NSXmobilia Top 10, The NSX Story
Together with Shawn Sejera, Curator of NSXmobilia, the NSX Club of Europe will be evaluating the top 10 pieces of NSX memorabilia made to date. The pieces are presented in random order and vary from luggage and artwork to books and models. Each is valuable, unique, and contributes to the enthusiasm the community has for the NSX.
Every review aims to reveal important product details, historical significance, current pricing, and potential market trends. The NSX Club of Europe and NSXmobilia hope you are able to use the articles as valuable reference tools for your growing collection and that they contribute to advancing the wealth of community knowledge and enjoyment.
I seemingly browse Yahoo Japan Auctions (YJA) and auction sites with the frequency and regularity of a crack addict visiting their dealer. Packages from Japan are no surprise to my wife or our mail carriers. Nary a week goes by when we do not receive some sort of exquisitely packaged item from a Japanese buying service. Considering my frequent perusal of YJA, very few auction items surprise. One surprising instance was discovering a book about our beloved NSX titled The NSX Story: Our Dreams Come True.
The listing described the book as being rare, not publically for sale, and having ownership by one of the NSX’s development engineers. The auction included the book itself, dust covers, and a packaging jacket all for around $600 sans applicable commissions and fees. After performing some research of the book title and going through some of my NSX literature and coming up with little background information, I selflessly clicked on the “Buyout” button confident in the knowledge that I was performing a community service in the quest for additional NSX information. Truth be told, I exhibited the self-control and grace of a toddler in a candy store. I was amazed at the quality of the book, its contents, and having the opportunity to own something given to the original NSX’s development engineers proved beyond self-restraint.
Once outside of the packaging, the entirety of what I bought was finally revealed. Unusual for many books, The NSX Story includes a thick card stock presentation jacket that has embossed markings of “NSX” on the front and “Verno” on the back. The black presentation jacket, which is different than the typical dust jacket found on hardcover books, folds around the book with four panels and latches at the front with a tab and slot. It is a beautiful design that is both striking in appearance and simple in execution. The presentation jacket is understated and unique and makes opening the volume feel like an “event.” Interestingly, this same type of wraparound packaging exists in Honda NSX and NSX Type R brochures of the same period. This was my first experience with this sort of presentation jacket on a book but it is now a feature that I specifically look for in collectible literature.
The dust jacket extraordinarily consists of two pieces. A much shorter (2 ¾” long) exterior dust jacket, that reads “The NSX Story” on the front with “Honda” on the spine in black on a silver background, wraps around an interior dust jacket that reads “our dreams come true” on the cover and spine and wraps like a normal dust jacket in white lettering. The interior dust jacket features a photograph quality black and white image of an intentionally blurred out first generation Honda NSX . The combination of the unique presentation jacket and high quality dust jackets lends the book with a feel of something genuinely stunning and special. Someone gave the book’s exterior design a lot of thought and it shows.
Removing the presentation jacket and the dust jackets reveals a matte silver cover with gloss “our dreams come true” and “Honda” on the spine. “The NSX Story” is embossed on the front. The book itself measures around letter size (8 ½” wide by 11” inches long). There is no ISBN to be found anywhere on the book. However, the book was copyrighted in 1990 by Honda and printed in Japan as a first edition by Honda Motor Company. Interestingly enough, unlike many Japanese language publications, the book reads from left to right in horizontal fashion. No author is listed.
Now to the good stuff! The NSX Story compromises 196 pages of the most exquisite photographs, drawings, reviews, interviews, and technical specs I have seen from a Honda publication. The pages, though not quite representative of thick photo paper, have high gloss sheen and are thick enough to exude high quality just by touch. The book is broken down into six sections:
- A Certain Attraction
- Beauty Under the Skin
- Come Alive on the Road
- Living in Style
- The Way you Look to Me
- From Idea to Reality
Each section includes a few photographs that I have seen before but many that seem to be unique to this book. Each of the unique photographs take a more artistic representation of the NSX instead of a typical press release format. Very little of the book is in English and, unfortunately, I do not read Japanese. However, there is an obvious technical nature to the book, which I can only suppose provides added depth and perspective for those interested in the history, design, and details behind the NSX’s production.
The section titled “Living in Style” profiles two European businessmen and a celebrity in a potential nod to marketing for that region. Jean-Pierre Bernard, a French actor, is the profiled celebrity and Edouard Emile Luy and Jean-Louis Bottiliero, the executives. I know very little about either of the interviewees though judging by the photographs they all seem to have done very well for themselves.
