Older readers please don't get too excited. The title above isn't referring to that group of strapping young bucks who dominated the airwaves and set the standard for future boy bands to be artificially cloned in the secret laboratories hidden well behind record company doors. Actually, the "kids" reference is in regards to car makers' newly released models, and the disdain that seems to surround them. Recently, a Facebook account announcing the release of a new crossover model was bombarded by negativity about the styling, pricing, and just about everything else related to the vehicle. This should come as no surprise to people like you and I. We'll probably always complain about not being offered enough power, effective braking, sporty interiors, and just about everything else that we feel we're short changed on. This is direct result of two things; the first being that we simply can't leave well enough alone. We have some kind of disease that forces us to tinker and modify in search of "more." The second is the fact that we see Japan and other countries being blessed with superior performance from our favorite automaker. We've been short-changed for years and there's no doubt it's taken a toll on our overall outlook.
Lust at first site...
I can recall late '91, as my friends and I were thoroughly infatuated with the '88-'91 Civic body style (both the hatchback and the four-door) for a number of reasons. The boxy, simple, yet refined econo-cars were fascinating to us. A set of Integra hub caps, a massive drop, and you were well on your way to having an attention-grabber in those days. If you were really the man, you'd add a custom exhaust, Lightspeed header, and an HKS mushroom filter-on-a-stick. When we heard there would be a new Civic model for the '92 lineup, the excitement began building. That is, until we actually saw the new chassis. It's rounded edges, bulbous rear end, and sloping roofline were a huge disappointment. What happened to the squared look that we were so crazy about? This wasn't a Civic; it was some weird round thing that just didn't look right-even if it did have VTEC under the hood. Everything about the new model seemed soft and unappealing to us. I remember that feeling, along with the bitter taste that lasted for a few months. But as time went on, the EH chassis began to steadily grow on me. One of our friends picked up a captiva blue model, and with a set of springs, a Fuba, and custom exhaust, he managed to completely change our outlook on the newer offering. As the dust settled and the "new" Civic later became the standard at the street races, another change was on the horizon.
The '96 Civic was announced and once it hit the showroom, I was eager to sneak-a-peak. My initial reaction; what the hell happened?! Massive headlights, a shorter looking body, and a CRV-like interior were totally unacceptable in my eyes. I had to take a stand, and this new generation of hatchbacks would simply never make the cut. Fast-forward a few years, and the entire Honda enthusiast world, including myself, were smitten with the little guy. Later, as the EP hit the US market, the old feeling of hatred for new models was more alive than ever. It lasted for years, until I ended up shooting Kenneth Li's jaw-dropping gold ATS Garage-built hatchback. Gone were my thoughts of an Si minivan; quickly replaced by thoughts of tearing up a road course. If the right-hand-drive configuration and baller parts didn't grab you, the boosted power-plant and color combo certainly would. I think if it weren't for that car and others like it, I would probably still hold some contempt in my heart for that Civic generation.
Grills gone wild...
Currently, the new TL and TSX are causing quite a stir amongst the loyal Honda ranks. When the subject comes up, just about everyone has the same comment: "what's up with the front grill?" The massive opening that draws all of your attention away from the buff body lines of both cars has been the topic of discussion ever since they first surfaced. At this point, many won't give these cars the time of day, but I have a feeling that will change over time. Don't think so? What do you think people were talking about in '94 when Acura first introduced the new Integra, with its bug eyes in place of the classic long-style DA lamps? Eventually, like most new Honda offerings, our community took a liking to the change, and in the case of the Integra, it developed a massive following. After driving the V6 TSX around town and falling for its comfort combined with pure muscle, I eventually accepted the front-end changes. I've even seen a color-matched grill on a white TL that did a great job of helping that once silver eyesore blend in perfectly with the sharp factory body lines.
As always, it just took a little time and some exposure, and eventually I came around. Just like the old days.