New Addition: 1994 Acura Vigor GS 5-Speed

Odometer (Legend):  533,911

533911

Odometer (ILX):  133,031

133031

Odometer (Vigor):  104,259

104259

Trip Distance:  909 Miles

vigor_drive

Ugh, I’m obsessed.  As if it wasn’t bad enough having 4 Acuras around, I’ve adopted yet another.

tyson_ben_key_handoff

From a 1993 Acura Vigor sales brochure:

From the moment of its introduction, the sophisticated Acura Vigor luxury sports sedan has generated excitement, admiration, and respect from the most important critics of all its satisfied owners.

As the newest model in the Acura family, the Acura Vigor has an impressive reputation to uphold: a promise of luxurious comfort, inspiring performance, unquestionable quality and state-of-the-art safety engineering.  And judging by the early returns, the Acura Vigor is proving itself more than equal to the challenge.

vigor_arcadia_brochure

As was clearly published in Steve Lynch’s April 2015 article on The Truth About Cars about “orphaned Hondas,” I’ve been on the lookout for an “Arcadia Green” Acura Vigor GS for some time now.  I’ve crossed paths with a few but they’ve been total junkers.  Bad paint, torn-up interiors, worn-out clutches, theft/recovery, and salvage title history.  It’s amazing what kind of wear & tear can be thrown at a car in two decades’ time.  But as I was en route in my Legend GS sedan to Acura of Tempe for its semi-annual oil change last Saturday, I was notified by my friend Kevin about a newly-listed Vigor on AutoTrader that he highly recommended I consider.

kevin_text

This car appeared to fit the bill nicely.  It was my #1 color choice, a stick-shift (requirement!), and a true certified one-owner with clockwork emissions checks every two years.  Best of all, it was an extremely low-miler with just a fraction of the miles compared to some of the Vigors I’d been considering.  This one had traveled on average fewer than 5,000 miles per year since new.

vig_ad

So, while the Legend sedan was in for its 146,914-mile service, I was on the phone with Ben from AutoNation Subaru in Centennial, Colorado trying to swing a deal on that Vigor.  In the end, we did come to an agreement on terms.  Included in Ben’s end of the bargain, he’d be picking me up from the Denver airport when it was time for me to retrieve the Vigor a week later.

What about this odd-looking, ancient, boxy Acura holds so much appeal?

  • The Vigor is extremely rare and only had a 3-model-year lifespan:  1992, 1993, & 1994
  • The car sold only 43,908 total units, and 1994 was the lowest year at 8,722 units
    • By comparison, the Legend flagship was sold for 10 years and totaled 477,831 units
  • This car was powered by Honda’s only longitudinally-mounted 5-cylinder engine giving it 50/50 weight distribution
    • The 2.5 liter puts out 176 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque
  • The Vigor came from an era when every Acura model was available with a stick shift transmission.  Today, zero are.
  • This car was the predecessor to today’s best-selling Acura TLX sport sedan, filling the gap between the Integra & the Legend where today, the TLX bridges the gap between ILX & RLX
  • The 1994 model year saw improvements over the prior 2 years, including increased rear seat room & a softened suspension
  • Production of the Vigor ended on May 13, 1994.  Since this car was built in April of that year, it was probably among the last few hundred cars off the line.
  • Every Vigor has notable and very distinguishable features:  Yellow integrated fog lamps and “frameless” door windows.
    • If you roll down the windows in this car and open the door, it’s like a convertible’s door
  • This Vigor is equipped in “GS” trim, making it top of the line.  The GS got a power moonroof, full leather upholstery, and an upgraded stereo which set it apart from “LS” models.
  • Has there ever been a cooler name for an interior color than “Cognac”?

ticket

My flight to Colorado would be Saturday morning the 4th of July.  On Friday, I slept as best as I could knowing that I had to be at the airport the next day at 5:00 in the morning.  But when you’re anxious about getting a new car and you know you have an 850+ mile drive the next day and aren’t even sure if the car will make it, it’s tough to catch any shuteye.

