Barn Finds & Egg Hunts: Easter Holiday Weekend in Utah

Posted in Car Show, Misc Travel, RLX, Utah on April 24, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (RLX):  23,456

Trip Distance:  $80 Round-Trip Flight (Gasp)

With all the fancy paint jobs and gleaming chrome at the 34th annual Easter Car Show in Hurricane, Utah last Saturday, the car that most stood out to me was in fact the dirtiest.  It was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala that had literally been pulled from a 20-year-slumber in a barn in Milford, Utah the day prior.  The only things touched prior to its entry in the car show were the tires, which needed replacement in order to facilitate transport.

A registration renewal sticker on the back license plate confirmed – this car was last on the road around September 1999.  I was a senior in high school at that time.  It seems like eons ago.

Even the interior remained filled with dust and had a crusty paperback book sitting on the backseat.  There is something so fascinating about a “barn find” vehicle – a certain mystique, like the feeling of encountering buried treasure.  I’m sure it took a lot of restraint for the owner, Brent Pearce, to resist wiping off the dashboard or at least running a vacuum through the carpet.

I neglected to take a look at the odometer (I know, of all things) but given this car’s condition, it looked to be a low-miler.  I’m sure it will take some time, effort, and money to get its V8 engine to awaken from a deep 20-year-slumber.

My second favorite thing about the car show was this $6 sloppy joe.

I had an enjoyable weekend in southern Utah with family and friends, especially since mom (pictured below) let me borrow her “new” Crystal Black 2016 RLX as my rental car for a few days.

I enjoyed tooling around my old digs and doing it in style.  The seat belts make a satisfying “tug” at you when you buckle them, and when you take a corner at a moderately high speed.  Fit & finish are top notch, and the audio system rocks.

The other noteworthy vehicle at the show was my brother’s 1954 Ford F-100 pickup.  It’s powered by an engine from General Motors, which is a little odd.  The supercharged “LT4” V8 was tuned to 650 horsepower by Blake Foster from Speed Tech Performance.

Body work is perfect, and that “Snapper Rocks” paint color is one of BMW’s offerings.

Here’s a short walkaround along with Q&A with Blake who was there representing his business.

We got the family together on Sunday morning for a 500-egg (!) Easter hunt.

Luckily some of the eggs were bigger than my 4-month-old niece Ava, so they were easy to spot.

Thanks to my friends David and Matt for their recent visit!

Have a great one!

Gas Guzzling Gone: Electrified Transportation Debut at “Nikola World” 2019

Posted in PAPA on April 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,345

On Wednesday morning, I took one of my 25-year-old Acuras to have its emissions checked, just like I had done 5 times prior – every couple of years since 2008 when I first bought it.  The numbers looked good, I paid $17 and received my certificate, and went on my way.

I’m now good to register for another 2 years in that car, now with over 160,000 miles on the odometer.  But after seeing a presentation earlier this week on alternative fuel – hydrogen / electric – vehicles, it made me start questioning the future of my my old gas-burners.

And what about my trusty Legend coupe with 565,000 miles on the odometer?  Even if it achieved the 26 mpg highway rating its entire life, it has burned 21,730 gallons of gas.  Chew on that for a minute!

We are living in an era when electrified transportation is catching on like wildfire.  There are electric cars that can outperform traditional supercars and muscle cars by quite a margin.  Advancements in battery life and corresponding range capability have opened the doors to many people who previously might not have ever considered shifting away from driving a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

A company at the forefront of that shift in mindset is called Nikola Motors, and if you haven’t heard of it by now, you will soon.  Nikola has already taken deposits on $14 billion worth of semi trucks that are hydrogen & electric powered.  Clients like Anheuser-Busch, CAT, and Ryder have already pledged their intent to do business with Nikola, and the company is about to break ground on a new manufacturing facility here in Arizona that will employ 2,000 people and start cranking out trucks by 2021 or 2022.

