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The Good Oil: Nascar boss pays US$1.2m for a Honda + more
Not known for his love of Hondas in particular, Rick Hendrick, the owner of Nascar team Hendrick Motorsports, has nevertheless paid US$1.2 million (around $1.8 million) for one.
No, it isn’t a diamond-encrusted Jazz, or even something suitably rare from the carmaker’s historic past. Rather, Hendrick slapped down a cool mil in order to secure the rights to build number 001 of the 2017 Acura NSX supercar.
That’s approximately eight times the car’s expected price tag of US$156,000 and puts paid to the Super Bowl-baiting teaser advertisement from 2012, where comedian Jerry Seinfeld vied with an unsuspecting NSX owner — as well as car collector and occasional talk show host Jay Leno — to secure the first NSX out of the factory. Hendrick secured the rights to the first production example at a Barrett-Jackson vehicle auction at the end of January; his winning bid shattered the record for the highest-selling automobile the auction house has had sold under its hammer.
There was possibly an auctioneer-enlivening sense of inevitability about the result though, as Hendricks has a penchant for first-off-the-line sports cars. His collection already includes the first-built 2010 Camaro and the first-built 2011 Camaro convertible, as well as similarly virginal 2014 Corvette and 2015 Corvette convertibles. The Acura (Honda’s performance badge in the US) marks a change from his all-Chevrolet garage.
Build numbers 002 and beyond will be available for fans to order in the US from late February. As far as The Good Oil can ascertain, the local distributor has no plans to officially import the NSX to New Zealand.
Saab’s back, but, er… don’t call it Saab
Plans by National Electric Vehicle Sweden to bring back the Saab brand look to have been scuppered by Saab AB.
The latter — still a fully functioning Swedish aerospace business — has decreed it will not allow the use of its name or logo on any vehicle by the former, which bought out Saab Automobile following its bankruptcy in 2012.
This will come as something of a disappointment to Saab watchers, as, thanks to Chinese backers, NEVS recently suggested it plans five new Saab models — the first of which is to be an electric vehicle based on the now-ancient 9-3 sedan — to be released over the next three years.
If these vehicles ever do see the light of day, they won’t be called Saabs.
According to Saab AB, NEVS has never had the rights to the logo and has since revoked the right to use the brand name.
The announcement has caused confusion though, as the NEVS website saab cars.com makes multiple uses of the ‘S’-word and features press photography of planned vehicles featuring the familiar logo. Saab AB’s public reiteration to NEVS comes after the would-be manufacturer signed a $12 billion deal with excellently named Chinese leasing firm Panda New Energy to supply it with 150,000 9-3 electric cars by the end of 2020.
NEVS has apparently secured a similar supply deal with a second Chinese company.
According to industry insiders, NEVS owner Kai Johan Jiang now plans to sell the 9-3s and other vehicles under a different brand name “designed to suit the Chinese market”.
How about New Fun Saab? Or Wishful Dream Saab maybe?
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION on car films
News that Senna documentary maker Asif Kapadia has signed on to helm a new film about the early days of perennial British marque Rolls-Royce brings the total number of motoring-minded movies in development to four.
While the Rolls-Royce biopic Silver Ghost doesn’t sound like it’ll yield much in the way of Fast & Furious car voyeurism or Ronin-style high-speed chase sequences, the story of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce still sounds interesting; think Downton Abbey with extra horsepower perhaps.
The film, which lists Martin Scorsese as a producer and will go into production later this year, will also tell the story of how benefactor Lord John Douglas-Scott Montagu’s mistress, Eleanor Velasco Thornton, inspired the iconic Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.
There are plenty of other car movies waiting in the wings; Robert De Niro is attached to a Ferrari movie, while an Italian-Canadian co-production chronicling the life and times of yokel tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini is also scheduled to begin filming this year.
For conspiracy theorists, Tesla-driver Leonardo Di Caprio has already secured the movie rights to a book that hasn’t even come out yet, detailing the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal.
The Good Oil can only imagine the proto-method actor is going undercover as a production line worker at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant in preparation for a whistle-blower role.