Drive to Five Review: 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD Advance

Posted in Accord, RDX, Vehicle Reviews on August 9, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,495 Miles

Odometer (RDX):  911 Miles

Refined, Dynamic, and Xceptionally equipped.  I guess that’s how I’d define the acronym that Acura pinned on its latest version of the crossover that so many have come to know and love.  Does it look at home in this garage?

The Acura RDX, now in its third generation, is a power player for the Acura brand.  It sells over 50,000 units per year.  That success is impressive given the competitive segment that the RDX plays in:  It seems, everyone is trying to get in on the crossover game.  Over the years, I’ve been able to see firsthand the evolution the RDX.  Back in 2016, I put a prior-gen model through its paces on a mountain climb.

Building each upon advancements in technology since the RDX first launched in 2007, the 2019 model year version was first shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018, and it went on sale six months later.  You can see the differences between the third and second-gens here.

I got my hot little hands on the first one in the Phoenix area media fleet this past Wednesday.  It only had 775 miles on the odometer when I turned the key.  Or rather, pushed the Start button.  This is a level of tech I’m not accustomed to!  You can practically get a whiff of the new car smell just from looking at the interior.  What if they made scratch & sniff computer monitors?

Getting settled into the RDX, I enjoyed the step-in height right off the bat.  I’m accustomed to riding low to the ground, so this was a nice change of pace – especially when I needed to throw my backpack and laptop into the back seat as I left the office.  Speaking of the seats, the driver’s seat was ergonomic perfection – especially when cranked up to Level 3 on the ventilation setting.  It is August in Phoenix, after all.

The RDX is about as well-rounded as any vehicle can be.  It exhibits polite road manners, it’s easy to maneuver and park, scoots down the road with plenty of power, and offers up some great utility for folks with active lifestyles who need that extra cargo room or ground clearance from time to time (in my current collection of 7 Acuras, none have All-Wheel-Drive capability – sadly).

Over my seven days with the RDX, I had time to capture perspectives of both positive and negative nature.  Maybe it’s easier to just summarize a few of those points in list form.

  • Loved:  Power, ELS audio system, visibility, illumination, seats, step-in height, fit & finish, ride quality, convenience tech (power liftgate, smart key, head up display), panoramic roof, storage solutions, HVAC effectiveness, overall size – not too big, not too small, gauge cluster display (fun graphics upon start/stop), CarPlay interface
  • Disliked:  Touch pad interface, dynamic selector placement (I’d prefer a volume knob front and center instead), occasionally intrusive safety tech, default automatic start/stop, black wheels

Performance is the name of the game, with the RDX producing 272 horsepower (that’s two more than my 1992 NSX!) out of a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.  A ten speed automatic transmission (again, outdoing the NSX with double the gears!) puts the power to the ground lickety-split.  I found “Sport Plus” mode to generate a surprisingly quick acceleration experience for a vehicle that weighs nearly 4,000 pounds.  I got a kick out of the graphics on the Snow mode setting.

It’s worth mentioning that as an audiophile, I greatly appreciate the efforts made to create a great sounding listening experience in the cabin.  I was provided some ELS Studio 3D audio files on a USB stick that I played at max volume.  I can say with a certainty that Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” sounds at least as good in the new RDX as it sounded in my old TL Type-S with a DVD-Audio sound system.

Acura’s return to its “Precision Crafted Performance” mantra from the brand’s early days is evident here, especially considering the RDX can be outfitted in A-Spec.  The A-Spec trim has always been known as the sportiest, and offers up suspension & handling updates among other features.

Tipping the cash register at just over $48,000, this RDX was highly equipped, but still offers a nice value for those wanting a well-rounded package.  I thank the folks at Acura for the chance to put this one through its paces for a few days!

I’ve uploaded a video capturing some of my experience with it.

Here you can see the head-up display

Multiple camera angles when putting the vehicle into reverse

When I parked the RDX and walked away, I received a notification about where it was located.  This could be handy at concerts, in unfamiliar cities, etc.

Roommate took this while I was playing Musical Cars on Saturday morning.  The RDX felt right at home swapping spaces with some fellow Acuras.

Out and about on Saturday with Greg’s 1995 NSX.

Visiting Vlad who has a Civic Type-R.  He liked the RDX, too.

Safe seating for my Chipotle take-out transport!

Lots of controls down here to the left of the steering wheel.

View from the cargo compartment

And the cargo compartment itself.  Pretty roomy!

Until next time!

Bonus material – I have another Honda at the house.  This one needs some love.

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 3: Dealer Day, Banquet/Awards, & Return Trip

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 25, 2018 by tysonhugie

As Cher said in 1989, “If I could turn back time….”

