This Acura Collection Is Clean, Diverse, And Thoroughly ’90s
Photography by Tyson Hugie
Guests at my house always chuckle when they pull up available WiFi networks on their mobile devices and see what my network is called: “Acuraddiction.” Usually the next facial expression I get is an eye roll.
I’m used to it by now. After all, I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life driving over 750,000 collective miles in the same brand of car. Perhaps the automatic seat belt in Mom’s red 1990 Integra GS sedan wrapped itself figuratively around my heart when I was a teenager and never let go. I was on the cusp of driving age and highly keen on that car’s lines. It was a looker compared to the square box Chevy Celebrity (people looked, but not for the reason the name would imply) I would start my driving career in. A few years later though, I’d worked my way through the Honda brand with a couple of Preludes, and in the early 2000s, ready to start my college career in style, I became the proud owner of a 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe with a six-speed. As it turns out, that was just the beginning.
I never dreamed that 15 years later, I’d still have that Legend. Three college degrees, six houses, five jobs, and over 450,000 miles later, it now has 554,000 on the odometer and fits me like an old glove. I didn’t think twice about taking it on a 2,000-mile road trip last month to the 13th annual National Acura Legend Meet in northern California. I also didn’t think twice about taking it on an 8,000-mile road trip from Phoenix to Fairbanks in 2006. As a matter of fact, that car has been so reliable, it’s only ever been on a tow truck one time, when the original fuel pump died at 399,000 miles. No extended warranty on the planet would have covered that.
That dependability is perhaps why, as time went on, I became even more interested in the Acura brand and what it had to offer. A few project cars have come and gone in the meantime, but that Legend is now one of several Acuras that I own and love. It’s one of seven, in fact. “Hold on,” my coworker Amanda said when she found out a few months ago. “You have seven… of the same kind of car?” To which I had to justify each one—this is something I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s sort of like having family photos at the ready when you need to e-introduce someone to your kids. “Here they are,” I begin again.
Truth is, I realize it’s ridiculous, but it’s not like other people don’t exhibit the same behavior. Some people collect watches. Some people collect baseball cards. I just happen to collect two-decade-old cars from an era when teal green was the “in” color, the Cranberries came out with “Zombie,” and Dumb & Dumber played in your local movie theater. The 90s are my decade. I grew up in that era, and if hanging onto a few cream puff cars from around that time helps me to remember it, that’s all the justification that I need.
In order of acquisition, here are the cars that make up my collection:
1994 Legend LS coupe six-speed (554,256 miles): The tried and true workhorse that started it all in the spring of 2003. Its maintenance spreadsheet takes 260 lines of data in an Excel spreadsheet and the printed receipts fill up two three-ring binders.
1994 Legend GS sedan six-speed (155,057 miles): Purchased in 2008 as a “twin” to the coupe, and then restored from the ground up with body work, interior upgrades, and a host of mechanical improvements.
1992 NSX five-speed (107,866 miles): Coming along in 2011, a long-awaited 30th birthday present to myself and a truly analog and direct driving experience. Power steering? Nope. Cup holders? Nope. Just a 3.0L high-revving V6, light aluminum chassis, and exceptional balance make this one special.
2013 ILX six-speed (200,000 miles): A spry little sport sedan that Acura gave me (free and clear) in 2012 in exchange for some assistance with launch activities and a year’s worth of blogging on my website, Drive to Five. It was my primary driver for five years until just recently. My brother is putting miles on it now in Utah.
1994 Vigor GS five-speed (106,816 miles): The runt of the litter with its unloved 5-cylinder motor, this Arcadia Green example came out of Denver in July 2015. Say what you will, it’s a pretty fun platform – less heft than a Legend, more power than an Integra. And those frameless door windows!
1992 Integra GS-R five-speed (239,257 miles): My little rice-mobile which joined the family in June 2016 from Seattle. Its 8,000-RPM redline demands to be reached as frequently as possible. If you ever want a lesson on what it feels like for “VTEC to kick in, yo,” this is the car to drive.
2007 TL Type-S six-speed (97,458 miles): The latest snag came out of Flagstaff, from eBay of all places. The Kinetic Blue Pearl paint has been a long-time favorite, and at 286 horsepower, it’s the most powerful of the entire collection. Just ask my friend Jake, who smoked the tires on it recently when he visited from Virginia. He still owes me a new pair of Michelins.
Lucky for me, my friend Rob tipped me off last year on a home in Phoenix that was basically a small living space with two garages attached to it. With more square feet for cars than for humans, the home was the perfect fit for me, and I sealed the deal on it in the fall of 2016. I was finally able to keep all the cars in one place and relinquish the two storage units I’d been renting for so many years.
The garage space will ultimately get decked out properly in period-correct Acura garb, and I’m already well on my way there. Promotional posters, literature, and other sales materials have been collected and are ready for display. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll go hog-wild and furnish the area with a black leather couch or other showroom-esque amenities, but one thing’s for sure, stepping into the garage is a step back in time.
As further testament to the reason why I own and trust these cars: I live in Phoenix, and it was over 100 degrees outside when I took the pictures for this article. All six cars (with a combined 1,260,710 miles) were idling for 25 minutes with the A/C running and the temperature gauges were rock solid. There aren’t many two-decade-old cars you can count on like that. So the next time you want to listen to No Doubt or Semisonic, come borrow one of my old Acuras. I’ll even throw in a cassette tape adapter for your road tripping audio pleasure.