den_sign

Ben from AutoNation Subaru picked me up in a Legacy wagon promptly at 9:30 after my short flight on Southwest and we made the 30-minute drive to Centennial.  We both kind of laughed a little at the thought of someone like me going to such great lengths to buy a 21-year-old Acura.  The Vigor was backed in at the covered entrance to the showroom in a delivery area when we arrived at the Arapahoe Road facility.

right_rear_2

Ben said he’d had the car detailed the night before, and I could tell.  It was gleaming.  Right off the bat, I did notice some flaws:  both the front & rear bumpers were scuffed, the tint was purple and bubbling all over, and some of the wheels had a little clear coat failure.  But the body itself was absolutely miraculous in its condition.  For being a Colorado car and in an environment where winters are very harsh, it didn’t have an ounce of rust.  I couldn’t detect any paint work at all, and everything was factory original.  The driver’s seat showed a little wear on the side bolster but otherwise the interior looked like a brand new car.

interior2

While Ben rounded up paperwork with his finance guy, Mike, I had 10 minutes to chill, so I walked around the car and then started rummaging through the glove compartment.  The leather-bound owner’s manual was there, and I noted that the original owner’s name (Kathy) & her information were handwritten on the inside of the front cover.  Kathy bought the car from Riverside Acura in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 23, 1995 from salesman Jack Storey who left his business card there.

initial_odo

I got a little hopeful that I’d find an original build sheet / window sticker inside the portfolio.  I stuck my fingers down into the pocket and BINGO.  Found it.  Folded 6 times and ripping in multiple places, but clearly the piece of paper I’d been looking for.  The MSRP on the Vigor was $28,735 including destination and handling, kind of shocking since the Legend flagship at the time was a full $10k more expensive.  That paperwork discovery made my day as much as getting the car itself.

sticker

Unfortunately AutoNation wasn’t able to give me any other documentation on the car aside from an in-house work order showing that they replaced the sway bar bushings in the front suspension at 103,342 miles.  They also provided a Carfax print-out but it didn’t show much more than clockwork emissions tests every two years.

Finance Mike and I completed our business inside his office.  “Who’s the car for?” he asked.  “Just me,” I told him.  I mentioned that I already had a couple other Acuras and he said, “You should get an NSX.”  He was surprised to learn that I already had one.  It would be inappropriate to complete any car sale transaction without a proper key-handoff photo, so Ben and I posed for a couple of those before I drove off the lot.  That drive-away, by the way, was the first time I’d even driven the car.  I had declined a test drive upon first arrival because I already knew I wanted to buy the car.  Probably not the smartest move, but it worked out anyway.

keys

How’s it drive?  The car’s 176 horses are elderly and I’m sure they hadn’t been pushed to a great extent in a very long time.  As a matter of fact, the Carfax showed that the Vigor had only been driven about 1,000 miles per year over the last 4-5 years.  I was about to embark on a nearly 1,ooo-mile trip taking place in a single day.  Crossing fingers, I got on the Interstate 25 southbound onramp and gave it a go.  The clutch felt good, the suspension tight, and the 5-cylinder engine gave off a unique growl upon acceleration.  At 75 miles per hour, I set the cruise and noted the RPMs at right around 3,100 RPM in 5th gear.  We were in business.  I spent roughly the next 13 hours getting to know my car.  Visibility was great, thanks to huge rear windows and a high seating position.  I got comfortable easily.

dash

It became clearly evident, though, that cars have come a long way in technology and amenities in the last two decades.  I’d almost forgotten what it was like to set up climate control settings manually – as in, fan speed & temp – without just being able to dial in a thermostat.  The Vigor has no radio controls on its steering wheel, and of course no connectivity for an iPod of any sort.  There’s no keyless entry.  And, unlike my ILX which has 6, there are zero cupholders.  Upon sending a photo to friend and Acura conoisseur Scott, he replied with:

scott_quote

It wasn’t until about 100 miles into my drive that I even turned the radio on.  I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds that surrounded me in that “Cognac” colored interior.  The motorized antenna mast went up on command, and I connected my tape deck adapter and iPod for a concert.  Album of choice?  Ace of Base “The Sign,” which was released in 1993.  I wanted the first song to be a period-correct selection, so this was the obvious way to go.

