Archive for February, 2014

Throwback Thursday: “Cloned” Legend Coupe

Posted in Legend, Throwback on February 27, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,729


Odometer (ILX):  68,506



Get a load of that AZ sunset!  For the next few Thursdays, we’ll take a look in the review mirror at some highlights of my hundreds of thousands of miles of car travel.

I’ve met so many great friends through my “car network” over the years.  One of those is my buddy Branson from Salt Lake City, Utah.  I first met him at a small Acura Legend meet in August 2003 in the city of Lehi.  At the time, he was driving a pearl white 1993 Legend LS sedan.



A few years later, in May 2006 when my Legend coupe had 218,000 miles on it, Branson had moved on from his sedan and picked up an identical twin to my coupe.  Well, sort of.  Branson’s was a bit younger in miles – only 104,000 – and his had the 4-speed automatic transmission, as opposed to my 6-speed manual.  But visually, we were almost exactly the same.

We had some definite fun cruising the streets of SLC with our Desert Mist Metallic Legends.



We also parked the cars inside a small used-car dealership where Branson worked at the time.


A few pics inside a parking garage for good measure.


A month later, Branson and I got together for some another photo-op.  The date was June 24, 2006.  He had just received his new “4CRUZN2” license plate from the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles, so we took 4CRUIZN and 4CRUZN2 out for a day on the town.


The next two pictures were taken west of the city on Interstate 80 near Saltair.



It was weird to be following a car that looked just like mine.


Good times!  I’ve continued to keep in close contact with Branson over the years.  Today, he still has a Legend.  We both entered cars in last year’s Hurricane Easter Car Show in southern Utah.

Here’s to many more years (and miles) of fun with him.

License Plates

Posted in Blog, Throwback on February 25, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,718


Odometer (ILX):  68,429


It’s always a good day when my neighbors get to see another Acura at my house.  Special thanks to my friend James for his visit this past Sunday!  James is the former owner of a Legend LS coupe, but he’s been driving a 2004 Acura TL 6-speed for the last 6 years.  It’s looking good for 170,000 miles on the odometer.  We snagged a picture together after getting back from lunch in the Legend.


I do love that factory body kit!


James is the Executive Director of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.  His license plate says “Ph.D Cowboy,” and that makes a nice segway into today’s topic.


A couple of weeks ago, I got digging through my collection of license plates and I was able to round up each one of the 10 vanity plates that my cars have worn in my 16 years of driving.


Each one carries with it a unique set of memories in the hundreds of thousands of miles they’ve covered.  From my high school “HUGGIE’S” days with my 1986 Chevy Celebrity to my college years with the 1991 Prelude Si 4WS and the multiple Legends I’ve owned over the last decade, each car has had its own personality.

Perhaps the most meaningful pair of plates in my collection is this one:


Those were the last license plates registered to a black 1987 Chevy pickup truck that my late grandfather owned.  He passed away at the young age of 58 years old in September, 1989.  The license plates expired one month later.  These plates have been kept in safekeeping for 25 years now.  They still have bug guts on them that I refuse to clean off because they represent part of the history with my grandpa and his beautiful black truck.

What does your plate say, and does it have any special meaning to you?


Thanks to Dillon – “Hondatalover” for this sweet TLX rendering I’m sharing today.


And guess who’s a new card-carrying member of the Acura NSX Club of America (NSXCA)?!  Yeah baby!

ILX Drive: Castle Hot Springs Resort, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on February 22, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,711


Odometer (ILX):  68,304


Trip Distance:  120 Miles


For a starting price of just $500,000, you can bid your way toward ownership of a 210-acre former resort in the remote desert north of Phoenix, Arizona!  Opened in 1896 as a relaxing getaway for dignitaries and the elite, Castle Hot Springs and its luxurious amenities thrived all the way through the 1950s and 60s.  U.S. Presidents Roosevelt, Wilson and Hoover were regular guests.


Here’s a postcard from the 1950’s.  Nice place, huh?


The hot springs themselves (yes, they do exist in Arizona!) produce some 180,000 gallons of water per day that’s between 118-120 degrees.  However, the resort has been closed since a December 1976 fire destroyed the main building.  At that time, the site was 40 miles from the nearest fire station, so assistance was too far out of reach.


