Archive for March, 2012

510,000 And Counting

Posted in Legend, Milestones on March 30, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  510,010

Fewer than 5 months have passed since the 500k Celebration at Acura Headquarters in Torrance, California and the Legend has easily completed another 10,000 miles.

I’ve got a few gauge cluster bulbs burned out but I knew tonight was the night, so on my way home from a friend’s place I was prepared to document the occasion – even if it meant needing a flashlight!  The site was Loop 202 Westbound in Mesa, Arizona at Greenfield Road.

This old Acura was spotted on my way to work a few days ago.

Looks like a pretty clean car to me for being about 25 years old.  The 1987 Legend coupe was for its time a revolutionary automobile, even garnering accolades like Import Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine.  In comparison my car is still relatively young at “only” 18 years old.  This week the Legend went to my local dealership for its 156th oil change.

This particular dealership has a glassed-in waiting area where customers can watch their vehicles being worked on.  Naturally, I wanted to keep an eye on my Legend so I snagged this picture.

Aside from the oil change, the car also got a new “100-month” Acura OEM battery.  This is the Legend’s 6th battery counting the original that came with the car when it was manufactured in October, 1993.  The hot desert climate here is very tough on batteries – the last couple of batteries have been Optima Red Top brand and have lasted me about 3 years each.

All of today’s service was courtesy of Acura thanks to the company’s generosity extended during the Drive to Five Celebration last November at headquarters in Torrance, California.

The following have been done to the car in the last 10,000 miles:

  • 4 oil changes
  • Battery
  • Manual transmission service
  • Replace alternator
  • Replace front upper control arms

“Premium Unleaded Fuel Only” reads my car’s gauge cluster as well as a sticker insider the fuel filler door.  I paid $4.25 yesterday per gallon of 91 octane gasoline at the Shell station in Tempe, Arizona.  Ouch!  The pain was made only slightly better when I saw this promotional sticker on the gas pump.  Buy 8 gallons or more, get a free cookie!

I enjoyed every delicious bite – especially knowing that it wasn’t really free, but that I had in fact paid quite dearly for it.

Happy Friday!

Thunderbird School Tour

Posted in Arizona, Legend on March 25, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  509,646

I took a Sunday drive last weekend over to the campus in Glendale, Arizona where I attended graduate school called the Thunderbird School of Global Management.  The International Master’s of Business Administration program is what brought me to Arizona in January, 2006.  The Legend had about 202,000 miles on it when I moved from Utah.  Thunderbird’s program has topped US News & World Report’s list of the “international” focus graduate programs for 17 years.  I had a great experience there, and many of my colleagues are now using their skills globally.

Here’s a series of 10 pictures that I took around campus, which gets its name from its roots as the Thunderbird airfield and dates to 1946.  The student center is a converted airplane hangar and the school embraces its military airbase heritage.  Campus was pretty quiet!  During the time when I was in the program, the on-campus student body was only about 600 students.  Enjoy the tour.

I attended a car detailing “party” with friends yesterday in south Phoenix at my buddy Brian’s place.  The Legend got some leather conditioning and an engine touch-up.  It came out looking pretty nice, especially considering the next highest mileage vehicle there (Phil’s Benz, pictured) had only about 167,000 on it.

This old Type II V6 engine still looks decent!

With Phoenix area temps forecast to be pushing 90 degrees by the end of this upcoming week, I’m glad the A/C is in good working order on the old car.  I’m just a couple hundred miles away now from my next oil change.  The Legend is also due for its next timing belt and water pump at 511,013 miles.  This will be 6th time the timing belt has been changed.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

100th Post!

Posted in Blog on March 18, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  509,250

Time for a little celebration.

Drive to Five has made it to 100 posts since its first entry on March 28, 2011!  It’s been a fun ride, and I thank my readers for joining me in the passenger seats.  On March 26th, I’ll also celebrate my 9th year of ownership of my 1994 Acura Legend.  Anniversaries all around.

Over the years, the old Acura has achieved a fair number of award-worthy accomplishments.

