By on April 16, 2018

Just in case you’re new to TTAC, let me bring you up to speed on a few things.

0. My name is Jack and I write the “Ask Jack” column.
1. I take Honda Accord coupes very seriously.

How seriously? Well, I’ve been driving one for the last fifty-one months, giving TTAC readers periodic updates along the way. Some time ago, I caused a bunch of Baby Boomers to have mild heart attacks by claiming that the Accord V6 was the last American muscle car. I like Accord V6 Coupes so much that I now own two of them, having recently bought the car that was run in Pirelli World Challenge for two seasons by Rains Racing out of Alabama. So far we’ve had a great season, beating the S2000s for a first place in the Honda Challenge class at NCM last month and taking second place in a Super Unlimited race ahead of everything from an IMSA Cayman to a variety of prototype racers.

You get the idea. I take the Honda Accord Coupe pretty seriously. Do I think it’s a better car than a rare V8-powered BMW M3 ZCP? That’s where today’s episode of “Ask Jack” begins.

A Mystery TTAC Reader asks:

Jack, I know that you know both BMW and Honda from personal ownership, and you share the need to cart a kid or two around in a daily driver that can also reward driver skill. Here is the issue I have, as a list of competing facts:

1. I care too much about my 2011 E90 M3 ZCP. I had the car paint color-corrected, CQuartz ceramic coated, and the whole front clip covered in 3M film. This is not a humblebrag, it’s a PROBLEM. I worry about where I park. I inspect it when I return to the car. I don’t drive it at all on poor weather days – even rainy days – instead choosing an old backup car that I won’t sell. This annoys my wife to no end.

2. I need one car that can do all things. No, I’m not going to the track, so maybe not ALL things. I mean that I can’t keep the BMW as a garage queen.

3. The M3 is wonderful on a two-lane curvy road by myself, but just too coarse for all of the other parts of life – sitting in traffic, going to the grocery store, out to a nice dinner, etc. I’m not in my twenties or even thirties anymore, and the reward of a properly rev-matched downshift is frequently eclipsed by the desire for a more compliant suspension. Even with the dampers in “Comfort” mode, the Competition Package E90 feels every bump of our decaying infrastructure. I thought I wanted a road-racer that was “good enough” at being a daily driver, but maybe I was spoiled by all of those years that I had a new company car every six months to a year.

4. I can currently sell the BMW for almost enough to buy a brand-new Honda Accord 2.0T Touring with cash. I wonder whether the 10-speed is that good at picking the right gear on corner entrance, and the HUD & ACC/Low-Speed Following features look great from here.

5. If I keep the BMW for five years but take good care of it, it will likely flatten in value and possibly mildly appreciate, as each of the Competition Package M3 generations did before it. This means I could drive/enjoy the car between now and then for a low amortized cost.

So, you can see where this is going. BMW E90 M3 versus 10th Gen Honda Accord? I can’t be the only one seriously considering this. It’s not so crazy, as you can attest to having driven both yourself. So, my “Ask Jack” question is, “Can a driver who loves analog experiences be happy in the new Accord?”, or maybe it should be “Am I an idiot for considering giving up something special for something ordinary, no matter how nice?”

This is a tough one, but let’s jump in with both feet. Any V8 M3 will eventually be a valuable car along the lines of the Porsche 993 and 964. Stick-shift ones doubly so. Factory ZCP cars triply so. Mint-condition stick-shift ZCP cars… well, you get the idea. This is not a car that has any more depreciation in its future.

Which is what makes the idea of swapping it for any new Accord so worrisome. Sure, a stick-shift 2.0T touring is a nice car. But it’s fundamentally a commodity vehicle with at least four years of production ahead of it.

If you have to choose between them, stick with the car you have now. Even if you decided to treat it like I treat my Silverado starting tomorrow — no wash, no wax, driven in bad weather, and so on — you would still come out ahead financially. Plus you’d be driving a car that is miles ahead of today’s M3. You would come to regret buying an Accord, and I think that regret would arrive sooner rather than later.

Or here’s another alternative: You get rid of your backup car and lease an Accord EX for $249/month or whatever they’re going for now. You use it on everything but sunny days and you let the M3 out of the garage as often as you can. No worries, no regrets.

Now for my heartfelt advice: Sell the backup car and buy a 6-speed Accord V6 coupe for $20k or whatever a good one costs now. Enjoy a car that does 95% of what the M3 does without any worries about mileage, wear, or tear. On the days you need that last five percent, fire up your Comp Package Bimmer and let it rip. Just be careful. It’s a short trip down the Accord rabbit hole. One minute you’re just idly shopping for a family car; four years later, you’ve signed up to run World Challenge.

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51 Comments on “Ask Jack: How Seriously Are We Going To Take This Whole Accord Thing?...”

