Share This Article

THE NEW AMERICAN HOT ROD

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Feb 15, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE NEW AMERICAN HOT ROD By ROY NAKANO

It was probably in the late 1980s when I first noticed it. Acura Integras were starting to get popular with the more well-heeled members of the high school campus crowd in Los Angeles (those who couldn't afford it were getting its little sister car, the Honda Civics).

By the time 1990s rolled around, high school parking lots in Southern California took a dramatic turn. Camaros, Mustangs and American muscle cars were vanishing and being replaced by custom-tuned Honda Civics and Acura Integras. The hot rod press hadn't yet caught on. The newsstands had rows of hot rod magazines, and virtually all of them ignored this new form of hot rodding. Although the newest hot rods were based on cars from Japan, what was being done to them was very American. Today, there are now thousands of car clubs across the country to support the tuner community. The popular Acura Integra is now the Acura RSX, and the model (particularly in Type-S guise) has arguably become the modern day equivalent of the 1957 Chevrolet. This fact has not gone unnoticed by Chevrolet, who this year introduced their own version of the Acura RSX called the Colbalt SS.

Why is the Acura RSX so popular? As with the '57 Chevy, it all starts with the motor. It's no secret that Acura's parent company, Honda, makes some of the sweetest four-cylinder engines around. - and the Acura RSX Type-S has the best-sounding four-cylinder engine I've ever heard, This is particularly true when you rev it up close to its stratospheric redline. The engine in the RSX Type-S pumps out a smooth 210 horsepower at 7800 rpm. The car is also fitted with a precise manual shifter, and a great, responsive suspension that will turn the curves of Angeles Crest Highway into straight-aways. Unlike the hot rods of yesteryear, the RSX performs its best when its handling capabilities are put to the test.

On the inside, the RSX interior is more refined than most of its competition (way better than the WRX, but not quite up to Volkswagen GTI standards). It's hatchback design makes the cabin a bit noisy, but this will be of no concern to hot rodders. All-in-all, the RSX Type-S exhibits a great balance of power, nimbleness, comfort, and design.

Twenty-five years from now, will Acura RSXes with lowered suspensions, single-barreled wide-diameter exhausts, nitrous oxide kits, and blown VTEC engines be viewed along-side such collectibles as the '57 Chevy, or even the muscle-cars of the 'Sixties? It doesn't sound as inconceivable as it once did. In the meantime, if you want to know which cars will carry high resale value, look no further than your neighborhood high schools. There, you will find a flock of Acuras gracing the landscape. Welcome to the new American hot rod.

SIDEBAR COMMENT: I think I'm in the wrong gear. We seem to be revving too high. Maybe I need to rephrase that, we are revving too high for most cars. This little Acura has a rev ceiling that is so high it makes us dizzy. And we like it. While it seems nigh on impossible to over rev this car, the somewhat short sixth gear either needs to be taller or we will need another gear or two. Perhaps I am starting to show my age, but when I throw the shifter into the last gear I would expect the car to settle down into a less buzzy rpm range. Now if I shave a few years (decades) of my age this car would strike all the right cords with me. Actually even at my current age I still find this to be very exciting, like one too many Viagra. Every turn of the key is an invitation to trouble. Why else would Acura have all these gears and such a playful motor if they didn't expect the buyer to have fun with them? The best part is the rest of the car is on par with the engine. As good as the mechanicals are, I still can't get over the seats inside the car. I don't even need to turn the motor over and I feel like we are only moments from competition. I haven't seen any other car in this price range have so many of the right parts put together into one car. While the origins of this car might be a nominal Honda product, but as any racer will tell you, it's all about the end results. Acura has a winner in the RSX. - John Grafman

For more information on Acura products, go to www.acura.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 Acura RSX Type-S Price: $23,570.00 Engine type: 2-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, i-VTEC in-line four with aluminum alloy block and heads Horsepower: 210 at 7,800 rpm Torque: 143 lbs.ft. at 7,000 rpm Drive configuration: front-wheel-drive Transmission type: close-ratio 6-speed manual Front suspension: independent struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar. Rear suspension: independent multi-link wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar. Wheels/tires: P215/45R17 all-season radial tires, 17x7-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Brakes: Front: 11.8-inch power-assisted vented discs Rear: 10.2-inch power solid discs ABS, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution Overall length: 172.4 inches Overall width: 97.9 inches Overall height: 54.9 inches Curb weight: 2,840 pounds EPA mileage: 23 mpg city / 31 mpg highway

You Might Also Like These Articles:

close-up of a hydrogen pump for a gas station.

Hydrogen-Powered Cars & Trucks

a baby-blue Porsche 911 RSR, with only two wheels on the ground, coming around a corner of a racetrack.

The IROC Porsches

the sign from the Olympics, at the front entrance to L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

NASCAR At The Los Angeles Coliseum

VW Italdesign Machimoto with a bunch of guys in overalls and helmets riding in it.

Cool Concept Cars - by Volkswagen

a white 1977 Lotus with small winglets sticking out where the wheels should be.

The Pete is Poppin’