The heart of the Accord line is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four backed by a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This is the powertrain that will be found in most of the Accords sold at retail, the ones dealers push out the door every day wearing $199 monthly leases or 72 months of $300-per-month financing. A million or more Accords equipped like this will make their way onto American roads over the next several years before Honda even thinks about revising this powertrain. If you don’t wind up driving a car like this yourself, it’s likely someone in your immediate family will. Maybe even someone with whom you’re on speaking terms.
My goal for the weekend was the Sierra Nevada mountain town of Bishop, California, or just north of Bishop. I was delivering a spare engine to a friend. I’ll take any excuse to do a weekend adventure. The engine was a Lancia V4 (the engine I was delivering, not the engine in the Thor). It (the Lancia engine) had been rebuilt by the experts at Alfa Italia in Burbank and they wanted it out of there. I and several friends wrestled the engine up the Thor Vegas’ steps, rested it on a couple sheets of plywood, wrapped it in cardboard and tied it into place securely. With that I turned north.
Aside from the transmission, the Accord delivers an unsullied ribbon of wholesome automotive delight. The steering is informative but light enough that it can be operated with fingertips. The interior is roomy, the seats in the EX-L model out-comfort those in some hoity-toity pretenders, and the whole thing is quiet at speed thanks to excellent air management around the car’s skin.
Miller wielded an encyclopedic mind beginning with his childhood, when he dismantled a classic Model T. With unbound curiosity, he simply wanted to explore Henry Ford's mass-produced invention that put the world behind wheels.
"It was just elementary," Miller said of the many accounting and finance controls he helped implement through the years. "It was like shooting fish in a barrel."
It’s easier to drive with your thumbs tucked in, but you will have to use the handbrake, which is a stretch when also navigating the regular brakes, gas and turning inputs. I don’t know if there’s a better way, except maybe a Ken Block-style stick jutting off the side of the pedals. At any rate, the Thrustmaster Sparco P310 is by far the best -- and most expensive (checking in at 700 smackers) -- wheel we’ve ever tested.
"I sent it out and had 100 copies made," Miller recalled. "When it was finished, I went proudly in to see Mr. Ford. He looked at it and said, 'I like it. I need five more. My two brothers, my sister, my mother and my grandmother.' I didn't tell him I had 94 copies left."