Classic Review: MotorWeek Drives the Debut Acuras of 1986
Look back at Acura’s first offerings, the Integra and Legend.
Sometimes, you gotta look back at where things started.
Honda broke ground in 1986 by introducing the first luxury marque for a Japanese manufacturer. The Acura brand debuted three years before either such offering from Nissan (Infiniti) or Toyota (Lexus). And when they did, MotorWeek drove both of Acura’s first offerings.
Honda’s plan with Acura looks very direct in retrospect. With the V6 Legend, they wanted to go right after the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes 190E with a European-style luxury sedan. MotorWeek suggested it might be overpriced and, well, it always seemed presumptuous for Acura to coin their initial offering a “Legend.”
With the Integra, Acura offered an upmarket but affordable alternative to the CRX Si. While the D16A1 in those first Integras seem tame by comparison, you have to remember American motoring was just emerging from the Malaise Era.
Honda yanking 113 horsepower from just 1.6 liters made waves at the time. By comparison, Ford was getting 68 horsepower from a 1.6-liter engine in 1985. GM and Dodge were struggling to get 100 ponies from 2.0-liter or bigger engines. Regardless, the first Integras proved a lasting testament to one of the early stalwarts of the import craze. MotorWeek gave adequate hype for a car that was properly good in its idiom.
This review provides a great time-capsule look at Acura’s infancy, but it also hints at Acuras truly legendary car. Based on a 1984 mid-engine concept car, the HP-X, Honda would improve the C-Series V6 related to the Legend’s motor and put it in the middle of the NSX. In 1985, MotorWeek makes mention of Acura’s “rumored mid-engine sports car,” which would debut at the Chicago Auto Show in early 1989.