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Write what you drive

A showcase of independent motoring journalism and automotive travails

NSX - Would you?

Another poser for the discerning petrol-head here... On following a still beautifully sleek Honda NSX down the dual carriageway the other day, I found myself wondering; who would buy one in this day and age?

I'm an unashamed fan of the NSX, not that there should be any hint of shame to it. By all accounts it is a fine, user-friendly car with a great engine and a chassis that may or may not have been tuned by Ayrton Senna (which, true or not, is a lot closer than any other car can claim). Rowan Atkinson has been a vocal supporter and appreciates that it is without image - a criticism I have levelled at some more recent Japanese coupes.

Even the pre-facelift models still look good and Honda's reputation for unimpeachable reliability make it a fairly risk-free choice, as far as possible with a car of this type. Having said all that, I wouldn't buy one - and I can't imagine many who would.

Part of the problem is the used prices, which are sky high (anything from around £20k for an earlier model up to £40k for the later 3.2L versions) due to the fact that the question of why to buy one wasn't an easy one to answer 15 years ago either - and as such there just aren't that many about.

An NSX owner of over 10 years I spoke to at JapFest maintains that used prices are currently increasing at such a rate that you could buy an NSX, enjoy it for a year and sell it on for enough profit to cover your running costs (fuel aside). His recommendation of this scheme did rather overlook my lack of the requisite £30k or so to buy one in the first place, but is an illustration of the rate at which their stock is rising.

These increasing prices push it into the areas where you can get a lot more for your money - usually with a more prestigious badge on the boot lid, a problem the NSX has always battled with. A 997 Porsche 911 or Cayman S are easily within reach, along with the Lotus Evora, which I have a sneaking regard for (I'm a sucker for a mid-mounted Toyota engine). Even towards the lower end of an NSX budget, you'd have to decide against a brand new VW Scirocco or Toyota GT-86 - if you're determined to go Japanese.

I'm perhaps overlooking the significance of depreciation with any of these examples. Forget about NSX-style recovery of running costs after a year of ownership, but is the depreciation worth the hit to own something, admittedly lacking pop-up lights, but also 15 years more modern? When contemplating spending up to £40k on a sports car, it's unlikely thriftiness is your key concern anyway.

All of which means that you'd have to be a serious fan with considerable financial clout to splash out that much on one. I'm not either of those things, although I do have some respect for the man driving the one I followed. He had clearly taken very good care of it, and I suppose I don't know if he bought it new 20 years ago or used 20 minutes ago but either way it would have required a single-mindedness that must be admired at least as much as it is questioned.

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