Weekly Digest: A Marathon, Some Accords, & NSXPO Follow-Up

Posted in Accord, Milestones, NSX, Reader's Ride, Running, Vigor on October 10, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,679

Odometer (Accord):  302,093

I have all sorts of news to catch up on here but I’ll keep the message short & sweet so the photos can tell the story.  There have been a lot of articles coming out on the recent NSXPO in San Francisco, but I’m particularly pleased with how this one came together.  I wrote a short piece on a father & son from Tucson, Arizona who both own NSXs.  It’s here on AcuraConnected.

I took the ILX to southern Utah over the weekend and competed in my 12th St. George marathon.  For about the first half of the 26-miler, it rained.  Adding to the struggle, my meager 3 miles of training didn’t amount to adequate preparation (shocker!) and my pace-per-mile reflected that.  In all it took me nearly 5.5 hours to finish, but my mom was there waiting for me at the finish proudly.

The ILX rolled 208,000 on the way to Utah Thursday evening.

My niece and nephews made a great cheering squad at about mile 25 when I passed by them (slowly).

Mom sat this one out but spent the day volunteering instead.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some ‘car fun,’ including a visit from my friend Michael who has a Fathom Blue ILX.

A couple of fourth-generation Honda Accords made their way to the house (for short- or long-term, not yet known) but I’m doing a bit of work on each one and enjoying getting to know the platform.  This particularly nice one is from a one-owner history right here in the Phoenix area.  While showing over 136,000 on the odometer, it easily looks like a car with < 50,000 miles on it.

Plus, what’s not to love about those automatic seatbelts.  Just like the ones in my two Integras.

This Mulberry Pearl car was featured on my YouTube a couple of months ago and I was shocked how quickly the video took off.  It’s now been viewed over 50,000 times and commented on over 700 times.  People have a lot of love for these old Accords!

The second Accord is this 1993 SE with 302,000 miles on it.  While it runs and drives well and has a very solid background & maintenance history, it does need some cosmetic and mechanical help so I’ll be putting some effort into it as time permits.

My friend Brad and his roommate Richard from Chicago stopped by.  Brad, sorry to post this one with your eyes shut!  But glad you were able to make a fly-by visit in Phoenix on the tail end of your 2,000-mile national park tour!  By the way, our weather cleared up right after you left.

I visited Acura of Tempe yesterday to drop off my NSX for a new timing belt & water pump, and took the time to admire my friend Leon’s 2001 Integra Type-R which is on display in the showroom.  You’ll recognize Leon’s car from JCCS 2018 in Long Beach recently.

My loaner while the NSX was in for service was this new TLX V6 SH-AWD with only 2,000 miles on it.  Do you like it?

I thought this article was a worthwhile read on a guy who hit 600,000 miles on his Accord, if you get time to check it out.

Finally, here are some cool ads someone sent me for the Vigor.  Acura’s marketing agency back in the day really had some skill.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Bay Area Road Trip! “NSXPO” 2018 in San Francisco, California

Posted in California, NSX, NSXPO, Road Trip on October 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

Someone told me the other day in a text message, “You must really like cars if you’re traveling to see them.”  Well, yeah!  You just can’t attempt to explain an automotive obsession to someone who doesn’t understand it.  And that’s okay.

I was a participant a few days ago at this year’s largest gathering of Acura NSX owners in the country, deemed NSXPO and started in the late 1990s.  NSXPO is like NALM (the National Acura Legend Meet) but on a much larger (and more expensive) scale.  While NALM registration for this year’s Colorado Springs event was $90, NSXPO cost $400 – and neither of those, of course, included other expenses associated with the trip:  Fuel, lodging, most meals, and other incidentals.  This is a spendy hobby, but I can think of no more rewarding way to invest in a good time.

NSXPO reached capacity and sold out in just a matter of days after registration went live this past May – a full 4 months in advance of the event itself.  This marked my fourth NSXPO attendance, though admittedly I “cheated” and flew in for two of them:

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

  • NSXPO 2015:  Palm Springs, California
  • NSXPO 2016:  Orlando, Florida
  • NSXPO 2017:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The four core planning committee members definitely had their work cut out for them with a group of this size.  Establishing logistics for an event of any size in the urban San Francisco Bay Area is a feat, let alone with over 230 people and 130 vehicles in attendance.  Pictured here are the core team members (May Lee in purple, Roger Estrella and James Ubarro in orange at right, and Les Rowe – not pictured, along with NSXCA President Peter Cunningham, and special guests).

My drive took me through Los Angeles, then upward on Interstate 5 — a road I’ve come to know and love in 2018 thanks to multiple trips:  Radwood, my Integra purchase, and then my Integra drive home.  Beyond that, I was also just in the Bay Area for Car Week.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the first two days of this year’s event – the track days at Thunderhill Raceway.  Then again, I’ve never been much of a performance driver and I have a lot to learn about pushing my car to its limits before I make a fool of myself!

