2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD Advance – Week in Review

Posted in TLX, Vehicle Reviews on October 27, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (TLX):  927

Usually when a car’s getting dropped off at the house, it means that I’ve added to the collection.  This time, the delivery was just a short-term loan — but it was a fun one!

I’ve followed the launch of the second-generation TLX since the August 2019 reveal of the “Type S Concept” in Monterey, California.  Last month, the car went on sale in non-S trims, and next spring the model lineup will be fully complete when the Type S variant with an all-new 3-liter V6 turbo goes on sale.

The TLX’s original platform which debuted in 2014 was revamped from the ground up, and Acura did its homework to place the car at the front of the competitive segment in terms of design, technology, performance, and handling.  The car I received was configured in Advance spec, coming in at $49,325 including destination and handling.

I’ll keep things short & sweet with regard to my takeaways, because after all, I’m just an everyday journalist with an oddball Acura-ddiction.  I’ll share my review in bullet point form, just like I share data with senior leaders at the office.  I guess I’m still in my 9-5 mode this evening.

Love it:

  • Performance from the 2.0-liter 272-hp inline-four is surprisingly snappy.  The car delivers easy acceleration especially considering its size.
  • The TLX steering, for some reason, is one of my favorite things.  The radius is small, the wheel is nicely weighted and has the right thickness to it.
  • Interior fit & finish are top-notch, with quality materials including open-pore wood and nice leather.  Ambient lighting (customizable in over 20 colors) gives a luxo-vibe.  My fellow Acura-driving friend Daniel (who’s currently in an RDX A-Spec) said the same.
  • Adding onto that, the cabin overall just feels “cozy” to me.  The positions of the armrests are nicely laid out, and thanks to a console-mounted volume knob, you don’t have to reach for anything.
  • Tech & audio system are A+.  I like the resolution of the infotainment screens.  The ELS 17-speaker 3D sound system will really knock your socks off.
  • Aesthetically, I think the car looks really wicked from the front and I like the LED-everything lighting.  The rear, I’m not yet too fond of but I think with some aero accessory treatment could be pretty sweet.
  • SH-AWD delivers really good cornering and traction.
  • Wireless phone charging (part of the Advance package) was a welcome alternative to fumbling with a charge cord each time I got inside the vehicle.
  • Overall, the car ‘drives smaller than it is.’  As in, it’s a huge car dimensionally but it feels light and nimble.

Questionable:

  • It’s likely I didn’t fully understand all the individualization capability in the driving dynamics settings, but whether configured in Sport, Comfort, or Normal, I seemed to detect some floatiness in the suspension and it felt like it bounced rather than absorbed bumps in some cases.
  • I wish Auto-Stop/Start could be set up to never come back on, but it seemed to reactivate every time I turned off the car.
  • The 10-speed transmission gives good power whenever and wherever needed, but the Park button was unsettling.  The car felt like it would continue to jostle for a second after I pushed it.

Indifferent:

  • I didn’t really like the touchpad interface initially but grew to not mind it.  It beats having to put greasy fingers on a touch-screen.  Plus it’s pretty intuitive once you get the hang of it.
  • Head-up display is a nice feature for some, but I preferred to turn it off and just rely on the large, nicely laid out gauges in the cluster.

Thoughts?

The car is exceptional enough that it confirmed my decision to get one.  Not in this trim level, but rather as an upcoming Type S variant in 2021.  I think it’ll make a suitable daily driver to grow up to after having driven the ILX for nearly 8 years.  Even though it sacrifices a clutch pedal and some of the “raw” driving feel, it more than makes up for that with the abundance of tech and creature comforts.  Plus it can still look and feel sporty.

Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading!

1999 2.3CL Acquisition, Utah Trip, JCCS, and Legend Meet

Posted in CL, Legend, Road Trip on October 20, 2020 by tysonhugie

Chris from Baltimore gets upset with me when I don’t start a blog post with a proper odometer reading.  “COVID changed everything,” he said.  Well Chris, I’m here to set the record straight and not only deliver a single odometer reading, but I’m going to give you ten of them.

I’ve sorted them in descending order.  Now, here’s the game: In the comment section, I need you to tell me which car aligns with which reading.  I’ll check your answers and see how you did.

Odometer Total:  2,226,058

Odometer Average:  222,605

I have to catch you up on a few things.  I stepped away from the computer for a few weeks and somehow another car landed at the house.  These things happen when you least expect it.  

The important thing about this latest arrival is that it completes this puzzle:

While a full photoshoot is still pending – and unfortunately I don’t have all the cars in a single color – the lineup is all accounted for, and I’m excited to introduce the latest member of the family:  My Milano Red 1999 2.3CL Premium.  This car arrived in Phoenix last week from San Diego, California where it had spent its entire life.

With just 138,000 miles on the odometer, it comes in at one of the lower mileage cars in my collection.  Its condition and color/5-speed trans configuration made it too perfect to pass up.  Milano Red was a one-year-only color for the final year of the first-generation 1997-99 CL.  

The CL is also only the second Acura I’ve owned (out of 22 total now) that was built in the United States.  It was an important model at the time because it was both designed and manufactured in America.  According to the VIN sticker on the driver door jam it came off the assembly line in Ohio in August 1999.

While maintenance records on this car were few (read: completely absent) I do know that the clutch is new since the selling dealership delayed me a few days while inquiring about the car since it was not yet ready to show/drive.  I also see that drive belts look relatively new, but the car will definitely need a few items of preventative maintenance for good measure and peace of mind.  

