ILX Visit to Palm Springs, California: Scott & Sandy’s Car Collection

Odometer (Legend):  528,906

528906

Odometer (ILX):  69,807

69807

Trip Distance:  562 Miles

phx_psp

Lydia’s glistening chrome bumper winked at me with a flash of reflective sunlight from the parking lot outside her garage.  I approached her and admired her 225 inches of reflective Willow Mist metallic paint, highlighted by chrome trim that pierced my eyes with gleaming Palm Springs sunshine.  Lydia was a sassy 1963 Buick Electra 225.

I gave the heavy driver’s door a tug and climbed inside, then took a deep breath while she transported me 51 years into the past.  The switches, the fabrics, the smells — everything true and perfect according to factory-spec equipment.  Then I looked down at the odometer showing only 20,223 miles.  Lydia may have been half a century old, but it was as if her heart was that of a teenager.

buick_back

You all know I get stir crazy if I don’t get out of the state often enough.  I was way overdue for a long-distance drive since my last big one (trip to Utah) was a month ago.  This time, I hopped in the Acura ILX and headed west instead of north.  The destination?  I was about to get an exclusive look at a classic car collection that belongs to my friends Scott and Sandy.  And boy was I in for a treat.

i10_sunset

My drive in the ILX was an easy one since Interstate 10 westbound would guide me to PSP from PHX without need for any other directions.  I managed to pry myself away from the office a little early and set out on Friday afternoon toward a beautiful desert sunset.  The next 5 hours were filled with music, contemplation, and some ILX photos / urban exploration as you saw from yesterday’s Drive to Five post.

driving_palm_springs_ca

Palm Springs is a desert oasis in southern California’s Coachella Valley.  It’s home to fewer than 50,000 full-time residents but boasts a full roster of attractions that bring tourists year-round. Where else can you find a 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe with a wind-ruffled dress?

ilx_with_marilyn

tyson_with_marilyn_statue

Scott is a long-time friend of mine, but I think the last time I’d seen him was at the Metric Listening Event in Hollywood back in June 2012.  Scott and I have a similar affinity for collecting automobiles. Our tastes, in fact, align on a couple of models specifically.  Scott’s Formula Red 1992 Acura NSX is one example of real keeper that we both own and appreciate.  His car’s production number, in fact, is just 26 digits off that of my NSX.  However, the rest of his fleet is as diverse as they come – from a go-kart sized 1972 Honda Z600 to Lydia the Electra who nearly doubled the Honda’s length.  I immediately felt at home in the 1965 Honda S600 Roadster.

tyson_in_s600_roadster

After a brief tour of Scott and Sandy’s beautiful home, I rode with Scott in his Alfa Romeo to his storage location.  As the large garage door rolled up, I realized I was standing before about 15 unique and rare vehicles.  While the domestics and the Japanese were certainly well-represented, a couple of oddball cars rounded out the collection, including a 1985 Bertone Fiat X1/9.  I had the distinct opportunity to drive several of the cars, so today I’ll share some of my impressions.

tyson_with_z600

With its dash-mounted shift lever, the orange 1972 Honda Z600 struck me immediately as the ancestor to today’s Civic Si.  Scott brought the 2-cylinder air-cooled engine to life with a few pumps of the engine primer.  Yes, all 36 horses giddied-up enthusiastically.  And for a car of that size, 36 is all it really takes!  The clutch was stiff and it took a row or two through the gears to get acquainted with the 4-speed shift gate, but I felt right at home in that little rig in no time.  The Z600 has a cozy cabin with no frills.  Such simplicity is an attribute that I truly appreciate, especially in today’s world of driver assistance technology that goes so far that it often becomes invasive or detracts from a raw driving experience.

continental

At the other end of the size spectrum, the 1966 Lincoln Continental was the first car I’ve ever driven with suicide doors.  After watching its convertible top hide away mechanically in the trunk, I took the wheel and drove the 5,300 pound tank around the neighborhood.  Except, it didn’t feel like it weighed nearly 3 tons.  The car was remarkably light on its feet, and steering effort – well, let’s just say the car could be driven with just one pinky finger.  For a big car, it had the skinniest steering wheel ever.  It also seemed only fitting that Scott and I extended the retractable antenna and listened to an oldies station KWXY on the car’s AM radio while we cruised around Palm Springs.  That drive was better than any history lesson I ever received in college.