If you could turn back time, to what year would you set your destination?  For me, it might be sometime in the early-to-mid 1990s.  I was a fresh teenager at the Woodward Sixth Grade Center, reading Dirt Wheels Magazine and studying up on ATVs, putting miles on my Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike (pictured below in 1996), and playing games like Myst on our Packard Bell home computer.  Life was good.

It was around that time, some of Acura’s best sellers were gracing its showroom floors.  For just one day, Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs chose to re-create such an occasion.  On Saturday, July 21, Manager Joel Archuleta swung open his facility’s doors for six Acura Legends to take over the spots previously occupied by ILX, TLX, RDX, and MDX models.  And the commotion drew quite a bit of attention from both staff members and customers alike.  Adding to the already-nostalgic feeling within the showroom, I requested that the satellite radio channel be changed to 1990s music, and it was.  Perfect.

On display in front, we had the two “twin” Legend GS sedans, my VIN 21413 and Chris’ 21268, configured in identical equipment, and within a few miles of each other in odometer readings.  More on that car in a future article.  Here’s our photo with Joel.

Behind the receptionist desk, we had two generation 2 LS coupes:  Mirel’s black-on-black 1994 LS 6-speed and Ben’s white-on-black 1992 LS automatic.  Capping off the ends of the showroom were Leon’s 1995 LS coupe and James’ 1988 base model sedan.  James’ car drew a great deal of attention as it was the most highly modified vehicle in the spotlight, with eye-catching custom paint, suspension, and other upgrades.  It was also the only first-generation car in attendance.

One of the highlights of having our “dealer day” was seeing a few random local owners come out of the woodwork, including Jesus in a black G2 coupe and Seth in a Desert Mist 1994 Vigor GS.  We welcomed both of them like family and invited them to join us upstairs for our catered lunch.  Dealership personnel cast votes on their favorite car, and the award was granted to Chris for his Legend GS.  Our time in the limelight was short-lived, and by noon we were rolling back out the doors and returning to home base in Woodland Park.

That afternoon, we took the cars to Woodland Park High School and held an informal car show and voting.  There were a few fun categories, like “Least Visor Sag,” and “Cleanest Floor Mats,” but my favorite was one called “Least Idle Smoke.”  In my 14 years attending this car meet, this was the first time I’ve participated in a “smoke-off.”  The concept is straightforward:

  • Park the cars in a lineup
  • Fire up the motors
  • Let the cars idle for about 10 minutes
  • Proceed down the row and have someone rev each car to similar RPM
  • Evaluate which car emits the least blue smoke

It was kind of funny, really.  I mean, these cars are 23 or more years old.  Even the lowest-mileage car in attendance, Leon’s 1995 coupe LS with 145,000 miles on it, let out a puff of smoke.  Oil burning is a common thing.  You’ll see what I mean in the video.

That evening, our NALM concluded with a BBQ banquet, raffle, and awards ceremony at the Country Lodge.  Every attendee received an item, and some received multiple.  Best of Show went to Chris for his Legend build, Longest Distance Traveled went to Alex from Florida, Best Interior went to Leon, and other awards were given.  It was the perfect capstone to an adventure-filled few days in Colorado.

Meanwhile, James L and I prepared for a long return journey ahead to Arizona the following morning.  We hit the road at our anticipated 7:00 departure time and made only a few stops along the way, including a prime photo op along I-25 southbound near the “Highway of Legends.”  Thanks to some walkie-talkie communication, we were able to stay in touch for the entire 850-mile stretch.  Sean, my skydiving friend who I mentioned in Part 2, bought us lunch in Albuquerque at a restaurant called “The Range” off Interstate 40.

Tired but fulfilled, we got back to Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. local time.  Until the next NALM!

It’s 1995 all over again

Me with my GS

Group shot

Looking spiffy

Chris’ car.  Notice how we even swapped out our plates for Pikes Peak ones!

Mirel’s car

Matt and Jesus’ cars

Dinner at Woodland Country Lodge

Home, sweet home, in Arizona on Sunday night

Until next time!

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 2: Pikes Peak Ascent to 14,115 Feet!

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Day Distance:  56 Miles

Some people love heights.  Take my friend Sean, for example.  He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an optometrist by day but an avid skydiver on the side.  I had the opportunity to meet up with him for lunch on Sunday while passing through his area.  “So how many dives have you done?” I asked him, expecting to have him say maybe a hundred.  “Over five hundred,” he told me.  Holy smokes.

My interest was piqued, and I continued to interview Sean about what that must be like.  He told me that typical free-fall velocity is around 120 miles per hour, but he’s been known to get up to about 190 before (“The wind noise was deafening,” he said).