cassette

I noted that the brand new Michelin tires provided an ultra smooth ride.  I was also a little amazed that the frameless door windows did not have any wind noise, even at highway speed  When asked by a friend how the car rode & drove, I replied:  “Like a 21-year-old brand new car.”  I pulled off I-25 just briefly when I saw a sign for “Greenland,” since I felt it only appropriate in my Arcadia Green car to document such a thing.

greenland

Since Ben had sent me off with a full tank of gas, I didn’t need to stop for fuel for awhile.  While on the phone with my friend Chris from Maryland, I pulled into the Shell station just north of the New Mexico state line in Trinidad.  The Vigor took only 5.6 gallons of Premium fuel to go its first 186 miles – netting economy of over 33 miles per gallon!  Not bad considering the window sticker has an EPA rating of 27 mpg highway!   I grabbed some Wendy’s to go, which I ate VERY carefully inside the car.  No fries allowed under the seats here.

raton_pass

Raton Pass at 7,800 feet in elevation took me over the Santa Fe trail and on southward into New Mexico, where I grabbed a quick roadside photo and then continued on my way.  For being a holiday weekend, the interstate was miraculously “dead” and I was able to set the cruise control at 78 miles per hour and enjoy the green, rolling hills.  There were dark rain clouds on the horizon and I knew it was only a matter of time until my clean Vigor got dirty.  Luckily it had brand new Bosch wiper blades that swept the windshield clean with ease.

new_mexico

rain

It wouldn’t be a proper road trip unless I did a little bit of sightseeing, so I scouted out a place to get a picture in Albuquerque.  Having seen the entire TV series “Breaking Bad,” I knew that the show’s location was in Albuquerque, and I’d been able to Google the location of the main home used in it.  It took me about a 15-minute detour to get there, but soon I arrived at 3828 Piermont Drive and it felt a little unreal to be driving in front of a house I’d seen on TV so many times.  I got out of the car long enough to take a “selfie” with the house in the background, and then a shot of the Vigor parked on the street in front of it.

bbad_house

Just moments before I was going to leave, another vehicle pulled up to do the same thing, and I saw the garage door of the home roll open.  A woman stood there with her hands on her hips giving us crusty looks.  I took that as an invitation to leave, so I happily headed back down Wyoming Street to Interstate 40 and on my way.

bb_neighborhood

At this point, I was a little over halfway home and I was determined to press onward.  I declined the chance to stop at other roadside destinations like the historic Route 66 bridge in Rio Puerco, but instead pointed the nose of the Vigor westward and decided not to stop until I needed food or fuel.

abq_signs

Daylight diminished and I had spotty rain showers all the way into Holbrook, Arizona where I grabbed a bite to eat and checked the oil in the Vigor while topping off the fuel tank.  I watched 4th of July fireworks from the interstate in Winslow, Arizona (and yes, I’ve stood on a corner there!).  The last stretch of road was Interstate 17, dropping down sharply in elevation from Flagstaff into the Phoenix metro area.  Even at 11:00 at night, there was fairly heavy holiday traffic along this piece.  It was 11:50 when I finally rolled into my driveway, grateful for a safe trip and happy to have finally made it home.

I’m not yet sure what the future holds for my new Vigor but I fully enjoyed spending 909 miles with it.  Here are the rest of my trip photos and a video!

