Honda was the first of the Japanese car companies to create a separate luxury brand to sell abroad, beating Nissan and Toyota by several years. When the first Acuras appeared here in late 1986, there were two models: a dressed-up, hot-rodded Civic and an innovative midsize luxury machine co-developed with Austin Rover. Here's an early example of the latter car, found in a Colorado self-service car graveyard.
The Rare Rides series has touched on Acura only once before, in the only Rare Rides Review (to date) of a Honda-owned 2003 Acura CL Type-S.
Today marks the second edition of Acura Time, and we step back to the company’s first-ever midsize coupe. Let’s check out a tidy tan-over-tan Legend from 1989.
My friend and fellow auto journo Tyson Hugie is the ultimate Acura fanboy. He owns a 2013 Acura ILX 6-speed with the personalized plate ILX, a 1994 Legend GS Sedan 6-speed and a 1992 NSX 5-speed which just hit 100,000 miles. He was honored by American Honda for passing 500,000 miles on his 1994 Legend LS Coupe 6-speed. And he is currently searching for a Vigor 5-speed in Arcadia Green.
Hugie clearly has a case of ADHD – Acura Definite Hyperactivity Disorder.
So naturally we had to take his orphaned Acuras along with the greatest discontinued Honda ever – a S2000 roadster, my 2008 with 32,000 miles – for a run up Tucson’s twisty Catalina Highway to Mount Lemmon and bemoan the demise of these late, great Honda cars. All in the name of automotive research, of course.
Breaking into the Luxury market isn’t easy. Toyota has arguably had the most success with Lexus, the only full-line luxury marque sold in America that isn’t German. Infiniti gave up on trying to go head-to-head with the S-Class and 7-Series when they ditched the Q, and Cadillac has yet to have a complete and coherent strategy. Meanwhile Acura started off strong with the Legend, created a competent E/5 competitor with the all-wheel-drive RL, and then things started to fall apart. Can the RLX bring the brand back?
Back in 1987 the only V8 I knew about was made out of tomatoes and some weird spicy stuff. I was all of 14 then, and my concerns in life were little more than the infrequent dating opportunity and eating out (my mom didn’t believe in cooking). There was college… but that seemed as far away as the drop dead gorgeous brunette who sat two desks in front of me in Spanish class. I was terrible in Spanish, and with good reason. Back then I remember trying in vain to read my Spanish homework at the local Audi customer’s lounge. A place my mom frequently visited and despised for 5000 good reasons. Later that evening, a 60 minutes expose would result in our Audi being taken straight to a dealership one more time. But this time the sign up front said ‘Acura’.
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