This year’s NSXPO enthusiast gathering may have been held in front of webcams instead of race tracks, but the news still came at you fast: Honda/Acura is mulling over whether or not it should bring restoration “Refresh Centers” to the United States, a service offered in Japan since the first-generation NSX’s demise at the end of 2005.
This is the ultimate pampering or restoration for your Japanese supercar, an every-man’s mid-engine missile which in its quest to undercut Ferrari has in the end adopted a very Ferrari-like strategy. Need a new fuel system with all new rubber hoses, tank, and pump? $3200 via Refresh Plan. Engine-out services to reseal and replace all of the external wear items without cracking the motor open is nearly $15,000, and engine rebuilds range from $22,900 to $23,000. But, ordered à la carte, you can essentially have a brand-new first-generation NSX for less than the asking price of a 2021 model—if you live in Japan, that is.
John Watts, the NSX Strategy Team’s Senior Manager, wants to change that before he retires. During the socially-distanced NSXPO 2020, Watts revealed that Honda is taking input from NSX owners and enthusiasts to measure the excitement for a factory-backed restoration and parts program in the U.S.
The announcement (above) came on the heels of his reveal that Honda will support the current second-generation NSX with a 35-year retention policy on every replacement part you can think of, stored away behind lock and key in a special portion of their parts hubs. Bringing over the Refresh Plan, which owners in the U.S. are currently ineligible for, would be a massive investment into Honda’s legacy here. It follows a growing trend by OEMs to support their obsolete models with more than just essential repair parts, instead becoming the go-to for restoration parts and services as the first-party gurus instead of letting the aftermarket fill in that vacuum for expertise. While a lot of independent specialists have their roots in factory training, could that ever replace the team that originally engineered the machine of your daydreams?
The likes of Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota have all taken similar steps to reproduce common wear items for some of their more iconic models, with some also committing to the full-stop restorations like the Refresh Plan that Honda has offered in Japan.
“Current values for 1991–96 NSXs range from $33,800 for a ’91 example in #4 (Fair) condition to $120,000 for a best-in-the-world condition #1 (Concours) car. The 1997–05 cars, meanwhile, range from $40,900 for a ’97 targa in #4 condition to $165,000 for a final-year, ’05 car in #1 condition,” says Auction Editor Andrew Newton, in a recent update on the NSX’s market values.
That brings us to the question that many collectors are surely asking: is my Honda-restored NSX as valuable as my survivor-status example that’s untouched?
Our friends in the UK touched on this a few months ago while looking at the programs operated by the likes of Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar Land Rover, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche, most of which spurred up in time since Honda first launched the Refresh Plan 15 years ago. “For many people, being able to say, not only was my car built by Mercedes-Benz, it was restored by Mercedes-Benz, is a big deal to them. It’s the manufacturer remanufacturing the same car and once again putting its stamp of approval on it. So it becomes more valuable,” said Dave Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide. “As-built can be different from as-designed,” he said, noting that situational details can account for divergence. Flippant decisions of a customer in the high-end space or impromptu choices made under a deadline crunch when some parts just weren’t available during coachbuilding could be the reason for differences back in the day, and today’s in-house OEM restorers may not build them as their predecessors did. These kinds of variances could stand out to a judge, or worse, your next buyer.
For now, it appears that for some coveted vehicles like the NSX, seem to have a buyer at every price.