As I arrived at the most recent Lehigh Valley Cars & Coffee event in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, one dude’s exuberant words echoed the loudest around the old Bethlehem Steel foundry buildings like a hammer pounding on freshly cooled I-beams: “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!?” he shouted over and over again with dumbstruck enthusiasm.
It’s the Acura NSX, and clearly it’s rocking your world just as much as mine. That, of course, was the goal. I wanted to show off the dazzlingly high-tech new supercar to folks who’d never seen one in the flesh, and groove a bit on the ego-stroke of it all: being the center of attention in a sea of car-porn.
We arrived early that Sunday morning: a lime green Lamborghini Huracán, purple McLaren 570GT and a snow-white BMW M3. The Lehigh Valley event is one of the biggest informal car gatherings on the east coast, with a minimum of 500 cars coming from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and within Pennsylvania. It was spitting rain, so attendance suffered a bit, but the quality was there. Enthusiasts rolled in as spectators and the parking lot glistened with performance cars, all meticulously waxed and beading from the morning’s showers.
Variety is key to a proper Cars & Coffee. In the parking lot of SteelStacks — the old foundry converted to a performing-arts center, mall, and casino — vintage muscle shared space with modern exotics. Tuner kids with their stanced GTIs, Focuses, and 350Zs. Porsches lined up with Germanic efficiency. Italian, British and American marques splayed out a bit more haphazardly.
Pulling into the SteelStacks campus in the low-slung, dark-red NSX, I felt like a general walking into a mess hall. Everyone snapped-to and stared, paralyzed. The guys with cameras who stake out the entry had been enjoying the parade of power, but nothing quite prepared them for the surprise of the Acura. They did double-takes, then hustled their cameras into position, firing away. People slowed their pace and stared at the Japanese exotic’s crisp, unfamiliar lines. Of course, I was waved over to the VIP section and escorted into my slot in the front. Once I shut down the twin-turbo V6, the crowd converged like lions. Or maybe like zombies, holding their smartphones out at arm’s length as they slowly approached.
Once I shut down the twin-turbo V6, the crowd converged like lions. Or maybe like zombies, holding their smartphones out at arm’s length as they slowly approached.
Those smartphones came out en masse, while the pro shooters glided around the machine with their cameras on stabilizers. Groups of pals pointed at brake calipers and inlets. Questions came fast and furious: How fast? How much? How’s the hybrid system work? What kind of transmission? What’s it like to drive? How’d you get it? I dutifully shot back as many answers as my memory from my own review could muster, and answered queries about the specific car’s provenance by simply stating the truth: admitting I’m not an owner, but a lucky journalist there to share the wealth.
Naturally, enthusiasts rated the car’s curves and lines. “It’s cooler in person than in the photos,” said one young guy named Mike. “I like that it’s sharp and angular without overdoing it.” Others thought the car looked too generic-supercar or echoed arguments that it’s not quite faithful enough to the original version. But most thoroughly dug the car’s sleek posture and track-ready proportions as well as its uniquely fine-tuned angularity.
Car fans have their allegiances, but they all appreciate something gorgeous and cool, regardless of what marque it is. They also appreciate surprises, which is another beauty of the Cars & Coffee scene — you never know what’s going to show up, or what quirk of engineering or design is going to charm the crowd the most. In the case of most supercars, it’s the engine roar or a particularly slick trick like a custom exhaust or scissor doors. People still oooh and ahhh when a McLaren or Lamborghini owner slings its doors up to the heavens. With the NSX, the final surprise came on departure, when I turned it on to drive away. A crowd re-formed to watch. Of course, the NSX can run on electric motors alone at low speeds, so when I pulled out of my slot again, they confronted the seemingly unnatural spectacle of a silent supercar. Again, smiles all around. “That’s so weird!” one guy said with a laugh. The rest just kept shooting and staring, now knowing full well what the fuck it is.