Early morning flight on Saturday at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

sw_planes

Vigor on display in the delivery area

front

Ben filling out my temporary registration tag

ben_temp_tag

Driving away!

drive_off

That interior color is really bold!  I do like the woodgrain trim which goes from the dash to the door panels.

interior

A few pictures at the Greenland exit off I-25

rear

Few bumps and bruises but not bad shape for its age

front_left

Love those integrated fog lamps

angle_front

The AutoNation advertisements will be ditched soon

right_rear

Headed southbound toward New Mexico

abq_sign

Revs at 80 in 5th gear

gauges

This is how you improvise when you don’t have a cup holder

cupholder

Not the Vegas you’re thinking of!  This one is a small town in northern New Mexico

vegas_sign

Historic Rio Puerco bridge was once a part of Route 66

puerco_bridge

Arizona state line!  And, apparently I have a taillight bulb out.

az_state_line

104,000 milestone

104k

Christmas in July.  Home the following morning with the NSX (and a piece of the Legend)

vigor_nsx

Going through paperwork

paperwork

Here are a few more shots from that brochure for any who are interested!

vigor_nsx_brochure

black_vigor

vigor_dash_brochure

arcadia_vig

There were 6 colors available in 1993.  Arcadia Green was offered only with Cognac interior.

vigor_colors

Thanks for reading!

48 Responses to “New Addition: 1994 Acura Vigor GS 5-Speed”

  1. Can’t wait to meet her!

    • The feeling is mutual! I hope you had a great rest of your weekend and spent some quality time with your fine cars as well. Thanks as always for reading.

  2. Now this story does truly have a good ending. When I first saw Tyson quoted in the car article about wanting a Arcadia Green 5 speed Vigor, I was all over it in an attempt to help a friend out. To see Tyson put my desperate text to him in this blog was a classic. When I told him the car was Arcadia Green, his reply was “No Way.” I was sending him iPhone pictures from my laptop as quick as I could hit send. So as his GS was at Acura of Tempe getting serviced, Tyson was doing the deal. Too cool and I’m glad this car went to a good home.

  3. Congratulations Tyson! She’s in good hands now! Now you just need to find an Integra. 😉

    • All in due time! I’m thinking that’s a couple years out. But yes, bound to happen. Can’t wait for you to take this new ride for a spin.

  4. Your garage should be redecorated as a 1990s Acura showroom. Of course, there are plenty of old dealerships on McDowell that could be had for a song and dance to hold the collection!

    • Funny you’d mention that – about a year ago, a friend of mine gave me a huge Acura banner that used to adorn a dealership. I have all the makings for a showroom here, just need to add on a few garage bays and install some kind of glossy tile floor and I’m set. Haha.

  5. That’s a nice looking Vigor! Good choice of music for the drive back too.

    • Glad you can appreciate the tunes! Yeah I’m enjoying the car so far. Have a few mechanical and cosmetic things to address but it’s a great starting point.

  6. love it! James Lee is completely correct – an Integra is next!

    • That’s kind of been the plan all along! My preferred next acquisition will be a 1992-93 Integra GS-R in Aztec Green. Then the fleet is complete.

  7. Shaubhik Says:

    Tyson, excellent video! I have the sign on m iPod. I have listened to that song at least a few thousand times. The engine sounded like a muscle car, sounds like it has some power. I think my 08 Civic’s power is underrated. I am probably around 150-160 hp. I think a lot of critics underestimate Honda/Acura.

    • For only 176 ponies, I was actually really impressed at how the Vigor can get up and go. The muscle car sound is probably due in part to the overly loud muffler. It may have rusted through but it’s definitely louder than stock. I’ll keep everyone posted on how this project car goes!

  8. Congrats on this rare find! She’s a beauty, especially in that color and with a manual trans sending power to the wheels. I think this design has aged really well from all angles, too, and I’ve always liked the distinctive door handles of the Vigor. The front end also manages to be bold and understated at the same time. Now it’s on to those Integra listings. 🙂

    • Don’t provoke me, Brad! Haha. The Vigor styling is good but I think the Legends of the same era have aged better. And you know what else I loved about 1990’s Acuras? They each had an identity. Today, an RLX is a supersized TLX and a TLX is a supersized ILX. They all share too many styling cues.

    • See what I mean on the styling? Here’s white Vigor GS 5-speed I owned very briefly in May 2010. 241,000 miles on it. Ran great. But definitely more “dated” than a similar Legend.

