I had two friends throughout high school who played a large role in my development as a gearhead. One I have already covered in previous discussion on the ill-fated Probe. The other, I will cover this week. This story, I am pleased to say, has a much happier ending.
2003 Acura CL Type-S
In February of 2006, one of my good friends had his ’98 Honda Accord sideswiped by a big rig at a traffic light. It was a sad day for him because he had spent the last two years talking about taking that car over 200,000 miles and, at 160-some, he was well on his way. Disappointments aside, though, he had just gotten a good steady job and this was an opportunity for him to upgrade to a better car. We searched around for a while, looking at lots of four-cylinder Hondas and some other cars, but nothing seemed to leap out. Then, at one Honda dealer, we spotted an off-lease 2003 Accord coupe with a V6 engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Though the price wasn’t quite right, he decided to drive it anyway.
It’s funny how driving the right car can make one reassess what the “right” price is. After driving that Accord, my friend started looking at a new, more intriguing batch of cars with more powerful engines and manual transmissions. The one he finally settled on was the one that offered the most power, the best looks and the best value for the most he could possibly spend: a 2003 Acura CL Type-S.
He promptly picked right up where he left off in the Accord. In the six years since he bought that car, I don’t think there has been more than a small handful of days where it has sat idle. I chose this as the car of the week because, as of this writing, it north of 250,000 (that’s a quarter-million, for you keeping track at home) on the odometer and still counting. It has been a stunning combination of performance, value and reliability.
About the Car
This generation CL was actually introduced in 1999 and was based off the 1998 Honda Accord. Though it carried a different name plate it was, for all intents and purposes, just a coupe version of the TL sedan. It got pretty much all the same trim options, gadgets and luxury items.
Then, in 2003, Acura played its trump card. It equipped the CL Type-S with a 6-speed manual transmission. The car received a host of other sport-related upgrades as well, but addition of a stick changed the entire dynamic. It went from a very good, but largely boring, two-door Acura to a slick, quick luxury sports car. The engine was rated at 260 horsepower and, thanks to the control delivered by a limited slip differential, Car and Driver posted a zero to 60 time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.7 seconds at 94 mph. The CL was the only car in Acura’s line to have the manual trans option in 2003, which was also the last year for the CL model itself, making this a little bit of a rare gem today.
AcuraZine CL owner forums
Wikipedia: Acura CL (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
Car and Driver quick review
Car and Driver slap on a superchager — not related to the stock car, but still a pretty cool article on a Comptech Supercharged CL