Open Diff: No love at all

This post was originally published on this site

Stock photo of a 2004 Acura RSX, similar to my 2003 RSX Type S. Photo courtesy Honda North America.

Jeff Koch’s recent piece Arigato and sayonara, Mazda-san struck a nerve with many of you who lamented letting “that car” slip away. We’ve all been there, and whether it’s four wheels or two (or even a keel, perhaps), the regret afterward is no less painful. On the flip side of that coin, Hemmings Daily reader Scott Stamper proposed a different topic: What vehicle did you own that you never bonded with?

For your humble scribe, the choice is simple. In a fit of simplification, I replaced a Volkswagen Passat sedan (which, despite the brand’s sometimes spotty reputation for reliability, had been problem-free under my ownership) and a first-generation Mazda Miata with an Acura RSX Type S.

I didn’t drive the Miata much, except for nice weekends in the summer, and I rationalized that a high-revving front drive hatchback with considerably more power would easily fill that void. The Passat was, quite frankly, a bit boring, though its Monsoon audio system (“Drive drenched in sound!”) was the best I ever experienced in a production car. Still, the Volkswagen had an annoying squeak from the B-pillar that I never could get rid of, and I rationalized that an upcoming major service would cost more than I wanted to invest into the car. Replacing two cars with one would free up garage space, and cut the amount of annual maintenance in half. The Miata sold to another enthusiast driver, and the Volkswagen got traded in on the Acura.

It didn’t take long for the allure of the Acura to wear off. Sure, it was more nimble than the Volkswagen, and quicker, too, but fit and finish wasn’t quite as nice (odd, perhaps, since Acura is Honda’s “upscale” brand) and the ride wasn’t nearly as comfortable. As for handling, understeer was the order of the day with the RSX, and despite minor tweaks like better tires and stiffer sway bars, I never could get the balance quite where I wanted it.

And then there was the interior. The leather-surfaced seats were hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and the stock Bose audio system was terrible compared to the one I parted with in the Passat. The Volkswagen carried four passengers in comfort, while the Acura’s rear seat was best suited for children and small pets. And then there was the rattle from the rear hatch that no amount of tinkering, greasing or adjusting could eliminate.

I even tried a road trip in the RSX, hoping that I’d find something to love about the car. I didn’t, even on twisty backroads that should have been a joy to drive. It wasn’t the car, it was me, and I came to realize that I’ve given up two great cars in exchange for a single good one. The Acura had to go.

And go it did, to my brother-in-law who instantly bonded with the car and kept it for nearly 15 trouble-free years, selling it only in a fit of his own downsizing. I’m quite sure it’s still on the road, putting a smile on the face of a young enthusiast driver, learning to master a six-speed manual transmission and experiencing the joy of a 7,900 RPM redline and Honda’s VTec valve timing and lift control.

So what’s your own “one that should have gotten away” story? What car did you own that you never bonded with, and what was its ultimate fate?

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