Sean is a thrill-seeker, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his cars.  He drives a 2017 Honda Accord and a base model white 1991 Acura Legend that he’s had since he was 16, which was over 19 years ago.  That’s some loyalty and dedication.  I’ve known Sean since the first National Acura Legend Meet in Dallas, Texas in 2005.

Speaking of heights, there have been only a couple of times in my life when I’ve conquered a “14’er.”  That’s Colorado-speak for a mountain with a summit of over 14,000 feet in elevation.  One of them was when I drove Mount Evans back in 2013.

For that trip, my anxiety was pretty mild:  I was driving a 1-year-old car (my 2013 ILX) with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

This latest feat was a little bit of a different story:  I was about to attempt climbing a vertical mile straight up into the air over a 19-mile stretch of road. But this time, I was in a car with 562,000 miles on it, that burns oil, leaks power steering fluid, and has an original engine, transmission, and clutch.  Heaven help me.  If there was ever a time I put faith in my old trusty Legend to get me there safely, it was on Friday morning at the base of the road.  We arrived at 7:00 a.m., a full 30 minutes before the gates opened, and had some time to prepare for what was to come.

Ten of the 11 Legends that started the ascent made it to the top.  Combined, they had 2.4 million miles on them.  The only one that didn’t make it was Alex’s 1994 LS coupe (pictured above) which experienced a transmission problem with its recently installed 6-speed.  Luckily, it happened before we got to the areas with little or no room for pulling over.  The road gets pretty gnarly.

In Alex’s absence, I took the lead and set the pace for the group, alternating mostly between 2nd and 3rd gear but sometimes dropping to first on the hairpins.  A/C was off (it wasn’t needed anyway) and my eyes were glued to the temperature gauge.  With each passing mile, a sign marker on the side of the road told us our progress.

By 10,000 feet, we could start to see ourselves approaching the tree line.  The curves continued, and the road narrowed.  Eleven, 12, and 13,000 feet came and went.  By the time we passed 14,000, I gripping the wheel and wishing I’d left my sweatshirt on (windows were down).  The temperature dipped to the mid-40’s – roughly 1/3 of the temperature back home in Phoenix this time of year.  I wasn’t prepared for this!

My eyes were so laser-focused on the road ahead that I paid little attention to the drop-offs alongside me.  Alan, who was right behind me in his 1993 coupe, got on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, get a little closer to that edge!” he said.  “No thanks!” I responded.  Finally we arrived at the summit house which offered a respite from the chilly temps and winds, though being primitive in appearance.  The summit house, in fact, has been largely left in its current state since construction in the early 1960s, and it shows.

Inside, we found ourselves surrounded by typical gift shop garb:  T-shirts, coffee mugs, magnets with names on them.  You know, it’s really rare to find a magnet with the name Tyson on it.  Just saying.  I picked up a hot cocoa for $1.25 and a couple of fresh, hot donuts.  Apparently those donuts are a Pikes Peak famous tradition.  And they did hit the spot.  Our group had about an hour to kill by wandering around the summit.  In the back of the building, the views were spectacular:  Near 360-degree perspective showing the landscape below (albeit, through smoke and haze since the wildfires are really prevalent this year).

Also present is the track for a cog railway, which is currently out of service but slated to reopen around the same time as a new, modern summit house.  Here I am with Ken (New Jersey), Alex (Florida), and Waseem (Michigan).  Oh, and Alex’s dog KA8 (pronounced Kate).

A few people had elevation issues:  I watched as some stumbled or struggled with balance.  The elevation gave me a little sinus pain and you could definitely tell the air was thin because it was easy to get winded or fatigued from even just a little hiking around.  But the cars, thank goodness, all started and ran just as well at 14k feet as they had when we started up the hill at around 7k.  And speaking of the cars, someone from the staff got on an intercom while we were wandering around, “Remember to use your lowest gear when going down the mountain.”  They then went on to give instructions on how to find a “plus/minus” setting on most modern automatic vehicles.  Chris found himself some great underwear to take home as a souvenir.

And then it was time to crawl back down.  I stuck to 2nd gear most of the way, easing off the brakes as much as possible.  We were slowed down considerably a couple of times due to groups of bicyclists taking over the roadway.  At one point, we even pulled over when it was safe to do so and let them get a good head start on us so we could enjoy the road at a more comfortable pace.

At about the halfway point, there was a mandatory brake check (shown above).  A ranger stopped each vehicle and used a temperature gun to find out brake temps.  Any vehicle in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit is asked to let them cool down before proceeding.  The record low temp in our group was Waseem in his rented BMW 5-series with 140 degrees.  Second place?  Me, at 154 degrees.  That’s how it’s done!

