The designs of Acura are always held in high regard, the innovative and dynamic car brand that has captured the hearts of automotive enthusiasts worldwide. Definitely, the history of beautiful brands entails the history of smart people.
Here, you’d know how the idea of Acura came out to build an extraordinary car. Get ready for an exhilarating ride as we dive into the history, design, and engineering prowess behind every Acura model. From its inception to its revolutionary advancements, brace yourself for an exciting exploration into what makes Acura truly special.
It’s a story of boundless aspiration where people in Japan came together to launch an iconic creation – Acura!
What is Acura?
The logo doesn’t refer to A or H. It’s something in between. Acura, a luxury brand of Japanese origin, stands for Quality and Reliability. In recognition of Honda Motor Firm founder Soichiro Honda’s rich racing history and numerous victories, the company was named Honda.
The meaning of Acura’s name can also be interpreted to mean “Innovation”, “Simplicity”, and “Dedication”. It is no coincidence that these qualities continue to be Acura’s hallmarks even today.
When the company was first launched in 1986 by the Honda Motor Company in Japan, it intended to offer a luxury nameplate that would push the limits of technology and design and have a high-performance pedigree second only to the pinnacle brand of luxury established by Mercedes-Benz.
But why did Honda Come Up with the Acura?
The early 1980s were not so good for the parent brand, Honda, especially in the US car market. Many things happened, from gas shortages to tumultuous economic malaise and new regulations. These new circumstances caused an upheaval in economic standards and public consumer behaviour and buying habits because the products offered to the public changed significantly.
During this, minor issues were escalated by the market. Honda had suffered a tough time since critics attacked the Japanese manufacturer because of its economical operation, reliability and low price. During this, the company responded as it was the envy of many competitors.
Not just that! As the company has a great working environment, they let everyone participate when they have a problem that needs solving. So, Honda offered a unique and fun car to support the driving experience. Moreover, it was second to none after the brand introduced a record of technological features (such as the CVCC engine).
The consumers were amazed at this masterpiece. If you were looking to purchase a new car during this time, every car lover would suggest you have a test drive on a Honda Civic at least once. Honda sales rocketed thanks to the right groundbreaking product at the right time. It achieved phenomenal records by releasing other models, such as the Accord and Prelude. As a result, the Japanese brand succeeded in sending its competitors back to the drawing board.
Following its successful philosophy of building cars just like customers want, Honda established a new ambitious plan: let’s assemble vehicles in the United States. The company founded a new plant in Ohio in 1980. At this time, Honda was overbearing in the car market to track trends, and there were signs of a new buying habit; luxury cars were meandering around. In addition, the economy was recovering, and many automobile giants like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes reaped huge sales volumes.
Their high-end features and aerodynamic designs have already captured the public’s eyes. After years of eschewing the excess of luxury cars from the 1960s-1970s, Americans crave a blend of luxury and performance.
European motor manufacturers started to back off and chip away at the high end of the market. Americans gained more discretionary income, so the middle class expanded, which was a good sign for the Japanese company. The American market liked Honda, but the company had nothing to offer for these nouveau riches. Instead, they wanted more premium vehicles to move up to the next stage in their life.
The company introduced Special Edition Accords with leather seats and other optimum features. But even this limited edition of Honda didn’t qualify as a luxury car, and the company failed to market it. Honda owners seeking a more luxurious lifestyle were seeking more powerful cars and leaving the somewhat economical car for big names such as Mercedes and other European luxury brands.
In 1981, Honda doubted a new sedan, larger and powered by the first Honda V6 engine— a new generation of the Accord. Moreover, the car was packed with luxury functions. Finally, the company captivated the new riches.
Again, Acura attacked the market with an all-new TLX midsize luxury sports sedan. It was considered the successor to the TL but even better by combining technological re-envision with world-class performance, penetrating a new segment of luxury sedans.
This new car was positioned between the ILX and RLX. The mission wasn’t easy as it seemed they needed to build an entry sedan as completion of sports flagship and increase luxury finishings. The result was TLX embedded with another new generation of contemporary design and technologies.
Acura has captured the public’s imagination with two new direct-injected i-VTEC engines with prodigious output. With the world’s first automotive Dual Clutch Transmission, this hierarchy was powered by two advanced transmissions with torque converters and the latest iterations of handling technologies – Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS).
