65k-Mile 1987 Acura Legend
Remember the Japanese invasion? No, not the one at Pearl Harbor in 1941. I'm referring to the peaceful war of commerce waged during the 1980s.
Before the US stock market had its brief bull run, the Japanese were having a party of their own, no small thanks to their culture of close corporate-government partnership that made sure everybody won (although often at any cost). Japanese industrial concepts weren't what you'd call original, but they took European and American designs and built them faster, cheaper and stronger. So when they started exporting audio equipment, televisions and cars to the US, it caused panic among manufacturers, especially the Big Three auto making giants.
Japanese cars were small, affordable and, for the most part, aesthetically pleasing. On top of that, in the wake of the fuel crises of the 1970s and their mile-long gasoline lines, Japanese cars were fuel efficient. Detroit got the message, but it was too late. American consumers loved their Toyotas and Hondas.
Then the US government stepped in and convinced Japan to accept a voluntary limit on exported cars. Since their highest volume movers were economy cars, one clever way around the limit was to move upmarket. The results were often stunning. Toyota spawned Lexus and their brilliant Mercedes-fighting LS400, and Honda created Acura. The sky was the limit.
Acura wasn't as ambitious as Lexus. The cars retained the dull styling and front-wheel drive layout of their Honda counterparts (one magnificent exception being the NSX, but that's a whole other story), but they were better equipped and had larger powerplants.
One of the first Acuras was the top-of-the-line Legend. The sedan debuted in 1986, with a coupe following the next year. The car was an instant hit with the automotive press and consumers alike. Everything that people liked about Hondas - reliability and efficiency - was kept and enhanced tenfold. The cars were also wrapped in sleek, simple, clean designs that had drag coefficients as low as .30. The coupe also came with a new 24-valve, 2.7-litre engine good for about 160 horsepower, not bad for the time. All of it was enough for Motor Trend to name the Legend their Import Car of the Year 1987.
Since they were affordable and reliable, they were driven a lot. Clean, low mileage examples are incredibly rare, especially in the wet, salty East Coast where I hail from. This particular Legend has a remarkably low 65,142 miles. For a late 80s Japanese car, that's just getting broken in. The beige-on-beige color scheme is flattering to the shape and fits the low-key, easy-going nature of the car.
Given that it's in Florida, it was probably elderly-owned since new, and as long as it wasn't in an accident, this charming ride from the last pre-internet decade is a really nice find. The seller is a dealer and is asking $5,900, a tad high but not outrageous for the quality machine you'll be getting. You could easily have this car working for the rest of your life.
The next owner has my sincere envy.
Available here on carsforsale.com