Here’s a video showcasing the delivery and first impressions for my YouTube audience.

The first week of October, I took an 1,800-mile road trip to visit family and friends in Utah.  My chariot of choice was the 1994 Legend LS, which had been begging to roll the 575k-mile mark for some time.  It performed well, and I enjoyed the chance to connect with family members who I hadn’t seen since May/June during my PMC Edition road trip.  

The fall colors were in full bloom in Providence Canyon in Cache Valley of northern Utah.  My dad & stepmom and I took a 5-mile hike to soak it all in.  The running joke is that here in Phoenix, we don’t get changing colors of leaves.  Instead, we get changing colors of license plates as all the snowbirds from Michigan and Minnesota come in for the winter season.

The highlight of the trip was definitely picking up my 90-year-old grandma and taking her about 25 miles north to the Idaho state line.  We cashed in some lottery tickets and came home $74 richer.  

While the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) was cancelled much like so many other events in 2020, we did still get a group together of locals for a very informal drive to the Superstition Mountains in northeast Mesa a couple of Saturdays ago.  Here’s a video and a few photos.

One of my many car show traditions that was modified this year was the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach.  This year, it went to a ‘virtual’ format.  My 1996 2.5TL was featured in a YouTube video.  It’s in here at 6:55.

My mom had a long layover on Sunday and we had enough time for a late lunch, so I borrowed my friend Devan’s six-door, three-row 2000 Lincoln Town Car funeral limo to pick her up.  What a floaty awesome boat.

The ILX got some new wheels thanks to a cheap Craigslist find.  Some of you may recognize these 17″ “waffles” from the 2007-08 TL Type-S.  These ones are chrome, and I don’t really mind it.  The car rides nicely on 235 width tires as opposed to the 215s that it came with.

Coming attractions:  Tomorrow, Acura is putting me into a Fathom Blue 2021 TLX for a seven-day evaluation, and in the coming weeks/months I’m also going to be doing reviews on a fancy Odyssey Elite and a Civic Type R.

Talk to you soon!

AZ Offbeat Destinations: Wigwam Resort, Cheese N’ Stuff, Miracle Mile, & Herberger Park

Posted in Accord, Arizona, ILX, Legend, NSX on September 30, 2020 by tysonhugie

I’m still here!  While my attention has been pulled a lot of directions in recent weeks, I owe it to the few loyal readers of the blog to chime in from time to time.  At least I haven’t forgotten my WordPress login credentials yet.

I just got home a few minutes ago from picking up my latest project car from the repair shop – for the second time – after a blower motor replacement in the climate control system.  Isn’t it funny how a single replacement item can exceed what you paid for an entire car?  Yep, just happened.  I have to keep reminding myself how much I enjoy this hobby.

The guest book had been relatively quiet for the entire summer until just a couple of weeks ago, when I hosted a get-together with some ‘car friends’ locally, and my brother breezed through town.  He was en route to Texas so he stopped in for an evening meal at Taco Guild in central Phoenix.

My own travels have dialed back considerably, but that also means I’ve had more of a chance to explore my surroundings locally.  I’ll show you a few of the places I’ve checked out in recent weeks.

The first is the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Arizona.  It’s only about 25 miles from my place, but it offered a nice “staycation” destination for an over-nighter.  Room rates for locals are only in the low $100’s.  The resort itself dates back to 1929 and has 331 rooms, 2 restaurants, 3 pools, and a 26,000-square-foot spa.  A friend and I stayed over on a Friday night and enjoyed pretending like we were somewhere far from home.

Another place I checked out was right by my house.  For years I’ve driven past this little deli called “CHEESE N’ STUFF” at the intersection of Central Avenue & Camelback Road in Phoenix.  With a name like that, I couldn’t say no.  The interior is totally frozen in time – almost as if the clock stopped in about 1975.  Decor consists of wood paneling, family photos (the place is family-run, after all), and a general store-style shelf setup.  Some of the signs on the wall looked like they had been printed in Print Shop in 1987, adding to the nostalgia.

I can’t remember what this was called but it was literally just 7 types of cheeses, no meat at all.  And I was shocked at how tasty it was.

Here’s a fun one.  The below photo has a sort of Chinese character look archway to it, but it’s actually designed to resemble an abstract picket fence with the letters M M M.  That stands for Miracle Mile McDowell:  a stretch of road that was once a bustling corridor of culture and business in the 1950s.  Later, a new freeway system made the road obsolete, the pavement was widened to remove roadside parking, and businesses started to dry up.

The arch itself was installed in 1991 in an attempt to create a feeling of togetherness between the sides of the road that were now so far from one another.  And since then, there have been many initiatives to revitalize McDowell but for now, the buildings mostly stand empty.

The last place I’ll introduce you to is G. R. Herberger Park, located near 56th Street & Indian School road in Phoenix.  It’s best known as being the location of “Arizona Falls.”

Waterfalls, in Phoenix?  How?  Well, this is part of the Salt River Project:  A series of canals and waterways that bring much needed water to Phoenix and have done so for over 100 years.  This particular location is the site of a 20-foot drop in the canal.

It was once a place for picnics and recreation, but later was forgotten and closed off for many years.  In 2003, the location was restored and saw construction of a hydroelectric power plant and some exhibits.

I’ve had a chance to connect with some awesome folks in recent weeks, including this meet-up in Tempe with Kai and Hy in their exceptionally clean Honda Accords.  I was the odd man out in the NSX.

I also hosted the aforementioned Acura Legend meet-up at my house a couple of weeks ago.  In all, we had eight Legends in attendance.