Nikola’s product lineup, I learned, goes far beyond the big rigs.  A huge launch/media event at WestWorld in Scottsdale gave me, as well as about 70 other journalists and 2,000 other spectators, a first look at a few of the products that Nikola has been working on behind the scenes for the last few years, since the Salt Lake City-based startup began to pick up momentum.  Its CEO, Trevor Milton, took the stage and shared his passion for transportation innovation that has led him to this point.  “The world is ready,” he said.

I was seated in the 4th row back in the Media section soaking it all in.  Arizona governor Doug Ducey and other notable stakeholders in the initiative were present and expressed comments on why they support Nikola and its objectives.  Solar energy will power the manufacturing facility, and zero-emission transportation is just one of many things that people in Arizona and elsewhere will preserve the nature of our landscape for future generations.  I found it especially interesting to be introduced to some of the products we’ll see hit the streets and trails in the coming years.

The first was an all-terrain vehicle called the Reckless, which, unlike other side-by-side ATVs or UTVs in the powersports community, will be be fully electric — designed for use in military operations when stealthy movement is critical.  It can also be fully submerged, driven via remote control, and contains a landing pad for a drone at the tail end.  Another was the NZT, pictured above, which is a fully enclosed side-by-side for off-road use that provides full HVAC control as well as isolation from dusty trails.

Jordan Darling, VP of the Powersports arm of Nikola, discussed the merits of the company’s “Water Adventure Vehicle,” or WAV.  It looks like a traditional waverunner, but of course, it’s electric.  Imagine being able to access parts of our waterways and lakes that are currently forbidden to watercraft with internal combustion engines.  And did I mention it also has cruise control?  The design itself was inspired by super bikes.

And lastly, we got a look at two of the big rigs that Nikola has pioneered:  Its “Two” and “Tre.”  Both are said to outperform traditional diesel heavy haulers by a landslide (“2 to 3 times faster” we were told) and offer a suite of comfort and safety amenities that are industry firsts.  They are controlled from the driver’s seat via large flat screen panels on the interior, and due to having no engine nor transmission tunnel, offer expansive space within the cabin.  Anheuser-Busch has already puts its name down for 800 trucks.  Today, its current fleet travels over 350 million miles per year.

I’m anxious to see where this technology goes and to be honest, even though I’m a die hard for my old-school automotive technology, it’s fun to be living in an era where we have the capability to take our transportation to the next level.  I wonder how the staffers at the Arizona emissions check station would react if I showed up in an electric vehicle?  Sounds like a good opportunity for a hidden cam prank.

Thanks to the Nikola team for the invitation!  Here is a short video and a few photos below.

A gal on my shuttle bus to the venue clearly was a little behind the tech times, and I can’t help but say I was a little jealous.  Flip phones remind me of simpler times.

Refreshments being served prior to the product launch reveal program.

There were 45 countries represented at the event.  I was probably one of only a handful of people who only had to drive about 15 minutes to be there.

Nikola’s message about preservation and sustainability was well presented.

Nikola’s “Tre” will be a Europe-only truck.

2 for 1: NSX WestFest 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach

Posted in California, Nevada, NSX, Racing, Road Trip on April 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  115,508

Trip Distance:  1,100 Miles

The last time we talked, I was just getting ready for the third-annual WestFest NSX meet-up in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I had a great time interacting with my friends and seeing some of the sights and sounds of the area.  Friday, Findlay Acura in Henderson hosted us for an open house.  That night, I met up with a few local friends for dinner.  On Saturday, we went to Valley of Fire State Park.  I explored the Strip with Chris Tobias from AcuraConnected who had flown in from Edmonton, Alberta for the occasion.

Now, are you ready for a serving of alphabet soup?  Then come along for an NSX ride from NV to CA for the NTT-sponsored, IMSA-sanctioned, AGPLB.  Because, YOLO!  If that all flew over your head, it’s okay.  I’m new to the IndyCar thing, so I still have my training wheels on.