The resort never came back to life.  In the 38 years since that fire, it’s changed hands a few times.  A year ago, the entire piece of property was up for grabs for $5.7 million.  This coming Thursday February 27th, an auction will determine its next owner.  Remote doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Circled in yellow (top left) is the resort location.


Here’s the aerial view of what the site looks like today.  Clearly visible is the white 125,000-gallon swimming pool.  Tennis courts are located to the left.


Despite the fact that the resort was closed and potentially even inaccessible, I was determined to make the trek in the Acura ILX today to see what this forgotten place was all about.  Having done a little bit of online mapping, I knew from Google satellite view that the road was unpaved for a long portion, but I read that conditions could be traversed with a passenger car if driven carefully.  Challenge: accepted.

I picked up two friends for the trip this morning:  Daniel, visiting from Charlotte NC, and Greg, a colleague from work.  Both are avid travelers and I knew they’d be good company.  We made our way toward the Carefree Highway and Lake Pleasant.  I was surprised to see only one sign for Castle Hot Springs as we exited the highway.  The rest of the drive we were winging it with what we thought was the correct route.  After we made it to the northwestern edge of the lake, the road turned to dirt.



For eight miles, I carefully weaved my way through the desert while stirring up a cloud of dust in the ILX.  Three of those miles were very especially rocky as the road followed the path of the riverbed, and I was lucky to have 6 inches of ground clearance to get around the obstructions in the road.  Finally as we rounded a corner, the palm trees of Castle Hot Springs came into view.  We’d made it!


To no surprise, the property was entirely fenced off with “No Trespassing” signs.  As the three of us chatted outside the gate about site, we were approached by two men who were walking up the road.  One of them began, “I’m surprised the caretaker isn’t already out here on her golf cart with a gun, running you guys off.”  Rough neighborhood, I guess!  As it turns out, this gentleman was a neighbor from down the road.  He said they’ve had problems with riffraff in the area – drugs, guns, killings, and (yes he really said this one) “people having lunch on our lawns.”   Basically, he’s trying to keep inquisitive people like us away.


He did, at least, give us some interesting info regarding the state of the property.  It’s been zoned as a residence instead of commercial property now, so the chance of it being resurrected as a desert resort oasis is slim.  The land is in fact being parceled out into sections.  The springs are still active (though another area shortly up the road where springs used to exist has since been “capped off” with concrete because it attracted too many troublemakers).  It’s really a shame more people aren’t able to enjoy the springs.  Check out the photos below from our adventure in checking this place out!

Heading toward Lake Pleasant Regional Park


And a right hand turn at Castle Hot Springs Road.  This was the last sign we’d be seeing for Castle Hot Springs.


15 or so miles later, we’d reached the end of the pavement.


Putting my tires and suspension to the test.


This notice stapled to the gate at the resort was in reference to the re-zoning effective 3/3/14


Scoping the place out as best we could from outside the white wooden fence.


Barn across the street


Here we are!


The yellow building that sits near the swimming pool appears to be currently inhabited.  A trailer is sitting on the tennis courts.


This is the driveway to the property.  I wonder what kind of cars drove down this road in the early 1900’s.


A bit further down the road, we found another palm-lined grassy area with a mysterious looking garage on the premises.  I have to wonder what’s inside there!


Just before making our turnaround to head back to Phoenix.


Sharing the road with some cows


I was surprised my Garmin GPS knew the name of the dirt road we were on


Back to civilization we went.  For more on Castle Hot Springs including a neat look at what the pools look like today, and some scans from a 1907 brochure/pamphlet, check out this website.


No road trip is complete without great food, so we grabbed burgers at Wild Horse West near the intersection of Carefree Highway and Lake Pleasant Rd.


They weren’t kidding!  This thing was pretty amazing.


I saw this range figure after a fuel-up earlier in the week.  I don’t know if the car is really capable of 500+ miles on a tank.  Has anyone with an ILX ever actually achieved that?


Also spotted another place I may have to check out sometime.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Throwback Thursday: Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway & Area 51

Posted in Legend, Nevada, Road Trip, Throwback on February 20, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,689


Odometer (ILX):  67,694




Today, I’m digging way back into the road trip archives to bring you a vintage write-up from October 21, 2005.  My Legend had “just” 194,392 miles on it at the time.  I set out in the (very) early morning hours to experience a famous highway.   Following is a post that I shared with the Legend forums nearly 10 years ago, and I still remember that road trip like it was yesterday.