Another section detailing available accessories like luggage, watches, models, shoes, car covers, gloves, and keys is located near the rear of the book. Finally, the book ends with NSX technical specs and few photographs.
I readily admit that a large part of the attraction behind my initial purchase centered on The NSX Story being an exclusive gift for the NSX’s development team. Not one to rest on product descriptions by an auction seller (I have had my share of bad eBay transactions), I decided to research this claim a bit further. Considering background information was scarce, I decided to question those that have had a history with the NSX’s development. Attempts to reach Shigeru Uehara, Large Project Leader for the NSX, were unsuccessful.
However, a good friend would be in Japan for an NSX Fiesta and promised to ask him for some background information about the book. Upon the start of the event, this wonderful friend did, indeed, ask Mr. Uehara about the book but initial questions were met with less than comprehensive replies. Why the tepid response? Was the book being given to the development team a secret? It seemed unlocking the genesis of the book would be more difficult than originally thought. Still, Mr. Uehara agreed to sign a copy of the book so I still consider the opportunity a great success.
As an added bonus the copies where also signed by Motuharu Kurosawa also known as “Gan San”. The man behind the world famous Honda NSX Nurburgring time attack laps.
Many months after NSX Fiesta, my regular Yahoo Japan Auction combing turned up an NSX Press publication, 1991 vol. 1, with a section that covered videos and books. Lo and behold, The NSX Story book was pictured with a short description of the book in Japanese. I immediately bought it, at an inexpensive rate, and contacted a Japanese language translator. Obviously, Google Translate could have done a basic translation but I felt that a proper translation, by a human, could reveal better understanding of the text. Here is the translation:
“The NSX Story (Honda Motor Company)
If you want to learn about NSX, this is the book you should read first. There are various super shots by three professional photographers and deeply detailed explanation of mechanisms. This book has intense content and accuracy as well, and is second-to-none. In other words, this is the best book in the NSX publishing business. 8000 yen.”
We can answer several points about The NSX Story from this particular description: 1) it was offered for sale to the public for about $70 USD, 2) it may or may not have been given to the NSX’s development team, 3) the description is wrong as nine photographers are listed, and 4) it really is that good. Still, I needed more information about the book in order to dismiss the development team narrative.
More information came in contacting a person involved in the NSX’s development. After telling this person about the auction descriptions, Mr. Uehara’s reluctance to discuss the book, and the description found in the NSX Press publication, he let me know that the book was available for sale and given to owners after production delays so that they could have something in their hands while waiting for receipt of the actual car. He explained that “a few hundred, or even a few thousand,” might have been produced. In addition, he actually was given a copy from a dealer salesperson when he bought a new NSX but gave it away to a friend, as it did not have any information that he did not already know. Considering the low frequency of these books being offered for sale, I am not sure a few thousand is a significant possibility.
Where is the market on The NSX Story book and how can the relationship between supply and demand dictate future value? Supply is indeterminate but likely very low. There are nine examples in private hands and one on display in the museum at Honda’s Suzuka Circuit. But there are obviously more copies (all first editions) that exist though the exact number remains unknown. Demand is very great as I receive offers constantly for the two examples in my possession (which will be given to my children). Considering that 2nd editions will very likely never be published and the low numbers of books for sale (see below), I can only estimate that a complete volume with presentation jacket and dust jackets in good condition can command over $1,000 USD. Prices may vary according to condition, completeness, and buyer desire. Unless thousands of copies flood the market and become available for sale tomorrow, future appreciation is as likely as any of the other profiled pieces.
You would think my hopes were dashed over the continued question of publication amount and that the copies I own do not have the special consideration that they may have once had. But you would be wrong. If Soichiro Honda’s axiom of life’s value being “measured by the number of times your soul has been deeply stirred” then value has certainly been created. The book has stirred my soul. The NSX Story is an inherently beautiful book that can tell the NSX’s tale, in a compelling way, just through its design execution and pictures. The book is still extremely rare as only a few own a copy and there remains a paucity of transactions. I have only seen a handful for sale in my years of NSXmobilia collecting and NSX ownership. The book’s content is still unique, comprehensively detailed, and it enjoys a small press run. The NSX Story is an incredible book and, although not as provenanced as hoped, it is still full of everything that makes any book collectible: rarity, a degree of provenance, potential for appreciation, and quality.
If interested in a copy, you may find one by doing a Google search for the title. You will find a small but uncommunicative bookstore charging $1500 USD for the opportunity of ownership. Which adds one more characteristic to the list of what makes this book collectible: great expense.