These technologies were incomparable to innovative Agile Handling Assist (AHA), a dn Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). This next-generation production has remained at the forefront of the luxury auto industry for decades, not because of its innovative merits but because of its thrilling appointments that amazed the driver.
Honda found it an excellent opportunity to maintain the upmarket segment in its owners. Unfortunately, the company had a large family seeking reliability and economy, but luxury was another thing, man! The executives were against this luxury edition. But the company defied the conventional wise directors who saw the economy car manufacturer’s attempt to take on the finest from Europe as folly.
Honda’s plan to move its production by more luxurious cars upmarket was making progress. However, when talking about a premium lineup, it doesn’t make sense to have only three cars: the Civic, Accord and Prelude. The problem was that its cars were selling clearly to the price-sensitive or maybe the budget-conscious segment.
Prices were so affordable that a high-profile customer might think to have it. However, even the cutting-edge version of the Accord was for $20,000.
Honda cars had basic luxury functions such as leather upholstery and power windows, which were nothing compared to other brands. Yet, they were not offered in all Honda products! Nobody could dispute that Honda can build superb vehicles. But, at the same time, just a few thoughts it had the ability and credentials to compete with other major luxury brands.
This time, the company unveiled a new sedan, known internally as the HX— later named Legend.
Side info: Honda believes in teamwork. Honda is very serious about the concept of cooperation. So, it’s hard to find people who stand behind the brand name except for Tom Elliott, who played a vital role in building the cornerstone of the luxury division of Acura.
The Amazing HX
Tom Elliot, senior vice president of Honda automobile operations, shared his perception of producing amazing HX to compete with Volvo, BMW, and others. The car was injected with 24-valve fuel and a V6 engine. As a result, it was powerful yet sophisticated.
A four-wheel disc powered its independent suspension and braking system, delivering the best handling driver experience. Now, Honda could beat the European sport sedan. It brought the compliant ride excepted by luxury car buyers.
The car featured other technologies such as air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, premium stereo and other power accessories. All of that was for $20,000, almost double as much as the starting price of the Accord in the early 1980s.
The selling was problematic, honestly. It was too expensive to have a Honda car! (No offence, it’s just the buyer mentality!) Honda dealerships were in trouble. It was not about convincing already busy dealers to sell this car; customers wouldn’t likely love paying this bulk for a vehicle that wears the Honda emblem.
Honda directors saw the problem and settled that HX was too significant and costly to be sold alongside their bestsellers, such as Civics.
The company decided to begin a new division entirely separate from Honda. It was one tailored to the wants and aspirations of luxury buyers. They needed to find unique dealerships that could communicate with highly private customers, offering exceptional sales experience.
A new luxury division should market to people who shop for value. The new division would offer luxury and performance. The new division would be Channel II! Aura was known internally for Channel II. And yes, it was a ridiculous name!
However, building the first Japanese luxury brand was challenging, or you could tell a gamble. Honda directors were competent to build more than one vehicle under the Channel II badge, so they introduced the new expensive car. However, it was risky, too.
Honda remarketed HX to fit its new standard. But it didn’t work. So, they took the flyer to build a new luxurious car without diluting the performance and luxury image that should be reflected in the baby brand, Channel II.
It was Quint-Integra. The car has come a long way in the Japanese market.
Powered by a four-cylinder engine, the car was equipped with a twin-cam, premium chassis with remarkable design and tuning style.
The Integra was designed to compete with other prime sporty coupes such as Volkswagen GTI.
Its appearance, performance, and technology were an extension of the HX.
Honda was so excited after the success of its new luxury cars. The company planned to release another third model that is more prestigious, taking advantage of the long Japanese experience in the auto industry and challenging other brands. They want to build exotic sportscars.
In February 1984, Honda confirmed its intentions to produce more luxurious cars. The media was loaded with sceptics. Many saw it as overreaching at best. On the other hand, a few praised the idea of a Japanese luxury brand. The pundits attributed that it’s a company known for fuel-efficient transportation. So how come they will build a sporty car?
Despite the critics, Honda engineers were busy making their dream come true, considering one reality about this speculation: the new division must be separate from Honda. Which means a new service, new identity, new image, new market, new sales, new parts divisions and new dealerships. Everything!
