Back in ‘95, I was not particularly concerned with Acura’s lineup. I didn’t care much about cars in general then, but if anything interested me it was going to be the muscle cars and European sports cars of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. How little I knew.
This ‘95 Acura lineup, recently uploaded by the excellent HondaBrochures Flickr account, is some all killer/no filler wonder:
I remember laughing that Acura sold a car called the ‘Legend.’ Ha! Legend was something you saved for a Ferrari 250 or an LS6-engine Chevelle.
What a dweeb.
Take a look at how clean that ‘95 Legend looks today. The two-door particularly stands out in contrast to today’s wildly overstyled designs. You might not think much of the specs today, given that these cars weighed around 3,500 pounds and only had 210 horsepower to offer the front wheels alone. But they had their 3.2 liter V6s facing front to back, their drive system looking very much like a rear-drive based all-wheel drive car with the rear drive removed. It’s what gives the cars its long hood proportions, unlike the stubby cab-forward looks we’re stuck with today.
I never liked the Integra much when it was around. The CRX was eternally cooler, as were the little ‘70s and ‘80s Civics still on the road in my NorCal town. But I missed even these four-eyed Integras by the time the RSX debuted. They weighed around 2,600 or 2,700 pounds depending on if they were two door hatches or four door sedans, and while they got no more than 170 hp in then-top GS-R trim (no Type R yet), they had sharp handling and were better to drive than I’d have given them credit for. All I wanted was a car that could powerslide, which did lead to quite a lot of abuse heaped upon the family Volvo 240 wagon.
And finally Acura had the NSX. It had pop up headlights still, and its wailing V6 had just cleaned up IMSA’s Lights championship three years going stuck in the middle of a day-glo orange Spice prototype chassis. If you were some middle manager and you walked in to get yourself a Legend sedan, Acura wanted you to know that it had a Ferrari-rival sports car on the market that was supporting a winning race campaign.
This was like the final resonance of the Japanese Bubble Economy, which drove Acura to such highs in its design, construction and aspirations. Honda needed high-end, high-profit cars to export through the ‘80s, giving us Acura (as well as Lexus, Infiniti and nearly a brand from Mazda), and the late ‘80s/early ‘90s economic boom gave us peerless build quality and design from the company that used to churn out the Civic, Accord and not much else.
Acura is currently steamrolling the American market into submission with a parade of increasingly Ohioan crossovers. That’s all fine. We have a new NSX now, and Acura is still doing fun stuff in American racing.
But I can’t help but look back on this rad-as-hell 1995 lineup, and appreciate something I never got back when.