The adventures of former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison are well chronicled. His possessions include everything from luxury mega-yachts to fighter jets to his own Hawaiian island.
However, what’s even more interesting are the things the Silicon Valley titan chooses to give away as gifts.
Ellison has long been a fan of Japanese culture. He owns an $US86 million villa in Kyoto, Japan, along with as many as 500 pieces of Japanese art. So it should come as no surprise that the Oracle founder’s favourite four-wheeled vehicle is one that many believe to be the quintessential Japanese supercar, the Acura/Honda NSX.
In fact, Ellison would reportedly buy a few of these $US80,000 rides every year of the model’s 15-year production run to give to friends and top employees as gifts and bonuses, Complex magazine and USA Today report.
So what makes the NSX so worthy of Ellison’s adulation? Well, for one thing, it’s got a pedigree.
In the late 1980s, Honda — Acura’s parent company — was all but unbeatable in the racing world. The company’s Formula One engines powered drivers to six consecutive Constructors’ World Championships and five straight Drivers’ World Championships.
To commemorate its success, the company built what it considered to be the perfect supercar. It would be fast, high-tech, lightweight, and precise in handling. It would also bring a level of reliability and user-friendliness unseen in the European supercars of the day.
Power for the NSX would come from a 270 horsepower — later 290 — V-6 loaded with engineering derived from Honda’s adventures in F1.
To make the car nimble, Honda built most of its supercar from lightweight aluminium.
To craft the NSX’s sleek body, the company relied upon the its chief designer, Ken Okuyama, a man who Ferrari would turn to create its million-dollar Enzo Ferrari hypercar a decade later.
With handling of paramount importance to Honda, the company asked its stable of Formula One talent for help. The NSX’s chassis was set up by none other than the great Ayrton Senna, who is sadly no longer with us. (He died in a racing accident in 1994.)
From 1990 until it was discontinued in 2005, the cult favourite remained relatively unchanged, with only an updated front headlight design in 2002. As a result, the NSX stayed true to its original theme of lightweight, Japanese precision.
In an age of high-powered supercars, the NSX goes about its business in a truly understated Japanese manner. No V-12 engines. No turbos. No all-wheel drive — and, for a long time, no power steering. Just pure driving pleasure.
So why does Larry Ellison love the NSX? Probably because it’s Honda’s defiant “take that!” for its European and American competitors.
Knowing Ellison’s brash and aggressive style of business, that sounds like something he would understand.