  • avatar

    GM sells a lowering kit and ground effects kit for the Malibu. Get a 2.0T Premiere and don’t look back.

    I’ll show myself out. ;-)

  • avatar

    I would get a second ride just to stave off the M3 rod bearing replacement.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Dont sell a something you love so much as to ceramic coat it for a mainstream midsize sedan.

    Why’d you bother babying so intensively for long term ownership?

    • 0 avatar

      What is this ceramic coating and can I apply it to a 1996 4Runner?

      • 0 avatar

        Ceramic Coating seems to be the latest thing to protect your finish. I do not know if it works (haven’t seen what I consider a credible review yet), but given you have a 96 vehicle, I’m going to say no point – your finish is probably already finished ;)

        • 0 avatar

          “I’m going to say no point – your finish is probably already finished ;)”

          You might be surprised! I do a twice annual (spring/fall) NuFinish application, cheap stuff but durable, and hand wash with a quick spray-wax in between. She’s got some faint swirl marks but cleans up really good, I mean really good. But I think I’ve made up my mind with just letting some of the smaller scratches and stuff go, helps me enjoy it more on forest trails where an occasional “custom pinstripe” is inevitable.

          I’ll definitely look more into this.

          • 0 avatar

            This really surprises some people. When I sold my ’93 F150, the interior and exterior were quite presentable. Exceptionally so, considering the well-over-350K miles on the clock. This wasn’t the result of “babying” the truck- took it everywhere, did everything. White color was great for hiding the occasional forest pinstripe, but other than 2 waxes a year and one interior detail annually, no special care. Of course, no rust in the Pacific Northwest helped a lot.

        • 0 avatar

          “haven’t seen what I consider a credible review yet”

          Google much?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’ll be trying to look into whether it holds any promise in preventing clearcoat brush scratches on our 4Runner. I think its a bit expensive to have detailer do it, but it can be DIY from a kit. It only lasts a handful of years, though, so it could be annoying/expensive in the long run. And as gmichaelj wrote, effectiveness seems up in the air at this point.

  • avatar

    “I can currently sell the BMW for almost enough to buy a brand-new Honda Accord 2.0T Touring with cash.”

    Noooooooooo. Do not do this thing.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Seems to me their is a lot of love here for the BMW.

    I think the OP needs to re think which car is which.

    ‘instead choosing an old backup car that I won’t sell. This annoys my wife to no end’

    The coveted BMW IS the back up car. Whatever you have now for a back up car needs to go or become the 3rd car, which I am not opposed to, and you need to pick up a DD which checks the boxes for day to day use.

  • avatar

    I can definitely draw a parallel to a much less expensive but no less babied vehicle in my own fleet. My own conclusion has been committing to preserving it (within reason) while continuing to enjoy it (including a decent amount of offroading). And the DD/winter-salt duties are handled by a revolving door of beaters that I enjoy tinkering around with and swapping out when I get bored. It’s a game of hunting around for the best prices on parts, getting to visit the junkyard on occasion, and really learning a lot about the cars and what they’re all about. I’ve mused about replacing the 4Runner with a more modern variant with better highway manners, but always come to the conclusion that I’d be filled with regret and have a lot of remorse if I let it go, even for a very handsome price.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Treat the ZCP as your backup car. Daily drive the “backup” (or sell/trade for an Accord) and only let the future collectible out once a week or so on nice days to keep everything working well and the mileage down, but still be able to enjoy it.

  • avatar

    Count me among those who wouldn’t sell the BMW.

    Also count me among those wondering what the backup car could possibly be that he must keep that but is considering trading the M3 in on an Accord.

    If you must sell, maybe a Charger or automatic SS would be a good compromise near the price point as a sporty do-it-all car with a lot of space that’s decent in traffic and in weather with the right tires.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m the guilty party that asked the question (thanks for allowing me the option of keeping my anonymity, Jack!). The text of my email must not have made clear the intent – I am under pressure to sell the second/backup car and commit to a SINGLE VEHICLE all of the time. I would be perfectly content to garage queen the M3 and daily drive the other car (a Saturn Vue V6 AWD, the one with the 250 HP Honda V6 and transmission from the MDX) – but the lady wants me to sell the Saturn and either commit to the M3 or buy something else I can commit to.

  • avatar

    It would be silly to sell the M3 at this point, especially in order to plunge all the proceeds into a depreciating newer car. If the problem is that your wife finds the backup car too ugly/old/embarrassing, buy a somewhat newer backup car. Look for one with an interior in good shape, and then spend a day properly polishing the exterior and making it look pretty.

  • avatar
    the duke

    Ashley Madison sponsors racing now? Do tell (or don’t, as they would prefer).

  • avatar

    That degree of obsession over an old BMW isn’t the BMW. It’s the owner. As such, anything new and fun that it’s replaced with have the same kittens had over every door ding and tire thump. And anything new and pedestrian that it’s replaced with will be way less fun than an M3 and you’ll be running trade in numbers before the new car smell even wears off.

