A limited-edition version of the first-generation Acura NSX sports car has seen a record-breaking sale on the Bring a Trailer auction website.
Bidding for the 1999 NSX closed at an impressive $277,017, equivalent to more than £214,000. The previous sale record on the site for an NSX was $151,000 (£117,000).
Whilst the original mid-engined NSX is rare to begin with, this particular example has an intriguing story behind it.
Celebrating victory on the race track
The car in question is the last of the 51 examples of the Zanardi Edition Acura NSX built. These NSXs were made to celebrate the back-to-back CART IndyCar championship wins by famed racer Alex Zanardi.
Zanardi took title victories in both 1997 and 1998, driving a Honda-powered IndyCar. All of the 51 cars were painted in Formula Red, intended to emulate the colour of his successful racer.
Although the 290hp output of 3.2-litre V6 was unchanged, weight-saving measures were used. Special BBS alloy wheels, a fixed roof instead of targa panels, and even a lighter rear spoiler saw the kerb weight drop by 68kg.
Manual steering, instead of a power-assisted setup, was also used.
Other changes included an interior finished in black leather and suede, a commemorative dashboard plaque, and a titanium shift knob for the six-speed manual gearbox.
Rewarding a different type of success
All of the NSX Zanardi Editions were sold in the North American market, wearing the Acura badge of Honda’s luxury marque. Alex Zanardi was presented with car number 1, with the other 50 intended to be sold to the public.
The car sold on Bring a Trailer was the final example made and took a slightly different ownership path. Instead of being sold, this NSX was presented as a gift to Honda superbike rider Miguel Duhamel.
Duhamel had impressed Honda Racing by winning the 1999 AMA Superbike Daytona 200 race whilst still recovering from a broken leg. The Canadian-born rider is also recognised as being the winningest rider in AMA Superbike history.
A record-breaking desirable classic
The NSX has remained in the ownership of Duhamel until the Bring a Trailer auction. Miguel added just 12,000 miles to the odometer during his time with the car, making it a very low-mileage example.
Such little use, combined with the unique history of the car, helped push the online bids to record-breaking levels. Duhamel also included a set of his motorbike racing leathers in the sale, adding to the collectability.
It proves that ownership by an American motorsport legend can have a significant effect on the value of a car. Even a desirable modern classic like the NSX.