Easter Trip 2017 to Southern Utah with Jack & Lance

Posted in Arizona, Road Trip, Utah on April 23, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  552,423

Odometer (ILX):  195,000

Trip Distance:  827 Miles

The Arizona Department of Transportation has a sense of humor!

Back in the saddle again, at last!  My trusty silver steed came back into action 11 days ago after its recent bodyshop visit.  Two friends and I rode off into the Arizona sunset toward Las Vegas, then southern Utah.  The occasion?  Family fun in St. George for the Easter holiday.  It was an 800-miler with some of the best roadtrip tunes in the business.  Lance took over the backseat and I serenaded us with his in-car karaoke.  Our favorite artists to jam out to are Tracy Chapman and Jars of Clay.

“You got a fast car.  I got a ticket to anywhere.  Maybe we can make a deal, maybe together we can get somewhere.  Anyplace is better, starting from zero got nothing to lose.  Maybe we’ll make something.  Me, myself I got nothing to prove.”  Classic lines from Tracy’s “Fast Car.”

The Panda Express in Kingman, Arizona was just the spot to satisfy our cravings for orange chicken and Beijing beef at the halfway point on our drive to St. George Friday night.

Saturday was a day full of activities and good food.  We had breakfast at Bear Paw on Main Street in St. George, and then hiked around on the Red Hill overlooking town.  It was a perfect day with a light breeze and clear skies.  My brother Payton had laid out an assembly line for painting Easter eggs at his home in Santa Clara so we stopped by there and dyed a few eggs of our own with the kids.  I took Jack and Lance up to Snow Canyon and we played around in the sand dunes for an hour.

My grandma and grandpa were hospitable during our unannounced drop-in and even served up lasagna and garlic bread.  We got to spend an hour enjoying the serene backyard patio from the comfort of lounge chairs and chatting it up.  Later that evening, my brother Bentley had us over to his place for a test drive in his 1968 Chevy Nova SS, tacos on the menu, and a game night.  Great way to close out the night.

Easter Sunday consisted of an egg hunt at my brother’s place – complete with eggs of all sizes, filled with more candy than the entire sweets aisle at Walmart.  Stomach ache!

Add this road to your must-drive lists right this instant:  Arizona Highway 89A – Vermillion Cliffs.  It’s the best.  This two-laner runs along the Utah-Arizona state line and traverses some of the most vivid landscapes your eyes will ever see.  Plus, you get to stop at the Cliff Dwellers homesite where Native Americans are usually selling wares like jewelry, rugs, and other artifacts.  Finally, you can stop at Lee’s Ferry where a historic 1928 bridge offers a dramatic view of the Colorado River.

That’s the route we took on our return drive to Phoenix on Sunday, while eating way too much Easter candy and jamming out to more classic hits – mostly from the 1990s.

Thanks for coming along for the adventure!

Breakfast burrito from Bear Paw in St. George

Cruising around in mom’s 2004 Infiniti G35.  It turned over 36,000 miles!

View of St. George

Checking out brother Payton’s “Intensa Blue Pearl” Lexus IS300

Easter egg preparation

Nephew Rex collecting his Easter eggs

With Lance and Jack at Cliff Dwellers along Highway 89A

Enjoying the view from Navajo Bridge at Lee’s Ferry

Hiking South Mountain in Phoenix this past week with my friends Dante & Riley

My brother sold his 1993 Legend L coupe to a friend of mine, Brandon, yesterday.

Hanging with my nephews

Scenic pics along Old Utah Highway 91

 

New Acquisition: 2007 Acura TL Type-S 6-Speed

Posted in TL on April 18, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  552,392

Odometer (Integra):  239,106

Odometer (ILX):  194,219

Odometer (Legend sedan):  151,406

Odometer (NSX):  106,804

Odometer (Vigor):  106,611

Odometer (TL):  96,755

Whoa, Nelly!  What has Tyson done this time?