My friend and fellow journalist Jeff Koch put together a great article on Hemmings that you might get a kick out of.  The link is below.  And based on the nearly 50 comments that it garnered, maybe there are a few people who actually “get” my weird obsession.

https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2020/09/21/guaranteed-you-dont-like-acuras-nearly-as-much-as-tyson-hugie-does

You may or may not be following the latest news with regard to the launch of the second-generation Acura TLX, but I am.  The 2021 models went on sale on Monday 9/28.  I’m planning on scooping one up next spring.  Looks good, right?

If you have a few minutes to kill and you’re addicted to online auctions like Bring a Trailer and Cars & Bids like I am, you might want to look at this new site called AutoHunter.  I’m one of the auction writers who have been working on getting things off the ground.  I already wrote for ClassicCars.com (the parent site) prior, so this was a logical move.

AutoHunter 

Do you all remember the Mulberry Red 1990 Accord EX I sold over a year and a half ago?  It traded hands just a couple of weeks ago to a friend of mine named Brent who lives in Michigan.  He has a great collection.  He sent me this photo of the Accord alongside his 1990 Legend and 1990 Prelude.  Talk about an epic throwback trio.

And closing things out, if you want to hear / see more about how I’m dumping money and time into my latest project car, here are videos 2 through 6 in the 1996 2.5TL series.  It’s actually been a lot of fun.  I drove the car to Payson, Arizona and back over the weekend and it’s a solid cruiser even at 262,000 miles.

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

Bonus content:  video I put together of some upgrades to a family member’s NSX.

NSX Video

Hope that keeps you busy for a little bit.  And, I hope you’re all well!  Leave me a comment and say hello.

Quick Sierra Vista Arizona, & Southern Utah Trips (+6 Videos)

Posted in ILX, Integra, RLX, SLX on August 20, 2020 by tysonhugie

Trip Distance:  400 Miles

Well, well, well!  A video that I filmed with Honda about a year and a half ago has debuted.

Get your Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn in the microwave because I have quite a few videos to link you to in this post.

‘Kokoro’ in Japanese means “heart.”  There’s a series of “Honda Kokoro” videos hosted by my friend Charles, Honda Brand Culture Champion, who has just recently retired.  I was the main character in the 6th video, which just came out yesterday.  I think the legal and post-production hurdles that set this back dilute its timeliness (3 of the cars featured there are gone, and 4 more are added) but it’s still a super fun memory.

My friend Chuck has a collection of very obscure vehicles.  If it weren’t crazy enough that he owns a custom 1988 Acura Legend convertible (the Legend wasn’t even offered from the factory in a convertible bodystyle), he also has a Dodge Dakota pickup convertible (yes, that one was a thing!), and a 1998 Acura SLX with only 54,000 miles on it.

How he managed to assemble a grouping so eclectic I’m not quite sure, but I decided to make a 6-hour round-trip from Phoenix to Sierra Vista, Arizona visit to pay him a visit this past weekend.

The vehicle called into action for the occasion was my 1996 SLX, since aside from the RADwood show last December, this would be the first time I would meet up with a fellow SLX owner.  Luckily, even though the summer heatwave was intense, I made the trip to & fro without incident.  My air conditioning even kept things cool the whole way.

It was nice to reconnect with Chuck and Patty, and we dined at one of Sierra Vista’s great Mexican restaurants.  The city is located only about 20 miles from the Mexican border, so authenticity is accounted for.  Chuck and I also took the convertible Legend out for a cruise.  I shot a few video clips that I pieced together.  Here’s the outcome.

(Special preview – this isn’t even public on my channel yet!)

Thanks, Chuck & Patty for hosting!  Please pardon our masklessness for the photo, and in other instances of the videos in this blog.  Rest assured I do have a mask in every single car and I wear them regularly.

Here are a few other updates in recent travels and current events.

With the automotive event calendar being wiped almost entirely clean this year thanks to COVID-19, some venues have reinvented themselves in digital format. One of them is the Future Collector Car Show (FCCS) which hosted a virtual car show on YouTube.  I was among 18 finalists who made it to the final round for Best of Show with my 1999 Integra.  Here’s a video that was published on the YouTube channel of the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

(My car shows up 15 minutes in)

I took a trip to Utah a couple of weeks ago to see some family members.

My mom and stepdad and I dined from Cliffside Restaurant overlooking St. George, Utah.

The trusty old 2013 ILX rolled 225,000 miles, and I filmed a few minutes of video.

I also shot video of mom’s 2016 RLX.

And finally, several weeks ago I had company from a couple of Integra-owning local friends, Eric and Chris.  It was nice of them to stop by, and I got some video clips then too.

I especially like Chris’ T-shirt.  “Hoard Hondas, Not Toilet Paper.”

My T-shirt was pretty special too.  It was a one-day-only design made available on Blipshift.

Lastly, my friend Andy stopped by to show me his 2005 Lotus.

I guess that’s it for now.  Just catching you up on the latest.

A Newer Vigor: My Garnet Red Pearl 1996 Acura 2.5TL Acquisition

Posted in TL on August 15, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (TL):  262,058

I sold one obscure 5-cylinder Acura, and managed to pick up another.

Meet my Garnet Red Pearl 1996 Acura 2.5TL in all its glory.

Or, as it turns out, its lack thereof.

It’s perhaps the most basic Acura I’ve ever owned — the most stripped-down trim level of its kind, in fact.  It is equipped with cloth seats instead of leather (the brochure calls it “high-grade tricot cloth,” to be specific).  It doesn’t have a moonroof, heated (or powered) seats, keyless entry, or heated mirrors.  It’s a $27,900 example of exactly what the dealer would have sold you if you told them you wanted the bargain basement Acura TL that year.