For my own NSX, the trip to California was like going back home.  In December 2011, I purchased the car in San Jose.  It almost seemed like it was already familiar with the roads out there.  After a roughly 12 hour total travel time, I arrived at our host hotel, the Hyatt Regency SF Airport, on Thursday afternoon and arranged for a few local friends to come over and hang out.  We went out in downtown Burlingame that evening in my friend Ken’s 1987 Legend sedan.

On Friday morning, we braved commute traffic northbound to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was worth it.  The Golden Gate is perhaps the best-known in the SF Bay Area.  When completed in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, at 1.7 miles.  Today it has a $30 million “zipper” movable barrier system that allows lane usage & direction to alternate.

From Horseshoe Bay, we were able to take panoramic photos of all the cars lined up together.  Lunch was served up at the Presidio, with special guest speaker Graham Rahal, who has scored himself some impressive race wins during his career.  Graham was the youngest person to win an American open-wheel race, at age 19, which was ten years ago.

The evening took us out across the harbor from the Embarcadero pier area – a 45 minute bus ride from our Hyatt.  As dusk settled in, we were surrounded by stunning views of the illuminated city skyline from out in the water.  Dinner was served and we had a short program, all while boating along on a massive ship that took us out to the Bay Bridge, around Alcatraz Island, down to the A&T Ballpark where the SF Giants were playing baseball, and then back.  The round-trip adventure took about 3 hours, and the highlight was seeing our friend Randy Chua propose to his fiance.  (She said yes, which was received with a round of applause).

On Saturday, the caravan of NSXs rolled out toward the high elevation community of Woodside, tucked into the mountains about 30 miles south of SF.  Mountain Terrace served up a brunch menu there on the grass.  Unfortunately, I had to work that morning and arrived a little too late to join in on that – so I grabbed lunch on my own across the street at a historic spot called Alice’s.  It was originally constructed as a general store, but converted into a restaurant in the 1950s.  Today it serves a variety of car clubs and motorcyclists year-round, which explains why two of the sandwiches on the menu are the “Yamaha” and the “Honda.”  You can guess which one I ordered.

For the next hour, I pointed my NSX southbound on Skyline Drive and enjoyed the twisty roads and the scenery.  One particularly fun stretch had curves that narrowed to just a single lane of traffic with speed limits at 15 miles per hour.  I went a little bit faster than that.  The NSX excels in such a driving environment.

By the time I arrived at our next stop, Canepa Car Museum in Scotts Valley, most of the group had already beat me there.  The museum itself also doubles as a dealership, showcasing some of the finest sportscars I’ve laid eyes on.

My friend Dom made an appearance back at the Hyatt.  He and I have crossed paths in social media circles for some time now, but this was our first time hanging out in person.  He was in his blue 2013 ILX.  I threw him the keys to the NSX and let him take it for a whirl.  We finished our test drives just in time for me to quickly change into more formal clothes and get to the pavilion next to the pool.  Seating was already underway for our closing dinner and awards ceremony.

We were honored to hear from Motoharu Kurosawa, otherwise known by the name Gan-San, who had an extensive professional racing career.  Representatives from HART (Honda of America Racing Team) also addressed the congregation, while dinner was served.  Awards were given out for the best original and best modified NSXs, and the long-awaited announcement was made regarding dates & location for next year’s event.  NSXPO 2019 will be held in Washington, DC on October 9-13.

All too soon, NSXPO drew to a close and we bid farewell to some of our friends who we only get to interact with once or twice a year.  I caught a few hours of shuteye and hit the road early (but not yet bright) on Sunday morning, hauling the entire 11-hour, 800-mile stint with only a few short stops.  My NSX performed flawlessly and I had plenty of time to jam out to music and enjoy the drive.

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

Pre-departure on the group drive to the Golden Gate Bridge

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

Looks like this guy’s been to a few meets over the years!

Lunch time

My friend Ben’s 2005 Silverstone NSX-T….

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

A visit from David who has a Legend he showed at Radwood

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon

Hiking “Havasupai” Waterfalls: An 18-Miler into the Grand Canyon

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, National Parks on September 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  207,567

Trip Distance (Drive):  600 Miles

Trip Distance (Hike):  18 Miles

Imagine living in a place so remote that the cold Dr. Pepper you’re about to swig had to come in on a pack mule or be air lifted there by a helicopter.  Given the logistic challenges of sustaining a town so remote, I was surprised such a luxury was even available – let alone refrigerated.  I even got this one at a discount because the can had been damaged during mule transport.

I’m about to introduce you to a community that has thrived in the heart of northern Arizona for hundreds of years.  If you’re lucky, you’ll pick up a hint of 3G cell signal there.  But otherwise, the inhabitants of the village of Supai are about as “low-tech” as you can get in the year 2018.  (See location in the middle of this Google Maps screen shot).

I’ve lived within a few hours of the Grand Canyon my entire life and only been into the (mile-deep) middle of it one time, three years ago when some friends and I did a crazy, 26-mile, “South Rim to North Rim,” hike.  It was time to put the hiking boots back on (or, just my running shoes, in this case) and trek back into one of Arizona’s wonders of the world.

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is surrounded on all sides by the national park, and it’s one of the most difficult to obtain a hiking permit to access.  In fact, twice in the past (2008, and then again earlier this year), I’ve had a permit that has been cancelled or re-scheduled due to flooding in the canyon.  This time, we crossed fingers that our trip would proceed as planned, and it did – for the most part.

