NSXmobilia Top 10, Michel Clo luggage set
The Michel Clo luggage set seems to be one of the NSX community’s favorite pieces of memorabilia. Offered as an accessory since the beginning of the NSX’s 1991 introduction, the luggage set’s production run did not seem to last long. Some anecdotal data says as short as six months though the set was offered for sale in accessory catalogs until at least 1993. There does not seem to be a definite answer on why the production run was so low but it is known that the luggage set was not a big seller. Perhaps the answer lies in the set’s perception as being too costly, perhaps early model NSX owners were a little frugally minded, or perhaps many did not find them aesthetically pleasing? Whatever the reason, a few years after being first offered for sale, the sets were then marketed at discount prices.
Along with an interesting sales history, the Michel Clo represents some of the more useable memorabilia. The obvious utility of a luggage set is that you can use it for collecting and transporting your clothes. The Crystal NSX or the 1/43 Ebbro Zanardi NSX cannot collect anything – unless you’re counting the money represented in purchasing them. No, the Michel Clo can be used for a multiple of purposes and look good while doing it. But wo! to the owner that actually uses them! Present and prospective owners must realize that although the set did not begin as popular or desired, it certainly is now. Excellent condition sets have sold through private transactions for as much $4,000 USD or more and fair condition sets have sold for just a little less. Michel’ Clo luggage sets pop up on NSX Prime, eBay, or Yahoo Japan Auctions once or twice a year and are quickly gobbled up by the secondary market. In fact, I know of several NSX owners that have lists of luggage set owners and regularly ask those on their list if and when they’re willing to sell. One of the Michel Clo NSX accessories, a “key chain,” sold for $718 several years ago. If that doesn’t speak to the market’s demand for the Michel Clo line, I’m not sure what will. Of course, there are owners that refute the notion of not using something for which it is designed and to them I say: go ahead, but realize that continued use devalues each piece and the modern luggage industry offers a plethora of less expensive options with more features and utility.
So what exactly does the Michel Clo luggage set include? By most accounts, when someone mentions the “NSX Luggage Set,” they’re referring to the Michel Clo set. This set features three pieces officially and individually described as “Trunk Bag – Two-Suit NSX,” “Trunk Bag – Weekender NSX,” and “Trunk Bag – Attaché NSX.” Each piece is constructed from “choice hides” handcrafted in Florence, Italy in smooth ebony and tan colored leather, contrasting with hand stitched ivory colored threads, with the NSX and Michel Clo logos embossed on the fold-over flaps/covers. From the Michel Clo factory the luggage comes packed in individual white cotton soft canvas bags. Each cotton bag has a drawstring and each features the Michel Clo logo, in black, in the center. The Two-Suit and Weekender come with tan colored leather shoulder and thin leather key straps, tan colored embossed NSX and Michel Clo logos on the leather luggage tags, tan colored leather handles, circle shaped buckles, and button clasps in faux weathered or “burnished” brass metal. The Attaché comes with the thin leather key strap and has the NSX logo embossed near the two push button and keyed lock. An engraving naming Michel Clo and Firenze (the English translation of the Italian city of Florence) resides on the button and keyed lock. Each piece seems to come with a “Guarantee Certificate” complete with a Michel Clo model number though secondary market sales are likely to omit this piece of documentation. The model numbers refer to the type of piece instead of a more commonly used serial number. For instance, all Michel Clo key fobs and hip wallets come with guarantee certificates with the number 2504 and 2507 respectively.
According to Honda parts data, the three-piece custom leather luggage set retailed for a total of $2,555, with the Two-Suit bag, Weekender, and Attaché costing $1,145, $835, and $575 respectively. The table below shows the individual pieces with description, part numbers, and suggested retail prices.
|Description||USDM Part Number||Price (USD)|
|Trunk Bag – 2 Suit NSX||08U06-SLO-200||$1,145|
|Trunk Bag – Weekender NSX||08U06-SLO-200F||$835|
|Trunk Bag – Attaché NSX||08U06-SLO-200G||$575|
Although the above provides the perceived bulk of the Michel Clo NSX Luggage set, there existed other Michel Clo pieces available through Acura dealership parts departments. These items include a total of seven other luggage and smaller accessories that compliment the line with the same design, colors, and materials. The smaller accessories came packaged in white boxes emblazoned with a red NSX logo on a gold sticker. The accessories also featured white canvas cloth bag packaging decorated with the Michel Clo logo in black. Whether large or small, unpacking something from the Michel Clo line was an exciting event and seemingly characteristic of the manufacturer’s attention to detail and craftsmanship.
