Junkyard Gem: 1992 Acura Vigor

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Honda was the first of the Japanese car manufacturers to bring a separate luxury brand to the United States, with the (Civic-derived) Integra and (Rover-related) Legend appearing as 1986 models. By the early 1990s, Infiniti and Lexus had muscled in with their own gadget-laden luxury machines, with even Mitsubishi and Mazda offering legitimate competition for the two Acura models. Something had to be done, in the viewpoint of Soichiro Honda, and so the NSX sports car was introduced as a 1991 model, followed by the Vigor luxury sedan the following year. Here's one of those rare first-year Vigors, found in a Denver self-service boneyard recently.

The idea behind the Vigor (which, like the Integra, Legend and NSX, was badged as a Honda in its homeland) was that it would squeeze in between the Integra and the Legend and steal some sales from the Lexus ES 250 as well as European machinery.

The Vigor was a front-wheel-drive car, but its engine was mounted longitudinally and angled to clear the hood. The differential sat directly beneath the engine and received power via a tortured maze of shafts.

The reason for all this powertrain complexity was the fact that the Vigor's engine was a SOHC straight-five that wouldn't fit the engine compartment using Honda's usual transverse mounting (though both Daewoo and Volvo managed the feat with straight-six engines later on).

The U.S.-market Vigor's 2.5-liter five-banger was rated at 176 horsepower and 170 pound-feet.

The base transmission was a five-speed manual, but this car has the optional $750 four-speed automatic ($1,696 in 2024 dollars).

This car is the cheaper Vigor LS model, so its MSRP was $24,999 ($56,539 after inflation). You could get a slightly smaller but still feature-laden '92 Honda Accord EX for just $20,175 ($45,629 now), though, and the cushier (though less nimble) Lexus ES 250 started at just $21,300 ($48,173 in today's money).

American car shoppers just couldn't figure out the Vigor, and sales were weak. 1994 was the final year for the Vigor, and the TL replaced it beginning as a 1996 model.

This one drove just over 160,000 miles during its life.

Don't think of it as a drive to work. Think of it as a 30-minute vacation.

If you get a German luxury sedan instead of a Vigor, you'll be sorry!

I miss you… S.

As was nearly always the case during the 1980s and 1990s, the JDM commercials were more fun.

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