    • Haha, thanks for looking out, Josh! That is exactly what I need. Though, I may not need to get an Ebay unit from Michigan. I actually stopped by the local Pick & Pull junkyard in south Phoenix last Friday and I noted they have two Vigors in stock. Here is one of them. Same paint code as my Legends! Looks like the headlight might be OK.

  9. So much goodness all in one blog post! It looks like a gem! I hope I get to “meet” this new family member.

    • Fer sure! It may be around the next time you’re in the area. Hope the rest of your holiday weekend went well! Send some of those banana bread bites my way.

  10. Hahahaha! This is absolutely hilarious. Just last night I was bored, so I decided to browse autotrader for Acura Legends and Vigors. My jaw dropped when I stumbled upon an immaculate, green 1994 Acura Vigor GS with a manual and only 103,000 miles on it…. I even bookmarked it… Then I come to your blog just now, and read this…. Turns out you bought the one I was looking at! I am so glad you bought it! I can now rest, knowing it went to a good home!

    As of now, it’s still listed on Autotrader
    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=60139&endYear=2016&modelCode1=VIGOR&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&makeCode1=ACURA&searchRadius=0&showcaseListingId=0&mmt=%5BACURA%5BVIGOR%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&listingId=404087473&Log=0

    • That is too funny! Yeah, I think I worked a deal on the car just 2 days after it went online, yet the AutoTrader ad still remains. I wonder why they’d leave it up so long? I don’t really mind – the car is here in my garage! You’re welcome to a test drive! Haha. Thanks for reading.

  11. You can’t go wrong with listening to Ace of Base! Do you have any ideas for personalized license plates at all for your new ride? Oh and you are a Breaking Bad fan. That deserves recognition!

    • Oh, for sure! I got really into Breaking Bad about a year ago and breezed through the entire show within a matter of a couple of months on Netflix. I’m still trying to think of good license plate ideas for this Vigor. Let me know if you have any ideas.

  12. High mileage Says:

    Besides the Integra you’ll need an SLX 5 speed as well!

    • Trust me, the SLX is on my shopping list as well. All in due time. However, it wasn’t offered in a stick shift. That being said, its “twin” the Isuzu Trooper was. Manual swap?!

  13. Lance a lot Says:

    Again, I’m so happy for you Hugie! Loving the Arcadia green and that Cognac interior…..Kudos to Kevin!!
    So far, we’ve collected $25.50 for the T.J.H. warehouse. lol

    • Ha! Thank you so much for donating to the cause! And thanks for putting up with my Acura obsession and still being my friend. Lol. Hope you had a fantastic rest of your holiday weekend sir.

  14. autoscribe74 Says:

    Great video, Tyson!

    • Ha, thanks Mark! I know a lot of people will roll their eyes when they hear my music selection AND see what a parking nightmare I have at my house right now. I have a storage unit booked so as soon as I get a few things sorted with the Vigor, it will have a home to be tucked away in and I’ll get the Legend back in the garage. Happy Monday to you!

  15. bbimmer7 Says:

    Congrats Tyson! These were truly unappreciated cars for their time, and you truly picked the best color combination! The Vigor has such elegant proportions, with its long, low hood and minimal overhangs. I’ve always liked the use of wood trim in these as well.

    This car brings back memories for me, as coincidentally, the only Vigor I’ve ever ridden in was this exact color combo. Although, the car was not quite so pristine. I was also one of seven teenagers, yes seven, stuffed inside as we were going around toilet papering XC teammates’ houses. I miss those mischievous days of high school.

    Congrats again!

    • Haha, every review I’ve read on the Vigor has criticized how sparse the interior space is – especially the backseat – so I have no idea how you all were able to fit 7 people into one. Too funny. Glad I was able to bring back a few memories for you and I hop you’ll stay tuned as I get this old Vigor restored to its former showroom glory. It shouldn’t take too much!

      • bbimmer7 Says:

        If I recall, someone sat backwards on the center glove compartment – not safe at all, but hey we were crazy teenagers 🙂

        I still am looking to find a vigorous Legend hopefully later this year, but until then I’m looking forward to seeing more of the legendary Vigor!