Developing the Sales Network
Ed Taylor took charge of the selling. He was appointed assistant vice president of the new division to develop the sales network. He had a tough mission. Honda created its marketing strategy based on a brand image that appealed primarily to those looking to pay more. The campaign targeted European luxury intenders to turn their head to the new division.
That meant that dealerships needed to extend the professionalism level of customer service for new luxury car buyers. But the most challenging part was persuading buyers that they were not just buying expensive Honda; they invested in something they aimed to have.
Honda assigned Paul Pugh to be the auto service manager to create a new service network. Thankfully, the company wanted to rename its new division. So the task fell to Ira Bachrach’s Namelab in Calif to rename Channel II. The trick was finding a name that transmits the image and style to those wanting to own the upscale car.
In September 1984, the company officially unveiled Acura. Two months later, potential dealers met secretly (what was wrong with you, guys! The meeting went as planned in the presence of American Honda executives Schmillen, Taylor, Elliott, and Pugh, and American Honda head Yoshihide Munekuni at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas. They discussed the dealership plan for Acura for the first time.
Acura’s dealership had to separate facilities from the Honda headquarters. So, no, it couldn’t even be adjacent to exciting dealerships.
No, it wasn’t enough! All dealers and stores should have a distinct look. The goal was not to let anyone know that this Acura belongs to that Honda. It had to feel completely separate. And there would be more in store for the lucky who would buy an Acura car. The company was supposed to unveil the HX and Integra for the first time.
Honda was a widespread brand, and its cars were universally well-regarded. Just remember that some dealers would think that any vehicle made by Honda would be available through any Honda dealership. That’s why it was critical to emphasise creating a separate brand with a new image.
In February 1985, the big day was coming. Honda started its strategy to select the dealership. Honestly, the criteria were strict. Dealers had to own enough liquidity to establish the new stores, reflecting what Honda was spending to set up.
Acura executives concentrated more on key markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and other uptown areas around the country, where luxury sales growth performed flawlessly. Acura introduced to the market not just luxurious cars with a state-of-art design, but new technologies for the first time. It happened after Pugh established new service training centres in many states: New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Additionally, the company hired service managers in September 1985 to invent Acura technology a few months before Acura cars were on sale. It was scheduled to be in March 1986. As a result, managers had a lot to do. Acura wanted to feature two completely new engines besides its first V6. Electronic fuel injection, double overhead cams, four-wheel brakes, and other new technologies should be available on time to stand out from the fierce competition.
In November 1985, Taylor and Pugh were ready with the new dealers, service, and sales network. So, the newly established Honda public relations department invited journalists to Japan for their first look at Acura cars.
In Tochigi, at the Honda test track, journalists took their turn to drive the Legend and Integra to learn the difference between the Honda and Acura production. And the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff. The majority of the media was still suspicious about the ability of a Japanese luxury brand. But, some found something different about Acura.
“We think the odds of Acura’s success are heavily in Honda’s favour, for the Legend is a terrific debut automobile.” Motor Trend magazine stated.
Then, journalists started expressing their surprise at what Acura offered. Everyone who drove the Legend found that the new sedan was not a copy of other American or European luxury cars. It was even far from what larger sedan models by Toyota and Nissan offered at this time.
The Integra received the same praise. It quickly fell into the hotbed of impressive and intriguing cars for just a bit over $10,000. It was an unmissable deal. On another big day in Acura history, on 27 March 1986, people finally could see for themselves Acura vehicles. Finally, finally, they got to find out what the media meant. The first 60 Acura dealerships opened, a significant moment in the luxury car market. But, no, it was a turning point.
And That’s it!
The invention of the Acura car marks an exceptional milestone in automotive history. With its inception, Acura has surprisingly recalled the conception of establishing an unrivalled blend of luxury, performance, and functionality. Acura has positioned itself as a dream car for many of us by meticulously crafting each vehicle with precision engineering and cutting-edge technology.
From the innovative features to the sleek designs, every aspect of an Acura car is carefully curated to provide an unparalleled driving experience. That’s the story of a group who conjured up all their knowledge, beliefs, and principles to gather unique items to create a unique objective.