Borrowing ideas is a normal thing, considering the fact that you cannot know everything (at least not all the time). That, and the sum of good and bad days push you to look at other creative people and simply steal (or learn) from them.
Following information is in boundaries of a rumor, having in mind that it’s coming from the unofficial source and it is an unofficial tale but it’s pretty interesting one.
Apparently, Honda’s engineers have their bad days like most of the mortals, and they like borrowing ideas and to learn. The word is, according to their project leader Nick Robinson, that they used at least two cars as their reference points while building their new-old supercar Acura NSX. They have used McLaren 12C and a Porsche 911 GT3. How did they do that?
For some unknown reason, if you are an engineer and you want to build a perfect car, you don’t want anyone to know that you are learning from the mistakes and successes of others. So, you want to go and buy the best car you can find, but anonymously. Maybe that adds some 007 style to the engineer’s life, I don’t know. The thing is, they didn’t want to be discovered. And they weren’t, for a good amount of time.
During the testing period, Acura’s engineers pushed the benchmark cars to their limits. So, naturally, they had to break something. Robinson emphasized that they had to return McLaren a couple of times in a warranty period and they didn’t suspect anything. But, Porsche had a black box system so they had some extra information. The black box stores information like engine data (over speed), gearbox data (early downshift), state of brakes and everything that they can use for diagnostics. The exact explanation on how did they find out that Honda has their vehicle is not yet published, but they did. When Honda had their car shipped back, they found the sticker under the engine cover, saying:”Good luck Honda from Porsche, see you on the other side”.
There is no way that black box has some option to memorize your position so the black box itself couldn’t have been used for the positioning purposes. This is only speculation, but the GPS data was the only way they could find out who the real owner was. They must have looked at the GPS data because of the unusual measurements inside the black box.
The unusual data was the style of driving and speed. Who else drives the Porsche 329km/h? That was the question Porsche engineers wanted to ask Honda’s representatives as soon as they peeked inside the black box. And on which track, since the top speed hits the roof at 310 km/h?
Basically, this cannot be considered as a corporate espionage and it is an awesome way to show that people don’t have to fight over some stupid things as these. This world would be a much better place to live in, only if we had more people like those engineers. They could have made some kind of a booby trap for Honda, but they chose to play fair and to act like gentlemen.
What exactly did they want to do with McLaren and Porsche?
Porsche 911 GT3 is a track focused car with the engine sitting very low on the back. Ideal for motorsport – 4.0 liter flat six engine with 368KW (500HP), 0-100 km/h 3.3 sec, top speed 310 km/h, fuel consumption 12.7 l/100km
McLaren 12C Spider – twin turbo DOHC V8 engine, 460 KW (616 HP), 0-100 km/h 3.3, top speed 329 km/h (204 mph), fuel consumption 11.7 l/100km
Honda Acura NSX – twin turbocharged DOHC V6 on the rear wheels and two electric motors on the front wheels, Maximum total system power 427 KW (573 HP), top speed 307km/h (191 mph), fuel consumption 11.2 l/100km
When we analyze all three vehicles we could assume that Porsche was the benchmark for the steering technology, since it has a low center of gravity, just like the NSX, and Spider could have been there because of the engine calibrations. We will never know that. All we have is this interesting tale to tell our children. Or forget it in T minus 1sec.