77_civic

My longest test-drive was in this 1977 Honda Civic CVCC.  I love that Honda proudly badged the car “5-speed” on the rear hatch.  Despite having sat for over a month, it purred flawlessly when Scott fired it up.  The bright yellow coupe with a chrome bumper guard and roof rack grabbed a lot of attention on the road.  The shifter and suspension performed so well that I would never believe they were parts of a nearly 40-year-old vehicle.  It took me a minute to get used to the fact that there was no passenger sideview mirror.  The CVCC brought a grin to my face as we drove it back from brunch.

n600

Scott’s pride and joy is a green Honda N600 that was his first car.  Though it sits half-covered up with expired plates and a flat tire, I could see the sparkle in his eye when he talked about the memories associated with that old Honda.  He plans to treat that old car to a full restoration, and it won’t take much to get it back to showroom condition since like most California cars, the body is rust-free and the mechanicals are still solid.

bobcat

Part of the intrigue about Scott and Sandy is that they gladly adopt vehicles that other car aficionados consider runts or outcasts.  Consider the 1979 Mercury Bobcat (aka gussied-up Ford Pinto) in Tangerine paint with plaid seating and rally wheels, lovingly named Bob.  Or the now-sold Cadillac Cimarron which proudly wore “WRSTCAD” license plates and won POS “Worst in Show” Concours d’LeMons.  There’s something endearing about showing love for a car that nobody else seems to appreciate.

scott_tyson_mustang

We closed the day out with a ride back to Scott’s place in the Emberglo Metallic (“don’t you dare call it brown!”) 1966 Mustang convertible with its potent 289 V8 and Pony Package.  A classic Mustang is a true piece of Americana that every car collector should own at least once.

Huge thanks to Scott and Sandy for their incredible hospitality!  Enjoy the rest of the pictures below, as well as a video showing start-up of a few of the cars in the collection.

Scott, Tyson, Sandy

scott_tyson_sandy

Scott’s answer to, “How do you keep track of all the car keys?!”

keys

collection

1985 Honda CRX Si

crx

1959 Mercury Park Lane

mercury_front_left

Mercury interior

mercury_interior

No such thing as too much chrome here.

merc_headlight

Meet Lydia, the Buick Electra from my opening paragraph.

lydia

And Lydia’s interior, complete with a dealer-installed tissue dispenser (the chrome box underneath the dash/glove compartment).

electra_interior

I loved the 1966 Lincoln dash with its driver-oriented instrument layout.  Even the cruise control was set up as a dial.  The speedometer worked like a thermometer, with a strip of numbers and a red bar that would extend across them to indicate the speed.

lincoln_dash

Suicide doors, anyone?

suicide

The car that needs no introduction. Just 45,000 miles on this 5-speed beauty.  It’s also one of only 421 cars that were produced in this color /transmission combination for the year.

nsx

The Bertone X 1/9 is a mid-engine rig that’s in stunning condition for its age.

x19

Along with the cars, Scott and Sandy have a lot of old literature and advertising.

handle_a_honda

Scott’s favorite (at least I kind of got that vibe) was the 1965 Honda S600 Coupe.  Right hand drive.  It was fun watching him squeeze into the driver’s seat before firing it up!

s600_coupe

Front of the S600 Coupe.

s600_coupe_2

Another S600 in the collection, this time a Roadster, started out as a project car but has finished beautifully.  Scott showed me some ‘before’ pictures from a photo album.

s600_progress_photos

“After”

tyson_in_s600_2

Loved that there were unique switches on the dash for headlights and marker lights.

S600_interior

1976 Cadillac Seville – the first year for that model.  This example has only 40,000 miles on it.  It had a characteristic smell.

76_seville

This 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III is literally one-of-a-kind.  It’s the only one that was built in this configuration, color, and trim without a vinyl roof.  The car stickered at $8,356 when it was new.

69_lincoln

Bobcat interior – thanks Sandy for sending this, as I forgot to take one!  That plaid is factory original!

Bobcat - Interior

Interior of the 1977 Civic.  Exactly as it was intended to be, right down to the AM radio.

civic_dash

Here’s the 2-cylinder air-cooled engine that powers the Z600.

z600_motor

Taking the Z for a spin.

tyson_driving_z600

After our full day of test drives, I headed back to Phoenix but stopped in Blythe, California per Scott’s recommendation.  For any who ever travel the Interstate 10 corridor, remember this place!  It’s called Courtesy Diner and it’s a must-visit.

courtesy_diner_blythe_california

I was craving a grilled cheese and a bowl of homemade chili.  Both hit the spot.

grilled_cheese

I even got a smiley face on my bill when the total came out to $10.01.

guest_check

Hope you enjoyed coming along!

