The Dying Breed of a Driver’s Car
A while back, we received an email from a good friend of ours Tyson Hugie with Drive to Five, asking if we’d be up for another adventure on one of Arizona’s infamous mountain roads, Mt. Lemmon in Tucson. A friend of his, Editor Steve Lynch with The Truth About Cars approached Tyson (being the local celebrity Acura Blogger) about doing a piece on orphaned Honda’s and Acura’s – the last of the prodigious dynamic cars. Logically, we obliged and foresaw an opportunity ourselves to see what all the hype was with old-gen Honda’s.
Having a passion for Acura that goes beyond what we can comprehend, three of the five cars featured here were in fact Tyson’s:
- 1994 Acura Legend LS 2-Door Coupe (six-speed manual transmission – Owner Tyson Hugie)
- 1994 Acura Legend GS 4-Door Sedan (six-speed manual transmission – Owner Tyson Hugie)
- 1992 Acura NSX (five-speed manual transmission – Owner Tyson Hugie)
- 1993 Acura NSX (five-speed manual transmission – Owner Kelvin Chang)
- 2008 Honda S2000 (six-speed manual transmission – Owner Steve Lynch)
Being accompanied by a few other drivers, we only managed to spend a little bit of time with a few listed here.
2008 Honda S2000
In 2008, the S2000 didn’t have very much competition – if you wanted a go-kart handling open top roadster, it was either this or the Mazda MX-5. This second-gen S2000 had the latest AP2 motor 2.2-liter VTEC engine squeezing 237 horses through the rear wheels. With a sport designed suspension, low center of gravity, and 8,200 revolutions at the redline – the S2000 is not a suitable daily driver, but on the back twisty mountain roads on a crisp 70-degree day, the last thing we cared about is a trip to the office.
The S2000 in that generation felt ahead of its time – if driving this thing wasn’t fun enough, the spirited nerdy digital instrument cluster had us fully amused as we watched it light up like a Christmas tree at high revs. We felt as snug as a bug in a rug in its small cockpit, confined to the preciseness of the driver’s needs. Shifting through the six-speed manual couldn’t have been smoother using a light clutch and short throws. Driving this felt like a go-kart, no matter the speed, just turn the wheel and it sends sensational feedback to the driver. Below 6,000 rpms, the S2000 was a bit jittery; however, above 6,000 rpms, the VTEC responds like a turbo thrusting you into warp speed.
Everyone who walked away from the S2000 agreed this was a “must-have” car at least once in our life’s – it’s a fun, light, nimble, open roof roadster that fulfills every driving pleasure imaginable.
1992 Acura NSX
As I got into the driver seat of the NSX, I was accompanied with a copilot, Jason Pawela with Driven for Drives, (an automotive road trip blogger); we were discussing how intimidating the NSX is to someone that’s never driven a supercar before. And rightfully so, if you think about it, in the 90’s the NSX was comparable to the Ferrari 348 – just to put things into perspective.
Back then, a brand new NSX would set you back 65-grand – that’s chump change compared to what you pay now for a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, supercar. But also back then, 270 horsepower from a 3.0-liter fuel-injected V6 was a lot power – considering now you can find that in a family friendly Nissan Altima.
Now we’ll admit, we had a very rough start just trying to get the NSX moving – the clutch engagement was unlike anything we’ve ever driven – once we got the hang of it, shifting through the five-speed manual was just about as easy as driving a Hyundai Elantra manual. The gear changes were ultra-sleek and smooth – considering this car had 100k miles on the odometer. Driving though was totally a different story. We’re used to all of these electric power controls that help make our day to day driving easy and bearable… so when it came to driving the NSX that had no power steering and no anti-lock brakes it became a true testament of man verses machine. Judgements had to be made in a blink of an eye – this is what driving is all about. The light way structure and mid-engine design gives a perfect 50/50 weight distribution so every corner is taken flat and when you stomp on the accelerator the lively 3.0-liter V6 opens up its raw power and sends the hairs on the back of your neck straight up.
It probably comes to no surprise that the NSX’s here were a popular bunch to drive – so our time was very limited. We hope to bring one back for a special segment sometime soon. But needless-to-say we all walked away from that one with a massive grin on our faces.
1994 Acura Legend GS 4-Door Sedan
In 1994, the Legend sedan was probably considered Acura’s flagship sedan – the Legend featured here was a top spec’d GS that stickered out at $41,500 – I thought 90’s cars were cheap. But then when you run down the features list, it’s quite impressive; leather interior, genuine wood trim, Bose Premium Audio, Automatic Climate Control, Power adjustable steering wheel w/ easy exit, power adjustable heated seats … the list just keeps going.
But it wasn’t its comfortable squishy seats or its quality finished interior that won us over, it was the way it surprised us. When you drive a luxury sedan it’s like driving a yacht – you’ll get sea sick; but with this, the 3.2-liter 24-valve fuel-injected V6 eagerly used all 230 horsepower to its advantage. The smooth shifting six-speed manual transmission glided between gears and the steering left you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering how much more fun can this get.
At the end of the day, out of all the cars, including the Lexus RC350 we brought along as the chase camera car, we wanted to drive home in the Legend Sedan. And that’s just it with modern cars – they have lost that distinctive significance of a driver’s car, everything is too controlled to provide what automakers believe is an ultimate driving experience – but the true experience is here with these past-generation Acura’s and Honda’s. And that’s just something we’ll never get back.