1997 Acura Super Handling SLX Restomod Debuts With RDX Hardware

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What may look like an SLX in mint condition is actually hiding quite a few secrets as the “SH-AWD” badge at the back denotes this isn’t an ordinary version of Acura’s first SUV. The company’s first all-wheel-drive model has ditched the original AWD system in favor of the more sophisticated Super Handling All-Wheel Drive setup inherited from the current RDX.

Originally introduced back in 2005 on the RL sedan, the SH-AWD system has been implemented in about 1 million vehicles sold by Acura in North America, and now it has found a new home in a 22-year-old SUV derived from an Isuzu Trooper. It works together with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine also borrowed from the RDX, complete with 350 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque following an ECU remap, an upgraded exhaust, and a custom intake.

That’s actually a healthy bump over to the stock 272 hp and 280 lb-ft output of the RDX, not to mention compared to the V6s offered by the SLX back in the day with 190 hp & 188 lb-ft from a 3.2-liter unit like this one originally had and 215 hp & 230 lb-ft from a bigger 3.5-liter offered later in the life cycle.

The 1997 Super Handling SLX has also ditched the original four-speed automatic transmission for a more modern 10-speed automatic transmission taken from the RDX as well. One other change not easily noticeable is the track width, which has increased from 59.6 inches to 64.4 inches at the front and from 59.8 inches to 65.1 inches at the rear. In addition, the solid rear axle with coil springs had to make way for a five-link independent suspension, while the independent double wishbone up front has been swapped out for a MacPherson strut arrangement.

The SLX restomod isn’t only about replacing the old guts with modern hardware as Acura also got rid of the stock wheels and replaced them with a 17-inch set wrapped in all-terrain tires. The original two-tone paint has been updated to a Performance Red Pearl and Champaign Silver combo, while the hard shell spare tire cover at the back finished in the same shade as the body replaces the SLX’s vinyl cover.

Stepping inside the cabin, Acura has spruced things up a bit by reupholstering the seats in Milano leather and applying a gray wood trim on the door cards and dashboard. The chunky gear selector for the automatic transmission has been dropped in favor of a series of buttons like current Acuras have, along with a start/stop button and an electronic parking brake.

Honda’s premium division will have the SLX restomod on display at the RADwood Car Show on Saturday, December 7, in Orange County, California.

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