As the successful WestFest was winding down, my 1,000-mile, 3-state weekend road trip adventure was ready to move to the next chapter.  Accompanied by Chris, we saddled up in my trusty 1992 NSX and headed out on Interstate 15 to southern California bright and early on Sunday morning, April 14th.  We laughed as we passed a billboard near the Nevada-California state line that read:  “Get even before you get out.”  Unfortunately for both of us, we left Las Vegas a little bit poorer than when we’d arrived.

Our first destination was the world’s tallest thermometer in Baker, at the gateway to Death Valley.  But the real target was about 300 miles ahead:  the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, an IndyCar race that’s been around since 1975 which holds an important place in the IndyCar Series as well as in southern California car culture in general.  From the moment Andrew Quillin from Acura Public Relations greeted us at the entrance, the need for speed was resonating in the air, and the Acura presence was strong.

When designer Jon Ikeda took the driver’s seat of the entire Acura brand as General Manager in August 2015, he made it clear that he was looking to return the brand to a lineup worthy of its “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan from the early days in the 1980s and 1990s.  Now about 4 years later, Ikeda’s influence is evident in the return of A-Spec nomenclature, a performance focus that’s derived from the NSX halo car to other vehicles in the lineup, and most importantly a revitalization and expansion of the brand’s presence in the racing industry.

My trip to Long Beach for its 45th annual Grand Prix race has solidified my conviction that Ikeda was the right man for the job.  I was surrounded by the pride and innovation of the brand everywhere I looked.  Acura took over title sponsorship for the event from Toyota with a 3-year commitment just earlier this year.  Aside from the obvious branding and signage, there was an entire conference show hall filled with heritage Acura performance cars from over the years – preserved and displayed as a way to showcase the brand’s achievements.  And that’s before Chris and I even got to see the view from the Pit Suites.

The Long Beach Grand Prix is the 4th of 17 “IndyCar Series” races during the 2019 program year.  It is carried out on a series of public roads that are transformed temporarily into a racetrack for the occasion.  They are the same streets, in fact, that I drive when I attend the Japanese Classic Car Show each year – hardly recognizable among all the concrete barricades and bleachers.  Our perspective from the Acura Media Suite #21 faced south across Shoreline Drive – a stretch straight enough that the IndyCars are flying by at upwards of 175 miles per hour.  If it weren’t for the roar of a 12,000-RPM, twin-turbocharged engine, you could blink and never know a car went by.

Just two days prior to the “official” race, NSXCA President and awarded race driver Peter Cunningham blazed around the same 1.96-mile circuit in a production-spec Thermal Orange 2019 NSX, setting a lap record and making the rest of us all feel a little more inadequate about our skills behind the wheel.  The course itself has changed just slightly a few times since the 1975 inaugural year, but has been the same since 2000.  There are 11 turns with little margin for error – this is a lot more high stakes than the go-kart track I used as a kid.

Chris and I joined journalists from Motor Trend, Kelley Blue Book, and The Drive, along with a handful of senior leaders and their families.  It was the perfect perspective above the pits, especially being able to watch the speedy work of pit crews.  A Curva Red NSX Pace Car led the way through the course initially, and then 23 drivers put the pedal to the metal IndyCars right on time at the 1:42 planned start.  Luckily for us in the pit suites, we had visibility to bird’s eye and first-person camera angles on TV screens, along with live updates about the leaderboard for the 85 laps that were underway.  And they went by quickly!  In fact, the race took fewer than 2 hours from start to finish.

Alexander Rossi, 27, won the race with 20 second margin, his second consecutive win for the event.  This wasn’t his first impressive racing feat:  As a rookie in 2016, he won the Indianapolis 500.  And his time behind the wheel started many years prior to that:  Before he raced IndyCars, he got his childhood start championing go-karts.  Rossi was up against some stiff competition, including Marco Andretti – grandson of famous racing legend Mario Andretti.  It seems that an appetite for speed runs in the Andretti family.

