Visitor, yeah the nurbs trims kill the viewport. I only work in wireframe mode for zooming and tumbling though, so it doesn't effect things too much. Just lots of hitting the 4 and 5 number keys.
Clopper, there's not a single poly in this model. What I do is study the object I'm trying to model, and come up with a plan of attack. With NURBS there's so many options for making a surface, you just have to have the experience to pick the method that will be the most efficient. General rules I found work pretty well. For any round/oval object with any amount of symetry I'll usually go with the loft or revolve tool. For complex geometry with clean/sharp edges, I'll usually use a trimmed surface with circular fillets all over the place. And for what's left I'll use the birail 1 and 2 tool extensively. For instance, the seat was all birailed surfaces. Sometimes for a smooth surface (such as the fuel tank) I'll start with a NURBS sphere and add a lattice deformer for smoother control.
Basically, learn every tool and apply each one to the situation that needs it most. I have no formal training at all, just lots of messing around on my free time.