Here are a few of the fun memories:

  • 2nd Place, Best Import, Lakeland Hills (Washington) Rockin’ Auto Show – 2005
  • Best Engine, Best Interior, OCDetails Fall 2005 Car Show, Salt Lake City Utah
  • 3rd Place Imports, 19th Annual Rotary Easter Car Show 2004, Hurricane Utah
  • 2nd Place Imports, 26th Annual Rotary Easter Car Show 2011, Hurricane Utah
  • 2nd Place Touring Division, 100 mph Class, Bonneville 100 Open Road Race, June 2007, West Wendover Nevada

And I’m still driving it daily!  Grocery run on Friday afternoon.

And the clouds have rolled in today.  We haven’t seen any moisture for at least a few weeks around here!  So naturally like any Arizonan who rarely gets to see “real” weather, I got a little too excited and took the chance for photo opportunity.

I never dreamed that driving the wheels off this old Legend would someday afford me the ability to play a small role in the launch of a brand new car for Acura.  The below picture was taken in January at the Detroit Auto Show.  Behind that translucent wall (and underneath a cover) sat the ILX concept car, yet unseen to the public eye.  I admit, I peeked around the corner of the wall, but I could only see the bottom half of a wheel!  Suspense was killing me.

Since that day, not only have I been able to see and touch the ILX, but I’ve been able to drive it!  There are questions and answers being posted to the Acura ILX Facebook tab where I am able to interact with people who are interested in finding out about this 2013 model.  Following are a couple of video examples of my experiences in meeting with the designers who play a role in bringing new Acuras to life.

Exterior design video with Jon Ikeda:

Interior design video with John Norman:

There is more to come, so stay tuned!

Gimme Fuel

Posted in Legend on March 14, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  509,088

Uh oh – the “Maintenance Required” indicator turned to yellow from green!  Not to despair, on these old Legends the indicator is driven by the odometer and it rolls over every 7,500 miles regardless of what maintenance is done to the vehicle.  There’s no relying on a computer here to tell me when my car needs mechanical attention.  Today’s vehicles are far more advanced – constantly communicating with their drivers about low tire pressure, upcoming service intervals, and more.

I grabbed some fuel on the way home from work today.  As we’ve seen every year around this time, it’s costing more and more to fill up a tank of gas these days.  One thing that I have never cut corners on in my Acura is gasoline quality.  “Premium Unleaded Fuel Only” is written on the fuel gauge in the cluster — and I take it seriously!  Usually that means 91 octane, but on a few of my east coast trips I’ve managed to find 93.  The only time this car has seen anything less was on the Alaska trip back in 2006 and my dad and I had to settle for 87 in the Yukon Territory.

Premium is running $4.19 today at the Shell station in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Would you believe I saved my receipt for the first time I ever fueled up in this Acura Legend?  The date was March 26, 2003, and I paid $2.49 for 91 octane in Firebaugh, California right off Interstate 5 after buying the car in San Jose and heading home to Utah.

81 degrees today – and already using the A/C in March!  Welcome to Phoenix.

I took the opportunity here to check the fluid levels (again, old fashioned since my car doesn’t tell me when it’s thirsty for anything!).  Oil and coolant levels looked great.

Hard to believe that nearly 10,000 miles have already passed since the Drive to Five reached its completion.

I came to the aid of a friend (and his family) who needed help with a ride from the Phoenix airport this past weekend.  Don’t try this at home!  We made a very short drive with six people crammed into my Legend coupe.  Recognizing the space issue I made the comment, “Wow, are you guys okay?” and Greg’s smart remark back, “Oh, I’m fine, thanks!” as he enjoyed plenty of room in the front seat!   He took a picture so that we could remember just how cozy we all were.

The Legend coupe finally got some new OEM upper control arms this week, thanks to Wes Hawkins.  Wes first worked on my Legend in 2010 when it had 434,000 miles on it, but he’d done a lot of work for me in years prior on an old Honda Prelude I owned.

Here’s one of the old upper control arms with 509,030 miles on it.  There was a lot of play in these – they were well past their prime I think.  It’s now handling great with the new ones!  All 4 struts on the car are still original to its October 1993 build date.

I was digging through some of my auto literature collection and came across the October 2006 and May 2007 issues of Honda Tuning magazine.  I was featured in the “Grassroots” (basically, readers’ rides) section of BOTH these issues — with the same photo & description!  I guess the editors inadvertently published my story twice:

My Legend had about 265,000 miles on it at the time this went to print.

Full page scanned:

A fun little walk (drive) down memory lane there.