The sights and sounds of an IndyCar race gave me a glimpse of why the racing lifestyle can be so addicting.  The culture and community around the entire atmosphere provide endless entertainment even if you’re not a race fan.  If you’ve never been to an event like this, I highly recommend it!  Now, if only Acura had let me throw my 115,000 mile, 27-year-old NA1 NSX around the curves for a couple of laps!

Below is a 5-minute video and a series of photos from the conclusion of WestFest and the AGPLB.

Group shot from WestFest on Friday

I met up with Brad, who drove down from Boise, Idaho with his wife Linda in their immaculate Formula Red.  Pictured here also is my local friend Brandon, who has a Legend and a TL-S.

Long Beach Blue is still my favorite color.  Fitting that I left this event to go directly to Long Beach.

With some lovely ladies inside the dealership.

Evening meet-up at my friend Jeff’s place in North Las Vegas, with Romeo and his Legend.

Here’s Jeff, who went from a 1989 Legend to a 1993 Legend to a 2003 CL-S to a 2008 TL-S.  I’ve known him for over 15 years now.

Best fajitas in town, thanks to Michoacan restaurant.

Jeff, Tyson, Nick, Brandon, Romeo

Saturday morning on the escalator with Chris and Nick

Valley of Fire drive

Group shot – I actually didn’t make it into this one!

Banquet dinner back at Gold Coast

The Bellagio casino’s fountain show was set to the Game of Thrones theme song.

Rolling 115,000 in the NSX on Sunday morning.  I bought the car with 80,000 on it in 2011.

Arriving at the Acura Long Beach Grand Prix with Andrew.

Headed to the Pit Suites

Woot woot!

Andrew and his wife Katie

Marco – grandson of Mario – Andretti was one of the drivers.

Acura head of Public Relations, Matt Sloustcher, with his wife and son.

Display booth inside the convention center, complete with a 1986 Legend and 2001 Integra Type-R

Events throughout the day

Thanks for coming along!

NSX WestFest 2019 Kickoff, Honda “Past”Port, Acura TLX PMC Edition

Posted in Integra, Nevada, NSX, Road Trip on April 11, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  114,545

Greetings from Sin City!  I’m reporting to you from the hub of the action here where the third-annual NSX “WestFest” is kicking off this evening.  I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday morning and in between “say ahhhh” moments, my dentist was asking about any upcoming plans for the weekend.  “I’m going to Vegas for a car convention,” I told him.

This evoked all sorts of Q&A:  What happens at a car meet?  Do you all really drive the same model?  Do you race them?  And so on.  It kind of cracks me up that the concept is foreign for a lot of people to imagine.  And that’s perfectly okay.

It would be like someone telling me they’re going to a comic book convention: I’m completely illiterate on such a hobby, but I’d be fascinated to learn what goes on there.  Maybe I need to give up cars and take up collecting something smaller and less expensive.  Though some comic books probably outprice the cars in my garage.  I digress.  My dentist thought it was a cool weekend plan.

Tonight, some 65 or so Acura NSX models from 1991 through 2018 will roll in to the Gold Coast Casino here just west of the Las Vegas Strip.  Tomorrow’s festivities will include an open house at a dealership in Henderson, a poker run, dinner at South Pointe, and a club night out at VooDoo Lounge.  Friday will take us to the Valley of Fire State Park, a BBQ lunch, and back to the Gold Coast for a closing banquet and awards ceremony.  Sounds like a good time to me, so let’s get this party started.

Should I plunk down some $20s at one of these slot machines?  Be right back.

If you’re new to WestFest and its happenings, here are write-ups from prior events in 2017 and 2018.

Below are some other automotive-related updates for my viewers – because, well, you asked for it!

I noticed HondaPro Jason stopped at In-N-Out in Kingman, AZ yesterday.  So I re-created his same photo.

Fortune from Panda Express:  “You shall attain great wisdom with each passing year.”  Well, great!

There’s nothing quite like an Arizona sunset.  This taken just south of Hoover Dam on Highway 93.

