Acura ILX at a Nissan Z Convention
Odometer (Legend): 515,647
Odometer (ILX): 15,400
I drove my ILX on a high-speed oval track! The banked curves on the closed course begged to be taken at speed! Even with a chaperone van guiding me, I was allowed to achieve 95-100 mph and it was a thrill with the windows down, moonroof open, and XM radio loud and clear. It kind of felt like this (minus the tricked out NSX):
This weekend I attended a special event at the Nissan North America proving grounds. It’s extremely rare to get an inside look at the site where a vehicle manufacturer does its durability testing. Usually, the only time the public can see inside the facility is through commercials like this.
The ZCCA (Z Car Convention of America) selected Phoenix, Arizona as the host city of the 25th Annual ZCON (Z Convention). ZCON, much like the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) that I’ve attended for 8 years, brings together owners & enthusiasts once a year in a different part of the country.
As part of the festivities, the Nissan Technical Center of North America (NTCNA-AZ) sponsored a tour day & autocross event. NTCNA is located about 50 miles from my home in Scottsdale, south of the Phoenix area next to a small town called Stanfield.
I headed there bright and early on Saturday morning (only 72 degrees! Fall is here!) in the Acura ILX to see what the event was all about. My soundtrack was provided by Metric. Really loving the Synthetica album — plus, it has special meaning since I got to meet the band a few months ago!
A quick pit stop in Maricopa, AZ at the Amtrak train station was a necessity. I was reminded of my recent Planes, Trains, & Automobiles weekend. This particular station, codename MRC, is a stop on the Sunset Limited train line which runs from New Orleans, LA to Los Angeles, CA.
This sunrise is for real! No photoshop needed!
Soon I was seeing signs for the Nissan Technical Center.
Finally, the entrance to the facility. Right after I took this, I pulled up to the security gate and (along with all other entrants to the campus) was forced to surrender my phone. It stayed with the security personnel for the duration of my stay at NTCNA.
First order of business was a riding tour of the grounds. As I hopped into a white 11-passenger Nissan NV people-hauler van for a tour around the track, there was a family that joined on my particular tour. It was Randy and Ilene Rodriguez with their two small children. Randy is a lead designer at the Nissan Design Center in La Jolla, California. He’s also the “father” of the revolutionary exterior of the current Nissan 370Z bodystyle which debuted for the 2009 model year. Here’s a picture of Randy with his creation at the Toronto Auto Show that year.
This June 2009 article contains a little of Randy’s story with the 370Z. Interestingly enough, the article was written for Import Tuner magazine by Carter Jung, who as of last month is now working in Acura Public Relations. Carter is responsible for the development of press kits, photography and video assets, as well as other communication duties.
Randy’s since done some impressive things too, such as pen the design of the upcoming Infiniti Emerg-E concept vehicle which, when it hits production, will be Nissan’s answer to the formidable upcoming 2015 Acura NSX.
We were driven throughout the expansive facility which contained a number of cool features, each designed with vehicle testing & evaluation in mind:
- Mud Splash: They can drive vehicles through depths of water to evaluate intrusion
- Salt Spray: Corrosion testing bay
- Frame Twist: This one’s only for the trucks, though it looks like it’d be a blast to take a car on. It’s a roller-coaster wavy road intended to determine if the chassis will withstand highly uneven surfaces
- Marketability Course: Here, there are sections of road that are modeled after (and constructed identical to) real-life roads. Expansion joints from a freeway in New Jersey, concrete freeway, twisty banked curves from San Gabriel, California, and a deteriorated stretch of highway near Detroit
- ‘Hot soak’ area with cinderblock walls that block any wind movement and are used to keep air still to see if a vehicle will overheat (a true test of durability when it’s pushing 120 degrees here in Arizona!)
- Cold chamber which allows a vehicle to be run from cold all the way up to normal operating temperature.
- High speed oval! Minimum speed here is supposed to be 90 miles per hour.
- A series of ramps, curbs for impact testing, and other fun features.
Here’s what the area looks like from overhead. They actually allow farmers to grow crops from within the oval!
