Acura-ddicted: Owning an Entire Late 1990s Acura Fleet

Written November 2020

A two-page advertisement in the Spring/Summer 1997 issue of Acura Driver magazine talks about the attributes of each of the brand’s six models, then invites the reader to pick whichever model most closely aligns with the attribute he or she would like to emphasize. That decision, the ad suggests, could be a tough one to reach. Alternatively, it could be resolved by “getting yourself a really big garage.”

I was only 15 years old when that magazine was printed, and I had recently become fascinated with the Acura brand since my mom was driving a 1990 Integra sedan at the time. It wasn’t until several years later that I got my own first Acura, but somehow, I ended up becoming exactly the type of person that Acura Driver magazine described. It took me over 20 years to do it. But in October 2020, I sealed the deal on my 22nd Acura overall, a 1999 2.3CL, and it happened to be the final puzzle piece to that magazine ad from so many years ago.

My Acuras have all been pretty well used, so perhaps my ownership experience is a little less glamorous than an original owner’s might have been. But with over a million miles on their collective odometers, my Acuras definitely have some stories to tell. Besides, I bought them at a deep discount off their original MSRP. Here’s the scoop on each of these six cars in my 1990s Acura suite.

1992 Acura NSX 5-speed manual, Formula Red on Black.

This is the “crown jewel” of the collection: a supercar I’d wanted to own for so long that I eventually set up a goal (and a bank account) to motivate me. My NSX purchase happened in San Jose, California just two weeks before my 30th birthday. I’ve since enjoyed nearly 40,000 trouble-free miles over the last nine years. The car gets driven to events with the national and local chapters of the NSX Club of America (NSXCA). I pride myself in keeping it stock and original, even though NSX modifications are popular.

1996 Acura 2.5TL Base 4-speed automatic, Garnet Red on Charcoal

The TL was by far the biggest “project car” of this collection, joining the ranks in August 2020. I recognized its rarity as a Base model with a cloth interior and moonroof-delete. It also stands as a one-year-only color, which was carried over from the outgoing Legend. At over 263,000 miles, its original inline-5 still packs a decent punch. The car spent most of its life in the Seattle, Washington area before I brought it to the desert. Among the restoration checklist of accomplishments was a complete overhaul of the A/C system.

1996 Acura SLX Premium 4-speed automatic, Radiant Red on Gray

It’s easy to tell this one was Acura’s first foray into the SUV realm, since it really wasn’t one of Acura’s own creations at all. The SLX 4×4 was a lightly rebadged, upscale Isuzu Trooper that was sold in the United States from model years 1996 through 1999. I specifically sought after a red 1996-97 model and acquired it from the Chicago, Illinois area in May 2019. The 3.2-liter V6 delivers plenty of “torque on demand,” and the SLX makes a capable hardware store cruiser. Its safari sunroof rivals today’s panoramics in size.

1999 Acura 2.3CL Premium 5-speed manual, Milano Red on Parchment

While priced considerably cheaper than the outgoing Legend coupe, this was Acura’s 2-door offering between 1997 and 1999. It could be outfitted in either V6 or inline-4, automatic or manual. I sought out a stick shift in red for the final year of the first generation, and a friend came across this exceptionally clean car in San Diego, California in October 2020 so I had to have it. I later got in touch with the original owner who sent me all sorts of great documentation on it.

1999 Acura Integra GS-R 5-speed manual, Super Sonic Blue on Black

Finding a GS-R that hasn’t been completely modified is a real chore these days. Coming out of Burbank, California, I picked up this one on Christmas Eve 2019. It needed a fair amount of work but was a good starting point, with its original B18 motor and mostly stock configuration. I put REVHAPY on the license plate because it’s a real screamer and loves the high end of the rev range.

2000 Acura 3.5RL Premium 4-speed automatic, Nighthawk Black on Black

This family heirloom came back like a boomerang. I originally picked it up in 2005 from the original owner in Concord, California for my mom when it had 22,000 miles on it. After being passed through the family for 15 years, it ended up landing in my stable again with about 210,000 miles on it in June 2019. It’s by far the most comfortable long-haul cruiser in my collection, with a compliant ride and soft-touch finishes throughout. The 3.5-liter V6 is torquey and surprisingly efficient. I call this car my Uber Black.

The true definition of luxury. Mine.

[Source: Tyson Hugie]

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