Junkyard Find: 1993 Acura Vigor

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Remember the Vigor? Probably not. Nobody remembers the Vigor. This car dates from about the time that Honda really got serious about its decline from former untouchable greatness, which may or may not have had something to do with the death of founder Soichiro Honda in 1991.

There was the Del Sol, which replaced the much-beloved-by-young-men CRX in 1992. Goodbye to that entire demographic chunk of car buyers, possibly forever! There was the Civic, which started getting bigger and fatter in every model year starting in 1996. There was the lack of a real minivan, which Honda remedied by slapping Honda Passport badges on an Isuzu product. There was the entire Acura line, which lacked both rear-wheel-drive and a V8 engine and got beat like a cheap gong by Infiniti and Lexus in the showrooms. There was the debilitating series of dealer-kickback lawsuits, over longstanding abuses going back to the 1970s, that threatened to plunge Honda America into a lawyer-populated Lake of Fire for eternity (more on that later). And, of course, there was the Vigor.

The Vigor sold in North America was actually a pretty good car, with a powerful inline-five engine, all manner of luxury touches, and top-notch Honda build quality. The only problem was that nobody had any reason to buy one.

You rarely see Vigors anywhere these days, on the street or pending consumption by The Crusher. I found this much-battered example a couple weeks back in a Northern California self-service junkyard.

Honda never stopped making good cars, but the North American stumbles of the early 1990s haunt the company to this day. It’s a good thing that Honda motorcycles and scooters (as I saw demonstrated with dramatic effect during my recent trip to Vietnam) have remained such a gigantic cash cow for the company.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Lunashine Lunashine on May 19, 2013

    Those of you who have never owned an Acura Vigor, may think it... some forgotten odd ball of the classic Honda/Acura years. Those of you who have had the pleasure of piloting a Vigor, and preferably a 5-speed/manual, will sing a very different and almost invariably happy tune! The Vigor is much like a European Super Touring Accord of its era, and its meaty 2.5l pumps out more power and torque than many of its V-tech cousins. The longitudinal mounting of the the big straight 5 cylinder, is proof of the Vigor's racing heritage... and the gear box is very close ratio, so much so that the big girl can wrap out fifth gear, and as a result, see the dark side of 140mph. Further exploration will reveal to the Honda/Acura novice, that the Vigor is very well constructed, if not, "overbuilt," performance sedan, and therefore a bit heavy on the scale. They are however, quite nimble in the handling department, thanks to a very firm factory double-wishbone suspension(which includes rear sway bars) and nearly 50/50 weight distribution. Honestly, if you can put one on a diet, and shed a couple hundred pounds, the Vigor's 180hp and 180pds torque will dispatch many competitors, street and track. Now, that said, if you can find Vigor that isn't entirely consumed by rust, and she's a manual, this car makes for one very willing and capable partner. (Heck, it might be worth putting some money back into one of these classic greats!) In good condition, the Vigor is beautiful to look at, and displays a styling that Honda/Acura may have lost forever. Ssssshhh. Don't tell anyone. The Vigor is good-looking, strong, and hard to find. JAM

  • Ackvig Ackvig on Jul 12, 2013

    ^^^^^ THIS. Lunashine, Elcalculo, Rpn453, thank you for the TRUTH. The comments above yours are... misinformed, at best. And I don't necessarily blame those folks, because the Vigor has been so maligned through all these years, that this mis-information has become "fact". Those first critical reviews from 1992 are about the only literature easily found on an internet search, so they have become "fact". The true owners of these cars all collectively have that "best kept secret", "secret weapon" knowledge that we are doomed to die with, knowing that the world at large we never know what really happened. Ackvig, of the Yahoo Acura Vigor and Legend club 300,000K+ 1993 Vigor GS 5sp 1992 Legend LS

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