Full disclosure: I owned one of these – a 1988 – for about three years many moons ago. I really wanted a Mercedes-Benz 560SEC or a BMW 635CSi, but at the time (1995) I was a recent college graduate with no money to speak of, and those cars were prohibitively expensive. Besides, ever since a high school friend’s dad bought a Legend Coupe I’d lusted after them, and it was like a bigger, more powerful version of the 1985 Honda Prelude that had served me very well most of the way through college.
Find this unusually nice last-year example here on Craigslist in Silver Spring, Maryland with an asking price of $3500.
The original Legend Coupe was released in 1987, the year after Honda first introduced the Acura brand to the U.S. market as an upscale division for the Japanese automaker best known for sporting yet reliable economy cars. The Legend sedan included Honda’s first production V6 motor – a 2.7 liter – and was available with either a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission. My Coupe was a 5-speed, which at the time I considered the “enthusiast’s” choice, but truth be told it was a very difficult transmission to drive smoothly, which is why I am highlighting the automatic in this feature.
From a styling standpoint, the Legend Coupe was quite a looker. Looking closer, however, you start to see the design cues from other prominent grand tourers of the time: the fender flares (front and rear) from the Audi Ür-Quattro, dash gauge pod from the Porsche 928, and greenhouse combining the 635CSi and the 560SEC along with the SEC’s metallic-grey lower body cladding. What appeals about the 1990 model apart from being the newest of the range is: the polished alloys versus the painted earlier ones; the white and red taillights, the revised grille, and redesigned seats. The faux wood trim is a little over the top, but is non-offensive. This car also comes with the factory accessory bra and rear urethane spoiler, the latter of which absolutely transforms the look of the car for the better.
When considering a Legend Coupe of this vintage, the first thing to look for is rust. Like all contemporary Hondas, Legends rust. A LOT. Key spots to check include the wheel arches, fender bottoms, and near the fuel filler door. Next checkpoint is the leather upholstery. Most of these cars have been beaten hard, and the leather used by the Acura folks at the time was not exactly of Connolly standards. Seats are frequently faded, split, or torn. Last, look for oil leaks especially near the cylinder heads. Leaks on these cars can be pricey to chase and repair – and although they’re not usually catastrophic, they are most definitely an annoyance.
This car comes with a hopped-up stereo but doesn’t appear to be modified in any other way. I would hope that the dash cover was there to preserve, not to hide damage. All told, for a fan of Japanese cars who appreciates a solid, reliable performer with looks to match and isn’t a hot property for the riceboy crowd, the Legend Coupe represents good, cheap fun with a hint of 80s style.