After the riding tour, I was allowed to drive my own personal car on the track! I followed half a dozen Z cars as we traversed these various types of terrain again. The highlight for me, without a doubt, was the high speed oval. I can only imagine what it might’ve been like if I really let loose and got into triple-digit speeds. Again, without a phone or camera, you’ll just have to picture it in your minds, but it was remarkable and I promise I was grinning the whole time.
Randy signed my copy of the 2012 ZCON program:
I had the privilege of shuttling his wife Ilene and kids back to their hotel which was about a 30 minute drive. They enjoyed the ILX amenities!
One of the most popular bodystyles of Nissan Z at the event was the “Z32,” better known as the 300ZX, which was sold from 1990-1996.
I had a great time exploring the proving grounds. Maybe someday I’ll get the chance to visit the location where Honda does similar testing.
How’s this for a blast from the past? I was rooting through an old box of junk and came across these ancient driver licenses. Turns out I’ve been driving (matchbox cars, then RC cars, apparently) since I was only 3’9″ and weighed 54 pounds!
This next one was from when I was 5’2″ and 96 pounds!
My how times have changed. Another treasure surfaced in those boxes, too. Micromachines! Anyone else who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s has to remember these. Commercial narrator John Moschitta spoke so fast I could barely understand him! Loved the commercials, though.
Speaking of the olden days, my old high school friend Jaesi posted something on Facebook about how certain cars reminded her of friends from our graduating class. The thread lit on fire within the first couple of hours with about 200 comments from others in our class who loved to reminisce about the cars we drove and memories we had with them. It made me dig out this picture to contribute to the dialogue.
As I already shared in a prior post, I’ve always been one to obsess over getting just the right parking space wherever I go. That was definitely the case at Pine View High School in 1998. My red 1989 Honda Prelude 2.0 Si was parked right out front, along the road. No door ding potential here!
A few lucky people have joined the ranks recently of 2013 ILX owners. One such individual is Colin from Honolulu. I met him via the Acura ILX Owners & Enthusiasts Facebook group. Colin upgraded from an Acura RSX to a Bellanova White Pearl ILX 2.4 6-speed and shared his story on the following link. Congratulations, Colin!
I’m upgraded to iOS6 on my iPhone 4 but I’m still having a tough time getting the SMS text messaging set up. Any tech people want to walk me through it?
One of my favorite features of the ILX is this great cutoff line with the projector HID headlights. The song playing on my iPod when this was taken is “One Day” by Matisyahu. One of my current faves. Give it a listen here.
Tomorrow, 9/24/2012, will mark the 18-year anniversary of the date that my 1994 Legend LS coupe was purchased new by its original owner in Pleasanton, California with only 288 miles on the odometer. I was lucky enough to score all of the original Bill of Sale paperwork when I bought the car in early 2003.
Saw a pretty sad looking 1991-92 Legend sedan in central Phoenix.
Coming Soon from Acura – Trip to the LA Auto Show!
In April of this year, the new 2014 Acura RLX concept car was unveiled at the New York Auto Show, bring some much needed updates to the aging RL platform that’s been around since 1996 when the Legend (as we know it here in the USA) was discontinued.
The car reportedly will come with Acura’s new Precision All Wheel Steer system (reminds me of my old 4WS Prelude!). The car will be powered by an all-new 3.5-liter direct-injected VTEC V-6 engine producing 310 horsepower. Design wise, Acura is also raising the bar. My favorite feature is the “Jewel Eye” headlights. From a press release that was distributed earlier this week:
Acura’s exclusive Jewel Eye™ LED headlamps use a dual-stacked array of multiple high-intensity LED lamps, with ultra-reflective optical lenses and high-gloss trim, to provide powerful down-the-road illumination, while simultaneously giving the RLX a distinctive and bright-eyed look in both daytime and nighttime conditions.
Since the New York show, many have speculated about just how “true” to the concept vehicle the actual production version will be.
Well, I’ll get a firsthand look in a couple of months! The production version of the 2014 RLX will be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. I’ll be attending the event as a media colleague during the press days on November 28 & 29! Can’t wait.
It’s been a productive weekend for sure. To top it all off, I organized the car detailing supply closet.
In closing for today:
I really liked this commercial for the all-new 2013 Honda Accord. It really captures how Honda and Acura recognize their customers and build their vehicles to fit well into “real life.”
Happy weekend everyone.