If you know me well enough, it won’t come as a shocker that I’ve just expanded the fleet by one vehicle.  With long-term plans for the ILX involving a family member taking over its operations in a couple of months, I needed something to replace it with as a “daily” driver.  The third-generation Acura TL has long been on my list – specifically, one in eye-popping Kinetic Blue Pearl paint color with a manual transmission.  Now a decade old, the KBP TL-S still conveys an attractive presence.  Plus, what’s not to love about quad exhaust tips!

Adding to the “must-have” mentality was the fact that my friends Marc and Chris – both east coasters – have twin KBP TL-S manuals, and they’ve been egging me on for a while now about joining the club.  A few other close friends knew I was on the hunt – and Jason had the winning ticket.  Saturday afternoon, April 8, he sent me a text message with a link to an Ebay auction that had just gone live the evening prior.

It was a gorgeous car – 96,000 miles, original owner, fastidiously maintained since new and totally in stock condition.  My eyeballs widened as I scrolled through the 25 photos with the listing, trying to find anything “wrong” with the car that would turn me away.  Nothing did.  Adding gobs of icing to the cake:  This car was in my home state, about 2 hours north of me in Flagstaff.

I sent a message to the seller right away asking if he’d have time to show me the car the following morning, on Sunday.  And Sunday, I road-tripped the Legend coupe to Flag so I could give the TL a look-see in person.  The car, and its seller Dave, were as nice as could be.

I opened the driver side door – taking note that I still couldn’t see even so much as a scratch or ding on the car – and do you know what was sitting on the driver’s seat?  A printout from an Excel spreadsheet showing every line item of maintenance since new.  Needless to say – it was love at first sight, and I knew at that point this was the TL for me.  The test drive solidified that conviction.  Dave and I took the car out onto the Interstate 17 northbound onramp and I gave its 286 horses a little workout.  It was awesome, and there was no turning back.

By that evening, we had come to an agreement and a deposit was sent.  On Monday, Dave emailed me a whopping 36 PDF scanned receipts detailing the car’s maintenance since new.  Geek mode set in and I prepared a maintenance spreadsheet, of course.  By Tuesday, I had a check in hand for the balance, and on Wednesday, I took delivery of the car.  Logistics worked out perfectly, since Dave needed to fly out of Phoenix airport for a business trip, so he drove the car from Flagstaff for me and I just covered his rental car for his return trip.

Now was the fun part.  My friends have known for some time that the 2004-2008 Acura TL is one of my favorite cars of all time.  In fact, we lovingly call it the “3GTL” and enjoy sending spy shots to one another when we see one on the road.  You’ll recall in my recent blog post that the ILX came back from a 6-week accident hiatus on Wednesday, too. The wheels in my head started spinning.  What if I invited some friends over to see the refreshed ILX, but in reality, the TL could be there to surprise them?

And so it was done.  I carefully figured out the timing and played it out in my head.  When roommate James left to run an errand, I quickly pulled the TL into the garage from where I had parked it at the end of the block.  Then I put a cover over it.  Later that evening, he and a couple other friends came over and learned about the latest Acura-quisition.   Here was the video of the reveal:

The best part about the car enthusiast community isn’t the car itself but the network of people you get to meet through it.  I’ve already staged a couple of “copycat” photos with my Chris in Maryland since we both have twin cars, times two.  Here are photos of his Legend + TL, and my Legend + TL.

Chris’ cars

Tyson’s cars

I look forward to having some fun with my new Type-S and as of later this summer, it will become the primary daily driver as my brother Payton will take over operation of the ILX.

Here are a few more photos!

This conversation was with Dave, the seller.  “Door ding free zone” — I love this guy!

First look at the car on Sunday, April 9th

Dave’s garage.  He sold the TL to make way for the white 2017 Porsche Macan you see in the background.

Initial odometer reading when I first took the driver seat:  96,565.

That color just pops!