Weekend road trip in this old thang?  Why not!

I think I found the group.  That Thermal Orange, though!

Here are a few bits of news from recent weeks.  My friend Robert contacted me about a 50″ by 60″ poster he’d had in his garage for many years.  He gifted it to me for display in the garage — it’s the 2002-05 NSX on the wall in the below photograph.  Coincidentally, I already had a similar picture from many years ago that shares the exact same size & material.  They look great together.

On April Fools Day, automakers stepped up to the plate in a big way to come up with clever ways to prank us.  I especially liked what Honda did with a short video on the “PastPort” model – reminiscent of the 1990s.  You can watch the video here.

Honda’s social media team even responded to my comment.

The SLX took a trip to the mall.  “Check Trans” red light flashing (bottom left).  It happens sometimes.  SLX life, yo.

I went to Scottsdale Cars & Coffee on Saturday morning to meet up with a few friends including Vlad who drives a whole fleet of remarkable cars, but even though most of them are near-new, this 20-year-old Phoenix Yellow (aptly named) Integra Type-R is probably his current favorite.  It is a rare model from the year 2000 with only 31,000 miles on it.

The “R” cars (Integra Type-R and Integra GS-R) looked nice together while we had breakfast at Village Inn down the street.

And finally, check out this special edition:  Now going into its sixth model year, the TLX will be offered in a rare hand-built variant called the “PMC Edition,” assembled at the famous Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Ohio where the NSX is built.  The PMC TLX goes on sale this summer and will be limited to only 360 individually-numbered units.  Talk about exclusivity!  Do I need one?

You’ll recognize that brilliant Valencia Red color; it was formerly only offered on the NSX itself.

What if I could get my hands on # 001 / 360…

Have a great weekend – you probably won’t hear from me until after all the hustle and bustle of this Vegas adventure is over.  Because I happen to also be going to Long Beach on Sunday for the “Long Beach Grand Prix” race event.  Two big programs, all in a weekend?  Yep.

Over and out.

NALM 2019 Registration is Live! Legend Anniversary, HPJ Visit, & Tucson NSX Event

Posted in Legend, NALM, NSX, Road Trip on March 31, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  565,337

Odometer (Legend sedan):  160,602

The time has come!  The National Acura Legend Meet, otherwise known as NALM, is accepting participant registration for its 15th annual event.  Launched in 2005 in Dallas, Texas, NALM has been held in 14 cities around the country and this October will have its first event in Florida.  Here is a blog what shows photos and videos from each year / location.

Hosting this year’s event will be Alan Jackson, Alex Alperovich, Chris Miller, Thomas Stinson, and myself.  The festivities will kick off on Wednesday, October 9 in Ormond Beach along the Atlantic coastline, with a full roster of activities concluding on Saturday evening with a dinner and awards ceremony.  For me it’ll be a 5,000+ mile road trip, but I’m up to the challenge and excited to drive Interstate 10 end-to-end across the country.

Here is the registration link on Google Forms.  The cost is $85 through the end of August, and the fee includes a T-shirt, NALM-sponsored food events, access to all activities, lanyard with name badge, sticker, and awards/prizes.  Keep an eye on the forums for more information about schedule and other announcements.

Special thanks to Jason of Pawela’s Garage for some awesome graphic design including the above logo & below announcement!

There are all sorts of anniversaries taking place.  I’ve now had my Legend coupe for 16 years and put around 470,000 miles on it.  I decided to drive it to work on the anniversary date, March 26, and snapped a photo before heading to the office.

Current odometer:

I was pleased to share the anniversary date with Patricia, the original owner of the car, who reported that she was enjoying her time in South America and wished me another happy “sweet 16.”

I also heard from Acura General Manager, Jon Ikeda, who wrote a very nice and meaningful email about how proud he is of the vehicles themselves as well as the people who manufacture them.  This guy knows what’s up!

Mom even made cupcakes for the occasion.  Thanks, mom!