    Keep the toy you’ve already got and SSNRIs work great on rain spots.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, the Touring 2.0T is 10AT only.

    The only stick Accords are the Sports (and the CVT and 10AT are also available, depending on engine) — the 1.5T is an LX with the big tires and wheels, maybe a suspension tweak, a spoiler, and red trim or something like that inside.

    The 2.0T Sport builds off the EX trim, which gets you a sunroof, better stereo, BSI (maybe — I’m too lazy to look it up). But to get the vented seats, HUD, auto-wipers, among the other toys, you have to step up to the Touring. (BTW, the ACC doesn’t have low-speed follow with the stick, either! Also if you want factory navigation, you can’t get that in the Sport.)

    It’s a shame that Honda doesn’t make a stick a special-order item on the Touring, as the chassis setup on both the Sport and Touring is identical; the Touring adds Adaptive Dampers, but everything else is the same. I’ve looked for Sport sticks, just out of curiosity, and the dealers don’t seem to stock them.

    • 0 avatar

      I found a pair of 6MT 2.0T Accord sedans in the St Louis area in 5 minutes of searching. Depending on the weather this coming weekend, I might take one for a test drive.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re getting to dealers now (after an interminable wait), but rare. There are two in the Seattle area.

      • 0 avatar

        I drove a 2.0t 6-speed (Sport trim) and 2.0t 10-speed (Touring trim) back to back just after emailing Jack.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Impressions? Good enough to trade the M3 on?

          • 0 avatar

            “Impressions? Good enough to trade the M3 on?”

            I came away very impressed! I feel that the original question of Jack, and the subsequent advice from everyone here, became even more timely and valuable following the drives.

            I should write a detailed review of both cars, or at least a direct comparison of the 6-speed MT and 10-speed auto transmission when hooked up to the same engine, but I lack the time to do it well. However, as a serious “Save the manuals!” supporter I have to admit that the 10-speed auto car was the better drive. The Accord manual transmission clutch takeup is too light, the friction point too high, and the gearshifter feel too rubbery to really be worth celebrating. It was super easy to drive, though. I’d call it “The perfect car to learn how to drive a manual in.”

            By comparison, the 10-speed automatic was responsive and cracked off smart upshifts, especially with the paddles, under mid-throttle boost. The additional cogs also make for noticeably stronger acceleration compared to the 6MT.

            IMHO, if the vehicle manufacturers keeping making automatic transmissions this well, it is going to keep getting harder to justify seeking manual transmissions for even sporty daily drivers. Another factor favoring auto transmissions is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC – Honda calls it “Low-Speed Follow)”. I deliberately found some traffic, and was able to take my feet completely off of the pedals and just point the car where I wanted it to go – it would stop and go with no additional input required, unless traffic remained stopped for a longer time such as at a light. Then, just a button press on the wheel and you are moving again – no pedals. These features are further compelling reasons for manuals to become more and more rare in the future.

            To answer the other question, “Good enough to trade the M3 on?”, I’d say yes. The 2018 Accord really is a home run. Not as a true M3 replacement, but as a better car to live with 80% of the time. I am actually leaning towards keeping the M3 right now, though. Keeping it and driving it! I guess the 80% of the time does not always win, when the 20% of the time is so much fun.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    That guy is mental. No one in his right mind would sell an M3 ( of any year ) for an Accord ( of any year ). Nor should he find something to be used as a daily driver that approaches the M3’s capabilities, as the brilliance of that car will be artificially diminished. To wit: When I get into my MT sports sedan after a few weeks of driving my F-150 the difference is massively pleasing, even though the truck is a pleasure to drive. That guy needs a truck to amplify the difference between driving to get somewhere and driving anywhere.

  • avatar

    Jack, The last American muscle car is Dodge Challenger. I beat your Accord coupe on the street every single time with a Dodge Challenger SRT(brotherhood of muscle). Your Accord Coupe is fit for a single woman looking for a hot date. Sorry to break it to you. Then again, what can we expect from someone driving Miatas around a race track and speaking highly of them and driving Accords???????

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Two of the most stupid things I’ve read here in a long time:

    1. The idea that ANY Accord could somehow be considered the last American muscle car. WTF? Hmmm…FWD, V6, Japanese, sorry, that’s three strikes and the Accord is out of contention to even be considered an American muscle car. How did I miss that the first time around?

    2. The M3 is just an M3. Drive the damn thing. Who cares if it’s a rare V8? At the end of the day, it’s just an M3. I’ve had two of them. And I drove them. I’ll never understand guys who cherish them so much that that only take them out on a perfect weekend day and then tuck then away, safe in the garage the other 95% of the time. Great, you’re saving the car for the next guy, who will, by the way, most likely drive the damn thing as it was intended to be driven. Get over it and drive the damn car already. It’s not a supercar….. And even if it was, I’d still say to drive it instead of staring at it in the garage.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. The last American Muscle Car was the Grand National. The Challenger is too “pony”.