Back in Phoenix on the night of delivery

Just before heading to the house to stage the surprise reveal

TL stickered at $38,795 with this equipment

Check out that DVD-Audio demonstration disc collection!  Can’t wait to try out the sound system!

Exhaust tip polish!  Before and after:

Getting a little crowded in this garage.

My friend Conor’s reaction was about like mine when I learned of this car.

Haha.  I’m glad there are others out there who get just as excited about stuff like this as I do.

Thanks for reading!

ILX Accident & Reconstruction

Posted in ILX on April 14, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  552,392

Odometer (ILX):  193,298

Had you noticed my lack of ILX updates in the last 6 or so weeks?

My car recently got disassembled almost more than it had been since its original build in May 2012.  Thanks to a late February fender-bender, it was out of commission while the qualified team at Impact Auto Body in Mesa, Arizona put it back to 100% roadworthiness.  Lead representative “JJ” and his team were kind enough to snap some photos along the way so I could follow the car’s progress.  I had a nice intermission and excuse to drive around the older cars.

Now, back to racking up the miles I go!

Initial damage February 28, 2017 at 7th Ave & McDowell Road in central Phoenix.

Sad day!

Awaiting the tow truck after GEICO inspector had done his initial estimate.

Off she goes!  They opted to tow it even though the car was fully driveable.  The airbag light was on, even though the airbags did not deploy.  Didn’t want to risk something triggering the system to deploy.

Impact Auto Body in Mesa, Arizona was the place for the restoration.

Here are just a few of the many photos the Impact team was able to take for me.  They’re out of sequence because I’m using the WordPress upload utility to submit all 23 photographs at once.  But you get the idea.

Impact’s attention to detail was phenomenal.  We ended up doing an entire new wiring harness, front apron, and wheel, in addition to the obvious bumper, headlight, foglight, and fender.

This past Wednesday, April 12th, I got the car back in all its pristine glory.  It looks great again.  I’m actually amazed at how incredibly perfect the paint match is.  The front end (sans hood) is already protected with a clear bra.  That hood, by the way, didn’t get refinished.  It still has 193,000 miles worth of wear and tear – including a rock chip that I got on the Alaska trip last year.  I’m proud of that one and I didn’t want to lose the story behind it.

Thanks to JJ for his tireless efforts in getting this car back on the road for me!

Home and tucked away in the garage for a couple of photos.

Hope everyone has a great Easter weekend.  I’m off to southern Utah (in the freshly restored ILX, of course) with a couple of friends.

180 Degrees Automotive: Featuring Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner

Posted in Arizona, PAPA on April 10, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  239,106

Did you know?  Fewer than 2% of auto mechanics are female.  There are plenty of women who have interest in getting into the industry, but many can’t find work because they aren’t qualified.  And they can’t build the skills to become qualified until they land a job.  It’s a cycle that Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner has sought to break by changing the way people think about women in automotive.  Last Wednesday, Bogi invited the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) to her shop in central Phoenix, Arizona that serves as a repair facility as much as an educational institution.

Women from around the community – and around the country – come to Bogi’s to learn the trade.  For some women, it may be the first time they’ve picked up a wrench.  I know for a fact that many of her “students” probably already know a heck of a lot more than I do.  I’ve had professionals handle my car maintenance for years now – aside from air filters, batteries, and easy stuff, I haven’t ever dipped too far into the mechanic scene.  Now I’m inspired to.

And thus the reason why Bogi’s facility is called 180 Degree Automotive:  It turns the perceptions and stereotypes 180 degrees, causing people to think twice about letting a gender difference dictate anyone’s ability to be skilled in automotive trades.  Our group of automotive journalists enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look.

Bogi co-hosts a TV show on Velocity Channel call “All Girls Garage,” and the main project taking place currently is a build called the Chevy Montage.  A team of women is putting together a 1957 Chevy pickup truck (equipped with a BMW M5 engine) that will debut at the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November.  We got an inside look at the place where the magic happens: a nondescript industrial building at Camelback Road and 7th Avenue that is definitely more than meets the eye.  The lobby contains a quarterly art exhibit featuring local artists.  And the garage bays themselves are tidy and organized.  I guess it takes a woman’s touch!

