HomeCar CultureTaste the Rainbow: Four Vivid Honda Performance Cars

Taste the Rainbow: Four Vivid Honda Performance Cars

Adding a pop of color to the roads


The roads have gotten so bland lately. According to data from Edmunds, the current top five colors in the United States are:

  • White: 25%
  • Black: 20%
  • Gray: 19%
  • Silver: 13%
  • Blue: 10%

That leaves only 13% for other shades from the rainbow. It also means that about 3 out of every 4 vehicles on the road today are some sort of grayscale or neutral color. With statistics like that, it’s no wonder our freeways look like a scene out of a black-and-white film. I decided to add a zing of color to my neighborhood by bringing out four of the most colorful vehicles from my personal collection for a brief photoshoot nearby.

The vehicles that I picked for this Skittles-inspired photo shoot represented some of Honda’s most beloved creations. Anyone who has ever driven one of these vehicles knows that in addition to delivering the expected level of Honda reliability and value, they are also enjoyable to wring out on the open road. These cars have a combined age of 98 years, 875 horsepower, and 620,543 miles. Needless to say, they have indeed been enjoyed.

One thing all these vehicles have in common is a manual transmission along with Honda’s VTEC technology. “VTEC” stands for Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control. It is a system that uses multiple camshaft profiles and hydraulically selects between those profiles. Without getting overly deep into the weeds, this system provides the added benefit of higher performance at high RPM. If you ever hear a JDM car enthusiast say, “VTEC kicked in, yo,” that’s the context. Here’s a look at each of the cars in the “family” photos:

Formula Red 1992 Acura NSX

The mid-engined, two-seat NSX sent shockwaves through the supercar community when it launched for model year 1991 in the United States. While its 3.0 liter produced only 270 horsepower, the car’s lightweight aluminum chassis and perfect weight balance made it a favorite for performance car enthusiasts. Best of all, it was reliable. This car in its basic form lived on for 15 years through 2005 with just a few changes including the addition of a removable Targa top variant in 1994, an additional gear for the manual transmission and a 20-horsepower bump in 1997, and a revision to the front fascia in 2002 that replaced the pop-up headlights with fixed projectors.

My red NSX came to the collection in 2011 as a 30th birthday present to myself. It had only 84,000 miles on the odometer and was California-owned since new. Having owned 47 vehicles in my lifetime, I believe this one to have been by far my wisest decision financially: I gave just $24,000 for the car and it’s worth double or more today, even though I’ve since added another 40,000 miles to the odometer (driving to events like this).

Aztec Green Pearl 1992 Acura Integra GS-R

This car has the most pronounced VTEC engagement of today’s focus group. One of Acura’s advertisements from the Integra GS-R’s debut reads, “Somewhere between 5,500 and 6,000 RPM, rocker arms lock, valves lift, and hair follicles stand on end.” The GS-R was a performance-tuned variant of Acura’s popular commuter car. The Integra three-door and five-door hatchbacks first launched in 1986 when the Acura Division was established, and the model evolved into its second generation in 1990. It served as the gateway to the Acura brand during the era when the Vigor, Legend, and NSX accompanied it in the showroom at higher ends of the food chain. 

My green 1992, like many 1990s Integras, was modified by a prior owner and had aftermarket wheels, a short shifter, a custom audio system, and non-stock intake and exhaust components on it that needed to be put back to factory. According to the Carfax history, it was also stolen at one point and was recovered about 30 days later. Today, it retains its original high-revving “B17” inline-four that runs as well as ever, despite having over 250,000 miles on the odometer. This car was featured on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage last year.

Rio Yellow Pearl 2004 Honda S2000

The S2000, or “S2K” as it has become known colloquially, comes from the same project lead who engineered the NSX, namely Shigeru Uehara. It debuted for model year 2000 using a 2.0-liter inline-four with a sky-high 9,000-rpm redline. This roadster lived on through just one generation through 2009 but had two distinct iterations: The first was the “AP1” from 2000 through 2003, and the second was the “AP2” from 2004 through the model’s sunset. The latter came with a 2.2 liter and a slightly lowered redline, although torque was increased.

My yellow drop-top is an AP2 which came from the original owner in Phoenix about a year ago with only 58,000 miles on it. Accompanying the car were all sorts of goodies like the optional color-matched removable hardtop, speakers in the headrests, XM radio, and cargo nets behind each seat. I’ve since added about 2,000 additional miles – probably 90% of them with the top down!

Arctic Blue Pearl 2006 Acura TSX

Sold as the Honda Accord in Europe, the first-generation Acura TSX launched in 2004. It was a nimble sport sedan that employed Honda’s popular “K24” inline-four engine and was available with either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transaxle. An optional navigation system was a $2,000 add-on, but otherwise the car came well-equipped and left little for consumers to decide on aside from the color.

My TSX was a recent addition to my collection toward the end of last year, when I acquired it from a friend who’d owned it since 2008. The car went through a complete exterior restoration over the last few months. Today, it is sporting a rare “Euro R” Accord body kit, a factory spoiler, a fresh set of tires, and new headlights. Even at nearly 190,000 miles, it looks and runs fantastic.

Color Me Gone

Which of these four manual-transmission Hondas would you pick for a weekend excursion?

No matter what you decide, it’s bound to deliver plenty of grins per mile. For a collector car of any color, check the classifieds on ClassicCars.com to browse for your next toy. Let’s make the roads a more colorful place!

Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie is a Phoenix-based automotive enthusiast who has been writing for The Journal since 2016. His favorite automotive niche is 1980s and 1990s Japanese cars, and he is a self-diagnosed “Acura addict” since he owns a collection of Honda and Acura cars from that era. Tyson can usually be found on weekends tinkering on restoration projects, attending car shows, or enjoying the open road. He publishes videos each week to his YouTube channel and is also a contributing author to Arizona Driver Magazine, KSLCars.com, NSX Driver Magazine, and other automotive publications. His pride and joy is a 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe with nearly 600,000 miles on the odometer, but he loves anything on four wheels and would someday like to own a 1950 Buick Special like his late grandfather’s.


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