      I’ve always said the M3 is overrated. Especially the V8 one. Just a Mustang with extremely poor gas mileage. The Boss 302 embarrassed the fuk out of it, log axle and all.

    • 0 avatar

      White Shadow wrote: “I’ll never understand guys who cherish them so much that that only take them out on a perfect weekend day and then tuck then away, safe in the garage the other 95% of the time. Great, you’re saving the car for the next guy, who will, by the way, most likely drive the damn thing as it was intended to be driven. Get over it and drive the damn car already. It’s not a supercar….. And even if it was, I’d still say to drive it instead of staring at it in the garage.”

      This is my favorite advice from the thread. Thanks!

  • avatar

    I have Accord Coupe V6 and it is the best car I have ever had.
    Double wishbone suspension, it feels very light taking curves.
    (3459 lb on 235 tires)
    It is a shame, they don’t make them any more.

    Forget BMW, now the best is MB C300 Coupe. Better engine(2 liter) than BMW, better suspension than BMW.

  • avatar

    The reprise of the butthurt boomers here is marvelously entertaining. Thanks, Jack.

  • avatar

    BMW = Break My Wallet. King of the plastic engine parts.

    MB (Mercedes-Benz) = Money Burning machine. The joy of receiving the repair bill can only be matched by dropping a bar of soap in prison.

    Challenger = Fake Hemi (Pentroof combustion chamber). Last true HEMI (as in HEMIspherical combustion chamber) built in 1973/1974. Anything after that is a pure marketdroid term.

    Accord – last American Muscle car – That’s a reach the size of the Grand Canyon. More like Last R.I.C.E. (Racing Inspired Cosmetic Enhancement) muscle car.

    Last true American Muscle car was the Buick Grand National. Turbo V6. That car was a BEAST!

    • 0 avatar

      But, from your line of thinking it had a ,,,GASP!…V6??? I thought ‘real’ muscle cars had V8’s only. Tsk, tsk…

      • 0 avatar

        Yes. A turbo v6 as opposed to a naturally aspirated v6 of the Accord.

        0-60 in 4.8 seconds compared to the 5.9 seconds of the v6 Accord.

        245 hp / 355 ft-lb of torque in the 1980s

        B.T.W. – Show me where I specifically mentioned that ‘real’ muscle cars had V8’s.

        I’ll wait…

      • 0 avatar

        “The base Grand National hit 245 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque, and the GNX pumped out a mighty 276 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. This netted the GNX a 0-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds and a 1/4-mile time of 13.5 seconds. The Base grand Natty cleared the quarter in 14.23 seconds. Both numbers simply embarrassed the 1987 Corvette, as if Buick sucker-punched “The American Sports Car” in the gut as it was shown the door.”


  • avatar

    Keep and drive the BMW as long as you can. Some day you’re going to get tired of the maintenance and being on a first name basis with your local BMW mechanic. You’ll then get that Accord and reduce the amount of unhealthy stress in your life.

  • avatar

    My advice on this is to upgrade the beater. Why sell a car that is close to bottom dollar now for a brand new disposable car that won’t stop depreciating…ever. Get yourself a used Lexus LS for that comfy ride you’re looking for and enjoy the M3 when possible.

  • avatar

    No doubt the Accord is a good way to go, but the new WRX could be the blend of performance, fun, and utility to replace the M3 and beater altogether. I treat my STI the same way as A Mystery TTAC Reader treats his M3, which I know very well is a bit ridiculous.

    When I boil it down though, I know that the WRX/STI is a cheap japanese car and not a Ferrari, so it should be easy for anyone to treat it the way Jack treats the Silverado or the way one might treat an Accord.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I’ve been there. Owning a car that’s somewhat rare is likely to appreciate in value can make you feel like you have some sort of responsibility to maintain the car in perfect condition, instead of just driving it to enjoy it. The spell will be broken as soon as you put enough miles on it that its no longer a prime example. My M5 has 133K on it now, which I think makes it “just a car” at this point, so I can drive it in the rain and park it wherever.

    In the meantime, take what you saved and put it in the market. After all, we’re talking about an M3, not a Z8.

  • avatar

    I would just tell my wife that I’m keeping 2 cars and that’s the end of it. Well, I probably wouldn’t say that but you should…

    But seriously, why doesn’t she want you to keep the Saturn? My wife drives an 11 year old XC90 and asked if we could get a third “fun” car a few weeks back and she’ll continue to drive the XC into the ground. So the search has commenced for a clean C6. Now she’s a keeper.

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