A good car museum is worthy of a pilgrimage. Okay, it might not be the best thing to do for a date, but for a day out with like-minded friends, it’s always good to go and see some cars. Most car museums are broad in subject matter and the biggest ones might have multiple exhibits. However, automakers' official museums are often the nerdiest and have the coolest hardware. Enter the newly redone American Honda Collection Hall, now open to the public.
Honda has actually maintained most of this collection of cars quite privately for several years at its U.S. headquarters in Torrance, California, and only permitted guided tours by request. It was never totally locked away, but getting a tour took a few steps and maybe some luck. As part of its 75th anniversary celebrations, Honda decided to make its museum collection much more public and is getting more involved with the Los Angeles car scene. Now, there will be public days as well as monthly "Cars, Bikes and Coffee" events where all makes and models are welcome—but especially Hondas.
The collection has some of Honda’s greatest hits and spotless examples of its most significant cars. Right as you enter you're greeted by a row of cars extending into the Collection Hall. Starting with the tiny 1964 Honda S600 sports car, nearly every Civic is represented up until the 2001 Civic Si (known as EM1). Next to a perfect final-generation Prelude Type-SH is a similarly pristine S2000 CR. Just next to the CR is a first-generation Insight, one of Honda’s most significant and expensive vehicles it ever developed. Across the hall, a bright yellow 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition also gave me a chuckle, along with an Acura Integra Type R and a gorgeous red Acura NSX.
Where it got extraordinarily cool was the corner of the hall dedicated to race cars. The legendary RealTime Racing 1997 Acura Integra Type R sat on a lift above an obscure but deeply cool 1992 GTP-Lights car powered by a modified V6 from an NSX. On the next rack, a pair of Honda-powered Indy cars from different eras were enjoying their retirement, with two Honda Indy V8s on stands next to them. Hidden on the wall behind the racks was a genuine Max Verstappen driver’s suit from the 2021 United States GP.
I won’t get too deep into the motorcycles, but there were a lot of cool bikes with the oval-piston Honda NR750 being the coolest for me. In the middle of the museum in a nondescript hallway, four engines were on display. One was a B18C15 from an Integra Type R, complete with cutaways showing the (at the time) innovative dual-stage intake manifold and shaft-mounted valvetrain that permitted its 8,400 rpm redline. Another was the C35A, a single overhead cam V6 that lived in the Acura Legend. Then there was the big, thumpin’ F23 engine from a late Prelude. Finally, the puny 1.0-liter ECA1 engine and gearbox that went into the first-generation Insight.
While it isn’t a comprehensive, huge museum, it has excellent density and can easily occupy an hour of enthusiastic chin-wagging. Honda says it will rotate the cars and motorcycles in the museum regularly to display its whole collection. For the Los Angeles-based or bound car enthusiasts, this is definitely worth a stop.
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