After dumping plenty of money into Japanese cars most of our adult lives, it never occurred to us to that these things could one day be worth something. But that appears to be what some owners are experiencing these days, as vehicles from J brands seem to be fetching top dollar at a variety of collector auctions lately. We saw a 20-year-old Honda Civic Si sell for $50k back in June, and at this past weekend's RM Sotheby's Elkhart Collection sale a legendary '67 Toyota 2000GT went to a buyer for an amazing $912k. But our buddy Colin Frost from Big Country Labs tipped us off to another two sales going on concurrently at Bring a Trailer that had a somewhat similarly astonishing result—one a 2002 Acura NSX-T, and the other a 2002 Ferrari 575M Maranello.
The 18-year-old Targa-top Acura NA2 had just 10,000 miles on the odometer and one tiny spot of paint chipped off the roof. The similarly old Ferrari logged 14,000 miles and had rock chips on its nose. Both came from comparably small production runs, and the NSX had a MSRP of $89k in '02, while the original sticker for the 575M was in the neighborhood of $225k. So, color us surprised when the NSX sold for $120k while the Ferrari's highest bid was just $110k. Say what?
We must've read the description for each car a dozen times and still don't understand how the math adds up. Both are well cared for and pretty stock, but that seems to mean a lot more for the Maranello than it does for the NSX—perhaps illustrated best in each one's power plant; the mid-engine, RWD NA2 is motivated by a 290hp 3.2L V-6 engine, while the front engine, RWD Maranello is endowed with a 508hp 5.7L V-12. Both are 6 speeds, but the 575M's was a clutch-less manual transmission, plus the Ferrari featured a Fiorano handling package (stiffer rear sway bar, springs, and bushings and quicker steering ratio) as well as a Pininfarina-designed body. The NSX is good, and was even benchmarked against a Ferrari as its story goes (the 328, not the 575), but certainly not 575M Maranello good (sorry, Honda nerds).
We're starting to sound like a glitched recording, but it absolutely bears repeating; it is bonkers how people are shelling out the big bucks for primo Japanese collector cars. Like other performance J cars of the '80s and '90s, first-gen. NSX are going nowhere but up. Expect most clean NSXes (like this one) to hover above the six-figure mark for at least for the next decade.