A 20-Something Year Old Luxury Barge That Actually Works!
If you came into our office and said, “I have $3000 dollars to buy a used car, but I am looking for a luxury barge, and it has to be older than I am,” there is a decent shot I would have to keep you occupied while Uncle Jimmy gets the men in white coats. Big, complicated, flagship sort of cars are notoriously terrible on resale and for a lot of really good reasons: they break and when they do it is usually extremely expensive. Often when a car is dubbed a “flagship” it is utilizing a lot of technology that a car maker is going to work the kinks out of and then put into higher volume makes in the near future. However if your search for a large, complicated, fashionable luxury barge lead you to the 1993 Acura Legend, we would call off the men in white coats and have a good chat.
A Legend in it’s Own Right
The Acura Legend. Well that’s really all there is to say about it, it’s an absolute legend. This particular example from 1993 had done an incredible 316,221 miles, and despite this everything worked. Every light, every electrical component, the motor was still fantastic, the transmission shifted beautifully, the suspension was still lovely, and the interior was still fresh. This car was built to a higher standard than a battleship, and had been pampered more than Queen Elizabeth’s Corgis. The paint still looked okay (there’s only so much you can do living in Rochester for 24 years), and the cream leather was still very supple.
Now normal readers will expect this to be the part of the review where I try to drive this thing like Senna, after all, it is technically a Honda. It’s a big car, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome. The 200 HP was more than enough to waft the big saloon along at a good clip, but it never felt hurried. The cornering wasn’t bad despite being front wheel drive. It didn’t push, but then again I didn’t really get it going like I normally do on a road test. More on that bit later.
A Car So Ahead of the Curve, Even the Germans Had to Catch Up
It reminded me a lot of a BMW E39, and that is high praise. It was roomy, but you could still hold a conversation with someone in the back seat. It had the unbelievably good 3.2 liter V6 paired to a no nonsense automatic 4 speed. The trunk was large and there was a pass through into the cabin so you could go skiing in it. It has a host of features that you barely get on new cars today including speed sensitive steering, a longitudinally mounted engine despite it being front wheel drive, heated seats, heated mirrors, 4 wheel ABS disc brakes, and dual front passenger and driver airbags.
You get the feeling, from this host of features and the fact that absolutely everything worked on the car, that the people who made this car genuinely cared about the people who were both driving and riding in it. It is astounding how well built this car was. The way everything was engineered and put together was reassuring. It was the sort of example, that even though it was old enough to drink, I would have felt totally comfortable loading up, gassing up, and doing a full on cannonball run to the other side of North America. I know what you’re saying though: “well German and English cars are also beautifully built and engineered, would you do that in an old 7-Series?” The short answer, “is there an old 7-Series with over 300k miles?” Because the number of Acura Legends still around with extremely high mileage is fairly staggering, but you don’t see many big Jags, Mercs, and BMW’s with that type of mileage.
Thanks For the Memories
This leads to an interesting discussion. The owner of the car was a centenarian who had owned it since it was new and had put the majority of the miles on it. However, he had loaned it out at various points to his son and his granddaughter who had most recently been driving it. He stopped driving it when he had a hip replacement and found it to be too low to get into and out of comfortably. So he had picked up an Acura MDX, because it reminded him of his Legend. When we were on test drive, you could see that he genuinely enjoyed the car. Usually when people have a car for sale they want it gone and they are hyping every single aspect of it. However, this wise old man just sat there as I drove it, as if he knew that his relationship with this particular amalgamation of metal, wood, and leather was soon to be over. We pulled back into his driveway and he produced a meticulous service records of wheel bearings, oil changes, brakes, tires, and suspension components. So is it the car? Or is it the driver?
Honestly, you don’t see a lot of these cars coming up for sale. People own them and hold on to them until they rot in half, or they wreck them and the engines live on through the efforts of petrolheads. However, if you do see one, and you are looking for a big, safe, comfortable, sedan — this is really the only option. The reliability of Acura’s is absolutely unbelievable, and the way that people own and use these cars as consumer products tend to lend credence to this trend. If you’re a student who lives a long way from school, look for one. If you’re a new driver looking for something big, sage, and hard to break, look for one. If you commute high miles, look for one — and if you find one, pull the trigger because it won’t be for sale for long.