In 1984 Honda Motors hired the Italian automotive design company Carozzeria Pininfarina to develop a sleek, futuristic car that would demonstrate to the world that Honda was on the cutting edge of innovation. The resulting Honda-Pininfarina Experimental (HP-X) demonstrated a radical departure from what was considered standard automotive design.
The HP-X featured a V6 engine located behind the driver compartment, which seated two. This rear located engine allowed for a very aerodynamic blade shape design. To facilitate a single, sharp profile, the HP-X had an aircraft-cockpit styled canopy, which served as a single piece windshield, windows, and roof. This Perspex canopy also was the only way of entering or exiting the vehicle, as it did not have any doors.
The highly advanced design was not intended for the consumer market, but had always been designed to serve as a technical prototype, to demonstrate Honda's capabilities. As a result, it faced some criticism for quirks of its design. For example, the canopy had been criticized as it would have poor visibility in rainy conditions and offered no shade in the summer, which critics claimed would make it uncomfortably hot. The single piece canopy also would not permit windows to be rolled down to vent heat. The aerodynamic design incorporated an undercarriage modeled to promote "ground effect," which had been banned from Formula One racing, so the HP-X would not be viable on its own even for racing.
However, as a technical demonstration the HP-X was successful, serving as the working basis for the later NSX (New Sports Experimental), which had also begun development in 1984. The NSX, released in 1989, would not resemble the HP-X, but incorporated several design principles developed as a result of the HP-X.