Scrapyard Rescue: Alex Zanardi Edition Acura NSX

It may be hard to believe, but even supercars like the Acura NSX can end up in the clutches of a scrapyard. Heck, I know this better than anyone after rescuing a rare 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 from a Pennsylvania junkyard. This particular NSX was an even more desirable Alex Zanardi edition, of which only 51 were ever made. This one was spotted by an NSX enthusiast and brought back from the brink; you’ll find the tale of this amazing labor of love here on

As Hagerty tells it, this story is not only one of redemption but of the power of enthusiast networks. You see, the individual over seeing the work of getting the NSX out of the junkyard and into the hands of a body shop specializing in the delicate repairs an NSX demands was not the owner. Rather, he was an acquaintance of the owner who remained badly injured in the hospital following the accident that put his beloved car into the scrapyard. He acted on their behalf, and car number 34 was pulled out of the junkyard rotation and shipped to New York.

The Alex Zanardi edition wasn’t any more powerful than the standard car, but it was close to 150 lbs. lighter. Handling was sharpened up, too, with firmer components all around. Light-weight BBS wheels and a special suede interior and shift knob were also part of the package, along with a numbered plaque. Zanardi himself recently made headlines for his impressive performance at the 24 Hours of Daytona with BMW, despite the fact he lost his legs in an IndyCar accident. I’d say the value of anything graced with Zanardi’s name likely ticked up in value after last weekend.

And now, after months of expensive and tedious labor, the NSX has been returned to pre-accident form. While some cars don’t justify second chances, this rare Acura NSX certainly did. The best part of the story? After the rebuild was complete and the same friend of the owner drove it home to Indiana – again, the original owner remained hospitalized – the car was sold to him as a gesture of appreciation for everything he had done to save the car from the jaws of death. That’s the sort of thing that makes this hobby go ’round.

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  1. Fred W

    Maybe that shot of the steering wheel is when the car is partially repaired, but if not, I find it odd that the airbag didn’t deploy.

    Like 1
    • Keith McCarthy

      Airbag did deploy. There’s a tear around the bottom.

    • Richard Jensen

      looks like it did deploy, look where the pad in the center of the steering wheel is ripped, they either removed the bag & backing plate, or just cut out the bag

    • Adam

      It looks deployed to me. They probably cut the back out but the wheel’s bag compartments is clearly ripped open.

      Like 1
    • Meeyatch1

      The airbag did deploy, but was cut away after the accident.

  2. Dovi65

    I wonder how much the “salvage” listing on the title knocks down the resale

    Like 2
    • Al

      Depending on the make/model car, 30-40%

      Like 1
      • Alan

        Having been in the collision business for a couple of decades, on a vehicle of this type and repaired correctly, little. Rebuilt vehicle concerns at times are perceived, not actual. As long as the history and repair process has been disclose and fully documented, I see very little, if any value impact on such a vehicle.

        Like 4
    • Meeyatch1

      The car retains a “Clean” title, but does list the accident on the history. So this car is not a “Salvage” title vehicle.

      Like 1
  3. Jay E.

    When my NSXT blew a tire and was badly damaged in the ensuing accident, the insurance company paid it off. It was subsequently purchased and repaired by someone ( who thoughtlessly contacted me to ask for my original paperwork and wanted me to tell him about the accident!) but had a salvage title. I’m sure that had some effect on its future value.
    Mine had far less damage than this one and prior to the wreck it was a very nice car. In my mind it was never going to be perfect again, even if repaired, so I was glad to see it paid off. State Farm was amazing throughout the ordeal. It was and will be my last really nice car as now I don’t drive anything I really care about.

    Like 9
    • J.T. WILSON

      I am curious as to why you felt it was thoughtless to inquire about paperwork and history? I am sorry if you consider this question thoughtless. I am trying to understand your thinking on this matter.

      Like 13
      • John p

        Can’t help but reel from the sense of bitterness in the post before yours.. the “thoughtless” aspect doesn’t make sense to me either..

        Like 8
      • jw454

        The “thoughtlessly” comment has me scratching my head too.

        Like 5
      • Jay E.

        Did the buyer stop to consider the trauma of the accident, the serious injuries, the medical pain, the lawsuits. Was there any consideration for the victims of the accident? Not everyone wants to revisit a terrible time, especially when the vehicle components (and dealership) were completely responsible in the first place. Yes, I’m still very bitter wish the car was crushed and I never got the call. Wish I had bought the wreck and crushed it myself. There is no joy following something like this, only pain.