14 Responses to “ILX Visit to Palm Springs, California: Scott & Sandy’s Car Collection”

  1. So many awesome cars especially Hondas. I love it! I skipped ahead to the pictures at first, but did come back to read everything. 😉 The ’85 Honda CRX has a special sentimentality to it for me since it was my first Honda and my 2nd car. I replaced the engine in it when I was still a teenager, and at 225,000 miles because the previous owner neglected the timing belt. Mine wasn’t the Si model however.

    I love the S600, especially the roadster. Ever since I heard one driving around on youtube screaming away with its insane redline and beautiful engine noises, I’ve been enamored. It is probably the reason I own an S2000 currently.

    The simplicity is amazing. Can you imagine a modern air cooled car? It really shows Honda’s heritage as an engine and motorcycle manufacturer. I remember my Mom’s ’81 Civic also not having a side mirror. Guess it saved on costs and added aerodynamics.

    Those are some stellar taillights on that Mercury Park Lane. Combined with the curves in the rear window it’s got a unique look. Today’s generic cars are a far cry from the expressive styling of yester-year.

    That soft top folding on the Lincoln is fun to watch. Quite the mechanical engineering back then. I guess you have to make sure the trunk is empty first?

    Nice collection and nice post. Glad there are people willing to share their collections with others! He must have a lot of battery maintainers.

    • I loved the Park Lane tails, too! And I totally agree with you that today’s cars often times look so generic and similar. It’s easy to mistake one for another. Back in the day, each automaker had a distinct design language. I’m not sure on the Lincoln trunk but yes, I bet it could get easily jammed if you left anything in the way back there!

      Glad you enjoyed these pics. As you guessed, the Hondas were my favorite too, but I appreciated the chance to view ALL of the cars. Some I didn’t even blog about – including the Alfa we drove to the warehouse, the Mercedes convertible back at his home garage, and the 2013 Acura RDX. Oops. haha.

  2. STL_Dave Says:

    Definitely a worth-while drive to visit an awesome collection! Very cool!

    • I agree, Dave! It’s a good thing I don’t have access to a storage unit like that, or I’d likely be collecting just as many cars. It’s a chore in itself just to make sure they all get driven & exercised! Scott told me they actually use a white board to keep track of maintenance as well as when the cars come out.

  3. WOW! That’s quite a mix of autos they have! A co-worker of mine in Vegas had a Seville JUST LIKE THAT back in 1996. I had no idea Lincoln had a power operated convertible top so long ago. Good Stuff there Mr. H!

    • That Seville was a sweet ride! Such a plush interior. The Lincoln top operation was kind of fascinating to watch. Glad you liked these pics. I only wish Scott and I had more time to play with the cars – but rest assured that he hasn’t seen the last of me yet. Muahahahaha! 😉

  4. Tyson – what map program or webpage are you using here?

    • My google maps program doesn’t list the duration and costs of flights?

      • Dave, good question. All of a sudden a couple weeks ago, my Google Maps on my laptop at home changed over to a beta/preview version of an all-new Gmaps that shows various other pieces of information. You plug in the origin & destination, and it calculates every possible way to get from A&B – driving, walking, flying, etc. It’s pretty interesting. I think it still has some bugs to work out. Weird thing is, when I do mapping from my work laptop, it’s the old Gmaps that I’ve been used to. Not sure when/if the new version is rolling out to everyone or what…?

  5. Tyson, that’s quite a collection of classics and I’m jealous you got to sample some! Don’t they just make you wish more modern cars had the simplicity and mechanical feel of back then?

    • Yes, definitely. Simplicity is awesome! The old Hondas just had a nice “in tune with the road” type feeling. No frills or unneeded amenities – just basic transportation with a fun-to-drive personality. I would like to own a pre-1980 Honda soon.

  6. I would love to get my hands on that Bobcat. That was my first car down to the plaid seats and everything. Do you think it is for sale?

    • Hi, Tom! I’m checking on that! Scott did mention awhile back that they were considering parting with Bob, but I don’t think they have decided for sure yet. Let me get back with you – contacting him now. It’s a sweet car.

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