Someone just paid $282,017 for an Acura. This NSX, which recently sold on Bring a Trailer, is something special—and not simply because the model just celebrated its 21st birthday or because it’s caught in the upswing of the past five years, in which NSX values have increased an average of 84 percent. This example is one of only 51 Zanardi Edition coupes made—and it just outstripped its #1-condition (Concours) value of $198,000. What explains this particular car’s record-setting price?
First, a quick history on the Zanardi Edition NSX. Built to celebrate the back-to-back CART championships of Alex Zanardi in 1997 and 1998, these cars possess several distinctive features. All were painted the same New Formula Red, have a lighter fixed roof, no power steering, a lighter battery, distinctive forged BBS alloys, and a firmer suspension. Together, the changes shaved approximately 149 pounds. While not quite as focused as the NSX Type-R (or the later NSX-R) sold in Japan, the Zanardi Edition NSX is the closest the U.S. market got to that hard-core model. This special-edition NSX may not be a fully-committed track monster, but it is the rarest of the three: Acura built 464 NSX Type-R, 140 NSX-Rs, and just 51 Zanardi Editions. As such, Zanardi Editions are highly regarded among collectors; the owner of chassis no. 34 went to great lengths to restore his.
Other NSXs, such as those NSX Type-Rs and NSX-Rs, have recently sold for greater amounts, such as this one-of-140 2005 Honda NSX-R with 560 km that sold for approximately $448,000 in June of 2019. This Bring a Trailer sale fell well below the overall NSX record, then, but it shattered the previous record for a Zanardi Edition NSX of $140,000, set in April of 2020 by chassis no. 43.
To get double that price, this car checks (almost) all the right boxes. Chassis no. 51 of the 51 built was gifted to AMA Superbike Champion Miguel Duhamel by Honda. He’s the original and only owner, and he even added a set of his racing leathers along with the original window sticker. The car also features low—though not in-the-wrapper—miles with just under 12,000 miles on the odometer. What box is left unchecked? An accident-free history. The Carfax for this car shows there was a low-speed impact in 2007, and the driver’s door was repainted. Of course, even when the seller is an AMA Superbike Champion, bidders still value transparency, and Mr. Duhamel included a video explaining the incident in the listing. Judging by the successful sale, his honesty was rewarded.
Certainly, the fact that Honda gifted the car to a famous motorcycle racer added to the final price. On top of that, this car’s low mileage and status as last in its series added to the overall desirability of a Zanardi Edition. The previous high-water mark for a 1990s Japanese car was the $176,000 a 1997 Toyota Supra Anniversary Edition (twin-turbo) sold for in 2019 at Barrett-Jackson’s Northeast auction. This NSX beat that amount by over $100,000. Now that the quarter-million-dollar threshold has been passed, will the best sports cars of the 1990s continue to appreciate? It seems likely.
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