A Car-Guy’s Interview with the New Owner of the Clarion Builds NSX
October 19, 2017 was a bittersweet day for Clarion Builds, as our beloved 1991 Acura NSX crossed the auction block at Barrett-Jackson’s 10th Annual Las Vegas Collector Car Auction after spending a little over a year in the media spotlight and gracing numerous car shows with its presence. The NSX was sent to auction to raise big money for the humanitarian efforts of the American Red Cross, and it did exactly that thanks to the generous bid received by the NSX’s new owner Bob Johnson.
In an interview with Bob, we got to learn about his love affair with cars, how it all started and more about some of the coolest cars he’s owned, not including the NSX, which we know is the coolest of them all!
Bob, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I went to college at University of Georgia and Georgia State. At 22, I got married to my wife Patsy and we have been married for 50 years. We have three girls - Jennifer, Kim and Jaime. Unfortunately, cancer took Jaime away from us when she was just 23, right after she graduated from college. We moved to Gainesville, GA in 2000 primarily because I wanted to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. It didn't hurt that the property out in the country that I was buying had a 180’x100’ showroom for my cars and that showroom came with 43 acres of land and a big ol’ shop to work on cars!
Have you always had a passion for automobiles?
I don’t know what sparked my interest, but I have always loved cars and motorcycles. I started playing with toy cars when I was a 2-year-old kid and since then, have always loved anything with wheels. I drag raced motorcycles and cars when I was young, but had to discontinue that to take care of my family and career responsibilities. But, now with my kids grown up and a long fruitful career behind me, I’ve been able to rekindle, or better yet explode, my passion for cars.
What is your favorite automotive memory?
I guess my favorite automobile memory would be co-building my 1971 ‘Cuda with Alan Johnson. This car was bad-ass and could hit 200+ MPH and handled and stopped as good as it went. It won Goodguy's 2006 Street Machine of the Year, Shades of the Past 2006 Car of the Year, 2005 Daimler Chrysler Design Excellence Award at SEMA and Chip Foose's Pick at the YearOne Braselton Bash. Hell, Hot Wheels even made a toy version of it. That car loved competing with current machines.
What was your favorite car purchase?
I can’t really say what my favorite purchase was. I have bought over a thousand cars in my lifetime. But, the Clarion Builds NSX would rate at the top of the list. It is a great car and the price I paid for it was for a great cause, so that makes the NSX even more special.
Do you restore cars as well?
I used to operate a shop here on my property restoring cars. But, I travel too much now to keep an eye on it, so I stopped that. I use my shop now to maintain my own cars. However, when I want cars rebuilt and restored, I send them out to friends of mine that are some of the best-known builders in the country.
Tell us about some of your most notable rides?
I’ve had so many, but some of the most notable were:
1. 71 G-force ‘Cuda built by Alan Johnson
1. 69 Camaro dubbed “Battle-axe” built by Alan Johnson
1. 49 Buick built by Justin Hills
1. 56 Ford Pickup with Triton V10 built by Alan Johnson
1. Cadillac XLR Bonneville race car - World’s fastest Cadillac
1. 55 Chevy Bel Air Bonneville race car built by Kent Waters, Keith Dorton and Art Morrison
What is your daily driver?
I have a few daily drivers, but to call them a “daily” is a bit of a stretch. With nearly one hundred cars, it’s hard to drive anything daily. But, my grocery getters are a Cadillac CTS, C7 Corvette Z06 and a supercharged Range Rover.
What was your first car?
My first car was a ‘56 Ford Club Sedan. I worked my tail off as a kid to save up the money to buy it. I wrecked that thing in just two weeks of having it.
What is your favorite car ever made?
I am not a brand or year guy, if it looks good and goes fast, I like it! My favorite cars based on what I’ve owned the most of are late 60s to early 70s muscle cars like the 71 ‘Cuda, 69 Camaro, 67-70 Mustangs, 68 Chargers, and so on.
How many cars do you currently own?
I am afraid to count my cars! I think I’m currently sitting somewhere between 95 -100 cars.
Have you followed the Clarion Builds program prior to your purchase of the NSX?
I don't really read about cars too much on the Internet and didn't hear about the Clarion Builds program until I got the NSX coffee table book in the mail from Clarion and Barrett-Jackson. But, I’ll tell you what, that brochure, as nice as it was, didn't do the Clarion Build NSX justice. And truthfully, the NSX would not have ordinarily been on my radar. I’ve had a few over the years, and in stock form, they are a little slow for my taste, but this Clarion Builds one was special. When I saw that thing in person at Clarion’s booth, I knew that I had to have it!
I am a now a huge fan of Clarion Builds and look forward to following their future builds!