Said Acura:

The 1996 Acura TL Series is an entirely new automotive concept.  It’s a carefully crafted pair of touring luxury sedans – sophisticated automobiles that meld the refinement and gratifying comfort of a world-class luxury car with the performance and response of a thoroughbred sports sedan.

Inspired by the elegant character of legendary old-world touring sedans of the past, but constructed to the most exacting standards of modern automotive technology, the Acura 3.2TL and 2.5TL are clearly destined to redefine the essence and the spirit of luxurious performance automobiles.

So why did I even care enough about this car to have it transported 1,454 miles to my doorstep?  I guess I’m a sucker for the underdogs.  This old TL was clearly appreciated by ‘someone;’ otherwise, it would have never made it to 262,054 miles on the odometer.  It sat in a classified listing on OfferUp for over 8 months, illustrated in poor-quality pictures and covered in leaves on a rainy day in Lacey, Washington.  The seller must have been shocked when I inquired; he probably even forgot his ad was still active.  He was selling the car for his father.

My fascination with the first generation 1996-98 Acura TL goes back over 20 years.  In April 1998, I was 16 years old.  Do you remember when you could request brochures from automakers online and they’d mail them to you?  I did that.  I ordered brochures for the RL and TL models, and the deluxe 12×12 mailings arrived a couple of weeks later.  I still have the brochures, and the envelope they came in.  Acura spent $3.00 in postage just to ship them to me.

I was of course in no place to buy a new car at that time.  I was driving my Chevy Celebrity and working part-time at a copy shop in my after-hours.  In 2003, though, I did get a chance to check out a first-gen TL in real life.  My mom picked up a 1997 3.2TL in Cayman White Pearl with around 65,000 miles on the odometer.  I liked the look and feel of the interior, the conservative exterior, and the fact that its V6 was essentially a Legend 3.2 powerplant.   Mom drove that car for two years until upgrading to a 2000 3.5 RL, which you’ve read about on my blog.

Keen eyes will note that I put 16″ Legend GS wheels on mom’s car briefly.

And in full bling-bling fashion, toward the end, the car was decked out with clear signal lenses & 18″ wheels.

The TL that just landed in Phoenix is unique even aside from being a base model.  Its engine is the 2.5 variant, otherwise known as the exact inline-5 from the 1992-94 Acura Vigor.  And the paint color is a one-year-only offering.  Garnet Red was carried over from the 1995 Legend for just one model year in the TL, its introductory year.  In fact, the color is so rare it wasn’t even listed as an available option in the brochure for the 2.5TL (see below).  But here I have proof that such a car exists.

There were only two TL colors that were one-year only:  Garnet Red in 1996, and Crystal Blue in 1998.

This ‘new-to-me’ TL becomes the second-highest mileage vehicle in my collection, having traveled 45% as far as my 574,000-mile Legend.  And so begins another project series for YouTube, similar to the 12-episode playlist I’ve created about the SLX.  I guess the bottom line is, I found a project car with a Vigor engine, a Legend color, and a rare optioning configuration that puts me one step closer to completing the 6-model late 1990s Acura full fleet lineup shown below.

Post in the comments if you can name the last vehicle I’m missing.  You better believe I’m on the hunt.

Interior – check that cloth!

176 hp of fury

After a first wash – yes, that back bumper is beat up

Sneak preview of my baby steps with the detail.  You know I love this part!

Headlight 2-step resto already completed

Oh, and you know what confirmed that this was the right car for my next project?  Guess what I saw when I Google street-viewed the home address of the selling owner.  The TL was parked next to an Acura Legend sedan.  Boom.

Enjoy this video and check back next time for the first round of updates!

Tiny Travels, Home Improvements, and Vigor Auction Underway

Posted in Brochures, House, ILX, Legend, NALM, Vigor on July 11, 2020 by tysonhugie

Hello from Hell-o.

No, seriously.  It’s 115 degrees outside and it feels about like you would expect for AZ in mid-July.  At least it was my washing machine that decided to bite the dust this week instead of my air conditioning unit.

I’ve been cooped up a bit and needed to stretch my road trip legs again, so yesterday I took the Legend coupe on a 200-miler through the desert west of Phoenix.  It was a pretty simple little loop that provided a nice getaway.

The highlight, of course, involved food.  I had to sample the Green Chile Burger at a little drive-in called Screamer’s that I saw featured in a news article not long ago.  I ate indoors – I don’t think they do in-car service at this drive-in, at least not this time of year.  And the burger was everything it was cracked up to be.  It feels like a special treat to eat like that nowadays, because my diet has changed a lot now that I’m eating at home.  I’ve lost 15 lbs this year.

I might have also lost something else this year – a little bit of what sanity I had to begin with, when I decided to deck out my garage as a cheesy 1990s used car dealership a while back.  Hope you get a kick out of this 45 second commercial.  The $50 I spent on Amazon swag was well worth the results.

But for reals, I’m selling a car.  It’s time to re-prioritize and think about my short-term and long-term plans for the Acura collection.  It’s now been 5 years (exactly) since I picked up my 1994 Vigor GS in Colorado and brought it home.  I’ve enjoyed it for 13,000 miles, and shown it at RADwood and Japanese Classic Car Show.

Now it’s time to move it along to the next worthy owner.  Here’s a link to the auction.  This makes my Acura Vigor officially the first Vigor ever sold on Bring a Trailer.  The site has had 14 Legends and at least that many Integras.