I’m starting to field some reader questions on the all-new Acura ILX and will be responding to these via Acura’s special Facebook page dedicated to this experience.  I’ve had a blast interacting with other people who are as passionate about the Acura brand as I am!

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

The ILX Experience

Posted in ILX on March 11, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  508,964

After completing my Drive to Five last November, naturally I started thinking about the day that will inevitably come when it’s time to retire the old Legend from daily duty.  Today, I’m 9,000 miles later in my Legend but getting some very exclusive behind-the-scenes perspectives on a brand new and exciting Acura model called the 2013 ILX.  I was sitting on the front row at the Acura Press Conference in Detroit  at the North American International Auto show when the cover was pulled off the ILX concept car, and I’ve since been able to sit behind the wheel of the production version.  It’s a sleek ride!

Acura has graciously invited me to spend some time with the design teams and executives at Headquarters who are responsible for bringing this new car to life.  I also got to see, touch, and even drive a pre-production ILX.  As I’d shared in a recent post, in the coming months I’m going to share this exclusive look at what’s new from Acura with all of you.  I’ll be relaying my discoveries on a special Acura Facebook page called “ILX Experience“.

  • The first tab, ILX Access, will chronicle my encounters through a series of videos.  Already posted there are a few videos from my trip to the Detroit Auto Show in January, as well as meetings in Torrance, CA with Jon Ikeda (Acura Chief Designer), and John Norman (Acura Interior Designer).
  • The second tab will provide more details about the ILX itself including pictures and technical information.
  • The third tab gives a little background on me, and
  • The fourth (Tyson’s ILX Blog) will parallel Drive to Five with some insights into my observations about the new car.  The Facebook portal also serves as a Q&A for anyone who wants to interact with me by asking a question about the ILX.

Designer Jon Ikeda has a long history with Honda & Acura – it was incredible to have a dialogue with him about his role as a pioneer in Acura design.  I quickly learned during our visit that everything you see on an Acura, whether it be in my old Legend or this all-new ILX, has a great deal of design strategy behind it.  Stay tuned to the upcoming videos as I learn more.

I’m really excited about continuing to share my experiences!  Join me for the ride.

I was raised around cars; my two brothers and I have always shared an interest in anything with a motor and four wheels!  The old Legend made a 50-mile trek yesterday to the outskirts of western Phoenix in a teeny town called Wittman, Arizona.  Wittman is home to the Speedworld Raceway which hosted the 2012 Desert Diesel Nationals drag-race event.  My younger brother Bentley is owner of a diesel truck performance company called H&S Performance.  He brought his race truck down from Utah to compete in yesterday’s event.

Arriving at the speedway.  Perhaps I should have entered the high mileage Legend in the Sand Drags or the Mud Bogs?

Pre-race shot with my 2 brothers, Bentley and Payton.

This 2008 Dodge truck is equipped with a 6.7 liter Cummins diesel motor.  Tricked out in its current state, it produced 946 horsepower in a recent dyno test, over 4 times the 230 horsepower output of my little 3.2 liter Acura Type II V6!

Payton finally gets his shot at the 1/4 mile dragstrip.  His best run of the day was an 11.7 second quarter mile at 127 miles per hour.  This is one pickup with some serious pick up!

Payton’s time was good enough to get him a first place trophy in the Pro Street class.  Congratulations P!

My parting shot today is special for two reasons:  It’s taken at a CVS pharmacy (my employer) and it shows perhaps the most car-friendly parking space ever!  For someone who typically parks a mile away to avoid door dings, this particular spot at the store on Indian School Road in Scottsdale, Arizona gives front-row store access without putting your car into a battle zone!

I loved it enough to snag a couple of phone pictures last night.

Mobile Entertainment

Posted in ILX, Legend on March 8, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  508,761

How does one stay entertained on the road for half a million miles?  It takes a lot of music!

My Acura came fully loaded with the essential amenities of 1994, including a cassette tape deck in the Bose head unit.  One option for the Legend model at the time was an accessory trunk-mounted 6-disc CD changer, which my car didn’t have.  I remember very well the drive home to Utah from San Jose after I bought the car in March, 2003.  My mobile music entertainment came from a tape-deck converter and a Sony Discman.  My how things have changed!

