Posts Tagged Acura

Canadian car customization

Acura 1.7 ELI just read a very interesting article in the New York Times’ online edition about Canadian cars, which seems to affirm Canada’s status as the 51st State.

Before 1965, when Canada and the United States eliminated cross-border tariffs, American car companies would make knock-offs of their own models in Canada. This allowed Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to avoid paying import fees of up to 35 percent.

Most of the cars were made from combinations of U.S.-built models. Ford would drop a Mercury body onto a Ford chassis to create a Monarch, or add a different grille to a Falcon to create a Frontenac.

Usually, when car companies create models for different markets, they are radically different, owing to geographical considerations or buyer tastes. That’s why Ford’s European models (Capri, Sierra, Scorpion, etc.) never really caught on here, and the same goes for most of the products from General Motors’ German Opel and British Vauxhall divisions.

Since Canada is very similar to the U.S., the Canadian cars were almost identical to American ones. The main difference was a lower price point, since average Canadian income in the ‘60s was much lower than in the States.

Most of this Canadian-branding silliness ended after 1965, but the idea of a Canadian-specific model didn’t die with the opening of borders.

Honda has sold versions of its Civic as luxury Acuras in Canada since the 1990s. The sixth, seventh, and eight generation Civics were sold as the Acura 1.6 EL, 1.7 EL, and CSX, respectively.

Honda obviously thought its Canadian customers were morons, because the EL and CSX look almost identical to their non-luxury siblings.The Acuras got different front end styling and upgraded interiors, but that’s about it.

Like their Ameircan forebears, the Canadian Acuras were built on the cheap for a market that, admittedly, isn’t an automotive powerhouse.

Still, these cars offer an interesting possibility. The sport compact enthusiasts who customize Honda products love JDM, or Japanese Domestic Market, style. The point of JDM is to customize a Japanese import with parts from the home market, making a humble Civic or Nissan 240SX into en exotic, sophisticated ride.

With so few Acura ELs and CSXs around, the next step is obvious: CDM. Soon tuners could be grabbing magazine covers by turning their Civics in CSXs, importing all the necessary parts from the Great White North. They’ll swoon over factory-correct “1.7 EL” badging and headlights like they’re Holy Grails.

Car customizers love to get anal about their vehicles; CDM just seems like the next logical step. Maybe it’s time Canada got some respect.


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Comic Book Cars: Acura MDX

SHIELD Acura MDXContinuing this week’s Avengers theme, I thought I’d take a look at this bruiser of an SUV. It’s actually an Acura MDX, the car Westchester moms drive to the mall. However, it has been rebuilt by S.H.I.E.L.D., the top secret security agency that watches over the United States in the Marvel Comics universe. That’s quite an endorsement, huh?

Acura has always been a low profile brand; even the current spaceship-like TL fails to turn heads. That’s why Acura is taking over the Marvel universe. Last year, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents chased Thor around a desert in a fleet of Acura SUVs. Honda’s luxury division returned as the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Avengers.

This was actually a brilliant move. It got Acura plenty of exposure (Avengers broke the record for highest gross on opening weekend), particularly with an untapped market segment: nerds. Nerds generally aren’t car enthusiasts, so they don’t have any preconceived notions about the brand. They also like technology, which Acura has plenty of. They are also more than likely to buy a car just because Nick Fury drives it.

Does the car fit the role? Acuras look suitably futuristic, befitting an agency that has a helicarrier, and they look downright awesome decked out the way this show model is. Is it odd that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Japanese luxury vehicles when every other government has Fords and Chevys?

Sure, but this is a comic book movie. As long as the Avengers beat the bad guys, all be well. If anyone happens to notice the black SUVs in the background, Acura might make a few extra sales.

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