Thoughts on the NSX Zanardi

I’ve always been a huge fan of the golden-era of Japanese sports cars, which for me spans the very late 1980s (when the then-recent Japanese bubble economy resulted in a staggering number of interesting performance cars being developed & released) and the early-mid 2000s. One of the greatest cars to come from this era was the Honda NSX, a car I’ve covered in great detail in an earlier column. 

In the United States, the NSX unfortunately did not come in all the flavors the home Japanese market received. Their hardcore Type Rs, Type S, and Type S Zero were all lost to us, in favor of the much softer and frankly highly compromised targa models from the 1995 model year onwards. NSX chief engineer and overall Honda legend Shigeru Uehara was actually quoted as saying that the idea behind the targa version was to offer something of a competitor to the Mercedes SL – clearly the USA focus on the targa shows what the Japanese engineers & marketers thought of our buyers.

However, the 1999 model year finally brought the USA market a hotter NSX in the form of the highly limited, 50-units produced NSX Alex Zanardi Edition. Essentially an NSX in Japanese “Type S” specification (although omitting their lightweight Recaro buckets and non-airbag steering wheel), the Zanardi is, and always will be, the only “sport” chassis NSX ever produced in left-hand drive. The Japanese-car faithful may act like they are happy to drive a right-hand drive Type R or Type S, but the reality is that it’s not the easiest proposition on our roadways! So, the Zanardi is a very special car indeed in this respect.

The actual specification of the Zanardi is more detailed than some may think: lightweight glass, lightweight battery, and even a lightweight version of the NSX rear spoiler. The full details have been chronicled on the popular NSX forum NSX Prime at the link below.

NSX Zanardi summary & technical information on NSX Prime.

Overall, I’m proud to have sold 2 of the 50 units produced, with a 3rd currently available from Sterling Sackey Cars. These are very special and rare cars, worlds more collectible than a standard production NSX, and I think buyers should take note before the inevitable Japanese collector car price spike really starts to take effect.