Acura Built a 1997 SLX Restomod with a 350-HP RDX Engine and SH-AWD for Radwood
Company engineers worked after hours to breathe new life into the super-rare SUV.
Radwood, the booming retro car show that's bringing back funky shapes and period-correct neon visors, is a celebration of everything that was great about the '80s and '90s. Appropriately, Acura will be showing up to the party with a staunchly '90s car rejuvenated with modern hardware. Meet the 1997 Acura Super Handling SLX.
As you might've already gathered, it's based on a 1997 Acura SLX. Instead of the original 3.2-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic, however, it's powered by the 2.0-liter turbo out of the new RDX—and, transitively, the Honda Civic Type R—now modified to put out 350 horsepower. The rest of the powertrain is all RDX as well with power going to the wheels via that crossover's 10-speed automatic and Acura's latest torque-vectoring Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system.
The restomod Acura also gets new paint, 17-inch Fifteen52 Tarmac wheels, Yokohama Geolander A/T tires, and has been reupholstered in dark gray Milano leather. The Super Handling SLX was built by Ohio Acura engineers outside of business hours who say they knew their biggest technical hurdle would be fitting the RDX's transverse engine into the SLX's ladder frame.
"We knew packaging this new powertrain into the SLX would be tough, and it was," said powertrain engineer James Robinson. "But some parts came together much more easily than we had expected. As crazy as it sounds, the RDX's driveshaft went into the SLX without any modifications at all."
The end result sports new front and rear subframes as well as multi-link independent rear suspension in lieu of the original vehicle's solid rear axle.
If all of that sounds like witchcraft, think of this car as a '97 SLX that became infused with its much more advanced descendant, superhero origin story-style.
Legend has it that the original NSX was born from a Ferrari Testarossa and an '87 Honda Accord using the same laundry detergent-based breeding process.
As a small easter egg of sorts for Acura die-hards, the seller in the video is depicted by prolific car collector and enthusiast Tyson Hugie whose actual SLX served as the donor car for this project.
If you've never heard of the Acura SLX until now, you're probably not alone. Essentially a rebadged and dolled up Isuzu Trooper, Acura only sold a total of 6,590 of them in the U.S. from model years 1996 to 1999, making it technically rarer than the much-sought-after Integra Type R. It was introduced during a period when luxury SUVs were still considered novel, even predating the original Mercedes M-Class.
The Acura Super Handling SLX will be on display this Saturday, Dec. 7 at Radwood in Orange County, California alongside a stock 1996 SLX, a 1986 Integra, and a 1991 NSX.
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