In 1984 Honda commissioned Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina Xperimental), which had a mid-mounted 2.0L V6 configuration.
The production NSX was designed by a team led by Chief Designer Ken Okuyama and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who was also in charge of the S2000 project. At its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 sports car enthusiasts were astonished by its pronounced cockpit forward attitude. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyuma and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit.
Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima was involved with Honda in the NSX's early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning; but Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for who Honda themselves had powered all three of his world championship winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda's main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after testing the car at Honda's Suzuka GP circuit in Japan.