There was a reservoir just prior to mile 7 that offered a nice backdrop of the Rockies for our photo op, and then it was back to base camp at the Woodland Country Lodge until the next NALM activity!

Oh, and as for Alex with the broken-down coupe, there is a happy ending:  Miraculously, he was able to source a used 5-speed transmission at a junkyard in Denver and swap it in a few days later.  As of this posting, he is back on the road and well on his way home!

Here is a video capturing some of the action!

Reading material distributed at the entrance station.  Our group had a $10/car discounted entry fee.

First pull-out to regroup at Crowe Gulch, with Leon in the background.

Vintage postcard showing Pikes back in the day

Our group at the summit

Taking a break during the descent

Photo ops near mile 7

Stay tuned for more – in the next episode, I’ll take you inside Pikes Peak Acura where the clock was turned back to the 1990s all over again!  Also, check out this video that Skydiver Sean put together from our meet-up in Albuquerque!

 

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 1: Kicking Things Off

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 23, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  563,437

Odometer (Legend sedan):  159,945

Trip Distance:  1,804 Miles

Please meet my friend Kiley from Kansas.

In all my years of being such a fanatic about Acura, she’s the first person I’ve met who took it to the ultimate level.  Acura emblem earrings.  Lipstick that matches her car.  Her Legend grille tattooed on her arm.  Acura from head to toe, with accessories to back it up — her purse is a leather portfolio that was originally intended to hold an owner’s manual.  Kiley is one of the reasons why I just love this community.  I love people who are passionate.  It’s no wonder she won “Most Enthusiastic” at this year’s meet.

For 14 years, the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) has been a summer tradition of mine.  In fact, I was curious how far I’ve driven just for the sake of attending this annual car club meeting.  It comes out to nearly 35,000 miles, and the summary is below by year.

This year, for the first time, the state of Colorado played host to our group.  It was the perfect getaway spot to find comfy temps, brilliant scenery, tasty food, and a bunch of really awesome people like Kiley.  You all know I don’t just do this for the cars, right?

This year, there were about 30 members, 18 cars, and 11 states registered – and not a single one of them a Colorado local.  In fact, if my math skills hold true, our group’s one-way mileage just to get here adds up to over 20,000.  That’s some serious dedication.  What is it about this car club that compels people to sacrifice lost wages, lost sleep, and risky travels to enjoy the camaraderie for a few days?  It’s that ‘Legend mystique’ and some will never understand it.  And that’s okay.

  • Take Alex, for example, who as of about a week ago undertook a complete transmission swap on this car and still pulled it off in time to drive it 2,100 miles across the country from Florida.
  • Or Chris, who drove a similar distance with his twin 12-year-old daughters, making it a family vacation including a stop at the Titanic Museum.
  • Corey, who spent 3 nights sleeping in his car on the way here from Seattle (and lost his wallet in Spokane along the way).
  • Ben, who lives primarily in Shanghai but comes back each year for this event at great time and expense.  And who locked his keys in his car twice.
  • Jay, who drove from Alabama in his 300,000+ mile Legend coupe and is now on his way to Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Mirel, who got his car out of the paint booth just days ago and was literally still installing emblems and trim pieces just moments before he began his 3-state roadtrip.
  • Waseem, Ken, and Evan, who don’t even have their Legends with them this trip but who still came to be a part of the family.

I guess I feel right at home here once a year with people who have my same level of craziness.

My 850-mile drive from Phoenix was done in a single stretch with 3 fuel / stretch stops along the way.  By the time I was making my way up Highway 24 westbound to the host hotel, the sun was just dipping below the horizon of the peaks ahead of me.  I arrived just in time to catch up with the group at Ute Pass Brewing Company on Wednesday night and then enjoy the cool breeze of the back deck at the Country Lodge after sundown.

Thursday was comprised of a road rally to Breckenridge, but I had to sit on the sidelines and stare at my laptop back at the hotel since I didn’t have the day off work.  No matter – there were still a few days of fun & festivities left.  We dined on some of Colorado’s finest Mexican food before calling it a night back at the hotel.  In the next couple of blog posts, I’ll share a little about our “main event” – a drive up one of America’s highest-elevation paved roads, to Pikes Peak summit at over 14,000 feet.  I’ll also discuss a special event at the local dealership where they allowed 6 of our members’ cars to be place into the showroom like it was the 1990s all over again.  Teaser:

I’ll also have 2 or 3 videos for you to enjoy.  While you’re waiting, check out this article by Kurt Klingensmith about the Radwood event I attended back in March, with some great photos of my Vigor!

I-40 & I-25 interchange in Albuquerque, New Mexico:  A little over halfway there!