When I first took the iPod plunge by purchasing my gigantic 80-gig “Classic” model, I immediately needed a way to take my tunes with me on my many cross-country road trips.  My brother who is an electronics genius hooked me up with a pretty advanced setup for its time – a Pioneer CD/DVD/pop-out screen setup that gave me iPod compatibility.  In its day, this was a pretty cool setup.  He even ran the auxiliary wire through to the center console so it’s out of sight.

What’s that on the playlist, you ask?  None other than a Jon Secada classic from my 80’s MEGA MIX!

Technology has come a long way from the old school flip-out monitors.  In many of today’s Acuras you’ll find a navigation screen and a computer system more powerful than any home PC I’ve owned.  Mapping functionality, maintenance reminders, audio controls, climate controls, voice activation, and other things that a luxury car buyer could only dream of 18 years ago when my car rolled off the line.  What’s on YOUR road trip playlist?

Everyone who follows my blog knows I’m a record keeper.  I’ve even managed to hang onto the original Autotrader print-out from almost exactly 9 years ago when I bought my Legend.  Love at first sight?  I think it was.

And a picture from heading out to work today on a clear 50-degree Phoenix morning, still driving that same car (413,761 miles later).  She fired up on the first try!

Happy Thursday everyone…

Prelude: Precursor to my Legend

Posted in Prelude on March 5, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  508,619

Next service due at 509,749 per Acura of Tempe’s reminder sticker.  Throughout my Legend ownership I have had a tendency to reach the “mileage” due WAY before the “time” due.  In fact, in most cases I’ve had to get an oil change at least once a month due to the rate that I put on miles.

Along my long path of Acura ownership, there’s been another Honda product that stole my heart, so I’ll take a pit stop from the Legend talk and share a little about that car.

Imagine being able to pull into a 2-car garage, then do a multi-point turn and completely turn the car AROUND, 180 degrees, within the confines of the garage.  I did that in my 1991 Honda Prelude Si 4WS many years ago.  Talk about handling.  Four wheel steering!  I can’t decide which was more entertaining:  The thrill of driving it, or the thrill of watching peoples’ reactions when I parked with the wheels at full-turn so they looked totally out of place!

I was thumbing through the April 2012 issue of Honda Tuning magazine at the local drug store this week and saw an article discussing the “Top 10 Worst Hondas.”  The Four Wheel Steering Prelude made the list, much to my disagreement.

The 1988-1991 Prelude’s wedge shape at its time had the lowest hoodline of any production vehicle, and when equipped with 4WS, the car was known to outperform a Ferrari in a slalom course (According to Road & Track).  Visibility was also great with the ultra-slim C pillar.  And what’s not to love about old school pop-up headlights!

While expensive to produce and poorly selling in number, the 4WS Preludes that I’ve owned (I had two!) were some of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven.  The 4WS system itself, completely mechanical in nature, never had issues with reliability in my experience.  Twenty four years after its debut, 1988 Preludes still will catch my eye every time I see a clean one on the road.  Most have turned into rust buckets or been heavily modified and wound up in junkyards.

In all I’ve owned, at some point or another, a total of eight Acura Legends and five Honda Preludes.  The car that started it all was my (non-4WS) 1989 Si 5-speed when I was 17 years old. I shared a couple pictures of this car in a prior post, The Olden Days, but I thought the Prelude deserved a post of its own.

Prom night, senior year of high school with a white tux and skater shoes.  Not sure what I was thinking at the time!

And my most recent 4WS just a couple of years ago (had this at the same time as the Legend – just a project car).

This picture best illustrates the back wheels turned with 4WS fully in-force.

I loved my 4WS so much that I made a video (with my brother Payton’s editing assistance) demonstrating the four wheel steering system’s operation.

One of my favorite things about Drive to Five is that I frequently get emails from others who are as passionate about Honda and Acura products as I am.  I recently was contacted by a guy named Tyler who shares my love of these old Preludes.  He has an exceptionally nice Frost White 1990 Si 4WS 5-speed Prelude.  Thanks, Tyler, for letting me share these!  Keep that beauty clean because it’s getting more rare each day.  Great scenery up there in northern Utah.

Logan Canyon – beautiful at any time of year!  No finer way to enjoy the sights than from behind the wheel of a sporty handling Honda.  Looks like today was a great day for a cruise, Tyler!

Great looking car and a truly classic design.