In addition to the main line of Michel Clo of three luggage pieces, these additional seven, item four through ten in the following table, include:
|Description||Part Number/Identifier||Price (USD)|
|Trunk Bag – 2 Suit NSX||08U06-SLO-200||$1,145|
|Trunk Bag – Weekender NSX||08U06-SLO-200F||$835|
|Trunk Bag – Attaché NSX||08U06-SLO-200G or B00||$575|
|Small Briefcase||Black Fold Over Flap|
|NSX Leather Portfolio Special||08Z01-SL0-200FF|
|NSX Wallet – Breast||08Z01-SL0-200G||$140|
|NSX Wallet – Hip||08Z01-SLO-200|
|NSX Key Holder||08Z01-SLO-200H|
Unfortunately, documentation of a comprehensive parts and pricing list through old Honda parts catalogs, marketing collateral, NSX Press issues, NSX books, and other sources seems to be missing at the moment. Though incomplete, the wonders of the Internet, the NSXmobilia Facebook group, the depths of NSX Prime, and the incredible help from current and previous owners have helped to provide and direct much of the hard data in this article. Through these sources, we pieced together a fairly complete list of the Michel Clo NSX line. Hopefully, it will exist as a starting point for future NSX memorabilia research.
An unfortunate trait with the larger bags and cases involves their interiors flaking and not being able to withstand infrequent or even moderate use. Whether this trait is born from manufacturer’s materials, technique, or simply age, it is something to contend with whether purchased for use or display. The flaking appears as an almost disintegration of the top layer of the interior coating though the exterior may show in perfect condition. However, this seems like a trait experienced by many high-end luggage manufacturers from Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Burberry or Coach. Owners of those brands suggest sending them back to the manufacturer for liner replacement or reconditioning. In the case of Michel Clo, that option doesn’t exist.
Though a handsome name, Michel Clo isn’t a real person and the company ceased business some time ago. The official trademarked name of the company is “Michel Clo Cuoio E Arte Firenze 1562” and reflects the text within the company’s logo. The trademark is owned by a gentleman named L. Cloetta from Florence, Italy. The term “Cuoio E Arte Firenze 1562” translates from Italian to “Leather and Art Florence 1562.” While leather and art appear entirely legitimate descriptions, the number 1562 does not seem to correlate as a business opening date since the trademark was filed in 1985 and ended in 2007. Maybe the number is personally relevant to Mr. Cloetta or maybe it was implemented as a marketing initiative to infer old world craftsmanship? Either way, repair by Michel Clo isn’t a viable alternative and repair by another, though well intentioned and expert, may not be well received by the market.
There is no doubt that the Michel Clo NSX line is beautifully made and aesthetically pleasing. The craftsmanship and quality of materials are self-evident. Even the shape and size of the luggage set was engineered to precisely fit the contours of the NSX trunk. However, there is some question whether it aligns with design ethos of the NSX and reflects the technologically advanced frame of reference that Honda marketed. Considering the leather colors and stitching used, the Michel Clo NSX line seems like it was originally meant for an Italian exotic with decades of provenance instead of a new technologically advanced Japanese supercar. Perhaps Honda’s Michel Clo offering meant to help bridge the gap between the two worlds and ease transition to the company’s new supercar? Maybe the Honda parts buyer loved fine Italian leather goods (who doesn’t?)? I’m not quite sure. But to see the luggage and the car together is like seeing gorgeous paintings mounted in antique Baroque gold frames on the Space Shuttle. It just doesn’t quite fit. However, even considering Michel Clo’s distinguished appearance, it represents a valuable piece of memorabilia with a unique ability for actual use. Owners or enthusiasts that have entire sets can be counted on one hand and those that are fortunate to own individual bags or accessories are more numerous but, make no mistake, the list of owners is not long and will only get shorter over time.
There’s a reason why the Michel Clo line is popular: they’re good looking hand made pieces that were offered in limited quantities for a short period of time. Even if one doesn’t especially appreciate the aesthetics of the design, one would still have to appreciate the level of craftsmanship and quality of materials. I can imagine an NSXPO, NSX Club Europe or NSX Fiesta concours where an owner that had a perfect set of Michel Clo luggage tucked away in their trunk raises their hands in car show victory while the crowd roars in adulation and a little envy. Maybe that will be you?
*The author wishes to thank those who went through great efforts in contributing to this article: B. Lin, P. Brylek, J. Cole, E. Goldstein, and those who wish to remain anonymous.