SOMEWHERE in the Great Lakes Region—Peter Cunningham is hanging up his helmet after 32 years racing Acuras and Hondas, most recently winning his third consecutive Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the Open Class, running a TLX-GT. His RealTime Racing carries on with Cunningham at the helm, having won 96 World Challenge wins and 15 championships since 1993. The next race for RealTime’s Acura NSX GT3 Evos, piloted by Bret Curtis and Dan Cameron, is at Cunningham’s home-state circuit, Road America, the first weekend in August.
In his spare time and with all the money left from running a race team, Peter Cunningham has been collecting Acuras, Hondas, and at least one Chevy. The collection includes such retired Competition orange and Championship white RealTime racecars as SCCA Acura RDXes, two generations of TLXes and a Honda S2000, but Cunningham also has a bigger, tantalizing collection of street Hondas and Acuras. He was smart enough and passionate enough about the automaker to have started collecting them before the fairly recent surge in classic Japanese car values.
Cunningham recently opened his collection’s doors to us during a program showcasing Penske Racing’s Acura ARX-05 Dpi testing at Road America in Wisconsin. Here’s a look at what he’s collected, so far…
1966 Honda S600: Cunningham built the front of his collection hall to look like a Honda showroom, circa 1966. His rare left-hand-drive S600 coupe makes nearly 100 horsepower per liter, from a 606-cc inline four, with a 9,500 rpm redline.
Honda S600 badge: Same part number as the badges on Honda’s 1964-68 Formula 1 cars.
T360 and T600: Honda’s first four-wheel vehicle was the ’63 T360 (for engine size in cubic centimeters), and was succeeded by the more powerful T600 (the green model in the first picture).
Toy Storage: Past the doors of the showroom, Cunningham’s collection of classic Hondas is displayed on big shelves, like the model car aisle of a toy store.
Grand Prix White S2000 and ’91 Prelude Si with 4WS: … (four-wheel steering) lead off Cunningham’s Left Bank.
Mark I Acura Legend and European Mark III Honda Accord Aerodeck: Honda’s first luxury sedan, from its new premium marque, still has its “OK” inspection sticker like the decals found on rear quarter windows of North American Hondas and Acuras of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. The Aerodeck, a two-door hatchback Accord, was never sold in North America, though there was a third-generation Accord fastback-hatchback coupe.
Legend coupe tops an S600 roadster: A two-door Legend coupe, and the more common ragtop version of the mid-‘60s Honda S600 sports car.
Cunningham’s Acura NSX collection…includes a ’92 in Grand Prix White, with 27,000 miles, and one of seven ‘01s in Morocco Blue, from the last year for pop-up headlamps. He says the ’92 NSX has its original brake pads, because the car is all about its cornering prowess. “If you don’t use the brakes, you don’t wear them out.”
Post-pop-up NSX: With NSX-R hood and spoiler.
Quotidian Hondas: The Cunningham Collection includes a very early Civic, and above it, a Mark II Civic wagon.
Honda Integra Type R sedan: A Japanese Domestic Market four-door Type R, never sold here.
Acura Integra Type R: In Competition White, Cunningham’s favorite color.
Two more Integra Type Rs: One in yellow, another in black. The yellow car has 46,000 miles, and “has never been wet,” Cunningham says.
Accord hatchback over Prelude: The Accord is from the second generation of the model; the Prelude is from its fourth.
First-gen Acura Integra: Launched with the Legend in 1986.
N600 and Life: The 1967-70 N600 was the first four-wheel Honda imported to the U.S. in any significant numbers (though not in Cunningham’s Wisconsin), while the Life was a JDM-only four-door hatchback.
Z, Vamos and RealTime: A Honda Z car similar to this green example graced the February 1972 cover of Motor Trend. Honda sold just 2,500 Vamos trucks making it the automaker’s most rare model, Cunningham says. The bed sides fold down for easy loading/unloading. Cunningham denies he named his Real Time Racing after the model name of the blue truck in this picture.
Today: With the City, the Today of the ‘80s was one of two Hondas offered with folding motorcycles that fit in back of the hatch area.
Minibikes: The red Motocompo was an example of the bike model that tucked into the back of Todays and Citys.
Mk II Integra over Mk I CRX: The second-generation Acura Integra premiered early in the 1990 model year. The CRX Si had body-color lower cladding for the 1986-87 model years.
Early CUV over a stripper Accord: The 1988-91 Honda Civic wagon/van was perhaps the second crossover vehicle made, after the circa 1980 AMC Eagle, with optional all-wheel-drive and six-speed manual gearbox. The Gen III Accord DX, bottom, came with roll-up windows and without standard air conditioning.
CVCC and Mk II CRX: These cars are 10 years apart, a ’79 Civic CVCC [compound vortex combustion chamber, which Honda dropped after the U.S. mandated catalytic converters on all cars sold here] with five-speed manual and houndstooth-pattern seats, and the red car is an ’89 CRX Si, second year of the second gen.
American Honda, ca. 1959: American Honda recently replicated the front of its first U.S. importer’s building, and so has Peter Cunningham. The display is complete with circa ’59 Chevrolet pickup truck and Honda 50 motorbikes. You meet the nicest people on a Honda.