“Four o’clock in the morning.  Miles of road continue to unwind in the vast wasteland of southern Nevada.  My headlights pierce through the pitch-black night and illuminate the painted road lines like neon against the asphalt. The road is Highway 375 – the famed Extraterrestrial Highway, so named for its proximity to Area 51.  Destination: Rachel, Nevada.  Rachel is the closest civilization to Area 51 and boasts a population of nearly 100.  I’m getting closer but can’t help but be a little bit on edge because I am traveling unfamiliar highways in the middle of the night, and I haven’t seen another vehicle for the past sixty miles at least…”

This morning I traveled to Rachel, Nevada. The town is the closest you can legally get to Area 51. The round-trip was 400 miles.


From an online article about Rachel:

Rachel, Nevada takes us to a small town 110 miles from Las Vegas, site of a formerly secret US Air Force installation known as Area 51.  The base develops new planes such as the stealth bomber.  The secrecy shrouding Area 51 has given rise to suspicions over the years, earning the town of Rachel (primarily a collection of trailer homes) the title “UFO Capital of the World,” and Nevada State Highway 375 “Alien Highway”. The film focuses on the everyday people of Rachel, once left alone to service the military, now the center of tourism and a publicity boom.  There are enough stories and photos to persuade even the most die-hard skeptics that something extraterrestrial may be going on.

There’s not much to take pictures of. There is the ever-famous “Little AL-E-INN” that I had to get pics of.  And then there are the Extraterrestrial Highway signs which are pretty cool.  I forgot to get a picture at the gas station, but it only had one pump and only 89 octane.


On to the pics I did take. I used the same backgrounds a lot because I didn’t have much else to work with.


No gas for 110 miles!


Rachel, Nevada


Population: Humans – 98, Aliens – ?


I wonder how much a room at the A’Le’Inn costs.


Prepared to take flight



LOTS of open space without any people, buildings, or anything!


The spaceship has landed!


And of course, I did park there!


When the movie Independence Day was filmed in 1996, they put a time capsule in front of the A-LE-INN.  Here’s the placard and monument.



The next picture is (according to my map) one of the dirt roads that leads to Area 51.  Had I gone any further, I would have been approached by armed security guards in Jeep Cherokees, and probably fined $600.


Current mileage as of today


That’s it!


On a related note, is anyone out there looking for a “500k-miler-in-training”?  I’ve got a couple of nice options for you.  First up is this absolutely pristine one-owner 1995 Legend LS coupe automatic in rare Cayman White Pearl with only 107,000 miles.  My friend Josh from TSX Travels gave this one a look-see for us and took the below 3 pictures, as well as many others which I posted here on the Legend forums.




The other option is this “twin” car to mine.  It’s a 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed in Desert Mist Metallic.  It’s got a clean title and is only halfway broken in at 226,000 miles the odometer.  Ebay shows the current bid at just $2,000.



Somebody buy it!

Check out this awesome 6-minute time-lapse video of a cross-country drive from Hollywood to DC.  Thanks to my friend Ian for sharing it.

Camelback Hike in Phoenix & the 1990 Integra

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, Throwback on February 16, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,685


Odometer (ILX):  67,484


Weather in Phoenix broke some records this weekend (87 degrees!), so my friends and I took the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some sunshine.  Camelback Mountain Desert Preserve was established in 1968 by then-president Lyndon Johnson and has become a popular area for hiking recreation.

Along with 4 friends including my friend Conor who’d flown in from New York for the weekend, I hiked the Cholla Canyon trail.  It’s only about 1.5 miles long each way, but the elevation gain is 1,200 feet and in some areas it requires getting on hands & knees to scale the faces of rocks.  The view from the top was worth it.  Here I’m pictured with Brad, Matthew, Conor, and Justin.


Heading to the trailhead with Brad, Conor, and Justin


I think we had to park as far away from the trailhead as the length of the hike itself.  Very busy day!


Trailhead arrival


The summit is 2,704 feet in elevation.  On a clear day, expansive views can be enjoyed a full 360 degrees.


Afterward, we bought out the lemonade stand at the base of the hill.  I hadn’t packed any water – big mistake!


Brad’s 2013 Audi RS5 looked right at home in the driveway.  I want it!