Arrival at Country Lodge – that’s Chris’ Legend GS

Working from the hotel on Thursday, this was about as much as I got to experience the great outdoors

Headed to dinner with Chris, Callie, Sienna, and others.

Leon, Waseem, James, Kiley, Evan, October, Nancy, Alan

Ben, Smiley, Ken, Corey

Alex, Matt, Callie, Sienna, Chris, and Jay

Prep for Pikes Peak.  More to come!

Trip to San Diego, California: Beach Time, Car Time, & 250k Integra Milestone

Posted in California, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip on July 16, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  250,279

Trip Distance:  801 Miles

I seriously have the worst luck with losing sunglasses.  I’ll never forget the time I left a pair sitting on the trunk lid of my car near Bryce Canyon in Utah a few years ago and drove away.  I realized it a few miles down the road, looped back, and ended up finding them but they were missing a lens that was nowhere to be found.  So I plunked down another $80 on a replacement pair, which I’m sure I lost again.

The most recent casualty was from a massive wave in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday afternoon.  I think I got a little ambitious with how far I wanted to immerse myself.  Next thing I knew, I was overtaken and ended up with eyes and mouth full of saltwater as I went completely underwater momentarily.  The shades were a lost cause, but I’ve learned my lesson:  This time I bought replacements for $14.99 from a convenience store.  At that price, they’re disposable anyway.

Losses aside, this trip was just what the doctor ordered for a few days of reprieve from a busy schedule and some toasty summer temperatures in Arizona.  Some friends and I spent a couple of days in the Hillcrest neighborhood, celebrating a birthday and enjoying the sights and sounds that the city had to offer.  I took the Integra GS-R on this trip – knowing that the Legends will see plenty of use in the next week or so for the upcoming NALM trip to Colorado.  I stopped by the Imperial Sand Dunes, which were completely empty.  Go figure, nobody wants to burn their feet in July out there!

One of the ways I always like to dig up nostalgia when I’m in San Diego is to stop by some of the areas where I lived during the 2001-03 timeframe when I was a missionary for my church.  Even back then, I was eyeballing NSXs.  This one, spotted on June 15, 2001, is evidently still owned by the same person 17 years later.  I just today ran the plate using a smartphone app called MyCARFAX.  The car had 30,000 miles back then, and it has 50,000 today.  It’s a 1992 “Grand Prix White.”

And speaking of digging things up:  The first place I visited this weekend was Ramona, California, where my assigned partner and I lived in a converted horse stable, pictured below, that we lovingly called the “Shack.”  In January 2002, we buried a time capsule there with intention of digging it up 5 years later.  It’s now been over 16 years and I have no idea if or when we will ever exhume it.

The property as it sits today:

Christmas 2001 looking mighty festive.  I was standing in the doorway.

I paid a visit to the temple on Interstate 5 at Charmant Drive – a grand, white, castle-looking structure that is as striking from inside as it is out.  It was built in 1993 and has 72,000 square feet.  The grounds are always immaculate too.

Just a couple of miles away, I met up with a handful of “car friends” at a parking structure on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus.  Included were a nice lineup of Legend GS models owned by my friend Jacob, Mike’s 1989 Prelude, Ryan’s 2018 Accord, Jay’s 2008 Mercedes, and eventually Jorge’s 2011 BMW wagon.

We shot the breeze over burgers & fries at Rock Bottom Brewing on La Jolla Village Drive, and by then it was time for me to hit the highway and make my way back to the desert.  The Integra performed well, achieving its 250,000 mile mark just as I descended the grade from Jacumba to Ocotillo on eastbound Interstate 8.

Enjoy some photos and 2 videos from the weekend below!

Imperial Sand Dunes

Heading up Highway 67 toward Ramona

Lineup of mailboxes in buckets of cement, in Ramona

Roaming around the hills east of Ramona

Arrival at the temple

Jacob’s 1994 GS Legend in Sirius White

Eyeballing Jorge’s 2011 BMW

Ryan headed out on Interstate 5

250k milestone!  (Of course, with the ABS light permanently lit!)

Always liked this old hotel – “Stout’s Hotel” in Gila Bend.  It dates back to 1927 but hasn’t been open since the 1980s.

Lastly:  Continuing the “List your car here” trend.  I have a local contact with a 54,000 mile 1995 Legend L sedan automatic pictured here.  It has been neglected, to be quite honest, but runs and drives well and has super low miles.  Does anyone want to bring it back to its deserved glory?  Contact me.

