First Generation Acura Legend

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Honda introduced the model in 1985 in Japan to be their premier luxury model and in 1986 in North America and Europe as the range-topping model in the then-new Acura lineup. Acura would be the title name of their North American luxury line, while the Legend kept its Honda name in both Japan and Europe. The first generation Legend is notable for many technical innovations. Sedan models came to market first, powered by a 151 hp 2.5 L C25A V6 with coupes appearing for 1987 powered by a new 161 hp 2.7 L C27A engine; the coupe was the first to be engineered using CAD (computer aided design), sedans received the new engine for 1988. Production of the first generation models ended in 1990 as a second generation version became available.

The Legend was indeed an impressive automobile receiving accolades from all sides. Winner of JD Power four years in a row from 87 - 90. The Coupe model was on Car and Drivers ten best lists three years in a row, including in 1987 when Motor Trend named the Legend Coupe the "Import Car of the Year". Legends were regarded for their impeccable fit and finish as well as their incredible reliability, they were also excellent performers. Manually equipped models could sprint to 60 mph in under 8 seconds and reach a top speed of 135 mph. Sedan models had a coefficient of drag of .32, while coupes were only .30.

Technical highlights were numerous, features such as a multivalve V6 engine, variable length intake manifold, a double wishbone suspension, 4wheel disc brakes, abs brakes, air bag and an information system. (that could monitor maintenance intervals, fluid levels, and provide the driver with fuel economy information). The automatic transmission was also equipped with a Sports shift mode which held the car in each gear seconds longer, allowing for faster acceleration.

Models varied by continents with japan receiving the bulk of features including clear corner lamps, and a very special model indeed, the Honda Legend Turbo. Many speculated it was a rumor started years ago, but it existed in Japan for a short while. The Turbo Legend included a c20at engine outfitted with a winged turbo, but only available with an automatic transmission. These engines were not as reliable as the C25A or C27A engines as not many are still around today.

In 1989, the sedan received some minor tweaks with new, one piece front headlamps, a new front bumper, a revised trunk lid and new tail lights. New alloy wheels also replaced the old ones and some pieces of exterior molding also changed. Inside, a revised dash and seat cloth patterns is also noticable. The high end LS featured a trip computer in the center stack. Previous models of sedans featured fog lights near the headlamps, but with the new one pieces, the fog lights were moved to below the bumper, as they were on the coupe.

In 1990, the Legend coupe LS was revamped with a woodgrain interior, rear spoiler, clear/red taillights, and a new, body colored grill, and mirrors. The sedans also received the woodgrain interior for the LS model.

The Legend LS model was also tuned for a 4 speaker Bose sound system. The Legend sound system, unlike its successors, had the speaker amps attached per speaker rather than one central amp. Models that did not receive the Bose system were equip with a pioneer system that featured an equalizer for enhanced sound.

Frequently Asked Questions, DIY Repairs, and DIY Modifications

If you have a specific question about this generation legend, don't know WHY a particular problem occurs with your car, or would like a DIY repair or modification procedure, please see the seperate FAQ & DIY Page.


The Legend coupe was Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1987. The coupe also made Car and Driver magazine's Car and Driver Ten Best for 1988 through 1990.


  • The Legend shared its engine (in the highest trim), transmission, chassis and some other parts with the Rover 800-series models, sold in the United States under the Sterling brand. Both generations of Legend were co-developed with Rover group and sold under the Sterling name in the United Kingdom and France. The US only received the first generation of this collaboration, equipped with the Honda V6.
  • The Legend was only an Acura Legend in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong - it kept its family name of Honda in Japan as well as Europe.
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