Later in the weekend, I drove Conor out to Gilbert, Arizona in the 1994 Legend coupe.  He’d never seen a Mormon temple before so we checked out the brand new one that was just completed there.  It’s the 142nd temple in operation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The temple sits on 21 acres southeast of Phoenix and 83,000 square feet of floor area.  It’s open to the public for tours until the March 2nd dedication date.  I took a tour of the building a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with the craftsmanship and architecture.


Thought I’d add a little throwback segment today since I scanned some old pictures this week.  I’ve shared before that my first Acura love was a car that my mom bought when I was 14 years old.  It was a Rio Red 1990 Acura Integra GS Sedan with an automatic transmission.  That car was a huge upgrade from some of my mom’s previous rides, including a Pontiac Grand Prix and a Jeep Cherokee.  I loved how sporty it was.

Here’s a photo taken on November 9, 1996 at a family dinner outing.  We parked next to my uncle Dande’s Bahama Gold Metallic 1988 Acura Legend L Sedan 5-speed that I later owned.  Acura parking only!  I was already addicted even back then.


Here are a couple of photos that were taken after a detail in St. George, Utah.


I kind of wish we still had that Integra!  Though, the Acura ILX today carries on the Integra’s DNA as the brand’s stylish entry level compact sedan.


That old Integra provided reliable service until we upgraded to a 1993 Legend L Sedan in June of the following year.  Meanwhile, we enjoyed that sporty little ride.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

ILX Drive: Nevada’s “Valley of Fire” State Park

Posted in ILX, Nevada, Road Trip on February 12, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,606


Odometer (ILX):  67,000


Trip Distance:  423 Miles



Despite the fact that the trip between Phoenix, Arizona and my hometown in Southern Utah is one that I’ve driven hundreds of times, it’s still chock full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.  I decided to make a side-trip on my drive home to Arizona last Sunday in my 2013 Acura ILX to change things up a bit and see some new turf.


Instead of taking I-15 through Las Vegas as I usually do, I stayed far east of the city on two-lane back roads.  Interstate travel can be so mindless and rudimentary.  Next time you’re cruising a freeway at 75 miles per hour and worried about getting around that next 18-wheeler, consider taking a state highway sometime.  I guarantee you’ll find that there are charming places to see and experience, even if it means slowing your pace a bit.  Between Mesquite and Las Vegas, I took a detour from Interstate 15 at Exit 93 and headed south through the small towns of Logandale and Overton on Moapa Valley Boulevard, also known as Highway 169.  My destination:  Nevada’s oldest state park.

Valley of Fire State Park was named in 1935, but the formations in the park itself date back much, much farther into the past.  In the age of the dinosaurs, the shifting of sand dunes resulted in the creation of dramatic red sandstone formations which have the appearance of being on fire in the sunlight.  The park covers 42,000 acres which were once inhabited by ancient Pueblo peoples from 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D.  Their petroglyphs can still be found in various places inside the park, remarkably well preserved.


It was about 7:45 in the morning when I arrived at the east entrance self-serve pay lot in the ILX.  I exited the car and looked around me.  I was standing in the middle of 360 degrees of gorgeousness.  And not another person or car in sight.  I paid $10 in an envelope and geared up my backpack for a short hike to Elephant Rock, the park’s most-photographed rock formation.  I failed at finding it.  Miserably.  I was so focused on looking far in the distance for the rock formation that I didn’t realize I walked right past it!  For a solid 45 minutes, I trudged through red sand in my sneakers in search of anything that looked remotely like Elephant Rock.  Feeling defeated, I got back to the parking lot and continued my journey.  But I’ll go back and conquer that rock formation for sure next time.

The rest of my visit to V.O.F. was a windows-down, spirited cruise in the ILX through some of the fun twisties.  This kind of view (pictured below), I contend, is better than any front-row seat at a sporting event.  It’s better than a view of a nighttime cityscape from an urban penthouse.  It’s a panoramic view of the natural world in its colorful, untouched condition aside from an immaculate ribbon of blacktop cutting through it.  I was in my element.


I took a right on Mouse’s Tank Road and headed to the White Dome Trailhead about 6 miles up the road.  There were several dips in the road where floodwaters collect during rainy seasons, but they made some really fun rollercoaster-like ups and downs for my sport sedan.


After I’d had my fun, Highway 169 took me to the small town of Overton on the north shore of Lake Mead Reservoir.  Lake Mead, by the way, is the largest reservoir in the United States.  It covers 247 square miles of surface and holds 28 million acre-feet of water when filled to capacity!  I weaved my way along the lake until arriving at a junction with Highway 93 and the rest of the drive was familiar territory.  It was a phenomenal drive and I’m glad I took the time to experience Valley of Fire in all its glory!  Below are the video and photos from the drive.