Reader’s Rides: Greg’s Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Car Collection

Posted in Reader's Ride on July 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS):  72,038

I’ve been driving for 20 years.  That’s how long it took until I finally spiced things up and landed myself in the driver seat of a stick-shift, right-hand-drive vehicle.  And not even two weeks after “learning” to drive a RHD car on my friend Scott’s 1991 Honda Beat, I got to drive a few this past weekend more thanks to my friend Greg who has an incredible collection of ‘micro-cars’ from Japan.  Whoa, I could get used to this kind of fun & games!

Kicking things off was my time with the red 1985 Honda City “R” – a 5-speed, 4-seat, 3-cylinder compact that was produced in its first generation from 1981 through 1986.  While certainly no drag racer, this car gave more grins per mile than I ever imagined.  Following Greg who was in a black 1990 Honda Today, we stopped at a gas station in the southeast part of town and turned a few heads as we fueled up our square boxy econo-cars.

I made the mistake multiple times throughout the evening of approaching the left side of the car as opposed to the right.  Fair enough – that’s what I get for 20 years of being trained to drive a certain way!  The coolest thing about the City was that it could be equipped with an accompanying (and matching) 50cc scooter called a Motocompo.  Greg’s City is of course complete with a Motocompo, and I had a blast tooling around the parking lot on it.

Continuing the game of musical cars, I got to try my hand at all sorts of rarities, including the Today (recently sold at auction), a Suzuki Alto Works, an Autozam AZ-1 (with gullwing doors!), and a Toyota Aristo (which we saw in the states as the Lexus GS300).  The Toyota was definitely the big boy of the right-hand-drivers, boasting a straight-6 3-liter powertrain that growled so heartily it sounded almost like a muscle car.

A new addition to the collection is a 1989 Legend coupe 5-speed, not yet pictured, but soon to be.  I took it for a spin, and it ran & drove just as it should!

At the grand finale of our photoshoot, Greg and I decided to ditch the non-Hondas in the lineup and add the white left-hand-drive Hondas:  a 1991 CRX Si, and a 1989 Prelude Si 4WS.  The Prelude tugged at my heart strings particularly aggressively, since it took me back to my roots of 20 years ago when I bought my first Honda at age 17.  Greg’s runs and drives even better than mine did back then.  My “newest” Prelude had 132,000 miles on it.  His only has 33,000.  That comes out to only a little over 1,000 miles per year over its nearly 30-year lifespan.  Sheesh.

The night was capped off after sundown with a ride in a domestic car for a change of pace:  an uber-rare 1987 turbocharged Buick GNX (production #70) with only 22,000 miles on the odometer.  Greg demonstrated its tendency to kick the back end out even just under moderate acceleration.  And finally I got to spend a few minutes behind the wheel of a 14,000-mile 1993 Mazda RX7 which is a beast in its own way.  It demonstrated some NSX-like characteristics but had a feeling all its own.  You’ll see it up for auction on Bring a Trailer in the coming weeks.

Many thanks to Greg for his hospitality in opening up his “adult toy box” for me to play with!

The City and Today

CRX & Prelude

Prelude showcasing its four-wheel-steering capability here

JDM RHD lineup

Posh interior of the Aristo

Check out those 13″ alloy wheels on snow tires

Note the single windshield wiper on the Today

Total of 14 engine cylinders present in the below photo:  4, 3, 3, 4

The GNX generates more horespower than probably everything else in the collection combined.

Trip to Mars: Pennsylvania Weekend Trip, feat. an Olds Toronado & a Modified Legend

Posted in Legend, Misc Travel, Reader's Ride on July 9, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,596

Trip Distance:  2,050 Miles by Air

There really is life on (in) Mars.  About 1,700 people, in fact, call this little town in Pennsylvania home.  And I met a few of them this past weekend.  In fact, I had a native Martian who was walking by graciously take my photo while I leaned up against a silver flying saucer in the town square.

Today’s travel journal brings you something a little different.  You could even say that it’s out of this world.  Not because I went to Mars, but because I got on an airplane for a change instead of driving the wheels off an old Acura!  I had an appointment on Friday in Wexford, Pennsylvania which is just north of Pittsburgh.

Getting there was a bit of a chore – thanks to Southwest, my 4-hour flight turned into about a 12-hour day of travel:  I arrived at the airport early in typical fashion, only to discover we were two hours delayed for a mechanical issue.  Then two more hours delayed for a crew change.  And then had to wait while we were re-routed for weather conditions.  What an ordeal.  Eventually, I was grateful to be on the ground in PA and rented a white Chevy Impala Premier for my short commute to my hotel.  The Bose stereo was my favorite part!

On Friday evening, I indulged in some of Pittsburgh’s sights and sounds thanks to my local friend Drew who was a gracious host.  We dined at “The Church” Brew Works on Liberty Avenue.  Built in 1903, the Roman Catholic cathedral is now home to a restaurant.  I highly recommend the buffalo meatloaf – made from bison and accompanied with a side of broccoli.  All of the drinks are named appropriately for being served inside a religious institution, including the Celestial Gold Pilsner and the Heavenly Hefeweizen.