We thank her for the hospitality and wish her the best of luck in finishing up the SEMA build!

Here is a feature video on Bogi from “Assignment America” 7 years ago.

Drove the Vigor to the scene

Entrance

Art gallery on exhibit in the waiting room

Social hour

Eyeballing the shop

Here are a few other pics from over the weekend.  We had some friends come up from Tucson.  Two of them were in a pair of “CB7” (1990-93) Honda Accords, including this EX coupe and SE sedan.

The sedan had 299,927 miles on it!

On his return trip, Corey sent me this pic to confirm the car achieved its milestone.

Honda party at the house.

Jon, Corey, Ryan, Tyson, Ben, Trevor, Chris

James‘ Focus RS, on test for the week, joined the party, as well as Michael’s 2001 7-series.

And Donald’s Vortex Blue TSX 6-speed.  Neighbors must think we’re car crazy.  They’re right.

Family Visit from Utah: OdySea Aquarium & Butterfly World Exhibit in Scottsdale, AZ

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, Misc Travel on March 27, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  552,002

Over the weekend, I gained a greater appreciation for two things:  moms and minivans.  When you’re entertaining 3 kids under the age of 6 years old, you start to realize just how much of a challenge it can become to make sure everyone’s fed, happy, and playing fair.  You also look for any way possible to ease the burden of travel logistics.  My brother Payton and his family visited for 4 days from southern Utah, and their 2013 Honda Odyssey EX-L was just the right ride for their family on such a 14-hour round-trip journey to Phoenix.

And we drove that Odyssey to OdySea.  This Scottsdale aquarium opened last July and is home to 500 species of sea life, living in over 2 million gallons of water.  I guess if our desert ever runs out of irrigation water, we can always drain the fish tanks!

Our favorite feature of the aquarium campus, though, was housed next door in a place called “Butterfly World.”  A 3-D movie educated us on the butterfly life cycle, and then we were permitted to enter a greenhouse-like atrium which is home to over 3,000 butterflies of various colors and sizes.

My niece Vivienne was thrilled that two butterflies perched on her colorful clothing.  Her younger brother Rex didn’t have any such luck and was peeved that they weren’t attracted to him.  And the youngest, Locke, must not have received the memo about “don’t step on the butterflies.”  He’s only 1 year old, and his primal instinct is to step on any insect within leg’s reach.  And, he did.  When we left Butterfly World, it was home to 2,999 butterflies instead of 3,000.

On Saturday, we spent our energy on a short hike at Papago Park near the Phoenix-Scottsdale border.  The place was bustling with hundreds of other families taking advantage of the perfect weather, but we made our way to the summit at “Hole in the Rock” and enjoyed the view.  The afternoon was spent at the Clarendon Hotel, a boutique hotel in central Phoenix that has a great pool facility.  We called dibs on a cabana and soaked ourselves in the long hot tub while listening to relaxing music.  My brother had a celebrity encounter too: He recognized Geoff Rowley, famous skateboarder, enjoying the hot tub with us and struck up a conversation.  Geoff was in town for the PHXAM event.

I had to make sure everyone was well-fed, so our dining destinations were carefully selected.  I introduced my brother and his family to Los Dos Molinos on Camelback Road for Mexican food on Friday night, we ordered Spinato’s Pizza on Saturday, and I took them to Zookz for breakfast sandwiches on Sunday morning before the Odyssey started its return trip to Utah.

Thanks to Payton and Kali for bringing the kids down to spend a few days with me!  I’ll be finding miniature toy frogs in the couch cushions and closets for a few months yet.

Here is a 10-minute video introduction to my garage that my brother put together for his YouTube audience.

(Forgive my error on stating the GS 6-speed sedan was offered in 1993-94.  You all know it’s 1994-95!)