  16. Congrats, Tyson! This Vigor deserves as good of a home it got. Second lowest mile Acura in the stable, eh? Man, it sure looks clean and I love that interior! It looks so fresh despite being around for 21+ years. Your roadtrip back looks like just icing on the cake. I can’t wait to get out to PHX next time to check this bad boy out! Hope you enjoy. Now for that Integra…

    • I know, the Vigor is barely broken in! It will definitely be here for your driving pleasure the next time you make it to PHX. It’ll be going in late this week for a full inspection and a few potential maintenance needs. Hope your week is going well!

  17. Another Acura, Breaking bad, and scenic shots! What a great weekend, thanks for taking us along.

    • Hey you bet! Sounds like you have a new acquisition of your own to share with us. I would love to read about your purchase story if you ever decide to write something up about the new Accord Touring. Congrats again.

  18. I had a 1993 Vigor GS for many years. All Vigors have the same three things break on them. 1) Radio display goes dark. 2) Oil leak develops behind the distributor. 3) Oil leak develops at the oil cooler which is located in a unique spot. Hopefully it’s all been previously repaired. Worst thing I ever did was sell it but I needed rear seat room. You’ve got me searching for another one.

    • Thanks Gary! I actually haven’t yet had this one fully inspected for oil leaks. I know that AutoNation ran it through their “pre-sale inspection” checklist where they checked out a number of things, but I’ll be surprised if my Vigor is totally leak-free. I’ll be getting it into my mechanic within the next week or so for a full once-over just to see how everything looks. You should definitely pick one up. Let me know if you need help with the search. Here’s mine after a quick hand wax.

  19. Alaeldeen Says:

    Congratulations Tyson! My brother had a Regal Plum Pearl 5 Speed a few years ago. It had 170KMS( 106 Miles) and I wanted to take it form him so bad but due to me already owning 2 cars (the legend and a TL) I couldn’t. I miss it and it was mint as well. As long as he owned it, I don’t remember it not having a cup holder. I too would like to own one some day, they are very unique and hard to find. My family had almost every model Acura made and their quality of vehicle runs through all the models. Good luck with it!

    • Thanks Alaeldeen! The plum color was my second choice. I love how it looks in the sunlight. I really can’t complain that much about the lack of a cup holder since my Legends don’t have one either, haha. How is your low mileage coupe doing?

      • Alaeldeen Says:

        Yes we all got used to not having a cup holder haha. The Legend is doing well. I never get to really drive it as I study in another province, it just sits in storage almost the whole year. I drove it a total of about 3200 miles since I bought it 3 years ago but I hope to drive it more when I graduate next year. Enjoy the vigor!

  20. CONGRATS! We both basically have the same car. The one I picked up in May is also a 94′ Arcadia Green GS 5SPD albiet interior wise not nearly in good shape as yours although I will picked up the repaired seats soon. What would be the best way to share pics with you of mine? Imjur links? Take care!

  21. Cool story!
    Question for you: when I was little kid, I was obsessed with this car.
    My parents had bought a 1992 Legend brand new from the dealer, but I was always obsessed with the Vigor.

    Recently I was recalling why my favorite color (red) is my favorite color: A rolling shot of a bright red Acura Vigor, from the Dealer Brochure (I believe the same version you have)

    My question to you is: I’m looking for that photo… Is there a photo of a red Vigor in your brochure/can you perhaps upload it, for sentimental value? 😀

    Regardless of answer: enjoy your collection, glad to see someone who appreciates these cars like you do.

    Best Wishes,

    Rin

    • Hi Rin, thanks for reaching out. It’s nice to hear from people who can appreciate a quirky old car like I do. I definitely understand the impression that a vehicle can make to a young kid – that’s how my whole Acura obsession was started, when my mom brought home her 1990 Integra GS back in 1996. I have several Vigor brochures at my house. I will go through them tonight and let you know what I find. You might be interested in watching this 7 minute promotional video that I uploaded to YouTube from a VHS tape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ihP0HE-KTI

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