How come I’m selling?  Let me count the ways.  Career uncertainty, I can’t drive it (and my 8 other cars) enough, there are other projects and cars I have in mind in the future, it’s a good chance to free up some garage space, and to help the Vigor model gain recognition since the enthusiast network is so obscure and forgotten.  So bid away!

Along with that, I filmed a 14-minute very detailed video about the ins & outs of the car.  The intro to the segment involved re-creating the cover photo from the 1994 Acura full-line brochure.

I extend thanks to my friend Josh of Clymer’s Carport for his innovation and creativity in developing a custom, hand-built Hot Wheels display board for me.  I put together a video on it.

I recently created a login for Newspapers.com and started browsing the archives from the 1980s and 1990s.  I dug up some particularly cool ads for Acura dealerships from back in the day.

A friend of mine picked up a 6-speed ILX to replace his RSX as a daily driver.  It’s “Fathom Blue.”  Last month also marks 8 years of ownership for me with my ILX.

My friend Chuck found an old pic that was taken the day after I got the car new in 2012.

I decided to do some small upgrades to the west garage on my property.  It’s a small space where I keep one car, my lawn mower, and other yard care items.  A neighbor recommended Garage Flooring LLC as a place to pick up plastic tiles, so I placed an online order and did the install.  I opted to not put tiles over the entire floor but only about half of it for now.

NALM Arizona Update

The announcement was made on 6/26 that in light of current events that are heavily impacting the Arizona region currently (and for the foreseeable future), it is prudent to postpone this year’s National Acura Legend Meet to fall 2021 instead.  More to come as registration re-opens, but our placeholder dates are October 6-10, 2021.

On the 4th of July I picked up my friend Lance for breakfast in a 6-door limo that’s being stored at my house.  It belongs to my friend Devan.  The car is 20″ longer than a quad cab Duramax pickup.  I had to ramp up my depth perception a little.

I also enjoyed a little excursion in the Super Sonic Blue 1999 Integra.  A few Saturdays ago (I think – my sense of time is all out of whack lately), some friends and I cruised up the twisties of Highway 89A to Prescott.  We stopped along the way to pay respects to the 19 firefighters who were killed during the 2013 Yarnell Wildfire.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend staying safe out there.  Send ice cream and snowflakes.

Great Escape: 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition 6-State, 3,000-Mile Road Trip

Posted in Road Trip, TLX, Utah, Vehicle Reviews on June 15, 2020 by tysonhugie

TLX Odometer Start 5/29/2020:  2,233

TLX Odometer End 6/12/2020:  5,369

Trip Mileage:  3,136

Acura gave me the key to a 2020 Acura TLX for two weeks, and I used it to deliver pizza & garlic bread.  Before that phrase prevents me from ever getting a demo car from them again, let me explain.

My grandpa’s favorite pizza place, Fredrico’s, is located 400 miles away from his home.  He’s nearly 90 years old and doesn’t get to travel as much as he used to, so his opportunities to taste Fredrico’s food are few and far between these days.  But I crafted an idea of a way I could make it happen as part of a summer road trip.  The strategy involved a to-go order, a cooler, and effective time management to get the meal delivered six hours away.  It worked out perfectly, and here’s the video of my arrival right on time at 5:00 p.m. for dinner in St. George, Utah.

The pizza run was just one of many rewarding aspects of my over-3,000-mile, 6-state, 12-day road trip in a new car that was allocated to me by Acura for press use.  And the experience was exactly the great escape I’d been needing after being cooped up in quarantine for a couple of months.

The year 2020 has taken each one of us for a pretty unpredictable ride.  What started out as an anticipated year of celebrations for me – car meet-ups, a high school reunion, and family festivities – started cascading like a row of dominoes as every event cancelled in sequence.  And two months into what became a worldwide health crisis, I learned that the future and stability of my own career was in jeopardy.  A mandatory unpaid furlough added to the drama, but I engineered a way to turn that downtime into some serious up-time.  Enter the Acura TLX.

I’ve followed the limited-production TLX “PMC Edition” since it was first introduced in a press release on April 11th, 2019.  In fact, I knew about it a day prior, because Andrew from Acura Public Relations clued me in privately via email a day in advance.  His email stated, “I think you’re going to like this one.”  Indeed, I did.

Even before that, I’d followed the evolution and launch of the first-generation TLX for a long time.  I was present in January 2014 when it debuted in concept form at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.  I met Jarad Hall, its lead designer.

The TLX production model was unveiled 3 months later in New York.  I first drove one that August, and in February of the following year I secured one for a thorough road test via some Arizona scenic byways.  It’s now been 5 years since I really had much of a chance to spend time with one.  Until now.

I flew from Phoenix, Arizona to southern California on Friday morning, May 29th with as many precautions as I could possibly put into place.  The entire travel experience was somehow new for me, despite being such a seasoned traveler:  Mask regulations, distancing practices, in-flight announcement changes, sanitization measures, new signage, and modified boarding procedures.  It was a unique opportunity.  Andrew picked me up in the PMC Edition #027/360 with 2,233 miles on the odometer, and the adventure started from there.  I had lunch with a fellow Acura enthusiast who brought out his 1988 Integra Special Edition.  Aren’t those white wheels so 1980s?

My first order of business was getting back home to Phoenix to load up the car with luggage since I’d flown to California with only a backpack.  While there, I tried the TLX on “for size” by introducing it to the heritage Acura vehicles in my garage.

