Emirati Saif bin Adhed: ‘I fell in love with Honda so much that my dream car changed from the GT-R to an NSX’
When Saif bin Adhed was playing Gran Turismo on his PlayStation as a 12-year-old schoolboy in the late 1990s, he never envisaged owning an NSX. He remembers not enjoying controlling the virtual version of the celebrated supercar, branded as Acura in North America and as Honda in the rest of the world.
“I actually didn’t know how to handle such a car, while other cars in the game were easier to handle, such as the [Nissan Skyline] GT-R,” he recalls. “The NSX would beat me, which bothered me and made me hate it even more.”
But after the Dubai-based Emirati was old enough to drive on the real-life roads, he bought a Honda S2000 roadster. And that, followed by a stint working for the Japanese carmaker, made him re-evaluate his motoring loyalties.
“I was intrigued to learn more about the brand and the cars,” he says. “I went so deep into learning that I made spreadsheets to calculate volumetric efficiency of each car in the line-up.
“The McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray based his design on the NSX – he even bought one himself. I read so much about Honda and knowing that Ayrton Senna helped in developing the NSX were pieces of the puzzle falling into the right place at the right time. I fell in love with Honda so much that my dream car changed from the GT-R to an NSX. ”
With only 18,000 first-generation NSXs ever made in its production run, between 1990 and 2005, “the exclusivity” also attracted bin Adhed to owning one. He found a 2000 model year NSX NA2 for sale in the United States, and with the help of a friend in the motoring industry, imported the car to the UAE. That was only the start of his project, however. He rebadged the 3.2L V6 NSX from an Acura to a Honda and set to work transforming it. Sadly, the rarity and prohibitive prices of parts made his original ideas almost impossible. He had initially planned to produce a replica of the 2002 NSX-R GT – only five production versions of the Super GT racer were made, which sold for about Dh2.5 million each in Japan.
“Due to parts not being available for that type of project, I decided to go for the 2002 NSX Type R look,” the 30-year-old explains. “Then, unfortunately, I was hit hard with reality that this car is also extremely rare. For example, the original seat set for the NSX Type R costs Dh50,000, without shipping; the original wheels cost Dh35,000. So I started creating an image in my head. I really didn’t like the 2002 [model’s] front anyway, so I was like: ‘Why not make a hybrid replica of the 2002 and 1994 Type Rs’.”
He describes the results as a “tribute” to Senna and the carmaker’s founder, Soichiro Honda. “Driving this car feels like being in a plane cockpit,” he says.
The NSX’s design has aged well, which means that bin Adhed’s car still gets plenty of admiring looks while he’s piloting it around the Emirates. “If I encounter a real enthusiast, they do get hyped,” he says. “Once, a journalist stopped and told me: ‘I just finished taking pictures of a Bugatti, but wow, an NSX.’ That made my day.”
Meanwhile, the long-awaited new NSX hit production this year. And it has tempted bin Adhed to add some fresh metal to his growing garage, which is currently completed by his S2000, a BMW Z4 35is, two 1997 Nissan Patrols and a Lexus SC300.
Published: September 15, 2016 04:00 AM