        Like 1
    • Brakeservo

      What was so thoughtless about the new owner wanting to know if you had original paperwork and had curiosity about the accident?? I once behaved in a way that was ultimately “thoughtless” although I didn’t intend it as such. In 1982 I was traveling down a highway outside of Santa Fe, NM when a large truck blew a stop sign in front of me. The impact was severe enough to push my BMW’s engine back into the firewall. An obvious total and the truck’s insurance carrier paid me fairly. About six months later I was sitting at my desk at a State Farm agency when a vaguely familiar looking BMW 2002 parked outside at the curb. I had a photo of my wrecked car on my desk, so I walked out to the sidewalk, compared the wreckage to the car at the curb when the new owner walked up, saw the photo of the wreck . . . well up until that point (pre-CarFax days) he had no idea his pride and joy had ever been damaged!

    • T Mel

      Sounds like you’re putting your resentment of the dealership onto an inanimate object- the car. Whatever happened, it’s not the car’s fault, it deserves to live on and the new owner who put so much into the wreck to bring it back deserves to have any history you could share as it may help provide better care for the car. I don’t really agree with him/her asking for your original paperwork which is really none of his/her business though.

  4. Gaspumpchas

    Great story, thanks for printing. seems like a lot of good stuff comes out of Pennsylvania!! And Jeff is correct- this is one of the things that makes the gearheads a special bunch. Part of it is the cars, but its the people that make it great!! BTW my 64 f100 that was pulled out of Junkyard Barbies’ Pull-a- part in Levittown, PA!!

    Like 6
    • ChallengerChick

      Let’s hear it for Bucks County! I grew up in Langhorne.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      GPC, just checked out Junkyard Barbie’s…looks like a fun place. Nice score!

    • Andrew

      Levittown Pa for me also. 1977-2000. Junewood

      • Gaspumpchas

        Andrew- no way!! My aunt still lives on Junewood- been there since the 60’s! I have fond memories of Levittown as my moms whole family lived there. Uncle bought one of the first Levittown homes, stood in line to put down his $100, which was refunded since he was a vet. Great Memories where you could get a piece of the American dream for a reasonable price. Sorry this is off topic, but is another great thing about barnfinds–sharing great stories!!



  5. Frank Sumatra

    Great story, great friend, and a great save of a rare auto. What’s not to like?

    P.S. And a tip of the hat to the experts in aluminum fabrication responsible for the
    fine workmanship.

    Like 4
  6. Todd Fitch Staff

    Thanks, Jeff; great write-up and thanks for mentioning Zanardi’s accomplishments after the accident. During my time in Pittsburgh, Alex and I shared a common friend (a pilot who flew Chip Ganassi, including races where she got a full access pass and hung out with the drivers!). Alex and I exchanged some emails back in the day, and I sent up a boatload of prayers for him after his wreck. His drive and love of sport should make anything with his name on it worth twice as much, even if it doesn’t work out that way. Thanks again!

    Like 5
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Todd, thanks for sharing. Every interview I’ve seen of Alex makes me think he’s a pretty great guy. He’s also the motivation I need to finish a workout every time I start to whine and remember he’s doing Iron Mans.

      Like 1
  7. Jack Quantrill

    Any car worth saving is worth the effort to buy it back for salvage value from the insurance company. They are usually happy to do so. I did this on a totaled ‘66 911. Motor and trans alone, were worth more than 4 times the cost.

    Like 4
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Our hobby comprises a very wide spectrum of individual tastes. Otherwise so many write-offs would be subjected to the shredder/crusher to be recycled into something new like a washing machine or refrigerator, instead of a painstaking restoration. Myself I would probably take a Corvette over this and attempt to breath new life into it. But then, there are others who would take the opposing side and go for a project like this. IMHO both are correct, and the end result looks great…

    Like 1
  9. scott

    I was just wondering what bodyshop it was sent too in N.Y.? I worked for a shop in orange county N.Y. When the first NSX was hit they were the bodyshop that fixed it. It was a big thing back then. People from Acura were sent to the USA for that repair.

    Like 1
    • Meeyatch1

      Vince’s Auto Body Works in Poughkeepsie, NY.

  10. Ralph

    While it looks pretty harsh, I’ve seen people walk away from more severe looking crashed and I’m amazed that the owner was STILL hospitalized over the months it took to fix this car? Either the owner was very fragile or these cars don’t do great in accidents.

    Glad they were able to fix it though.

    Like 3
  11. Coventrycat

    Hey man, I didn’t know your name was Alex.

    Like 1
  12. JoeNYWF64

    Possible the driver didn’t have seat belt on?
    Does aluminum body/subframe(s) make it less safe than steel ones?
    They are real bashful on putting sensible length rear overhangs on most modern cars, even the mid! engine successor to the old one. Compare the new to the old!
    How safe can that be, if you get hit in the BACK of a new one, & the motor is driven forward?!

  13. Meeyatch1

    The owner at the time had a completely separate medical condition that was unrelated to the accident, and was actually the cause of the accident. So the car did its job and protected him extremely well when it hit the telephone pole. The hospitalization had nothing to do with the accident.

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