Havasupai is a word that means ‘havasu’ (blue-green waters) and ‘pai’ (people).  So the 639 people who live within the 300-square-mile reservation are the people of the blue-green waters.  They are governed by a constitution that was signed in 1939 and led by a seven-member tribal council.

Our party of nine met up at the crack of dawn – actually, a little before it – on Friday morning, September 21.  Getting there was a straightforward trek up Highway 89 from Phoenix, through the Route 66 towns of Seligman and Peach Springs, and then about 68 miles on a paved two-laner to the trailhead parking lot.

Getting all my gear into a backpack was no small challenge, and I had to carefully prioritize which items were critical for the trek.  The 8-mile initial drop into the town of Supai was easy thanks to cool morning temperatures, well-traveled pathways, and primarily downhill grade.  Amenities there were impressive:  A cafe, general store, schoolhouse, and churches were all all present – staffed by natives and welcoming to the estimated 200 tourists who are camping in the area on any given day.

We found the perfect campsite for our party.  It was two more miles down the dirt pathway and located right on the verge of Mooney Falls, which sent crystal blue waters cascading about 200 feet to the canyon below.  Kyle set up a hammock along the river and that ended up being my favorite place to (literally) hang out.  Best of all, we were disconnected entirely at that point from contact with the outside world.

On Saturday, we scaled the cliffside with assistance of chains & ladders to the pools below Mooney Falls.  It was an unforgettable experience in conquering a fear of heights.  The most unnerving thing about making the descent was the fact that over time, the rocks & ladders had worn smooth so grip was limited.  Besides that, the waterfall’s mist kept all footholds nice and slippery with water.  Yikes.

We enjoyed the sights & sounds of Mooney Falls for a couple of hours before making our ascent to camp again.  That afternoon’s highlight was getting a taste of some of the natives’ frybread.  A $12 taco with beans, cheese, and tomatoes was the ultimate afternoon snack and worth every penny to someone who was sick of eating dehydrated meals from tinfoil bags.  Jack opted for the ‘dessert’ version, drizzled in Nutella and caramel.  In fact, he had two, and made me promise not to tell anyone.  Sorry Jack!

Campfires are explicitly outlawed in the Havasupai region, so we told nighttime stores while huddled around the picnic table before calling it a night.

Already a little sore from two days of trudging around in the sand & water, I wasn’t feeling too keen on a roughly 10-mile (uphill) return hike to the parking lot on Sunday morning, so 3 from our party elected to take a helicopter from Supai instead.  It was my first time riding in a helicopter, and I was glad that I did.  The one-way fare for a 7-minute flight was $85 and because of limited seating (only room for 6) and a high volume of people leaving the canyon that day, it took about 4 hours until we actually got onboard.  The views were spectacular.

By the time we got back to our vehicles, the members of our group who’d opted to hike out had already beat us there and left the area.  I played catch-up in my ILX and reunited with Kyle, Jack, and Justin at Roadkill Cafe in Seligman before continuing the rest of the way into Phoenix.

The next time I crack open a Dr. Pepper, I’ll remember this trip with fond thoughts of sand in my shoes and a babbling brook underneath me in a hammock.  Here is a video and a few more photos from our adventure!

Hiking in

Group photo courtesy of mom’s selfie stick

Checking in at the Tourist Office, where we were issued wristbands with our group name & trip dates

Picture perfect postcard perspectives all around

Overlooking Havasu Falls

Another view of Havasu Falls

Caution sign prior to descending to Mooney Falls

View looking upward from the hammock

Havasu Falls

Frybread vendor

Group around the picnic table at our campsite

Group shot

Some of our gear

View from the helicopter ride out

Buy a Car Like You Buy a Snickers: Carvana Vending Machine Tour

Posted in Arizona, PAPA on September 19, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  207,017

It wasn’t long ago (exactly a year, now that I look at it) when I introduced you to Carvana’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona.  A nice facility it was – complete with a “library” study area that felt like it was plucked out of a 19th century Victorian mansion.  Now, Carvana has upped its game even more in the Tempe area, with a vending machine that dispenses cars.  And this one (the company’s 12th) is the largest in the country.  It’s 9 stories tall and has capacity for 34 vehicles.  But unlike that snack machine in the hallway of your undergrad university, you can’t shake it when your purchase gets stuck, and you’ll need a heck of a lot more than just spare change to buy its contents.

Carvana and other similar, 100% online-based car-buying companies have changed the way we think about purchasing a vehicle.  While many oppose the movement saying, “This is one step closer to making used cars an appliance you can buy on Amazon,” is that such a bad thing?  For the many people who want to cut out the salespeople and the negotiation, maybe the convenience is worth the mystery of buying a car without driving it first?  Here I was sampling a 2011 TSX Sport Wagon with detailed inside & outside, 360-degree views.

That’s one heck of a token.