Morning departure from St. George, Utah


For once, went “old school” and used printed directions from Google Maps


Exiting I-15 in favor of roads that were far more scenic and exciting


Overton, Nevada.  A town so small I wasn’t even able to find out its population.


But just a few miles beyond city limits:  Home to the largest reservoir in the country.


Nearing my destination


Pull off the road for a quick pic?  Don’t mind if I do.


I’m sorry, but what font is that where the “F” is capitalized and everything else isn’t?


Not another soul in sight.


Elephant Rock – 1/8 mile away.  Should have been easy to spot, right?


Two or three miles later, I crossing a rickety metal bridge.  Where was that darn rock?


Working up a sweat.


Onward to do some more exploration


Years and years of erosion have made the landforms into stunning shapes.



The Vistor Center looked like a McDonald’s, just without the golden arches.


“Look northwest.”  Well, I tried that, and I still didn’t see Elephant Rock.


Displays inside the Visitor Center


Cruising up Mouse’s Tank



Like a playground


15 mph?  C’mon.  These hairpin curves beg for at least 25 when you’re in a car like the ILX.


Sights of the road


Moonroof open, sun streaming in


Next stop:  Lake Mead


Las Vegas Bay – I wonder if there’s a slot machine to be found


Lake Mead in all its glory


That’s a wrap!

Check out Acura’s latest commercial:  “Let the Race Begin.”

ILX Drive to Southern Utah: Grandpa’s Birthday

Posted in ILX, Road Trip, Utah on February 8, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  66,553


Trip Distance:  421 Miles



It had been too long since I stretched my highway legs for a good 5+ hour drive so I decided to hop in the ILX after work and head north to my hometown in St. George, Utah.  This time I decided to take the “back” way – instead of opting for a route that consisted of mostly split highways, I drove through the mountain passes and canyons of Highway 89, northeast of the Grand Canyon.  It was a relaxing 6.5 hours on the road.

Driving, for me, is an incredibly therapeutic activity.  It’s an opportunity to clear the head and forget about the stresses of life.  Friday was an insane workday at CVS Caremark.  I got into the office at 7:00 a.m. and didn’t even step up from the chair at my workstation to stretch until almost 11:30.  By the time I got into the ILX around 4 p.m., my nerves were on end.  I set my cell phone on the passenger seat, face down so I wouldn’t see any alerts.  I plugged in my iPod 80 gig, took off my shoes, and picked up a grande caramel frappaccino from Starbucks at the drive-through.  Things were looking better already.  For the rest of the evening, it was just me, the ILX, and the open road.


Interstate 17 climbed aggressively toward about 7,000 feet in elevation and the temperature sank to the high 30s as I gained altitude.  By the time I got to Flagstaff, I’d witnessed a spectacular sunset in 15 shades of red, purple, and dark blue.  There was snow on the sides of the road but the lanes of travels were clear and dry.  North of Flag is when I got off the beaten interstate path and headed north toward Page, Arizona on Highway 89.  With each passing mile, I saw fewer cars on the road.  Soon I was able to drive for many miles at a time with my high beams on.  I rolled open the moonroof to see the stars overhead – more clearly than I’d ever seen them in the city.


I drove through the Navajo Nation and pondered what a hardy people they are, having endured a way of life in small towns with few of life’s luxuries.  Nearing the junction of highways 89 and 89A, a blinding light shone ahead of me.  “Bright oncoming HID headlights,” I thought.  Soon it became apparent that the light was not a car.  “Wow, someone has really bright yard lighting.”  And finally, I approached the light and realized I had come up on a massive road closure with a generator driving three high-power lights.  This was where Highway 89 was detoured due to this massive buckle in the pavement.  Heading left on 89A, the road got more narrow and curvy.  Nevertheless, I set my cruise control at 65 miles per hour and firmly planted both hands on the wheel.

At one point after climbing in elevation to 7,921 feet at Jacob Lake, Arizona, I pulled over on a scenic overlook and shut off the car and its headlights.  I rolled down my windows.  The moonlight illuminated everything around me in a glow, and the only sound I could hear was the wind rustling the trees.  I loved the momentary feeling of solitude and peace.  This was a good night to be on the road.  I arrived at my brother’s place in St. George at 11:03 p.m. – right on target from what I’d told him earlier in the day.