And 4 minutes’ worth of random scenes from throughout the weekend on my own channel.

Locke ‘riding’ a little motorcycle

Viv enjoying the backyard swing

Rex standing next to an orange tree in the backyard

Ready for our 3-D movie at Butterfly World

In the courtyard at OdySea just before grabbing lunch

Shark exhibit

Dinner at Los Dos Molinos Uptown

Breakfast at Zookz

Hiking at Papago Park

Locke, Vivienne, and Rex playing in the backyard

Couple other random pics from recent weeks.  My friends Todd and Josh have two Teslas!

My friend Kevin picked me up a “Chiriaco Summit” bumper sticker.  More on that soon!

And my ILX trip to Willcox was featured in Arizona Driver Magazine‘s March-April 2017 issue!

Have a great week!

PAPA Event at European Motor Studio (EMS) in Chandler, Arizona

Posted in NSX, PAPA on March 23, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  151,266

It’s been almost exactly five years since my friend Scott and I got together in a couple of red sportscars for this photoshoot at the Hayden Lakeside parking garage in Tempe, Arizona.

The date was Wednesday, May 23, 2012, and the hue of Scott’s 1979 Porsche 928 was nearly identical to that of my Formula Red 1992 Acura NSX.  Great minds thought alike.

That was toward the beginning of a longstanding friendship with a guy who’s just as nutty about cars as I am, and this story is one about a company he built from the ground up.

One of the many ‘car organizations’ I’m currently a part of is the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA).  The group has been around for 18 years and is comprised of automotive journalists from around Arizona.  Today, active membership is around 40 or 50 individuals and meetings are held about once a month.  PAPA’s latest activity was held on Wednesday evening in Chandler, Arizona at the home base for one of the Phoenix Valley’s premier classic European sportscar restoration shops & dealerships.

European Motor Studio (EMS) in name was born in the summer of 2013, but the business – in a lot simpler sense – had existed since long before that time.  Entrepreneur Scott Utter first started wheeling and dealing in collector cars starting when he was 14 years old.  His first car was a gold 1985 Jaguar XJ6 when he had his learner permit.  He sold it for a $2,500 profit, and the rest is history.

Today, EMS has grown into a full time job for Scott and the 4 employees he’s brought on.  He also employs a part time mechanic who is brave enough to dig into 12-cylinder Italian engines.  “Anything I can help you guys with?” I asked as I was setting up a few materials for our group’s arrival.  “Sure,” they said, “just rebuild that V-12 sitting over there on the ground.”  I replied, “It would be worse off than it is already.”  And that’s the truth.  The level of complexity in some of those cars is uncanny.

Most of Scott’s business is carried out online – and around the world.  He’s recently shipped collector cars to Germany and Australia (freight to Europe, by the way – isn’t too bad.  The car goes to the port at Long Beach, California for $350 and then takes a $1,700 boat ride to Europe, arriving in 3-4 weeks).  Most of the inventory tightly packed into his holding warehouse consists of models I can’t even correctly pronounce, with price tags near the market value of my house.

For example, right now he’s sitting on an orange 1971 Lamborghini Espada 400GT with a buy-it-now of $170,000.  My favorite vehicle in current inventory is the 1991 Porsche 911 964 Turbo for a cool $120k.  Maybe that’s just because of my readily-apparent obsession with cars from the early 1990s.

We extend thanks to Scott and his team for hosting us.  Next time, let’s incorporate some test-drives!  Haha.

Refreshments are served

Our group getting the lowdown on some of the EMS inventory.

Lineup of Lotus Esprits

80’s Mercedes – isn’t that a song?  And a French ‘Citroen SM’ – in itself, a very special car.

PAPA member Sandra Munoz had her sights set on this 1971 Land Rover in pastel green.  It seemed like it would be a fitting vehicle to take on some sort of African safari.

Getting a look at the shop area where restorations take place, with a very rare Lamborghini Islero in the background – produced only between 1968-69 (and only 125 total units).  That blue is a factory color!