I’ll be the first to say – the Carvana business model appeals to me in concept, but I’m likely not a target customer for this scenario.  Number one, the cars I’m usually hunting for are far too old (and rare) to be in Carvana inventory – even with 10,550 cars on the list.  And number two, a test drive is an absolute must when it comes time to actually pull the trigger on something.

But I admire the effort, and I can’t argue with the fact that our Carvana tour guide said they’re cycling through inventory in the vending machine every two days.  That’s pretty good volume, and it doesn’t even take into consider the vast majority of people who take delivery via flatbed truck at their homes rather than opting for the novelty of a token-dispensed automobile.  And they do have a 7-day, 400-mile, “no questions asked,” return policy.

It was a lot of fun to get up close and personal with the vending machine, including a demo of its operation from within the tower.  Along with a few other members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) I was glad to finally get a glimpse of this cool concept that I’d been watching under construction for the last several months along the Loop 202 freeway.

Word to the wise, though:  It is a greenhouse, and it heats up like one.  If that Silverado were a Snickers, it would have melted already.

New car scent – bottled!

Photo booth as part of our media event.

Thumbs up for the cupcakes & refreshments!

Here are a few other news bits:

My friend Hy who recently hit 130,000 miles on his 1993 Honda Accord SE has now passed the 25-year ownership mark.

We took the car up to the dealership where it had been sold new, on the anniversary of the occasion (September 8).  Congrats, Hy!

After owning my 1992 Integra GS for 4 months, I decided to say hello to the prior / original owner.  She was glad I did.

I finally finished putting my display case together, including some very special Ayrton Senna swag.

Thanks to my friend Charles for this:

Couple of articles for you to peruse, including this great one from Eric Weiner on the nostalgia of 1990s Acuras for Hagerty.

And this piece for ClassicCars.com, which is a variation of what I already posted here on the blog regarding JCCS.

Finally, some used cars you will probably want to consider:

My friend Ira is selling his STUNNING 2002 NSX-T with only 35,000 miles on it.  It’s 1 of 13 in the color combination.  He recently upgraded to a Nouvelle Blue 2017 model (as seen in the background), so the gen 1 is up for grabs.  Check out the link to the consignment shop here.

And we have a special TSX Sport Wagon here:  Owned by one of Acura’s senior executives and well-preserved with only 44,000 original miles.  This is a 2012 “Tech” model in Crystal Black Pearl on black leather, with some upgraded 19″ Honda Factory Performance wheels and a Whispbar roof rack system for you cyclists out there.  Any inquiries, contact me directly and I’ll put you in touch.

There were only around 10,000 TSX Sport Wagons produced – around 8% of 2nd gen TSX production.  Very few are out there in this color combination with such low miles and well kept condition.

Have a great week!  I’m off to the Grand Canyon tomorrow for a hiking adventure, so don’t try to reach me!

Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, Vigor on September 17, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  112,562

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

“How do you keep it smelling like that?” asked an attendee at last Saturday’s Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, after poking his head into my 1994 Acura Vigor.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “It smells just like an old Honda.  It reminds me of one I used to have,” he said.

As it turns out, the “old Honda” smell conversation came up more than once – enough to make the wheels in my mind start spinning.  Does the Car Freshner scent tree company need to develop a new scent, called Old Car?  I call dibs on royalties for anyone who takes the idea and runs with it.

This weekend, I joined 423 other participants at the largest show dedicated specifically to Japanese classics, in the southwest region and perhaps in the country.  Now in its 14th year, the show – dubbed ‘JCCS’ by long-time attendees or supporters, is now enhanced with expanded eligibility criteria.  Historically, showing a 1990s car required special consideration & approval because the cutoff for allowed model years ended at 1985.  Now, just about anything Japanese that’s up to & including model year 1995 is eligible.  The change comes at a time when so many venues – including Radwood shows, and the recent Japanese Automotive Invitational, are starting to devote special recognition to the “Neo Classic” 80s & 90s era.  Totally awesome.

JCCS took a thorough and organized approach to its execution – starting and ending on time, and even orchestrating roll-in and staging in an orderly fashion.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Japanese (thus the reason why I drive Japan-built automobiles) are masters of precision.  Volunteers guided incoming vehicles to their respective assigned areas, but the traffic jam at the gate (and on the grounds) was definitely more than the Marina Green park is probably used to seeing on a Saturday morning at 7:00.

Model Citizen‘s Patrick Strong acted as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the day, spotlighting key exhibitors, rattling off raffle ticket numbers for prize winnings, and conducting the awards presentation at the conclusion.  Meanwhile, the lawn filled up with hundreds of Japan’s best creations:  in all, about 150 Nissan / Datsun vehicles, 87 Toyotas, about the same number of Hondas, some Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and a lonely Isuzu in the mix.  Some were stock, while others were highly modified.

As the day pressed on, I enjoyed bumping into some of the many people who make the automotive hobby such a rewarding pastime – friends from the Honda community poured in and it became a bit of a reunion for me.  I partnered with my friend Mike, who drives a 1989 Prelude Si, on content for our YouTube channels and caught up with colleagues from the Legend, NSX, and Integra clubs.  When the time came to grab lunch, I opted for the food truck on “vendor row” with the shortest line, which ended up being a crepe vendor.  It’s the first time I can say I’ve ever eaten a crepe with bacon and avocado in it – those were two key ingredients from the “California Sunrise.”