Today, I had the privilege of shuttling my grandpa, grandma, and aunt to lunch at the home of the best tater tots in town – Larsen’s Frostop.  This drive-in has been a key landmark on St. George Boulevard since 1965.  We had some burgers, tots, and desserts in the company of some other family members in honor of my grandpa’s 83rd birthday, coming up on Monday.

Here is a 30-second video slideshow from our lunch.  Thanks Aunt Jodi for putting it together!

Northbound Interstate 17


Pit stop along the roadside near Camp Verde


“This Surface is Never Regularly Maintained” – spotted on a sign near one of the interstate’s offramps


A year ago, Highway 89 near Page, Arizona collapsed and looked like this


Today, it’s still not yet repaired.  Traffic is detoured a long way around.  Here’s a photo at the road closure.


Niece Vivienne will be 3 in April.  She’s full of energy.


Lunch bunch en route to one of my favorite burger places


Grandpa was riding shotgun


My brother Bentley and his family met up with us.  His black Audi Q7 S-Line 3.0 liter supercharged was looking pretty clean.


Let’s eat!


Grandpa peeking in the window.


A grilled cheese here is only $1!  We opted for a couple of Prince Burgers.


Chow time.


And back to Gpa’s Avalon Abode.  He’s got a white 2000 and a silver 2006 in the stable.


It was a great day with family!  Thanks for joining!

Did anybody catch this 1996 Lexus LS400 on Ebay with a mind-boggling 897,000 miles on it?  As of right now, bids are at $1,150 with a couple days left in the auction.



Description as follows:

This vehicle has a CarFax and Odometer both stating 896,977 miles.  The vehicle, when I got it, needed the driver’s seat recovered and the paint was sunburned.  The seat has been recovered and the car has been painted.  This is an original Rust-Free Florida car.  The rest of the car is original and in good condition as the pictures show.  The only option on the car which doesn’t work is the factory radio.  It has a factory sunroof.  The car drives like a good 100,000 mile car would.  The car had no rust on it before it was painted.  This car has no motor noise, and it doesn’t smoke. The transmission shifts properly.  The CarFax, again, shows no accidents and actual miles.

Pretty sweet!  That car has averaged nearly 50,000 miles per year over its 18 years.

Catch the rest of my Utah trip sometime this coming week!

My Toy Car Experiment

Posted in Arizona, Model Cars on February 5, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,602


Odometer (ILX):  66,006



Bear with me here as I show you perhaps the nerdiest science experiment you’ll ever see.  For the last few years, I’ve had some die cast 1:18 scale model cars on my rooftop.  Neighbors have commented on them.  Visitors spot them from the driveway frequently.  But there is a reason for all this.  It’s a durability test.

I introduce to you:  The Test Fleet

  • 2000 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage
  • 1993 BMW 325i Convertible
  • 1957 Chevrolet Nomad
  • 1957 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1998 Maserati 3200 GT
  • 1989 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Convertible

Scope of Experiment

Many years ago, a Saturday closet-cleaning activity left with me a box full of 1:18 scale die cast model cars that I needed to get rid of. I’d had some of them for many years.  Here are photos from 1994 with the cars neatly displayed (with flowers from mom’s planter!).



The thought crossed my mind that I could put these model cars to a test much like I’ve time-tested cars of the life-size variety.  Would the harsh Arizona climate take its toll on a model car in the same way it does to regular cars?  There was only one way to find out. I climbed up a ladder and put the cars on my rooftop, surrounding the chimney on a platform that would shield them from the wind.

The launch date for my durability evaluation program was just over 4 years ago, in December 2009, with just the BMW 3-series and the Ford Thunderbird.  About 6 months later, I added 4 more vehicles to the fleet and all 6 cars have been under periodic analysis ever since.  Every few months, I scale my ladder and take photos of the current status of each of the cars.

In August 2012, I sprayed all the cars with a heavily concentrated saltwater solution to hasten the corrosion process.  The results were readily evident when I checked on the cars a month later.  Otherwise, the process has been completely natural with weather conditions in Phoenix, ranging from freezing temperatures all the way up to temperatures in the low 120’s Fahrenheit.  I have made no effort to clean the vehicles after our desert rain and dust storms.  I did paint the driveway surface black to simulate blacktop.


