Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.
What’s the longest you’ve kept a vehicle? Some cars get passed down through families for generations. I’m an Acura addict and have owned over vehicles from the brand in my 25 years of driving. One of them, however, has more special meaning than the rest, since I’ve had it now for half my life.
The Acura Legend was the flagship of the American Honda brand between 1986 and 1995. It was offered in both sedan and coupe variants, and between 1993 and 1995, two-door coupes came with a special 230-horsepower “Type II” 3.2-liter V6 powerplant mated to an available six-speed manual transmission. At about $41,000, it was an expensive car for the time, but as we’ll soon discuss, this is a perfect example of “getting what you pay for.”
On March 26, 2003, at age 21, I flew from Las Vegas to San Jose with $9,500 cash in a Ziploc bag in my pocket. My sights were set on a Desert Mist Metallic 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe that I had found for sale online about a week prior. It had 95,000 miles on the odometer so it was a little bit past break-in, but I was confident the car would serve me well as a daily drive. Twenty years and 490,000 miles added later, it has indeed.
The car will turn 30 years old this October, since it was manufactured in October 1993 for the 1994 model year.
Two Decades of Travels
How did I rack up half a million miles? My Legend and I have visited 37 states. Many people ask if I’ve had a long commute, but the miles have largely been accrued mostly on weekends since I’m an avid road-tripper.
My most memorable voyage was an 8,000-mile journey to Fairbanks, Alaska and back with my dad in 2006. The route took us through some of the most scenic regions of North America including the Yukon Territory and even a small town called “North Pole” with a Santa Claus-themed house that operated as a gift shop.
My second-favorite adventure was to an extreme opposite end of the continent on a 2019 road trip to Key West, Florida and back. When I took a photo of the car at the southernmost point, I was only 90 nautical miles from Cuba. If a bridge existed to drive there, I probably would have taken it.
The car has also been into Mexico twice, including a weekend trip to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Sonora, about 70 miles south of the United States border. Needless to say, this Legend has taken me to some incredible and exciting places.
Several years into my Legend ownership, I was already well into the 400,000-mile range when I first connected with folks from American Honda to share the story about my car and its longevity. In fact, it was at around 467,000 miles when one of Honda’s employees routed a link for my blog to a few of his colleagues, and eventually the Public Relations team got ahold of it.
Things escalated when a representative called me to ask if I wanted to be part of a half-million-mile celebration at the corporate office in Torrance, California. Together, we selected a date of November 4, 2011, and I orchestrated carefully to roll the milestone at a specific place on that date – a feat made more challenging by the fact that I would be traveling from Phoenix to the Los Angeles area which was a 400-mile trek. Here is a video Acura produced when I achieved the milestone.
Being the analyst that I am, every dollar spent on the Legend’s maintenance over the past two decades has been documented in an Excel spreadsheet. Based on that data, I can tell exactly what it’s taken to get to this point. Even though I acquired the car at 95,000 miles, I inherited service records back to new from the prior owner.
- 182 oil changes (average interval of 3,214 miles using 5W30 conventional oil)
- 8 battery changes
- 6 timing belt and water pump changes
- 4 windshield changes
- 3 radiator changes
- 3 spark plug changes
- 2 alternator changes
- $39,135 total spent on maintenance over the car’s lifetime
Yikes – for the $40k spent in maintenance, I could have bought a second car entirely. Would I go back in time and do that? Not a chance. To this day, the car remains on its original engine, transmission, and clutch. The axles are also original, and the suspension is mostly untouched aside from one of the rear upper control arms.
Cosmetically, the car has been touched up a few times on the exterior, some of which was necessary after I hit two deer on a trip to Texas in 2007. That was a trip I’ll never forget. The upholstery has also been redone.
The Legend continues to see regular use, as I make a point to get it out of the garage about once per week to stretch its legs. The car has taken me to 17 annual National Acura Legend Meets (NALMs) around the country, including a journey from Phoenix to Wichita and back in 2022. In all, the car saw about 5,000 miles that year.
Mechanically, I’d still trust the car to the moon and back (again), but I’ve been deferring some maintenance for a while that I will probably address after the 600,000-mile mark. Among the issues:
- Timing belt and water pump are now 12 years old
- Power steering fluid leak
- Oil burning and leaks
- Cruise control stopped working
- Some instrument cluster bulbs are burned out
None of the above has presented a dire situation, although I am mindful that if not addressed, they can escalate into larger issues.
More adventures wait for the Legend, and I will be making the drive to the 2023 National Acura Legend Meet in Lexington, Kentucky the first week of August. At my current pace, I will likely celebrate the 600,000 milestone around 2026, which coincidentally aligns with the 40th anniversary of the Acura brand’s launch in 1986. Maybe American Honda will partner with me on another red-carpet party? Now there’s an idea.
Do you have a similar story about a vehicle that’s become a long-term member of the family? Share it in the comment section below or in our ongoing series entitled “My Classic Car.”