I was, of course, wearing my “Alive With Five” T-shirt commemorating my Vigor’s 5-cylinder motor.

Car shows aren’t always about coming home with “hardware,” but it’s rewarding when the judges recognize the vehicles that stand out in exceptional ways.  Winning honors in the Neo Honda & Acura category were my friend Rob Pia with his 1994 Legend LS sedan and Leon Palassanian with his 2001 Integra Type-R.  While Leon’s Integra technically falls beyond the 1995 model year cutoff, because the car’s generation started in 1994, it was eligible.  And at only 30,000 original miles on the odometer, it was a show-stopper and a crowd-pleaser.  It was one of two Type-R models on the show field – the other was a white Canadian-spec model.

I wrapped up my trip by chauffeuring a friend to Palm Springs and having a bite to eat there, before pressing on to Phoenix.  The late night drive was made better with Paula Abdul on the stereo – via cassette tape adapter, of course – with “Straight Up.”  It only seems fitting that a 1988 song accompany me home from what was an incredible day embracing an iconic era for automobiles.

Here is a 7-minute video capturing some of my trip as well as the show itself.  As always, pardon the amateur camera and editing quality!

And while you’re here, stop by ImportArchive.com.  My friend Darren (same who prepared the digital drawings of the cars in my garage) has spent 15 years collecting and scanning brochures of Japanese automakers.  I’ve contributed a few materials to his archive and I’m excited to see it grow.  Downloads are made available once he gets the items digitized (over 50,000 scans are completed to date).

Spectating attendees Steve & Zac making the rounds

This is the display I made up for the Vigor – including a quote from the original sales brochure

Friends stopping by to visit.

Nice 1987 Legend on show at the Honda (sponsor) booth

David drove down from the Bay Area in his 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed

These folks must have been smelling that Vigor interior!

This is the 1993 Legend LS currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer website.  It is stunning, and can be yours if the Price is Right!

Let’s throw some non-Hondas into the mix – I can’t only show my fave brand!

Armando’s beautiful 1974 Mazda RX-4.

Lexus SC rear ends.

Look at that Land Cruiser!

Right-hand-drive was the name of the game.

Gorgeous Honda S roadster.

My friend Chris’ 1979 Accord

My friend Hyram’s 1990 Legend

Second-generation Integra lineup

Stopping in Palm Springs on the way home to see a Legendary friend, David.

 

Spy shot of me thanks to James of Six Speed Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I had this little newspaper clipping from 2008 framed to hang in the house.

Junkyard sightings from last weekend:  Vigor, Legend, Prelude 4WS.

Anyone catch the updates to the ILX for model year 2019?  Fancy front & rear!

And finally, I was thumbing through a 30-year-old Acura brand magazine.  There was an area where they highlight interesting news or reader submissions.  Check out this paragraph about / by none other than Estelle Getty who played “Sophia” on Golden Girls.

Now you know!  Have a great week!

Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) Recap 2018 – Attendees By the Numbers

Posted in California, Car Show on September 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  250,488

It’s now been three weeks since Pebble Beach was abuzz with the automotive extravaganza referred to as ‘Car Week.’  There continue to be a lot of great articles about it, including this one released just today by my friends Ben Hsu & Ryan Senensky of Japanese Nostalgic Car.

If you ask Karen at Motor Trend about how this year’s inaugural Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) event came together, she’ll tell you, “It took an army.”  The planning, logistics, and execution of a car show that brought 40+ cars from areas across the nation were daunting tasks that she spearheaded for the August 25-26 event.  Luckily for Karen, she had plenty of help.  Motor Trend partnered with Infiniti on making it all happen.  And having proudly participated myself, my medallion now resides in a display case at my home (below).

(Photo credit to Trevor Yale Ryan from Speed Hunters)

What started as an idea hatched by Motor Trend’s own Ed Loh evolved into a revolutionary event in a lot of regards.  Never before had Japanese vehicles been given such a spotlight at Pebble Beach, and the media and public now agree:  It was a success.  Now in the same signature location at Pebble since 2014, Infiniti was looking to diversify and expand on its display, especially since the brand is coming up on a 30-year anniversary next year.  Remember the Q45 flagship sedan?  It’s three decades old!

Naturally, it made sense to showcase Infiniti’s own heritage and spotlight a few noteworthy cars.  Infiniti also decided to allow its competition into the arena by specifically showcasing models from Acura and Lexus on its own turf.

The list of participating vehicles was curated internally and cars were sourced from throughout the country – coming from as far away as Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan.  Some models proved tougher to locate than others.  A first-generation Integra, for example, was on the original list but not readily available, so they went with my second-gen instead.

