As an automotive blogger and car reviewer, we see the beginning of new cars when there first launched into the market – we test them to see what their like to drive every day, how many mpg’s they get and see how many groceries we can get to roll around in the trunk. What we never see is the other side of that coin, the customer loyalty, a keen lust for a brand or in this case, a particular car – the Acura Legend.
The Acura Legend wasn’t a very long lived car, it lasted about 8 years in the U.S. market before it was killed off to create a more mainstream premium product. Starting in 1987, the Legend was the first of its kind to offer a premium quality product that managed to be fun to drive without having to pay the superior prices for a BMW or Mercedes-Benz back in those days. It was offered in both a four-door and a two-door coupe with an available five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. In 1991 it was redesigned presenting a classier design scheme and top notch materials throughout the cabin with first-class features like automatic climate control, leather seating with heated feature, and automatic vacuum closing doors on the coupe. In 1993, Acura swapped out its 200-horsepower 3.2-liter Type I V6 engine for a 3.2-liter Type II V6 developing 230-horsepower with an optional six-speed manual. 1995 marked the end of an era for the Legend, but started a customer cult following that 20 years later has emerged into enthusiasts meeting each and every year to compare, discuss and ultimately adore over an iconic machine of its time.
This year, I received the honors to attend this very special event, the 11th Annual National Acura Legend Meet in Houston, Texas – NALM for short. I was invited by Automotive Road Trip Blogger, an Acura Celebrity, and very good friend, Tyson Hugie (a.k.a. The Road Trip King) from Drive to Five, the Legendary Quest for 500,000 Miles to drive the 2400 miles in one of his three Legend’s. Considering the most recent addition to his collection, a 1993 Legend L four-speed automatic is currently under restoration, this trip consisted of his 1994 Legend Coupe LS and 1994 Legend GS – both with the six-speed manual transmissions and both with enough miles to go around the world 28 times apparently. That’s an accumulation of 686,700 miles. Amongst the two, his ‘94 Legend Coupe is the high mileage contender at 538,000 miles. Since, it required a little TLC from the driver, it was best I drove the ’94 Legend Sedan with just under 150,000 miles – still has quite a lot of catching up to do.
Our travels to Houston from Phoenix was roughly 1200 miles each way – roughly an 18 hour drive with stops in between and was split over two days. Even though the NALM event had been spread out over four days, we were only there for three of the four – missing out on the track day event. Considering we needed to drive back 1200 more miles, we didn’t miss much at the track. This year, NALM was hosted by NALM member TJ Vetrone who conducted a fun-filled weekend for the Legend members that consisted of a 200-mile drive and photo opt, Dealer Day & Car Show, and Dyno-Testing.
With 35 total registries, only 20 or so Legend Member’s made the drive to Houston – after all some drove as far as 2300 miles from Seattle, WA just for this event – that’s a lot of miles to cover in a car that’s 20+ years old. But that’s the level of dedication these guys showed. In fact, even after arriving at our hotel, tired and worn out from the long drive and being stuck in San Antonio traffic for over an hour, Tyson was not about to let his Legends show up dirty and thus, hand washed them – meanwhile I just stood on the sidelines and chatted with our new found friends while he took care of that problem – after all I’m on vaca.
The 2nd day of the event, with all the Legend’s glistening in the humid sun from the previous night detail party, we we’re ready to start our 200 mile venture through the northern farm lands of Texas known as Sam Houston Forest. The drive was a mish mosh of curves and hills that really tested the Legend’s 20 year old suspension system and steering rack – which by the way is surprisingly impressive in the bends – sure the suspension leans like a yacht caught in a hurricane, but the steering is fluid and receptive making each corner intensely exciting – why doesn’t Acura build cars like this anymore? Needless to say though it was a long day of staging for photo shoots and watching the guys wash their cars… again. But the fact that it ended on a good note and fantastic Patty Melt from Yankees Tavern – I don’t think we could’ve asked for more.
Now, Texas sized bugs are no joke, so what was the first thing to do once everyone got back to the hotel? Pulled out their buckets and rags and started the detailing all over again. Low and behold it rained a few hours later… that just gives them a reason to wash them again – it was the Car Show and Judging on the 3rd event day after all.
All shiny and ready to be judged, all the members got to partake in who wore it best… and with all the paint jobs looking sparkling, engine bays looking fresh & new and the interiors smelling like new car – it was going to be tough to pick out the best of the best. There were multiple categories to judge each Legend off of: Best in Show, Best Wheels, Cleanest Engine Bay, “Because Racecar”, Best Paint, Most JDM, Longest Drive, Best Participant, and Most Improved.
With Sunday being our 4th and final day, they had their closing ceremony, honoring those for attending with some sweet swag and giving out awards to those who in the aforementioned categories. And because of the long drive ahead, Tyson and I had to cut it short and say our goodbyes.
Being amongst a different kind of automotive enthusiast was an interesting teaching… this was a group that devoted their lives and attention for the love a car. Something that we don’t see much of – now-a-days its 5 years in the driveway before we trade in the keys and move onto the next best thing. This was not just a group of guys and this was not just a car, they were family, having a family reunion, bringing their brotherhood together, honoring a great car and relive their special moments. It was a pleasure to be amongst a great group and take me in with open arms like a lost Legend orphan. Who knows, they might have another future Legend owner on their hands.
Special thanks to Tyson Hugie for the invitation and an epic adventure for the books, to TJ Vetrone for hosting this year’s 2015 NALM, and to all the attendees for making it a memorable experience. Hope to see you all again next year.
Video Courtesy of Tyson Hugie: