rare parts you're proud of?
BH: In Japan, it would be the supercharger. No one really does forced induction on cars that came naturally aspirated, at least in the NSX community.
SS: What about those sick Recaro RS-G ASM Ruby seats?
BH: That's an unexpected story. Autobacs is like the Pep Boys/Autozone over here, so I was like, "All right, let's go check it out." Low and behold, I found the ASM Autobacs NSX with TODA ITBs, and also their Time Attack-winning S2000 at the shop. I honestly just wanted plain black seats, but the salesman at the time convinced me to go for the RS-Gs. I thought 160,000 yen each [approx. $1,420 USD] was a big hit to the wallet, but they had them and the rails in stock, so I said, "YOLO!" Come to find these seats are worth around $2,800 each in the States!
SS: Deals in Tokyo! Speaking of Tokyo, what is the local car scene like?
BH: I like how a bunch of car guys can gather together, appreciate each other's builds, and not give any flak to each other. Everyone is excited to talk about their cars when you ask them, and it doesn't matter what you drive. We all just love cars! Then you have the touge guys and stuff like that, but I'm too scared to crash. Haha! The shops are all friendly as well, and they'll go out of their way to get exactly what you want and how you want it.
SS: Any last words?
BH: I never would have thought I'd be able to own an NSX this early in life. It's still kind of unreal to me. I'm the only NSX owner on the base, and a lot of Japanese enthusiasts love how it's left-hand drive. People look at me weird all the time since I'm a relatively young guy who has an at-the-time supercar, but I'm lovin' it!
SS: Keep living the dream, bro.