Something you won’t see in any other articles about the event is a comprehensive list of exactly what vehicles came, but I got my hands on one.  Here is the participant list in ascending order by model year:

1959 Datsun 220 (truck)
1964 Datsun 1500 Roadster (black)
1964 Mazda R360
1967 Nissan Patrol
1967 Toyota Sport 800
1967 Toyota Toyoglide 700
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1968 Honda N600 (white)
1970 Mazda Cosmo Sport
1969 Subaru 360 Deluxe Coupe
1969 Subaru Truck (2nd Gen Sambar)
1969 Toyota FJ040 LandCruiser (seafoam green)
1970 Datsun 240Z Safari Tribute
1970 Isuzu Bellett (orange, black hood)
1971 510 BRE Datsun Trans Am 2.5
1971 Z432 Nissan Fairlady
1973 Mitsubishi Galant GTO MR
1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R
1972 Suzuki LJ20 Jimny
1974 Nissan Cherry X1-R
1975 Honda Civic CVCC
1975 Isuzu 1st Gen 117 Coupe
1976 Honda Civic Lady Concept
1978 Dome Zero
1978 Subaru Brat
1982 Grand Prix Mazda RX-7
1987 Toyota GTO Celica Race Car
1990 Acura Legend LS Coupe
1990 Lexus LS Prototype
1990 Mazda Miata Show Stock C Racer
1990 Nissan Pao
1991 Infiniti M30
1991 Nissan Figaro
1991 Toyota Dan Gurney’s Eagle MkIII IMSA GTP Championship Car
1992 Acura Integra GS-R Hatchback – Mine!
1992 Autozam AZ-1 Mazdaspeed
1992 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
1993 Infiniti Q45t
1994 Infiniti J30
1994 Nissan 300ZX IMSA GTS
1997 Acura NSX-T
1999 R34 V-Tech Nissan Skyline
2007 Infiniti FX35
2018 Infiniti QX50
2022 Infiniti P9 Roadster

Some cars were sourced from owners themselves (a registration form on the JAI website was made available for anyone who wanted to submit his or her own vehicle), but many vehicles came from museums as well as the automakers themselves.

Lists are fun, but you know what’s even ‘funner’?  (I don’t care if that isn’t a word – I’m using it).  Let’s extract some data from these.  A quick pivot table reveals some interesting results.  To nobody’s surprise, 19 out of the 45 cars – or 42% of the overall show field – were Nissan and Infiniti models.  I can honestly say that prior to this exercise, I’d never heard of a Dome.  Toyota, Honda, and Mazda had roughly the same level of representation, ranging from 11% to 15%.

Now let’s take a peek at the years in question.  It appears that the 1990s were the best represented with 15 cars (1/3 of the show field).  The 1980s were surprisingly slim, and the 2000’s cars are arguably out of scope here because I don’t know if they yet qualify for a “classic” designation.  Don’t make me feel older than I already do!  I graduated from high school in 2000 (“Y2K,” better yet), so it’s a touchy subject.

All of this will come into consideration when it comes time (now) to debrief, and then move forward right away for future year planning.  For 2019, JAI will roll onward and become bigger and better as the show field evolves.  I’m excited for the chance to work with Karen and others in any way that I can engage and assist.  Thanks again for letting my humble 1992 GS-R play a small role in making it happen.

And for anyone looking to get into the classic Japanese car hobby, I have a couple of auction links for you today:

1993 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed in Black on Black

1985 Honda City & Motocompo from This DrivetoFive Article

Happy bidding!

Q&A from a Reader: 46 Questions Answered

Posted in Blog on September 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Happy Friday, all.

I recently had a loyal subscriber to the blog send me a list of questions that he’s been wondering about, and I have addressed each of them below.  Maybe some of you will find it interesting.  Feel free to share any feedback, comments, or similar perspectives!

ADVICE:

– Your best maintenance advice?  Change your oil regularly, inflate tires regularly, rotate tires?

Oil changes, air filters, spark plugs, transmission fluid services – those are the basics.  I recently compiled paperwork for a car that has had 87 oil changes in 130,000 miles. That comes out to an oil change every 1,500 miles or so.  Probably excessive, but definitely good attention to detail.  I stick to every 3,000 miles on my older cars that run conventional oil, and between 7,000 and 9,000 miles on my newest car which runs 0W30 synthetic.

– Thoughts about dealer maintenance vs. a la carte maintenance (e.g., Jiffy Lube)?  Dealers seem more expensive but is it better when selling to have a maintenance record from a dealer?

Because the labor rate is cheaper (dealer roughly $140+ per hour) at most side mechanics, I prefer to use a dedicated Honda / Acura specialist for larger ticket items like timing belt & water pump changes every 90,000 miles, and the dealership for only small or less expensive things like oil changes.  The source of a maintenance record is not as important as the existence of one.  Even a handwritten ledger of do-it-yourself mileage & oil change intervals is valuable.

– Thoughts about 30,000 mile service, 60,000 mile service at the dealer?  For $250-$350, they only check items on a list.  It’s usually much cheaper to do items separately (oil change, brake pads, timing belt, air filters).  But will that negatively impact a sale of the car?

I don’t think there’s any “all-in-one” 30k, 60k type service because each vehicle will operate on different intervals.  But I like the idea of packaging things up in a comprehensive checklist because that way the level of detail is usually higher than cherry-picking just a few items to inspect or address.