Finally, so I’ve got at least SOME Legend content in here:  A shot of two 6-speeds.  One Nissan with 500 miles, one Acura with 508,500 miles.

In other local Acura news:  My good friend John brought his 2003 Acura CL Type-S over yesterday to show me a new set of 19″ wheels he’s recently installed.  Sharp car!  And extremely rare equipped with the 6-speed manual as his is. In fact, John’s car is one of only 763 ever produced in Satin Silver exterior with Ebony interior, without the navigation package.  Nice ride, John!

And a rare sight around here:  An Acura EL. This model was essentially a rebadged Civic that never made it to the United States.  This one was northbound on McClintock Rd in Tempe, Arizona yesterday afternoon.  A long way from its home in Manitoba, Canada!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday Flashback: Curviest Highway Drive

Posted in Arizona, Legend, Road Trip, Throwback on March 2, 2012 by tysonhugie

Odometer:  508,528

We made it to Friday in just a few hours!

My good friend Matt took delivery yesterday of a nice looking Nissan 370Z.  This 6-speed, Sports package-equipped cruiser is begging to tear up the local mountain roads. It’s not an Acura, but it’s a fine ride and pretty dang fun to drive.  I was behind the wheel when the odometer ticked over to 200 miles last night!  Quite the polar opposite of my seasoned Acura.

Matt was asking me today if there were any stretches of road in particular that I recommended.  One road popped into my mind almost instantly:  Coronado Trail.  This road has 500 separate curves within about 100 miles.

When most people think of a “Sunday drive,” they think of a drive to church, to the park, or to Grandma’s house.  I did a Sunday drive in the Legend in October 2009 that involved driving for 12 hours in one stretch.  I have already shared this on my blog in a prior post with a link to an AcuraConnected article highlighting my Top 10 Roadtrips, but since that article didn’t get into detail and only had one picture, I thought this would be a fun one to reminisce about today.

My friend Kevin and I set out in a 398,000 mile Legend for what has been called “The Curviest Highway in America.”

AZ Central Newspaper Article

AA Roads Article

Following are the pictures and captions I shared on the forums back then.

I can honestly say that the road lives up to its reputation. Kevin and I traveled the road from the north end to the south end. Here’s the map (road in the black box I drew is the road).

As we approached the start of the highway, we were greeted by a warning sign that basically says, if it’s nighttime, a weekend, or a snowstorm, GOOD LUCK!

The first 22 miles or so were pretty tame; I was wondering what all the fuss was about. We took a brief pit stop at the only trace of civilization along the trail: Hannagan Meadow. Gas pumps are dry.

Pretty soon the road narrowed and from there on out, it was a total roller coaster. Hairpins, steep grades, switchbacks, you name it. Vehicles over 40 feet are restricted (and for good reason). I thought I could get away with using one hand to take pictures and one hand on the wheel. Not a chance! There is one section of the road where a sign says “10 MPH Next 11 Miles.” If I hadn’t been behind the wheel, I would have needed a barf bag!

Traffic was minimal. We passed 12-15 cars going the opposite direction the whole stretch of road, and had to pass two trucks with trailers, but that was it. We had the road to ourselves for the vast majority. I had so much fun – I can only imagine what it would have been like to drive this road in a sports car.

Fall colors were just pas their peak but still pretty amazing.

Stopped briefly in the old mining town of Clifton, Arizona. The main street looked and felt like a ghost town.

On the way back into Phoenix, we took a small detour over a place called Coolidge Dam. It involved taking a side road that has been decommissioned since the late 1950’s when it was bypassed by the current Highway 70.

We would guess the last time this road saw fresh pavement was in the 1970’s. It is (huge) pothole city for 27 solid miles! And there are many parts of the road where the weather has taken its toll over the years – it’s essentially dirt, wish washboard ruts and everything. I was stirring up a cloud most of the way in. This was one of about 15 narrow bridge crossings – the road in this section was in far better condition than the rest.

Finally we got to Coolidge Dam. WOW! Amazing 1930 construction. We drove right over the top of it. The road was very narrow but the architecture of the dam was intricate. It was totally worth the side trip, even though it probably added 30 minutes to our day trip and took a hefty toll on the car’s suspension.

Various shots from around the dam.

Ending mileage after that trip:

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane as much as I did.  Can’t wait for similar upcoming travels this year!