That green Lamborghini Espada is a factory color too, believe it or not.

Here’s the posh interior of a 1985 Maserati Quattroporte III Saloon with fewer than 30,000 original miles.

$20k for some luxury like that!

Canyon Carvers: A 1992 Prelude & 1992 Integra vs. Arizona’s Catalina Highway

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Prelude, Road Trip on March 19, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  551,894

Trip Distance:  304 Miles

A quarter-century ago in 1992, you could set foot into your local Honda or Acura dealerships and drive away with any number of sport coupes.  From the eco-friendly CRX Si at $11,900 to the flagship NSX at $65,000 MSRP, there was something for just about everyone.

Automotive journalist Steve Lynch (The Truth About Cars) and I decided to pit two against each other that are most alike in price & performance:  The Prelude Si versus the Integra GS-R.  Coming in at about $18k and $17k respectively, they shared more than just a price point.  They each offered a 160-horsepower 4-cylinder powerplant and a slick-shifting 5-speed manual transmission.

Arizona’s “Catalina Highway,” one of the state’s most scenic twisty roads, seemed the perfect spot to carry out our evaluation.  At 26 miles in length from its base in Tucson to the summit at Summerhaven, it climbs nearly 6,000 feet in elevation to over about 8,200 feet – high enough that even now in late March there is snow along the roadside in some stretches.  Arizona, snow?  Yes – it happens.

Joining for the excursion were two friends who preferred to exercise their American muscle and grunt:  Will in a Chevy SS and James (Six Speed Blog) in a Dodge Durango R/T.  Each one offered more than double the horsepower of our Hondas so it wouldn’t have been a fair fight to include them in the comparison test.  Besides, we found a better way to put those two against each other:  an exhaust sound-off contest.  More on that when you watch the YouTube video.

When you saddle up in the Integra GS-R, you have to be alert and attentive.  The automatic seat belts close in on you forcefully as if to say, “Buckle up.  You’re about to take a hell of a ride.”  A crank of the B17 motor and a glance at the 8,000-RPM redline tell you the car is all about the high-revving playtime.  And even though the car is old enough for historic plates and has its share of mechanical quirks consistent with 239,000 miles on the odometer (hello, ABS light on the dash!), it revs happily like a toddler and the chassis tuning is stiff.

The Prelude takes a more sophisticated approach.  Its futuristic dashboard communicates all relevant driver information in typical Honda sensible fashion.  But its engine’s behavior and suspension’s refinement make it less of a rev-machine.  It’s torquey enough at low RPM that the driver doesn’t feel like he or she has to push it to the limit.  Seats are comfortable and supportive, sounds are more subdued, and it acts like a much more responsible daily driver – with a fun side for the weekends – than the trouble-maker Integra.

We all did enough key-swapping throughout the mountain cruise to come to pretty much the same conclusion.  If I had Marty McFly’s DeLorean and transported myself back in 1992, my $18k would be better spent on a Prelude than an Integra.  Reason being, we all spend far more time in day to day mundane driving situations – traffic, commuting, and the occasional interstate cruise – than we do carving up a canyon road or sprinting around an autocross track.  The Prelude is a better all-around value for the money.

For reference, a prior Mount Lemmon trip in which we took a similar parade of sporty Hondas up the mountain.

Oh, and the Durango versus SS?  Skip to the end of the video to see how that contest went :).

Preparing for our ascent

The V8 contenders

Headed on up the mountain

Prelude in the lead

Arrival at Summerhaven – elevation 8,200 feet

And perfect weather!

Lunch at the Sawmill Restaurant

Sweet potato tots!  (insert heart-eye emoji)

Few more pics up at the ski lift area

Integra engine bay

Prelude engine bay

Making our descent

And finally, a visit from my friend Matt today in his 2003 CL Type-S 6-speed!  235,000 miles and it looks & drives like new!

Here are a few links to share:

TSX Travels Acura Anniversary video that I was honored to be a part of: