Archive for September, 2011

It Runs in the Fam

Posted in Throwback on September 30, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  496,517

Blame it on genetics.  This unhealthy addiction to motorcars is something I was bound to inherit.  Even from a young age, I was helping dad by polishing the wheels on his 1979 Ford pickup (probably because that’s the only part of it that I could reach).  Yes, that’s me pushing along my bike in front of the truck.  Apparently my love of wheeled transportation started long before I had a driver license.

My dad’s high school hot rod was a 1968 Chevy Nova.  I’d love to track it down and do a full restoration.  Amazingly, my dad did used to have hair!

Like any young parents, mom and dad took a lot of pictures.  But unlike most families, they weren’t always just pictures of the kids.  We’ve got pictures of each of the nearly 30 automobiles they owned during their marriage.  Scrapbook potential, anyone?

By the time I first picked up the Legend in 2003, I was far out-classed by my brothers in their big rigs and mom in her 2000 Acura 3.5 RL.  It’s a good thing the e-brake on that Dodge Ram was holding steady or I would’ve been the next monster truck victim.

But the most exciting part of discovering this car-loving heritage came from a picture I discovered of my grandpa Rex, taken in 1954 in Utah.  Hose strung out across the grass, we can only assume he was performing a wash & detail on his pride and joy 1950 Buick Special as I do so often on weekends to my own vehicle.

The next picture is where the fun begins.  I came across a road trip picture where Grandpa stood in front of his car for a state line shot, something I’ve done many times in recent years.  But the best part is, based on the landscape in the background, I was able to actually find the exact location where this picture was taken, over 50 years ago.

The sign has since changed but the terrain is unmistakably the same.  I certainly don’t have hair as cool as Grandpa’s but I bet his old straight-8 engined, 3-on-the-column Buick didn’t have 500,000 miles on it.  Grandpa’s been gone since I was 8 years old but I think it would do him proud to know that I was following in his footsteps…. er, tire marks.

Enough with the history lesson.  But speaking of “running” in the family, tomorrow I’ll be putting 400 miles on the Legend en route to St. George Utah for the 35th annual St. George Marathon which I’ll be running Saturday morning.  I’ll be doing some 26.2 miles of my own this weekend.

And with that, the twin Legends say goodnight!


New Friend, Old Car

Posted in Legend, Reader's Ride on September 29, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  496,500

If you were to picture two vehicles with a combined age of 38 years and mileage of 870,209, what would that look like?  Remember, that’s 33 times around the equator.  How about this:

Once again the timeless Legends hide the years and miles with sheetmetal that withstands aging better than any anti-wrinkle cream.  This evening I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Arizonan who’s giving me a run for my money in the mileage realm.  Jeff has done all the major maintenance on this 373,000-mile 1991 L sedan in Charcoal Granite Metallic for the last 10 years or so, and he recently picked it up for a fair price for his dad, Don, to use as a daily driver.  Here, Jeff fires up the 3.2 liter V6 that purrs like a kitten.

In fact, it’s so quiet that we wandered over to my car and got lost in conversation and completely forgot the ’91 was running.

Don’t forget the odometer shot.

Head to head, the high mileage Legends have a chat with each other about where their vast travels have taken them.

It was a pleasure meeting Jeff and Don – an all-star duo who truly appreciate a fine car when they see one.  It’s days like today that remind me that it’s more about the people than the car.  I’ve met some of the finest folks in the world thanks to this old set of wheels.

I was reminded tonight about an anniversary that will be coming up in just a little over a month.  It was 10/30/09 – almost exactly two years ago, that I rolled 400,000 on the Legend on my way to Las Vegas.  My friends at the Acura Legend forums presented me with an etched LED plaque that to this day is the prominent feature on my kitchen counter.  It’s proudly displayed as a conversation piece for any who visit my home!

Lastly, don’t forget to check out today’s feature on Liberty Mutual’s “Responsibility Project.”  Drive to Five was featured in a Q&A about the merits of the “drive it ’til the wheels fall off” vehicle ownership strategy.  Huge thanks to Andrea Bennett for putting together the article!

Old Sneakers

Posted in Legend on September 28, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  496,456

After two days in a loaner “Borealis Blue Pearl” 2011 Acura TL, I picked up my Legend this afternoon from Acura of Tempe, Arizona.  I had been spoiled by the speed, the agility, and the modern creature comforts of the TL!  At only 9,500 miles on the odometer, it was barely broken in.   I even volunteered to be the shuttle to our team luncheon at work yesterday – something I rarely do with my Legend because the back seat on the 2-door is hardly accommodating.

The technician wasn’t able to duplicate some of the creaking sounds I’ve noted in recent weeks from the rear suspension, but I’ve decided to go ahead and have the upper control arms replaced with OEM units in the near future regardless.  I thought some of the comments were entertaining.  Indeed, the driver’s side seat bolster on my (new-in-2004) Katzkin leather kit is getting worn.  “Due to mileage and age of vehicle…” yep, some wear and tear is expected after having traveled this distance:

Driving home from the dealership tonight, back behind the wheel of my old Legend, I had a feeling I can only compare to slipping on an old, worn-out pair of sneakers.  They don’t look the greatest, but they just feel “right.”  I am very much at home in my car and after so many miles in that driver’s seat, it fits me like a glove.  Another page was added to the archive of maintenance records.  I ought to split this out by Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

I certainly can’t complain about having some creaks and groans from the suspension.  After all, it’s almost entirely original.  Even the struts date back to 1994.  And I haven’t been easy on them — oh, no.  Not at all.  I’ve off-roaded, bottomed out, hauled heavy loads, and yes – even autocross raced in my coupe over the last 400k miles.  In May 2009, at that year’s National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) in Springfield, Missouri, I raced the car in an event hosted by the Ozark Mountain Region Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).  It had only about 375,000 miles on it at the time.  Following are some pictures of the punishment I put it through.

Can you say body roll?  Credit to my friend Rich from PA for this great shot.

In the following shot, you can clearly see my friend Brian from TX in the passenger seat who was probably holding on for dear life.

With a best lap time of 47 seconds, I managed to beat 11 out of the other 56 participants.  Not bad for a completely stock “boat” of a luxo-coupe with that kind of mileage!  My friend Branson caught one of the runs on video in which my Michelin tires are screaming for mercy.  So, the drive to 5 hasn’t been all smooth sailing for this old Legend.

Legend Trail & Kartchner Caverns

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on September 26, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  496,423

I found my future home location yesterday.  If I don’t end up at the Tyson RV Park in Quartzsite, Arizona, I’d like to live somewhere near the intersection of Legendary Drive and Legend Trail Rd near the Legend Trail Golf Club in Carefree, Arizona.   There is just WAY too much “Legend” going on in this particular photograph.  Way.

Today’s adventure was about 170 miles each way from the Phoenix area.  I picked up a couple of adventurous friends, Jared and Matt, and we headed for the Kartchner Caverns of southern Arizona.

My “standard” stop between Phoenix and Tucson is the DQ at Picacho Peak at exactly the halfway point.  The Legend filled up on 91 octane Shell gasoline and I filled up on a grilled chicken sandwich.

From the visitor parking lot at Kartchner Caverns State Park, the air was so clear that we could see the mountain range about 30 miles to the south that resided just within the Mexican border.  The caverns were discovered in 1974 and to this day are some of the best preserved examples in the world, thanks to a humidification system and a series of 4 air-lock doors that guests must pass through ($28 million worth!) during the 90-minute tour.  Photographs were not allowed but here’s one I pulled off the Internet.

What an eye opener to see formations that have been “growing” for 50,000 years or more.

Exiting the park grounds, I took advantage of the photo-op and made Jared be a part of it with me.

Another road trip completed without a hiccup and the car still moseys right along at 80 mph.

In other news, on Friday night I had the pleasure of spending an evening with my friend Rich who I’d met via the Acura Legend forums.  He hails from the Atlanta area and flew all the way to this side of the country to buy a local black 1994 Legend LS coupe.  After a dinner and some Legend talk, Rich and his friend Matt headed northbound to Flagstaff and eventually eastward toward home.  As of this posting I still believe they’re on the road.  Safe travels, Rich, and thanks for stopping by!

And lastly, a cell phone pic of what is perhaps the most ideal parking space in the world.  What car lover would not love to have his or her baby protected on all sides?  This happened at lunch the other day and I couldn’t help but document it.

Tomorrow the Legend coupe goes in for an oil change at Acura of Tempe.  I received this week two service coupons from that dealership.  I’m also going to have the rear upper control arms redone.  Ever since about 487,000 when I had them changed before, I’ve had a very pronounced creak from the rear suspension.  I’m almost positive the cheaper quality aftermarket control arms that I used are to blame.   Lesson learned – only Acura OEM parts from here on out.  Not that I should need anything at this point –only 3,500 miles to go!  I can practically see the finish line from here!

Spy Shots

Posted in Legend, Spy Shots on September 22, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  495,710

It really hit me that I talk too much about my car when a few years ago, my friends started sending me “spy” pictures of Acura Legends every time they saw them on the road. My friend Jeremy’s eyes are so well trained that he can even spot them in his rearview mirror.  I received the following as a photo text message this afternoon:

My friend Matt sent this one this past weekend during a trip to Los Angeles.

And a colleague from work, Jim, goes the extra mile — often sending MULTIPLE angles of the same vehicle.  One day a couple weeks ago I received a series of 9 (yes nine!) photos of this 1994 Legend LS here in Scottsdale that’s a twin to mine.  Jim later acknowledged that the driver appeared to get suspicious when he saw Jim taking so many pictures with his camera phone.  Understandably!

It makes my day to get photo text messages like this.  How disgustingly nerdy is that?

My love of the road is well known among my friends.  This morning I posted a Happy Birthday message on a friend’s Facebook wall who I haven’t talked to in a few months.  His response:  “You are probably road tripping somewhere… hope all is well!”  These people have me figured out.  Speaking of Facebook, have you visited the Acura Legend Owners & Enthusiasts page lately?  I created it in November, 2006 and it’s up to over 660 members today.  Little did I know that so many other people shared my love for a vehicle that’s now been discontinued for over 15 years.

Today, my brake rotors were refinished on the LS coupe for the first time since 89,784 miles.  I also had the front lower ball joints replaced with OEM units.  None of this was absolutely critical – I’m sure the car would have easily sailed to 500,000 without today’s work.  However, as Mr. Preventive Maintenance, whether a car has 50k or 500k on it, I maintain my vehicle as if I’m going to be driving it for the rest of my life.  And that means I’ll have more peace of mind knowing that I’m doing my part to not only ensure my car’s future but my own safety.

The beauty of Desert Mist Metallic paint is that from a distance you don’t see just how bad the front end on this thing is.  Road rash galore.


Odometer Photo Phrenzy

Posted in Legend, Milestones on September 20, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  495,700

Blog reader “Scott” in Dallas, Texas today said he thought it’d be cool if I shared some of my odometer pictures from over the years.  The total photograph count of Legend pics in my archive is well into the thousands, and odometer shots are a good chunk of those.  In addition to the standard 1, 2, 3, 400,000 shots which I shared in this blog’s first post here…

…. here are a few of the other memorable occasions:





Below are a few that I can actually peg dates & locations to.

111,111.1.  Yes, at 111 mph. October, 2003, somewhere between Las Vegas and Primm, Nevada on I-15.   The road was closed to the public at the time, obviously.

222,222.2.  May, 2006.  Alaska Highway, southbound, in the Yukon Territory, Canada, coming home from Fairbanks, Alaska.  My dad was actually driving at the time.

333,333.3.  July, 2008.  Interstate 40, westbound, near Memphis Tennessee – coming home from that year’s annual National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) in Chattanooga.

444,444.4.  And:  BONUS points for also getting 444.4 on the trip meter!  Yes, this one took some pre-planning.  October, 2010.  Valencia Rd, west of Tucson, Arizona.

Tonight, I dropped off the Legend with my friend & side mechanic Wes to have him to do an assessment on the brake rotors and upper control arms in the front.  We’ll see what the verdict is.  I caught a cab ride home from a cheery guy in a lime green Prius (with 170k on it – yes I had to ask him).  He’d seen that I was dropping off my car for maintenance and asked what I was having done to it.  I told him I had 495,000 miles on it and he exclaimed, “That’s not a car, that’s a SUPERcar!”

I totally agreed with him.

Top 5 Countdown

Posted in Legend, Milestones on September 19, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer: 495,645

Watching so many numbers roll by on the odometer this weekend made me a little dizzy!  It ended up being about a 1,700 mile, 3-day weekend.  Lots of seat time in the Legend but for good reason.  The car motored down the road like a vehicle half its age… er… mileage!  Never a moment of hesitation.  It’s almost like a puppy wagging its tail at any chance to eat up the open road.

We’ve now (I say “WE” because with each roadtrip, I take my blog readers along with me for the ride!) entered into the last 5,000 miles of my journey to 500,000 miles.  The 495,000 roll-over happened on Interstate 15 just south of Nephi, Utah at the very location pictured here.  Not much to look at!  The speed limit is 80 through here, so at least that helps move things along.

Just south of St. George, the interstate slices through the northwestern corner of Arizona on a stretch of road called the “Virgin River Gorge.”  This is an exceptionally fun road to travel if you’ve got a car capable of cornering.  The gorge was completed in 1973 at a cost of about $10 million per mile.  To this day it is one of the most expensive sections of interstate in the country because the Virgin River had to be rechanneled 12 times in order to accommodate it.  The views are incredible, especially at dusk.

I rolled back into Scottsdale in time this evening to take care of some chores and recharge for the work week ahead.