– Car washing advice?  We have hard water in Arizona; washing at home with a hose can leave water spots.  But an automatic car wash has dangerous rollers that can damage paint.  Recommended soaps?  Recommended washing cloths or brushes?  Recommended drying cloths? (For me personally, chamois cloth was very popular in the 1990s; it was horrible to use, with constant wringing.)

Meguiar’s for car wash soaps, soft cloths for scrubbing, and microfiber towels for drying off.  I don’t use automatic car washes with rollers, but I do go to the coin-op self-serve wash (example, Weiss on 12th St & Maryland in Phoenix) to use the high-pressure gun especially when I have lots of bugs, grit, or mud that a garden hose at the house won’t clean off.

– Wax advice?  Wax on or wax off?  Carnuba wax only?  Wax by hand or okay to use an electric buffer?  Leave on for 5 minutes or 30 minutes?  How often?

I used to have an interval of waxing my car every 6 months with Meguiar’s carnauba paste wax.  But now that most of my cars are driven only infrequently and usually don’t see rain or harsh elements, every couple of years is about what they get.  Let the wax haze (15 minutes) and then remove by hand with a microfiber towel.  Always do it in the shade, never direct sunlight.

– Windshield wax?  (When I lived in Ohio, I used Rain-X on the windshield and it was a dream come true!  I don’t use it in Arizona ‘cuz it rarely rains)

I love Rain-X.  Absolutely.

– Better to park with the trunk facing the sun?  (That’s what I do; less direct sun on interior)

I find myself doing that, too.  Park facing away from the sun, and still use a collapsible windshield shade.

– Dashboard mats worth getting?  (For those of us oldsters, dashboards used to crack from the heat and sun; almost every Phoenician in the 1990s had a DashMat [their headquarters are in Sunnyslope].  But I hear that today’s cars do not need these mats; dashboards last longer.)

I don’t use a Dashmat but I can definitely see the value.  One of the problems with a Dashmat (at least with the ones that I’ve seen) is that they attach with Velcro strips that you have to glue to your dash.  That glue turns to goop over the years and becomes a sticky (and sometimes permanent) mess.

– My #1 complaint:  foggy windshields from offgassing of vinyl.  What do you suggest for cleaning the film?  (Windex causes streaks; I’ve tried ammonia and newspaper; I’ve tried microfiber cloths.).  Plus, how do you clean the film from the other windows that likely have window tint?

I use Sprayway ammonia-free glass cleaner.  It comes in a white colored aerosol can with blue lettering and is available at most grocery stores.  Use with microfiber.  Agree, the residue is a challenge.  For tinted windows – the same.  Never use an ammonia-based window cleaner as it will discolor the tint over time.

– Crack a window in the sun/heat or is it unsafe?

I crack a window an inch or so, and sometimes the sunroof too.

– Leave windows down in the garage at night?  (I use my re-circulation button a lot to keep out dust & smells when driving; a friend advised me to turn off the recirc button at night so that the car could breathe, which I’ve done; but now I crack my windows in my garage to allow air flow)

No, I leave the windows up usually.  One thing I do whenever I park a car is hit the “OFF” button to turn off all HVAC operation.  I was told once that it lessens the “load” on an engine when you start it back up if the A/C doesn’t kick in automatically.  Makes sense.

CARS:

– What was your dream car as a kid?  (I used to dream about Corvette Stingrays [with the side fins] in the late 1970s)

I was never one to lust over Ferraris and Lamborghinis.  I had my sights set on more obtainable cars like the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4.

– If you were super rich, what is your dream car today?

I’d buy a mint condition 1950 Buick Special like the one my grandpa owned in 1954 that was driven on his honeymoon with my grandmother.  Nice ones are approaching six-figure pricetags.

– What was your first car owned?

I was given a free 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity CL when I turned 16.  It was a hand-me-down.

– Who taught you to drive?  Did you learn 5-speed first?

My dad taught me to drive on a 1994 Ford Ranger 5-speed pickup.  We went to a remote area near the Utah-Arizona state line outside St. George and drove around on some dirt roads.  My younger brother, a year younger than I, learned at the same time.

– Have you taught anyone to drive?

Yes, I taught my friend Justin to drive a stick shift once.  We did that in my Acura ILX in an empty parking lot near the ASU Tempe campus.

– Do you use cruise control or are you 100% foot powered?

Definitely cruise control on longer stretches.  Usually about 6-8 mph over the posted limit.

– Do you use GPS or paper maps or do you use your intuition?

I used to print volumes of maps on MapQuest and similar sites.  Then I started relying on a Garmin GPS unit.  Now I primarily just use my phone, but I still like having a big traditional paper road atlas in the car with me.

– Your fastest speed (that you will admit to) and where and when?

I drove a 2017 Acura NSX at 155 miles per hour on a closed track in Cantil, California at Honda’s hot-weather proving ground in December 2017.  It was a thrilling experience.

– Do you engine brake on steep hills?

Yes, especially when coming down grades like Pikes Peak in Colorado (July 2018).  My brake temperatures were measured as the lowest of my group of cars at that time because I was effectively using engine braking.

