Original Owner Delighted by Restored Acura Legend’s Feel-Good Finale

    Resurrecting a Car: The Epic Journey of a Restored Acura Legend

    In the world of collector cars, we often come across stories of “multi-year” restorations and phrases like “frame-off,” “no-expense-spared,” and “nut-and-bolt” that depict an all-encompassing attention to detail when it comes to bringing a car back to life. Having personally experienced the process, I can now fully understand why these projects test one’s patience and pocketbook. Now, let’s dive into the gripping tale of my final-year Acura Legend LS coupe restoration, which has finally reached its conclusion.

    Would you believe that it has been a whole year since my last update on The Journal about this restoration project? Over the course of that year, I created a playlist of nine videos on YouTube, showcasing the journey of the car from being a salvaged heap destined for the scrapyard to becoming a stunning collector’s item worthy of any showroom. And now, as a sense of closure, I feel it’s only fair to share the final outcome with our loyal readers.

    Let’s start by taking a look at the timeline of events. I acquired the car on September 23, 2021, after a persistent pursuit spanning two long decades. From that day, I took a meticulous approach to revive the car, keeping in mind that it’s not just about the aesthetics but also ensuring its mechanical soundness. After all, what good is a car with a fresh coat of paint if it doesn’t run smoothly? With this mindset, I prioritized the checklist, focusing on addressing mechanical and safety concerns first, followed by the interior, and finally, the exterior.

    Each phase of this restoration journey presented its own set of challenges. One of the primary hurdles in restoring any car is finding the necessary parts. Automakers tend to discontinue parts for cars after around 15 years or so. While some companies offer replica or reproduction vintage parts through their “heritage” lines, Honda and Acura are not quite there yet. However, I was fortunate to have access to a running and driving parts car, as well as a supportive network of fellow enthusiasts. The Acura Legend Owners & Enthusiasts Facebook group, boasting over 7,000 members, proved to be a valuable resource. This community, functioning more like a family than a conventional car club, eagerly offered assistance in sourcing the required parts for my restoration project.

    From the day I picked up the car to its first appearance at a “real” show, it took over two years. A summarized version of the timeline looks something like this:

    – September 23, 2021: Vehicle acquisition and towing it home
    – January 17, 2022: Car moving under its power for the first time after some tinkering
    – May 18, 2022: Completion of mechanical rebuild
    – June 2, 2022: Undertaking interior refurbishment
    – December 15, 2022: Completion and installation of wheels and tires
    – January 17, 2023: Completion of paint work
    – March 12, 2023: Revealing the restored vehicle to the prior owner
    – April 2, 2023: Displaying the car in the Acura of Tempe showroom for five weeks
    – April 4, 2023: Release of an exciting Jalopnik story covering the build
    – October 14, 2023: Debut at the prestigious RADwood Arizona show

    Moving on to the highly anticipated big reveal, I must admit my palms were sweaty as my friend Ian and I drove over to the original owner’s house in March to show her the resurrected car. The context of my visit was intentionally vague. In a text message, I had mentioned, “I’d like to show you some updates to the Legend.” We parked the car in her driveway, at the same spot where it had sat motionless for at least three years before its rescue.

    The look of astonishment on her face was priceless, and a few expletives even escaped her mouth as the transformation left her utterly speechless. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she exclaimed as she stepped out of her front door. I gave her a tour of every nook and cranny of the car, demonstrating the meticulous attention given to the exterior, interior, engine bay, and trunk. To top it all off, I handed her the keys, urging her to start the car up, reminiscent of old times. Before bidding farewell, I gifted Amy a framed 8×10 photo of the restored car, personally signed with a heartfelt “Thanks Amy!” This heartwarming experience is beautifully captured in Part 8 of my YouTube series.

    Not stopping there, I also mailed some photos of the restored Acura Legend to Kurt Antonius, one of the pioneers of the Acura brand during its launch in early 1986. Kurt had worked in Public Relations for the company until well into the 1990s. In fact, his signature adorned the press release when the second-generation Legend made its debut in 1991. Much to my delight, Kurt sent me a note in return, expressing his gratitude for sharing the photos. He wrote, “Thanks so much for sharing the photos of your restored Acura Legend. You would make the factory proud.” Today, I proudly display that note in a frame in my garage, a testament to the recognition and appreciation received for my restoration efforts.

    Reflecting on this restoration journey, I’ve come to realize that restoring a car demands copious amounts of patience and a generous budget. Even though this car was acquired for no cost, the total expenses incurred throughout the project have reached the staggering realm of $30,000. When put into perspective, one might wonder if that is a lot. I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. How much have you spent, or would you be willing to spend, on realizing your dream car? For me, pumping such a significant sum into this project held little monetary significance. This build was, as they say, truly priceless, fueled by an unwavering love for the craft and the car itself.

    However, the journey doesn’t end here. There are still a few ongoing phases of work planned for this old car. In the coming weeks, it will undergo suspension work to address some creaky struts, and a custom fabricated wiring harness will be installed to activate the fog lights. With every task crossed off the checklist, another item seems to find its way onto the list. This car will continue to evolve, inching closer to automotive perfection.

    Most importantly, I am content to drive and enjoy the car just as it is now. Perhaps in the future, I will debut it at a National Acura Legend Meet (NALM). But for now, if you spot me on the road, you’ll see a wide grin on my face as I relish every moment behind the wheel. Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey, and a heartfelt thank you to the Collector Car Network for providing me with the platform to share my experience.

    Restoring a classic car is no mean feat, but the satisfaction and joy derived from bringing a once-neglected automobile back to life is immeasurable. It is a testament to the passion and dedication of car enthusiasts worldwide, who truly understand the value of a labor of love. So, to all the fellow restorers out there, keep the wrenches turning, the paint brushes flowing, and the engines roaring. The world needs more restored gems on the roads, reminding us of the immense beauty and history behind these four-wheeled wonders.

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