Following dinner, Drew and I climbed to the top of nearby Mount Washington which offered up a spectacular evening view of the Pittsburgh city skyline.  Our vehicle of choice was his 111,000-mile 1981 Oldsmobile Toronado with burgundy velour interior.

The hood ornament far ahead of us pointed the way and the V8 motor rumbled with a satisfying burble as it put power to the ground through a 3-speed automatic transmission.  I especially liked the steering wheel, narrow in diameter with such sensitive input required that Drew could spin the wheel with just a single finger.  Things like that reminded me of my first car, an A-Body 1986 Chevy Celebrity.

Saturday’s car-adventure gave me a completely different driving experience.  Over the years I’ve interacted with hundreds of “car people,” primarily those who are part of the Honda & Acura enthusiast communities.  None of those people are quite like my friend Lou.  A long-time member of the Acura Legend forums and Facebook groups, Lou is one of the most active and known.  I’d met him a couple of times prior, but never given the chance to drive his car.  That all changed on Saturday morning at his home about 3 miles from my hotel in Mars.

Lou’s Legend started out life as a 1992 L sedan automatic.  But that’s where the familiarity ends and the wildness begins.  Every nut, bolt, and mechanical component of his Legend has been drastically modified to squeeze every ounce of power and performance out of the powertrain.  And he has succeeded to put it lightly.

I pride myself in the fact that I didn’t stall the car when getting a feel for its clutch, which reaches its friction point near the top of the pedal and has very little “forgiveness” when it comes to a transition between off and on.

The ‘power factor’ is where Lou’s Legend sets itself far apart from any other Legend I’ve ever driven.  It will willingly lay down rubber in gears 1, 2, 3, and 4.  I didn’t dare give it wide open throttle in 5th because it would probably have done it there, too.  The turbo let off a “psssshhh” whistle each time I released the accelerator and I needed both hands firmly planted on the wheel when I gave it some heavy throttle getting on Highway 19.

Lou’s complete build sheet is shown at the bottom of this post.  It’s a great deal of content to list out, but it will give you a glimpse of the extreme attention to detail that he has demonstrated with this unique performance Legend.

Thanks, Drew and Lou for the great hospitality and for helping me incorporate some tourism and horsepower into my trip!

Drew’s Olds, & Views from Mount Washington

Lou’s Legend Test-Drive

When you have a 4-hour flight, you get bored & start reading safety materials.  This group of people on an emergency life raft looked like they were having a fun summer.

Grilled cheese at my first stop on the trip, a “Eat N Park” diner in Cranberry on Perry Highway.  It’s kind of like a Denny’s since it’s open 24-7.  G

I enjoyed cruising the scenic backroads in my Impala.

The address provided by Google for the flying saucer did not take me to it.  But I got on aerial maps and found it just a little further down the street ahead of me.  My location at left, saucer at right, circled.

I liked this old Ace Hardware in Mars.

Great rates available here!

“May Peace Prevail On Earth.”

Supermarket mural.

I sampled the “S’Mars” ice cream at Peach Tree.

Rolling around with Drew in his Toronado.  That burgundy interior is to die for!

That suspension soaked up cobblestone streets like nobody’s business.

View from Mount Washington.

The heart of Lou’s machine.

Checking out another Legend coupe he has in the backyard, soon to be parted out.

Lunch spot at Firebirds.

Detail from Lou on his Legend:

This is a 1992 Acura Legend L model sedan originally was a 3.2 (Type 1) with a 4-speed automatic. I’ve since converted the car to a 3.5 with 3.2 (Type II heads) and a 6-speed manual with a custom intake manifold and turbo kit.  In short, the only bolts and parts not changed on this car are the ABS system and brake hard lines; every other parts, nut, bolt, and wire has been touched.

Suspension/Brakes/Wheels/Steering

Ksport 36way coilovers
Addco front sway bar
Addco rear sway bar (with poly bushings)
Custom bolts for rear sway bar
Telion rear upper strut bar (rare)
FUT rear lower short tie bar (adjustable)
FUT rear lower long tie bar
90a poly front control arm mounts (1 of 1 set)
Solid front motor mounts (custom made)
Poly filled (60a) transmission mount
SPC balljoints
Mini BBK using RL caliper brackets
300mm slotted brembo rotors (front)
Slotted brembo rear rotors
New type 2 calipers all four corners (2 pistons up front 1 piston rear) all powder coated candy apple red
Goodridge stainless brake lines
Hawk HPS pads
New oem master cylinder
New rear lower control arms
New front lower control arms
SPC front upper adjustable balljoints (3 degrees)
New moog lower balljoints
18×7.5 +45 Akuza Intimidator wheels
Falken tires (rear)
Continential DWS tires (front)
Electronic power steering from a RHD S2000

Engine/Drivetrain

The engine was built by Laskey Racing in California C35A block (completely stripped and redone using all OEM gaskets and seals)
C32A type 2 heads
C32A type 2 cams
Chevy comp cam valve springs
CP pistons 9:1 compression
Pauter Ibeam rods
ACL bearings
ARP bolts throughout
Clutch masters 850 series twin disc (1 of 1)
Clutch masters Aluminum flywheel (1 of 1)
6-Speed from a 93 coupe (rebuilt to OEM specs/best gearing)
Hondaman23 Built 7 spring LSD
raxles OEM rebuilt axles
200 amp Bosch high output alternator
DrDave remained oem starter
Oem clutch slave cylinder
Oem clutch master cylinder
Braided clutch pedal line
Labrat aluminum pullies
Telion aluminum crank pulley
Modified Legend oil pan
Chevy LS Truck OEM coils
Magnacore plug wires (converted from coil on plug)
NGK 7 plugs
PCV system uses 10an vents in the valve covers
Custom all aluminum radiator 2.5″ thick core
SPAL slim line 1500 cfm 12″ fans with shroud
Rangerjoe short shifter
Custom intake manifold with 90mm q45 throttle body
1/2″ custom fuel rails
1400cc Fuel injector development injectors
Stant rad cap
Engine bay wiring was tucked
8an feed line (earls ultrapro e85 black teflon hose)
6an return line (earls ultrapro e85 black teflon hose)
Magnafuel 4303 (or 4301) fuel pump

Turbo System/Exhaust

Everything was fabbed at Chuck Beaverton Automotive. Schedule 40 stainless for the manifolds and cross pipe, aluminum for the intercooler pipe, 3″ stainless for turbo back, all piping and hot parts are ceramic coated bright silver inside and out.
Precision 6466 (gen 2) Fual ballbearing, billet wheel
2 tial 38mm wastegates
1 tial 50mm BOV (candy apple red)
Bell intercooler core, custom end tanks and piping
1 Wiggins clamp
3″ turbo back exhaust with “high flow cat”
Varex mufler (has a cutout inside he muffler, wireless control for quiet and loud)

Body

JDM headlights retrofitted with fxr bixenon projectors
Theretrofitsource d2s bulbs
Theretrofitsource hid ballasts
Carbon fiber pillar garnishes
Carbon fiber jdm explodz wing (ultra rare)
JDM tail lights
95 GS bumper update
Rain visors (not installed)
3rd brake light (lights up the word LEGEND)

ECU/Electronics/Interior

The car used to be Type F interior (tan) but now it’s been converted to Type A (black) and then dyed using SEM products to give a modern-day black interior look with black suede headliner.

Diamond d9 7″ components up front
Alpine h701 sound processor
Alpine c701 controller
Alpine dva-9860 headunit
7″ screen inside JDM navi trim in dash
Converted to LS climate control
JDM navi climate control (installed where radio would be ( 1 of 1 install using USDM console)
Suede wrapped headliner
Leather wrapped a/b/c pillars
Hyundai Tiburon leather front seats (super comfy)
Working cup holder!
TL shift knob and boot
Real carbon fiber switch covers
SMD led throughout the car
LED window switches
DEI alarm and remote start with DEI sensors for auto windows etc
Relocated battery to trunk
Knukonceptz kolossas 0ga wiring throughout the car 12 ga for speakers
Sundown 2500w sub amp
Eclipse (2 channel forget the model number) amp for front stage (old school and real watts!)
ProEFI 128 ecu with custom harness
ProEFI flexfuel kit
ProEFI can display (screen)
ProEFI Fuel pressure sensor
ProEFI Oil pressure sensor
ProEFI Coolant temp sensor
ProEFI Air intake temp sensor
Black dash no cracks!
Suede dash mat
Fiberoptic stereo wiring
Black carpet (no rips or tears)
OEM rubber floor mats
Red LED needles installed in gauges
JDM door sills
New OEM vehicle speed sensor
3-4 layers of second skin sound deadener (SUPER quiet inside)

Performance

Car on 8psi pump 93 makes 360whp/399wtq.  On e85, it was making 510whp/598wtq on 16psi with some breakup (ran out of Dyno time).  It was turned up on some street driving the night before you drove it.  It’s on 19 psi with unknown power levels, but probably 550whp and 640wtq judging by the proefi gauge.