The trip route was intentionally designed to minimize ever having to re-use the same stretch of road.  And aside from a few small areas, I succeeded in that.  For 3,136 miles, I made my way through California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada.  I reconnected (at a safe distance whenever possible) with family & friends, mapped out some roads I’d never seen before, and saw some of Mother Nature’s finest landscapes in the Rocky Mountains.

No interstate adventure would be complete without saying hi to some of my fellow Acura enthusiast brothers and sisters, so I made a special point to arrange a meet-up in Salt Lake City with friends including Sunny, Trevor, and Shaun who brought out their TSX, TL, and RDX respectively.

The trip’s capstone was a 3-day weekend in a small town nestled at the base of the Grand Teton mountain range called Jackson Hole.  As home to about 10,000 people, Jackson acts as a hub of recreation for that region.  In the wintertime, skiers swarm the town for the opportunity to hit the 3 ski areas, and in the summertime, there are dozens of hikes and activities to entertain people in the great outdoors.

My dad & stepmom joined for that leg of the trip.  We took an 8-mile early-morning hike at Bear Paw Lake in Grand Teton National Park, where we had the place nearly entirely to ourselves aside from a few mosquitoes and other forms of wildlife.  Bear sightings, for better or for worse, were zero that day.  We had some fun capturing ourselves on the Town Square live webcam stream from multiple angles, as shown in the trip recap video below.

Climbing out of Jackson on Highway 22 to the west, the ascent sharply climbs from about 6,000 feet to about 8,500 feet with 10% grades and avalanche slide paths via the Teton Pass.  I chose this route because it provided the most direct access to eastern Idaho where I stayed at my uncle Jeff’s cabin for a night.  With temperatures in the low 30s that day, there was a likelihood I’d run into snow and I was optimistic I’d get to put the TLX “Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive” to a test, but aside from wet roads and heavy fog, I had plenty of traction to get where I needed to go.

I added a few hundred extra miles to my trip in Idaho because I wanted to reconnect with a couple of friends there.  After passing through small towns like Arco (“first city in the world lighted by atomic power”) and seeing what there was to explore at Craters of the Moon National Monument (basically, an abundance of lava caves), I dropped into the city of Twin Falls along the Snake River.

My friends Josh and Pete met up with me there for the best all-you-can-eat sushi in the state.  Josh also presented me with a custom, hand-built Hot Wheels display board that I’ll post photos & videos of in the coming weeks.  The Idaho hospitality was definitely very much appreciated!

My return to Phoenix included a few more stops to see people as well as the aforementioned Fredrico’s Pizza delivery run.  I made the most of each and every checkpoint along the drive home, even popping in to say hello to my friend Casey who works at the Shell gas station in small Mona, Utah off Interstate 15.  My entire handwritten fuel log – or at least the 13 fuel stops since starting out in Phoenix – was left in the glove compartment for posterity.

It’s hard to believe six years have passed since I first laid eyes on a TLX – the design is modern and the car drew compliments everywhere I took it.  I hadn’t even made it out of Orange County California without a fellow driver rolling down the window in his Mazda and waving to get my attention to ask, “How much is the A-Spec?”  And the coolest part of my drive experience was the fact that this particular TLX wasn’t just any A-Spec, it was one of only 360 total cars hand-assembled and hand-painted at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.

I reluctantly gave the key back to my Valencia Red ride, but will forever enjoy the memories that were created on this trip.  The TLX PMC Edition was the perfect travel companion, delivering 28 miles per gallon thanks to an eco-minded 9-speed transmission that revs low at freeway speed.

I found the TLX’s 290 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 more than ample to crest the mountain passes (and overtake slower traffic) with ease, and I was spoiled by the car’s awesome stereo system and driver-assist technology.  Even the most vigilant driver can benefit from the occasional nudge of the steering wheel when beginning to veer from a travel lane, and even though I disliked that feature initially, I found it helpful as time went on.

And maybe I’m getting old (would you believe 40 is coming up next year?  Yikes!), but I fully enjoyed having an automatic transmission as a change of pace so I could more freely focus on other enjoyable attributes of the driving experience.

Now, who needs a pizza delivered and what toppings can I get you?

12 days in 12 minutes:

Flanked by 1994 Legends

Marble Canyon along Highway 89A, Northern Arizona

Entering Hildale, Utah

Mom representing with her Acura hat

…. And with her Crystal Black pearl 2016 RLX

Salt Lake City meet-up with my friend Eric and his 1989 L coupe

Another enthusiast meet up with Daniel of @redlabelspec (check out his awesome cars on Instagram)

Another state crossed off the list!

Bridge on Highway 89 in Logan Canyon, Northern Utah

Wyoming State Line

Teton Village, near Jackson Wyoming, with dad & stepmom

Throwback photo series – our family has a tradition of taking photos by this elk statue in Jackson.  Here we are in about 1992.

And in 1997.

In 2000.

In 2014, from my prior Jackson trip.

And finally in 2020.  The trees have changed, haven’t they?

Entering Grand Teton National Park

The highest peaks there are over 13,000 feet in elevation.

Visiting Uncle Jeff in Driggs, Idaho (check out that Chevy II Nova)

Arco, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

More from Craters of the Moon

Josh’s RDX and the TLX PMC Edition

Some glamour shots my brother Payton got of the TLX

Thanks for coming along!

May 2020 Updates: Car Projects, House Projects, New YouTube Vids, & Upcoming Travels

Posted in Detailing, Integra, Legend, RL, TLX, Vigor on May 11, 2020 by tysonhugie

Can we talk about how cool this little LED sign is?  Found this baby on some random Facebook sponsored vendor’s ad.  Imagine me getting ads for Acura related merchandise.  How dare they think they know my life!

