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.
American Bobby Rahal also participated in the car's development. Senna was given an NSX by Honda, although details of this car and its fate are unclear.
Honda's breakthrough engineering in the NSX was a major contributor to the design of the McLaren F1 as mentioned in an interview with McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray. "The moment I drove the NSX, all the benchmark cars—Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini—I had been using as references in the development of my car vanished from my mind. Of course the car we would create, the McLaren F1, needed to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX's ride quality and handling would become our new design target." The NSX was also the world's first all-aluminum and aluminum monocoque chassis production car, and was also marketed as the "Everyday Supercar" thanks in part to its ease of use, quality and reliability. Murray himself remained an NSX owner for 7 years.