– Do you use a parking brake when parked?  (You probably do if it’s a 5-speed; I ask because my parents drove automatic cars and put the parking brake on every time they parked)

I only use a parking brake when I’m driving a stick shift, but I really should do it in automatics too.

– Thoughts on bumper stickers?  (I’ve heard that parents should always apply their kid’s “student of the month” bumper stickers, but do stickers do a lot of damage in the hot Phoenix sun [fading, melted glue?]?)

Nah, no stickers for me.

INSIDE THE CAR:

– Your favorite snacks when traveling?

Starbucks vanilla frappaccino bottled beverage or Monster “Mean Bean” energy drink.  Rice Krispy treats, Swedish fish, goldfish crackers or other cheesy snacks.  Lunchables too.

– Your worst spill story?  Giant Big Gulp all over?

Last weekend, I was eating a hot dog from a gas station in Kingman while driving.  I dribbled ketchup and mustard all over my shirt and my seatbelt.  I had no napkins and didn’t feel like stopping, so I took off a shoe and used a black sock to clean it up until I got home and could do a more thorough job.

– Do you control the music when you have a passenger and you are doing all the driving?

Yes, on longer trips I usually let the playlist roll on random from my 15,000-song, 80-gig iPod Classic.

– If you get sleepy?

I typically don’t have problems with this as I don’t travel at night if I can avoid it.  In 2007 I hit 2 deer in Texas because I couldn’t see them.  So I try driving in the daytime now.  But those energy drinks (see above) usually keep me awake and alert.

– Are there items you bring on every trip? (gallon of water, blanket, flashlight, flares?)

Full size spare tire, phone and charger, A/C power inverter, sunglasses, and a pillow to put between the front seats and rest my right elbow on.

LOCATIONS:

– Top 5 favorite drives?  Road conditions plus views

– Top 5 favorite beautiful places?

  • Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory

  • Glacier National Park, Montana

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

  • Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

  • Big Sur, California

– Have you ever slammed the brakes because the view was amazing?

Yes, I stopped right in the middle of the road a few times on my Alaska trip in 2016.

– Over-rated places? (The Thing?, Yosemite?)

Most national parks are sadly getting overcrowded and overrun with tourists.  I’d rather explore a desolate ghost town and be the only person there.

– Worst traffic? (I vote for soul-sucking Boston!!!)

Los Angeles.  Hate the traffic every time I go there.

– Worst places visited?

Memphis.  I didn’t like the vibe or the humidity.  Maybe because I got lost in a bad part of town in the middle of the night in my early 20’s.

– How many states have you visited?

37.  I’m missing most of New England and a few other areas.

HORROR STORIES:

– Speeding tickets?  How many?  Any advice for getting out of them?

A couple, which isn’t too bad considering my miles driven.  I also was pulled over on Interstate 10 many years ago and my car was searched for drugs.  I got a red-light ticket once from a motorcycle cop for failing to stop while making a right on red.  Went to traffic school for that one.

– Radar traps?  Do you use a radar detector?  (They were all the rage in the 1990s)

No, since I tend to drive within 8 or so MPH of the limit this isn’t really a problem or a need.  I’m also skeptical about their effectiveness.  (Haven’t you already been “caught” when it sounds?)

– Run out of gas?  What was the farthest you had to walk to get gas?

I’ve actually never had this happen.  I travel on the top ½ of my tank usually.

– Dust storm story?

Typical Arizona monsoon storms, but nothing specific comes to mind.

– Hail storm story?

Worst hail I experienced wasn’t even while I was driving.  It was while I was at the office and Scottsdale got a horrendous storm.  Even though my car was in the parking garage, because it was on an end space it sustained damage from sideways hail to the passenger side.

– Snow storm story?

One time, when I was a student at Utah State University in Logan, Utah in 2004, I took a short drive up Logan Canyon.  At one point I decided to turn around, but didn’t realize that the snow on the shoulder of the road was a lot deeper than it looked.  My car sank to its axles and I had to call for help – luckily I had a phone and a signal.

– Slid off the road?  Or stuck in mud or sand?

A few years ago, I was at Four Corners and stopped at the Colorado welcome sign to take a picture with my car (of course).  I didn’t realize it was deep sand right at the base of the sign.  I got hopelessly stuck.  Luckily for me, a guy in a GMC Yukon drove by and saw me struggling, so he stopped and pulled me out with some chains.

– # of flat tires?

I’ve never had to stop on the roadside and change a tire, miraculously.  I did have a tire go flat overnight in a hotel parking lot once.

– # of tows?

Two, and both were for fuel pump failures.  Once in my 399,000 mile 1994 Acura Legend and once in my 72,000 mile 1992 Acura Integra.

– Overheated or car broke down in the middle of nowhere?

Just the above mentioned tow on the 1992 Integra.  I was in Nevada along I-15 and rode with the tow truck driver into Las Vegas after limping the car along to a gas station.

– How many people have you helped change a tire?

Zero

– How many hitchhikers have you picked up?

Two, at the same time.  My friend Matt and I were driving to Las Vegas and we saw some guys broken down on Highway 93 between Wickenburg and Wikieup, so we stopped to see if we could help.  They ended up catching a ride with us to Kingman where they rented a vehicle.