The Arizona region was happy to have a special guest in our presence earlier in the week:  Jason “HondaPro” Richmond of Chicago was passing through the area and joined a Taco Tuesday meet up at Dos Gringos in Tempe.  I stopped by to greet everyone briefly.

Over the last 7 years, Jason has been a traveling “brand advocate” for Honda – meeting with dealerships, training their staff, and building a massive social following / community for brand awareness.  Here he was chatting with Chris Sadowski, who recently completed a right-hand-drive conversion on his 2G Integra.

Jason’s Civic Type-R is the only one in the country painted yellow.

Yesterday morning, I made the 2-hour drive to Tucson bright and early in my NSX for an event hosted by Chapman Acura.  The dealership provided hospitality and refreshments for about 20-25 cars including a surprisingly high volume of second-generation (2017+ NSX models).  When the group split a little after 10:00 a.m. to make a Mount Lemmon run, I headed back to Phoenix.

Halfway to Tucson at ‘Picacho Peak.’

Thermal Orange Pearl 2019 model front & center.

Both of these ones were rebadged as Hondas.

Love the aero treatment & wheels on Adrian’s Formula Red car here.

The SLX is chugging along and occasionally even gets freeway use.  I dared take that top-heavy box to 75 miles per hour the other day.  Haha.

Also, I am continuing to make enhancements to the house / showroom.  I recently added $14 worth of LED strip lighting to the glass showcase.  Fun little upgrade!

2 Dayz Exploring AZ: 300-Mile Road Rally to Sedona & Flagstaff

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip, Vigor on March 25, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  113,079

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  251,087

Trip Distance:  316 Miles

Sometimes you just need to get away on a road trip to clear your head on an open interstate.  And sometimes that relaxing road trip morphs instead into an energetic hodge-podge of friends & vehicles, romping through the hills, braving tourist traffic, and occasionally getting a breath of fresh air.  I joined about 20 friends this weekend on a 300-mile excursion that became just that type of experience.

This group outing was born as a creation of my friend Saifonh, who emerged as a planning leader for what started as an overnight rally to view the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The route was later modified, the pit stops solidified, and the invites distributed.  Unlike most of the travel adventures I write about on this blog, this one wasn’t just for a specific make, model, or era of car.  This was open to anyone and everything – from a 415-horsepower Chevy SS muscle sedan 6-speed to a people-hauler Toyota Sienna XLE.  And that’s what made it fun.

We joked over the walkie talkies during a particularly technical section of Highway 89A that the Sienna, owned by my friend Ben, was doing a great job at hustling through the curves while keeping all of its juice boxes safely contained in cupholders.  And to be fair, the Sienna was likely the most comfortable ride of the entire bunch.  Between it and Corey’s LX450, there was room to pick up a few hitchhikers (or a soccer team) but the need never came up.  Maybe next time.

The drive route itself started on Saturday morning at my home in Central Phoenix, which happily opens its doors for friends and visitors as long as they agree to sign my (now 36-page) guest book.  I added a few line items to it as friends poured in and sampled pastries and orange juice before saddling up for the drive.

My friend Ryan made the trip from Utah to be a part of this adventure, so it seemed only fair that I’d provide his rental car.  Of the 7 available vehicles for the picking (my SLX is in for a transmission service), his weapon of choice was the Vigor.  I decided to take the Integra GS-R.  Joining our Acura family for the trip was Brandon in a TL Type-S.

We made our ascent on Interstate 17 and moved toward Prescott Valley, where the first checkpoint of our rally would have us meet up with Dane from Las Vegas in a red hot 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T.  Dane followed in line as we moved on through Highway 89’s twisties to the old mining town of Jerome which was bustling with tour buses & rental cars.

Knowing that a group of our size was unlikely to find a place for lunch there, we pressed on to Sedona just 28 more miles away.  Our lunch spot couldn’t have been prettier:  We were perched atop the mesa adjacent to the Sedona airport – luckily “Mesa Grill” was able to accommodate us on the patio.  Even Chepe the pup was welcome.

