It was the supercar that changed supercars, namely those that came from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. The original Acura NSX (or Honda NSX in overseas markets) debuted back in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show and it forever changed the segment for the better. Honda was determined to build a supercar with Japanese quality and reliability and, above all, performance. It succeeded. The first generation NSX had an overall design inspired by the F-16 fighter jet and literally overnight forced its mainly Italian competition to start building interiors not equivalent to cardboard.
And despite the fact that Honda never sold more than 2,000 NSXs globally per year, it has remained popular – more popular than many ever could have imagined. A new Bloomberg report points out that the values for a classic NSX in mint condition have doubled since 2013 when one could be bought for a reasonable $42,700 on average. Today that figure has reached a $98,700 average. To put that into some perspective, today’s figure is a gain rate steadier and higher than the Dow Jones industrial average, according to Hagerty.com. There’s further proof these original NSXs are gaining a higher status among collectors.
Back in 2012, for example, only five units were offered at public auction. Just in the past year, there have been at least 20. The average auction price, as expected, also increased from about $40,000 in 2012 to $75,000 in 2017. As with any collector’s car, NSX auction prices will still vary. For example, a 1991 NSX was recently sold in Florida for $71,500.
However, a 1994 NSX with a single owner and just 183 miles on its clock was estimated at $135,000 to $165,000. The most expensive original NSX sold for $144,100 at auction back in 2016. Ironically, NSX prices have begun to slide this year. Why? Because their average values are now entering Ferrari territory. “A big part of the appeal of an NSX was its performance-per-dollar ratio, compared to its competitors, but at its current value that price difference has disappeared,” says Hagerty analyst Jonathon Klinger. Put it like this: back in 1990 a new Ferrari 348 cost about $100,000 while an NSX went for $60,000.
Today, the average value of an early ’90s 348 in good condition is about $57,000, while an NSX from that same period is $64,000. Later model NSXs, from 1997-2005, can be had today for around $85,000, while a Ferrari 360 costs on average $95,000.
“When you look at it from this standpoint, the slight pullback in value and market activity is a direct result of this now being in the same league—or higher—than the vehicles it once beat out from a price/performance standpoint,” Klinger said. “It’s a soft landing to where we can expect the NSX to stay for the next few years.” So if you’re in the market for an original NSX, here are a few tips: a coupe is typically worth more than a Targa, the 3.2-liter V6 often carries a 30 percent premium over the original 3.0-liter engines, and, of course, manuals are more valuable than automatics. Happy hunting.