I’m wrapping up about 8 weeks in quarantine as I type this, and if it weren’t for the occasional socially-distant excursion like a couple of weeks ago at my friend’s pool nearby, I might have lost my insanity altogether.  Say hello to Midge the pup there in the lower left.

Car updates have been on the checklist as usual, and I’m pretty satisfied to say that I’ve accomplished pretty darn near everything I wanted to do when I set out to make my isolation time as productive as it could possibly be.  The 1992 Integra got a fresh coat of VHT wrinkle black paint on the valve cover.  It’s something I’d been meaning to do on the engine bay for a very long time.  Check it out!

The RL got a new under-hood insulation pad to replace the one that was ripped before.

The Vigor got some suspension bushings and brake pads at Hon-Man.

The laundry room (aka showroom entry) got a new LED lamp like the one I installed in the garage itself.  Here’s the before & after.

Here’s a video of those updates.

The SLX is getting a brake master cylinder as we speak.  And then I think I’m seriously done for a bit.  Famous last words, right?  Okay so that gets the chore updates out of the way for the most part.

Take a peek at this cool article from a 2001 issue of a magazine called “Velocity.”  It was an Acura/Honda enthusiast mag, and it talked about a guy named Leszek who put 500k on his 1992 Legend sedan by using it as a taxi.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  Leszek got rid of his Legend at 530k and then went into an RL that got 450k.  Then he moved to Lexus, and now he’s with Mercedes.  I found his website – aptly named “Legendary Private Car” – and emailed him.  See his email response below.

In fitting timing, a friend needed airport transport last week so I decided to dress the part and pick him up in appropriate fashion, name tag and all.

This is what happens when you’ve been in quarantine 8 weeks and take things way too seriously.

Check out this cool little info blurb I got from a friend about the original concept for the 1987 Legend coupe.  They almost named it the Legend Climax.

YouTube is still a major source of entertainment for me as I’ve spent quite a bit of time creating videos.

Here are the latest two productions:  A tour of the garage, and then an intro to the assembly of a display rack where I’m showcasing my (100+) brochures in the garage now.

Garage Tour

Display Build

I won’t see much of you all for the next few weeks.  Work is still busy, but going through a state of change as the hospital system I’m with transitions through the different phases of the coronavirus pandemic.  I’ll be taking a mandatory two-week furlough the first two weeks of June.

But guess what – I’m about to make lemonade out of lemons.  I’ve just arranged to get a long-term loan in a 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition starting May 29th.  I’ll be taking that car on a 6-state, 2,000+ mile adventure.  You’ll read about it here sometime in June.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a little bit of Q&A.  A couple of weeks ago, I was corresponding with Patricia who bought my 1994 Legend coupe when it was new.  I had a few questions for her that I emailed in a Word document.

You might get a kick out of her answers – especially the last one.

1 – I understand you were the original owner of the (now nearly 600,000 mile) 1994 Legend. What did you drive before buying that car?

Honda Prelude

2 – What about the Legend coupe particularly caught your eye or interest when it was new?

Loved the styling and the feel of luxury – it was my first aspirational car purchase.  The color was not my first choice – I wanted the dark green but there were no more of that color in stock in California

3 – What was it like to be in the market for a Legend back then? Was the trim, color, and configuration that you wanted difficult to come by, or was the car already in inventory and readily available?

I answered this question above – the Legend was marketed by Acura as their sporty luxury brand

4 – One particularly cool aspect of your car history is that you seem to prefer a stick shift, since the BMW 530i that you replaced the Legend with was also a manual transmission. What do you drive today, and does it also let you row your own gears?

The last car I drove was an automatic Lexus 250 – I wanted to continue to drive a manual but was later convinced an automatic was better for resale.  I just read a recent article that most automotive companies are no longer offering manual transmissions.

5 – Your ownership of the Legend lasted about 9 years and 90,000 miles, which is longer than many people keep a car. What were some of the road trips or experiences that stand out as highlights during that time?

Difficult to remember but, living in Northern California provides anyone who loves to drive so many opportunities for open roads and beautiful vistas.

6 – When you sold the Legend, did you ever think you’d be interviewed for a questionnaire about it 18 years later?

No – I was surprised when I received your phone call, identifying yourself as the new owner, and wanting to connect.

7 – On a scale of 1 to 10, how crazy do think Tyson is?

Off the charts 10+

Take care and stay safe, everyone!

1999 GS-R & 2000 RL Walkarounds, TBT Home Videos, & Garage Signage

Posted in House, Integra, Legend, Milestones, NALM, Prelude, RL, Throwback on April 23, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  573,000

That took me long enough.  The Legend coupe was at 572,XXX ever since getting back from Florida last October.  I was getting sick of that 2 staring me in the face.  I’ve been plugging away over here in my director chair coming up with content for YouTube.

Except, I don’t just occupy a director chair.  For a total of 9 episodes now, I’ve taken each car in the collection and cleaned it, prepared supporting documentation, filmed it, edited the footage, and uploaded it.  I’ve scheduled releases through the beginning of June, each Saturday.  That was a lot of work but it’s also been super rewarding.

The Legend video has made it into 2 news articles (Motor1 and Carscoops) and even an article in Germany.  As I type this on Wednesday April 22nd, the view count has surpassed 120,000 in just the 3 weeks it’s been live.

Here are two more uploads exclusive to the blog since they won’t be public on the channel for a while.