I thought it would be worthwhile to spotlight my mom right here – she’s the main reason I took this weekend’s trip.  I got a chance to see her new home in northern Utah (pictured).

She and my dad are also to thank (or blame?) for my Acura obsession.  It all started when she bought this 1990 Acura Integra GS back in 1996.  I didn’t even have a license yet but I still appreciated its nimble demeanor and sporty styling.

Then she picked up a 1993 Legend L sedan.  This is the car that introduced me to the Legend name and led me down the road of ownership myself eventually.  The following picture from 1998 was when mom’s teenage sons had taken it upon themselves to deck out her car in 18″ chrome wheels.  Bling bling!

The next Acura was a pearl white 1997 3.2 TL.  All in all, a very fine ride!  I especially loved the frameless windows on this one.

After that, it was time for another flagship sedan, whose name had changed to the RL from Legend.  Mom bought this 2000 3.5 RL with only 22,000 miles on the odometer from the original owner in San Francisco.  The black/black color combination made for a hot ride during the summer, but it looked stunning from just about any angle.  I took this picture in Snow Canyon State Park just outside St. George, Utah.

Later on, mom went back to another Legend – this time a milano red 1994 LS coupe.  Attention grabber!

Safe to say we’ve had such a great experience with Acura that we keep coming back for more.

So, here we go with just 4,355 miles remaining until the Legend gets even more Legendary.  Thanks for joining me for the ride!

Logan, Utah

Posted in Legend, Road Trip, Utah on September 18, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  494,910.2

After a Friday of clock-watching at the office, I set sail on a weekend adventure to the north country yet again yesterday.

I’d been meaning to snag a picture at this sign the last few times I drove past it in Wickenburg, Arizona.

These Arizona sunsets just never seem to get old.  I had Highway 93 to myself for most of the northwesterly drive toward Las Vegas, Nevada from the Phoenix area.

Las Vegas!  I visited a few friends at the Westin Hotel who were celebrating my friend Jim’s 30th birthday.  This was taken on Flamingo Road approaching Interstate 15 from the east.  Happy birthday, Jim!

Finally I had a late-night arrival into Utah, finally calling it a night around 1 a.m. local time.

Today’s drive to Logan was “only” about 400 miles, or 6 hours.  I got an early start and chowed on some Mickey D’s breakfast from Fillmore, Utah.  The one thing that always surprises the passengers in my car is that my $42k Acura does not have any cupholders.  In the manual transmission-equipped 1991-1995 Legends, the pop-out cupholder was deleted from the lid of the center console. As a result, I end up finding other means – usually by holding a drink in my lap or balancing it inside the center console like I did with my orange juice this morning.

In Salt Lake City, I visited my friend Branson at his workplace – CU Auto Sales.  Branson’s 1995 Legend LS coupe has been featured on this blog before when he allowed me to use it as a “loaner” car during a weekend trip to Utah over the 4th of July weekend this year.  It’s minty and has only around 142k on the odometer.

Next up, I said hello to my friend Jeremy who recently took delivery of  brand new Acura TSX Sport Wagon.  Jeremy and I grabbed lunch and he tossed me the keys to the wagon so I could drive for the return trip.  I loved the TSX!  It was quite a change for me to look down at an odometer with only 600 miles on it.  Open wide!

This thing is cavernous!  Here’s my Vanna White pose inside the cargo area.

Finally I paid a visit to the grandparents in Cache Valley (Logan, Utah) – near the Idaho border at the far north end of the state.  The rains came down heavily in Sardine Canyon but the Michelins handled it well.  Grandma loves it when visitors take “laps” around her house while driving on the grass!

At the entrance to the south end of town on Highway 89-91, there’s an old drive-in movie theater that was painted over and serves a billboard for the university where I attended school in 2004-2005.  Go Aggies!

The rains cleared tonight and I got a clear view of the great mountains that surround the valley.

I guess the Utah sunsets aren’t half bad either.

I’ll make the return trip to Phoenix tomorrow.  The Legend is running like a champ but I’ve made an appointment to have the suspension looked at again this coming week.  There’s some significant noise coming from the front end on abrupt bumps and I have a feeling the upper controls arms are to blame.  I’m also contemplating biting the bullet and having the brake rotors changed since they’re well overdue.  I was hoping to keep this last 5,000 miles of the Drive to Five fairly maintenance-free but let’s see what my mechanics have to say about that this week.

Had to use the heater tonight for the first time since last winter!

At this point, I’ve personally put 400,000 miles on this car since I bought it in March, 2003.  It’s been a fun ride!

