This month, I’ve put a “historic” Arizona license plate on my 1996 Acura TL since it was built in December 1995 and is hitting 25 years old. The thought of doing so makes me feel old. After all, the first-generation TL was on sale when I was in high school. My best friend’s mom bought one, and we drove it to a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 1999, when Y2K uncertainty was creating buzz in the news. Twenty years later, we now know how little we had to fear.
For some reason, as a teenager, I latched onto the Acura brand and haven’t let go. In my 17 years of driving, I’ve owned 22 Acuras (and recently sold one on AutoHunter).
It’s an obsession that’s difficult to describe, but like any car enthusiast, I take pride in the cars I’ve owned even if they’re different from mainstream “collector” models. I might just be the only person in the country who has restored a 1996 TL, in fact.
My current collection of Acuras includes 10 cars which span model years 1992 through 2000, with an outlier 2013 daily driver.
The neo-classic 1990s era is where my heart resides, primarily because of those high-school memories. I knew exactly where to find the back-issues for automotive mags in my high school’s library, and I color-copied page after page of comparison tests and new car reviews. I was also guilty of calling each automaker’s 1-800 number to request free brochures and literature.
The crown jewel of my collection is my Formula Red 1992 NSX 5-speed, which I sought out and purchased as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. Accompanying it in the garage are stable mates from the same era, including a 1992 Integra GS-R, two 1994 Legends, a 1996 SLX, the 1996 TL, a 1999 CL, a 1999 Integra GS-R, a 1999 CL, and a 2000 3.5RL. Each one fills a specific purpose in the lineup, even if just to satisfy my wish to re-create a full-line brochure photo and commercial (which I did achieve after painstaking planning and effort) – see the video link below.
I think one of the reasons I’m stuck in the 1990s Japanese realm when it comes to my automotive tastes is that the cars feel so analog. Seven of my 10 cars have stick shifts, and the 1990s engineering to me feels so much more driver-focused than that of modern vehicles.
Another strong attribute of Japanese cars from that era is reliability. My 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed has over 576,000 miles on its original V6 engine, transmission, and clutch. I’d still trust the car for a coast-to-coast drive.
It’s hard to say how my collection will evolve in the coming years. Part of the fun of being a collector is changing things up from time to time, and I have a few other models on my radar, some of which might actually let me branch out of the Acura bubble.
Say, perhaps, a Honda S2000 roadster. I’m getting to the point of a midlife crisis anyway, right?