Integra SSBP GS-R Video

RL Video

I also took a little bit of time to put together a summary video of the 15-year history of the National Acura Legend Meet.  This 5-minute piece captures select highlights from each year of the event starting in 2005.

The other day, I was rummaging through my case of printed car pics.  Back in the day, I used to have all my media printed up at Walmart.  I have hundreds of photos in plastic organizers, split out with dividers according to model, month, and year.  This shouldn’t surprise any of you.  But I came across a couple of photos from 2004 of my 1989 Prelude Si – the first Honda that really got me hooked – and it prompted me to do a little more digging.

These pictures show my friend Branson holding a camcorder and recording the scene.  We were looking at my then-wrecked (former) Prelude at a salvage yard in St. George, Utah.  We just happened across the car coincidentally.  I’d sold it about four years prior, and the new owner was rear-ended which ultimately was the demise of the car.  To this day I still have the rear “H” emblem off the trunk lid in my display case at home.

Anyway, I was determined to find the footage that Branson filmed that day.  And I did.  Below is a video showing the scene.  It opens up to October 30, 2004 when he and I were swapping wheels on a newly-purchased $700 project car, a 1991 Legend L coupe 5-speed, that I’d purchased from my friend Mike to use as a “winter beater” while I was going to school at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.

The video then cuts to Branson’s footage of the Prelude.  Next it takes you through some other things like me attempting to start detailing that $700 pile of junk.  Some things never change.

Below is another video from the same “Hi8” cassette tape that I found interesting.  It contains test drives of my 1986 Chevy Celebrity with 194,000 miles (displayed as 94,000) when I bought the car back for a brief moment of time in spring 2005.  It also has a clip of driving the Legend coupe.  It had about 165,000 miles on it at the time and as you’ll notice, it had the “TCS” (Traction Control System) light in the gauge cluster illuminated.  I remember that being because of a faulty TCS Control Unit, which was fixed later in September of that year.

Perhaps most interesting from this video though is that it has a brief walkaround of the 2000 Acura 3.5 RL, which I ended up buying back earlier this year after it had been passed around the family for 14 years.  The RL at the time of the video clip had only 23,880 miles on it.

Today, it has about 212,000.  Thankfully, it looks about the same cosmetically with the exception of now having the factory 16″ wheels on it instead of those awful aftermarket chrome 17’s.  You’ll also get introduced to our family cat, Gizmo, who is long gone.

Video quality has come a very long time over the last 15 years, hasn’t it?

I’ve crossed a few more home-improvement projects off the list in the last couple of weeks, including something I’d been meaning to do for a while.  Below you’ll see the last addition to the garage:  A sign for my (pretend) dealership.  The lettering is made from 3D foam from a company in LA called Front Signs.  I told them the design I had in mind, supplied the artwork, and they mailed me a box with everything I needed including the template to get everything installed in proper alignment.

The letters came in plain black so they needed to be primed, painted, and clear coated.  The whole process took a couple of weeks because I ordered all the supplies online as opposed to breaking my quarantine and going to the hardware store.  Additionally, the lamp you see there was ordered on Amazon and I had to run the power cord through the garage cabinet in order to get it wired up and working.

Here’s how it played out in a 1-minute video.

The next garage to get more work will be the ‘west’ garage which is begging for some custom flooring and paint.  All in due time.

A friend tipped me off on an article that showed up in the February 2020 Japanese magazine called Honda Style.  The magazine reads “backwards,” in other words, the pages flip from left to right instead of right to left.  The SH-AWD 1997 SLX that was part of last year’s RADwood build made a 3-page article!  I ordered 2 copies of the mag and sent one of them to the Public Relations team at Acura.

Lastly, a friend in Seattle hooked me up with an ‘actual’ 1992 GS-R window sticker, although it’s missing a chunk.  This helps as a point of reference either way, especially when coupled with the replica that Jason helped me with a couple of years ago.

Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable week out there.  Take care.

‘Homemade’ Film Festival (6 Videos) & Other Random Projects

Posted in Detailing, ILX, Integra, Legend, NSX, SLX, Vigor on April 14, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  223,692

Checking in on all of you out there!  Let me know how you’re doing.

I’ve been productive around here playing Steven Spielberg when I’m not tied up in work meetings from home.  Get your popcorn ready.  Actually, make a couple of batches while you’re at it.  If you’re in the mood for a movie marathon at some point, here are some selections I cooked up, with walkarounds for some of my cars.

Most are still ‘unlisted’ and will debut on my public YouTube channel on the dates indicated (subject to change!).  You’re welcome to wait and just watch them then!

ILX Detail – Public

1992 Integra – Public

NSX – Premieres April 18

Legend Sedan – Premieres April 25

SLX – Premieres May 2

Vigor – Premieres May 9

The RL has not yet been shot but I’m prepping the car over the next couple of days.

Here are a few ‘beauty shots’ taken at the time of each film shoot.

I had the Vigor console out the other day in order to get the serial number so I could track down the radio anti-theft code.

Used the SLX to haul some firewood.

Did a bumper light restore on the 1992 GS-R.

Dug through some magazine articles to archive more stuff.

Adopted a friend’s modified 1995 NSX for a few days while he refinished his garage floor.

Received a massive Easter egg delivery from family in Utah.

Hung up some art work in the ‘ugly’ one-car garage that usually gets no attention.

And detailed my mower, topped off with an “A” emblem on the motor.

This morning’s work teleconferences started off with an Acura wine glass of iced coffee.

As you can see, I’m staying plenty entertained here.

What have you been up to?