Reading Donn Anderson’s Motor Man ( NZCC January 2015) reminded me of my own Honda NSX story. I spent a lot of my life working for EMI Music, and during my second stint in Japan, in January 1990, I decided I had to have a sports car after I’d sold first my Porsche 911 when I left the UK for Japan, and then the Ferrari 308 GTBI also bought in England and taken to New Zealand, as neither was that easy to import into Tokyo.
I had a Miata in mind, but after my first sight of an NSX I was smitten.
Problem was that there was a waiting list of some three or so years for delivery, and the chances of my being in Japan by then were a bit remote — although I ended up staying for most of the decade.
A couple of close colleagues in the company I worked for, Toshiba EMI, were car and car-racing nuts just like me, and over a few sakes one of them, Nittasan, said he had been to University with some guys who were now top executives at Honda.
A few phone calls — and some more sake — and one of them called back to say he was in charge of NSX sales in Japan, and explained that they operated a VIP delivery system and were keen to see the car in the hands of people who had influence.
Nittasan had told him I knew all the top music stars of the time, and within a few days, I was amazed to be told I could order an NSX for immediate delivery — I chose a gunmetal grey example. The cost was just on eight million yen, after all the taxes, local-regulation charges and levies were added on, near enough then to £40,000.
Came the day for delivery, and on arrival at the designated Honda dealership I was met with a red carpet from the road edge to the doors of the dealer, garlands of flowers on pedestals, ‘Welcome Buckleigh-san’ signs, and all the staff lined up clapping.
What a car. It thrilled me from the beginning, the tune of the exhaust, the feel of the steering, responsive suspension, the seats, the Bose sound system and the engine. Honda executives came to my office every month to start with for me to answer a questionnaire on performance. At one stage I felt that the gear change was not as slick as expected, and their drivetrain engineer/designer came and took the car away for a day, returning it saying they had made a few adjustments.
I sent them photos of the car with the occasional star, and drove to every function, party, and concert in it. My lovely wife, Lesley, became annoyed as stopped at traffic lights, waiting at pedestrian crossings, or parked on the side of the road, young girls would wave and giggle, men would take photos, people would rush up to touch it — the car was a superstar on its own.
I wish I had never sold the Honda, but with both kids getting bigger we needed a four-door car — so the NSX was replaced by a new Jaguar XJ6 Sport.
Peter Buckleigh, via email [Thanks for the memories Peter — we had to edit your story down a bit to fit it in! AGW]