Indeed, the sun’s wrath hath no mercy even on a play toy. Here’s how they’ve fared over the years:

  • DB7:  Definitely the best paint here, the Blue Sapphire finish still looks presentable.  However, this car has also had the most access to shade.  Aside from some discoloration of the windows & plastic trim, it has weathered the storms very well.

May 2011


February 2014


  • 325i:  Sometime in 2011, the BMW lost a headlight in a late summer monsoon thunderstorm.  The interior has deteriorated so badly it’s difficult to tell what color the seats used to be; they’re currently a brownish hue and appear almost as if they’ve been burned.  Seat control mechanisms failed in 2012 so the front seats are fully reclined.  One windshield sun visor has been lost.  Taillights have faded considerably.  Dust/wind storms frequently blow the driver’s door open.

December 2009


February 2014



  • Nomad:  Despite having the advantage of afternoon shade, the Nomad’s paint has perhaps fared the worst.  Horizontal surfaces developed cracks within the first year.  Plastic trim yellowed and the chrome lost its luster shortly thereafter.  However, the Nomad has been steadfast in its body rigidity.  High wind gusts have never opened its doors, unlike with the imports, BMW and Mercedes.

May 2011


February 2014


Front End


  • Thunderbird:  The interior of the Thunderbird has collected a great deal of debris.  It’s full of needles and dust.  The engine bay has done a poor job of insulating its 4.8 liter V8 from the elements of nature.  It would take a great deal of restoration work to clean things up and make it road-worthy once more.

October 2010


February 2014


Engine Bay


  • 3200GT:  This Italian is ready for the junkyard.  The paint transitioned from red to pink and then started chipping off in large sections.  Within a couple of months of project onset, the headlight seals had failed and allowed dirt inside.  By Fall 2013, a headlight lens had broken open entirely.

May 2011


February 2014


Ghastly Results


  • 500SL:  The Benz’s light colored interior was a wise choice by the design team, since it shows remarkably little wear.  Exterior trim has developed many issues, including broken grille slats, a warped wiper blade, and lower body cladding that is separating from the body itself.

May 2011


February 2014


Since my friend Tyler asked for a model car update, this post is directed to him specifically.

So there you go.  Tyler, further updates will follow as requested :).

Just go make today’s post educational, everyone’s homework is to watch this 12-minute YouTube video describing how to shift a 13-speed manual transmission.  I find it fascinating.  Gotta drive one!



“Kurumag” Magazine Interview

Posted in Arizona, Blog, ILX, Legend, NSX on February 2, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,597


Odometer (ILX):  65,849


Happy Superbowl Sunday.  Here’s the score.  I think you’re OK to look away from the TV for a minute.


About a month ago, I received an email inquiry about my availability for an interview with a Japanese automotive lifestyle magazine called Kurumag.  The magazine’s third issue is under development and they wanted to include my story!  I may need to call upon those of you who are fluent in Japanese to translate it, but I’m stoked to see how it turns out.  This morning, I received a visit from the following:

  • Yujiro Otsuki, Motorsports Marketing Photographer
  • Shigeyuki Ishikawa, Managing Editor, Automobile Business Division


Here’s a sneak peek at the vantage point we were able to achieve with some strategic parking and a step ladder.


Mileage, by the way, for the cars in this picture was:

  • 2013 ILX:  65,802
  • NSX:  97,567
  • Legend 1:  144,429
  • Legend 2:  528,562
  • Total:  836,360

Here’s an example of Kurumag, the Winter 2013-2014 Issue, featuring Ken Block


I’m pretty anxious to see what these guys come up with!  The magazine is very widely distributed so maybe I’ll pick up a few followers from that side of the world.  Many thanks to Yujiro and Shigeyuki for making the time to come visit with me.  My Legend sedan turned over a memorable milestone while out & about today.


Here are a few shots of my ILX from a quickie trip up Arizona Highway 87 toward Payson yesterday.  I found a concrete underpass that begged to have its picture taken.


The ILX has a menacing appearance from this perspective.


Go toward the light!


Wait, is that Harry Henderson painted on the wall back there?


This masterpiece, it appears, may have originated from two different artists.  Oh, the many things you see when driving the road less traveled.  “So Dope,” for sure.


The real deal (I had nightmares about this guy back in 1987):


Dang, broken foglight lens.  Discovered it this morning!


Hope everyone had a great weekend!