Strawberry, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip on September 11, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  493,608

It’s fitting that when I shuffled the mix of 85 road/car-related songs in my “Drive to Five” playlist this morning (thanks Amber!) the song that came on first was “Freedom’s Road” by John Mellencamp.  It’s a commemorative 9/11 anniversary and I spent 5 hours today in the car reflecting on the last 10 years while on a quick lunchtime road trip to the scenic nearby mountains.

I ate at The Early Bird Restaurant in Pine, Arizona.  The buffalo chicken sandwich with a side of cottage cheese is highly recommended.  It is quite a change to eat at a place where the server calculates the total due for each guest check using an actual old-school calculator!  That was the case here.  “Katie” obliged for a photo prior to my departure.  Great staff!

You know it’s going to be good food when there’s a sign announcing “Never trust a skinny cook!”

Among other destinations in this wooded area is the state’s oldest standing schoolhouse, in Strawberry.  It dates back to 1884.

On the way back to the Phoenix area, I pit-stopped for a couple of quick car photos off Highway 87.

“Windmill Corner Inn” – in Strawberry.  The motel office is located inside the windmill.

I was fueling up with $3.65/gal 91 octane at Shell on the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation near my home and noticed that Shell’s latest promotion carries a similar slogan to my 500k quest.  In this case, the “five” refers to a 5 cent/gallon promotion of some sort.  At any rate, here’s my worn out 1994 Legend key that while looking completely useless still does the trick.

Yesterday, I had the car’s oil change and a full alignment performed by Acura of Tempe.  The alignment was pretty far out of spec since I had the rear upper control arms changed at about 487,000.  The technician recommended having the front upper control arms done sometime in the near future.  There were no additional comments, but I received another one of the 140-someodd service reminder stickers that have been placed at the top left corner of my windshield and I was sent on my way for the next 3,000 miles.  Here is a shot of my car in the service bay for alignment.

Until next time!

Labor Day Weekend

Posted in Legend, Road Trip on September 6, 2011 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  493,049

For some reason all 4 million people from the Phoenix area decided to converge on Interstate 17 southbound near Flagstaff, Arizona today.  My 6.5 hour return trip from southern Utah ended up taking 8.5 hours.  No matter – my friend Matt and I had plenty of music to entertain us (we gave my stereo system a workout with some live Metallica tunes).  Despite the slow-downs on today’s drive, the rest of the Labor Day holiday weekend was smooth and relaxing.

My brother rolled out the red carpet for a stay at his home in St. George.  Here’s the view of my Legend along with his 2008 Ford F-250 “Big Red” as seen from the bathroom window.  Notice that I park far away from the truck with its 40″ tires and 22″ rims so that it doesn’t inadvertently roll over and crush my car, monster-truck style.

This Ford, among many other project trucks, is a creation of my brother Bentley and his company, H&S Performance.  My two brothers share the same interest in the automotive industry that I do, having grown up around cars & trucks.  H&S specializes in performance upgrades for diesel pickup trucks.  I’m fairly confident that Big Red, even with all its mass, would easily leave me in its dust at the 1/4 mile dragstrip if the opportunity arose to.

We took the opportunity today to run my friend Buck’s 2002 Acura RSX Type-S on the Mustang Dyno at the H&S shop.  His car produced a healthy 177 hp.  We had a great time wandering around the shop – huge thanks to Payton for operating the dyno and for the rest of the H&S crew’s hospitality.  Check them out at

Here, the Acura brotherhood is exemplified with a picture of some great looking rear ends.  Blair stopped by with his 2008 Acura TL Type-S that’s finished in my favorite color among “newer” Acuras:  Kinetic Blue Pearl.  And Buck’s immaculate 2002 Acura RSX Type-S has only 58,000 miles on the odometer.

Matt and I opted to change up today’s drive back to Phoenix by traversing the Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Byway in northern Arizona (also known as Highway 89A) instead of going through Las Vegas, Nevada.  This stretch of desolate road is one of my favorite, most scenic drives in the southwest.  The following few pictures were taken at a place called Marble Canyon.

Here’s a high 5 for the upcoming big 5!

Just under 7k left to go.  We had zero car related issues during this weekend’s trip.  When the wind is blowing just the right direction, I get a ton of wind noise out of my driver’s side window.  It’s been like that for years.  We hit a ton of rain near Flagstaff but the Michelins that I installed on the car at 392,000 miles are still performing well.  Though that was 100,000 miles ago, these tires were “parked” for a time while I had aftermarket wheels.  I’d guess they have between 60-65k on them, though.  The brake rotors are screaming for replacement with a reminder shimmy when I hit the brakes at highway speed, but other than that the car is moving forward stronger than ever.