The last piece of road we got to experience on Saturday was my favorite of the day:  Oak Creek Canyon.  It winds through hairpin two-lane curves through the wooded forests and past dramatic red rock formations.  Though certainly best experienced in a sports car in fast motion, poor road conditions and heavier traffic forced us to take a leisurely pace, but I actually didn’t mind.  I had my moonroof open and a buzzy little 1.7-liter go-kart at my command and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our evening was spent at Southside Tavern on San Francisco Street, which graciously opened its entire back room for our party.  The group had a chance to relax and unwind after a hectic day on the road, and the mac & cheese bites offered a tasty snack.  By the time I got to Econo Lodge on Milton Road, I was ready to call it a night.

Ryan and I made a move pretty early the next morning and fueled up the vehicles (frosty from the night’s cool temps) before heading southbound for the 140-ish mile trip home to Phoenix on Interstate 17.  Thanks to our walkie talkie communication mechanism, we were able to banter back and forth for a couple of hours and it made the time fly by.

In fact, I think in the entire 300-mile loop and nearly 6 hours in the car, I never even turned on my radio.  Not that the AM/FM cassette would have given me much entertainment anyway.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!

Here in alphabetical order was the list of 15 participating vehicles.

  • Acura Integra
  • Acura TL
  • Acura Vigor
  • Chevrolet SS
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Stealth
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Lexus IS350
  • Lexus LX450
  • Mercedes-Benz ML430
  • Mercedes-Benz SL500
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Porsche Cayman
  • Toyota Sienna

Pre-departure breakfast

Kevin’s Accord Sport – loved this car!

Driver meeting hosted by Sai

Sai and George

That’s an experience – getting passed by my own car.  I enjoyed the view.

First checkpoint – Prescott Valley, Arizona

Corey’s LX at 270,000+ miles was the high-mileage king!

Onward we go.  I was behind the Cayman.  Far behind at times, haha.

Green machines atop the hill in Sedona.

Mesa Grill – our lunch spot near the airport.

And dinner spot – every good road trip revolves around the food, right?

Corey and Sai

Crisp Sunday morning in Flagstaff.  It got down to about 30 degrees.

I’m used to seeing all of this in my Integra.  Check engine, ABS, and 4,000+ RPM.  It’s fine.

Dropping off Ryan at the airport later that afternoon.

Couple last bits of news:  Check out this cool article written by my friend Nyko de Peyer about his recent inside look at the Acura Design Studio in California.

And get over to Bring a Trailer right this instant so you can view (and maybe bid on) my friend Dave Ekiss’ 1999 Integra in Supersonic Blue.  You need this car.  I need this car.  Some lucky person is going to buy this car.

Have a great week!

Quick Q&A with Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Collector Car Auctions

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, PAPA on March 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,313

Odometer (ILX):  213,342

I shook hands last Friday morning with the CEO of the largest collector car auction in the world!  I was one of 11 journalists from the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) who were invited to an exclusive Q&A with Dave Magers during the opening weekend of Mecum Auctions’ first event in Phoenix.

Mecum is a powerhouse in the collector car marketplace, launched in 1988 with humble family beginnings but today hosting 14 auctions nationwide, each one at about $30 million or more in sales.  That’s a lot of steel & rubber changing hands each year (roughly 15,000 vehicles, actually).

While most of the Phoenix & Scottsdale community thinks of “auction month” as happening in January (see recent post from Barrett-Jackson), Mecum came to the Valley of the Sun at a time when it could have the exclusive spotlight.  It also operated out of a facility that more readily accommodated visitors with on-site parking and other niceties:  The State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals NFL team.

Dave invited us behind-the-scenes to learn more about what it’s like in his role and the thought process that goes into strategy for where / how to expand the Mecum enterprise.  Clearly he and his team are doing something right:  The Phoenix auction was just put into contract last November.  It was initially designed to accommodate 600 vehicles over two days.  That 600-vehicle registration cap was reached in a mere 48 hours.

