Ask Jack: How Seriously Are We Going To Take This Whole Accord Thing?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

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.

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Car Ramrod Car Ramrod on Apr 17, 2018

    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.

  • Pb35 Pb35 on Apr 18, 2018

    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.

  • Arthur Dailey Rootes Motors actually had a car assembly facility in Scarborough ( a suburb in the east end of Toronto), during the 1950's and early 1960s. It was on the south-west corner of Warden and Eglinton located at 1921 Eglinton Avenue East. The building still exists and you can still see it on Google maps. That part of Scarboro was known as the Golden Mile and also had the Headquarters for VW Canada, and the GM van plant.Also at 2689 Steeles Avenue West in Toronto (the south east corner of Steeles and Petrolia) is what is still shown on Google Maps as 'The Lada Building'. It still has large Lada signs and the Lada logo on the east and west facades of the building. You can see these if you go to the street view. Not sure how much longer they will be there as the building just went up for sale this month. In Canada as well as Ladas and Skodas we also got Dacias. But not Yugos. Canada also got a great many British vehicles until the US-Canada trade pact due to Commonwealth connections. Due to different market demands, Canadians purchased per capita more standards and smaller cars including hatches. Stripped versions, generally small hatchbacks, with manual transmission, windows, door locks and no A/C were known as 'Quebec specials' as our Francophone population had almost European preferences in vehicles. As noted in previous posts, for decades Canadian Pontiacs were actually Chevs with Pontiac bodies and brightwork. This made them comparatively less expensive and therefore Pontiac sold better per capita in Canada than in the USA.
  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.