After some additional rework and coordination, the event was reconfigured and expanded to sell about 1,400 vehicles over three days, closing out on Sunday just in time for a Garth Brooks concert to take over the venue the following morning.

I was greeted at the entrance to the main forum by 2 red LaFerraris, each likely valued at $3-4 million or more.  A small 8×11 sheet of paper in front of them said “Available for Immediate Purchase.  Text such-and such phone number.”  I failed to take down the number, but if any of my readers have a craving for speed and a fat wad of cash to blow, hit me up and I can probably find out where those cars ended up.

The lineup of cars looked a lot like other collector auctions I’ve been to, with a high volume of predominantly domestic makes and models from the 1950s through 1970s.  Other outliers were there, but fewer and farther between.  Dave indicated that the auction prides itself in “treating everyone equally.”  A bidder who purchases his high school dream car for $25,000 may in fact have more attachment to the car and more satisfaction in the bidding process than someone who plunks down $2M on an exotic car for an investment.  So the Mecum team treats everyone the same.  In thumbing through the booklet of available cars, I did come across a bit of an oddball find:  This 1996 Accord EX Wagon, lot #T110.  I’ll have to see what it went for.

Ever think about how most of these auctions cater to 50-60 year old men?  It’s no mystery:  They are the demographic with enough disposable income to buy their dream cars.  Knowing this, Dave and his marketing teams customize their messaging accordingly: If you’re 25, he wants you to follow the auctions online, and probably buy a ticket to come spectate.  If you’re 50, he wants you to come buy something.  He’ll always market toward 50-year-olds, just that the cars they’re looking for will evolve.

Dave’s concern is about a “gap” of vehicles between about 1980 and 1995 when cars (to most people, anyway) weren’t as collectible or desirable.  Guess what?  That’s where some of us thrive, and it’s clear from sites like Bring a Trailer that the 1980s and 1990s collector community is very alive and well (I’ve now auctioned 3 vehicles from that era and each one of them has far exceeded expectations).  Niche buyers and collectors of those types of cars just aren’t going to venues like Mecum as their marketplace of choice.  And that’s perfectly okay!

Speaking of which, does anyone want an absolutely insanely mint 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible?  Say no more.  It’s right here.

Someone in our group asked Dave about his personal cars.  When he’s not “touring” with his auction’s 33 semi trucks to destinations nationwide, Dave commutes 140 miles round trip per weekday (!) from Chicago to a Walworth, Wisconsin in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat, but the two favorites from his collection are a Ferrari 458 Italia and a Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Gullwing.  A man of good taste indeed.

Many thanks to the Mecum team for their hospitality.  I have no doubt this year’s auction was a complete success and I hope you will enjoy coming back to the Valley of the Sun for years to come!

Here was a sweet Nova SS 396 that I saw.

In a few other updates:

Mom is still happily cruising around in her new RLX.  She had the OEM splash guards and spoiler installed this past week.  She also rolled the 22,222 milestone.  I hit the same milestone in my ILX in December 2012.

I added a sticker to the mirror in the cabinet in the garage.  “Eat, Sleep, Acura.”

And I finally took the chance to go through my old stash of license plates and do something decorative with them.

Some of them are now used as a border along the ceiling in the laundry room, which is the entrance to my showroom.

I saw this relic 1985 Celebrity while at the local pick-&-pull junkyard on Saturday.

I had a couple of friends over on Saturday night:  Michael S (in a white 1993 Integra GS) and Michael O (in a blue 1988 Legend L).  It was fun to have some new guests in the garage for a little bit.

Michael S’s Integra just completed the 150,000 mile mark and Michael O’s Legend has 190,000.

Finally:  A friends recently made some fun acquisitions, including Ryan here (at left) picking up a 1992 Vigor.

Then Chris, here at left, picking up a 2016 MDX Advance.

And Ira, who snagged a brand new Civic Si that nearly perfectly matches his NSX!  Oooh, that blue!

Congrats, guys!