Archive for May, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Scans from ‘Vintage’ Acura Driver Magazines

Posted in Brochures, Throwback on May 29, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,644


Odometer (ILX):  80,905


Let’s turn back the clock to around the year “Titanic” came out (1997).  I was one of the lucky few to be a subscriber to Acura Driver magazine (now “Style”) in the late 1990’s.  I recently started digging into the archives and found a few hidden treasures that I wanted to share.

Acura always tried really hard to highlight individuals or families who had a strong commitment to the brand, like this family with a bunch of Legends.  I spy a rare 1995 Garnet Red sedan with the gold emblem package!


This photo feature was published in commemoration of the brand’s 10-year anniversary in 1996.  How different does the lineup look today?  Gone are the two-door models like the Integra, CL, and NSX.  In fact, every single model from this picture has been renamed or discontinued entirely.


Had to laugh at this one – below is a look at what the website looked like in late 1997 – early 1998.  Today’s interactive and elaborate webpages blow this one out of the water.


In each Acura Driver issue, then-Vice President Richard Thomas shared a letter to the Acura community that was followed by a photo of him with an Acura.  This was one example, taken with a Heather Mist Metallic 1996 3.5 RL on the lawn of the Ritz Carlton.  Posh.  Pardon me, does anyone have any Grey Poupon?


And this one with his grandkids while on an outdoors excursion in a 1996 SLX.


Technology sure has come a long way, too.  Below was a sketch of what was on the horizon for the world of satellite-based GPS navigation systems.


I especially loved this story of a sheriff in Jackson County, Missouri who used a 2.5 TL as his unmarked patrol car.  “My TL outperforms the Crown Vic with its 4.6 liter police package,” he said.  That’s impressive considering his TL had only 5 cylinders!


Just for fun:  NSX-T advertisement


3.5 RL advertisement.  “A Ride So Quiet, You Can Hear Your Heart Beat Faster.”  Ha!


Good stuff!  Speaking of Acura magazines, somehow I made it into the latest NSX Driver.  It’s a publication of the NSXCA (NSX Club of America).


In each issue, the magazine features members who are new to the NSXCA.  The of mine that they included was from a trip to Coronado Trail in eastern Arizona a couple of years ago.


Finally, I’m sending a shout-out to Jason from Driven for Drives as he continues his cross-country tour.  He sent me this picture of a meet-up with my friend Sofyan in Washington, DC a couple of days ago.


Nice looking Fathom Blue ILX and Crystal Black TL!


You guys are making me want to hit the highway for some travels of my own.  Stay tuned!

Pics: Holiday Weekend in NV & UT

Posted in ILX, Road Trip, Utah on May 27, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  80,786



Back to the grind!  Here’s just a quick slideshow recap today from a fun-filled 3-day holiday weekend.  First off, a drive on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday afternoon.


The city was bustling with holiday traffic.


I met up with my (Legend-owning) friend Jessie for a bite to eat at Smashburger.


And got a quick picture at my favorite casino:  Excalibur.


Once I arrived in my hometown of St. George, Utah, I took my brother’s BMW M3 turbo for a spin.


Power to the max.


Lots of custom work here.  And it pays off:  The car has been dyn0-tested at > 500 wheel horsepower.


I also drove another German 6-speed that day:  My friend Buck’s 2005 Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor.


This car replaces his outgoing Acura RSX.


Family BBQ at the park.  Left to right:  Bentley (brother), Kyann (sis-in-law), me, Tia (mom), Kali (sis-in-law), Payton (brother).


With my younger brothers.








Love those kiddos!  Sunset from my mom’s back deck in Washington, Utah.


And the song that got me dancing in my seat on the way home to Phoenix yesterday.


Give it a listen here with me.  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Ryan Rendezvous, Million Mile Miata, & Jason’s Journey

Posted in Prelude, Reader's Ride on May 23, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  79,776


Odometer (Legend):  529,586


Happy Friday!

As I prepare for a road trip departure on this upcoming 3-day weekend, I’ve got a 3-part feature for your Friday serving of Drive to Five.

I’ve met some pretty dang cool people through this crazy car community over the years.  Ryan and I ‘met’ (online, anyway) via a website called Prelude Power.  Around 2007-08, I had a project car 1991 Prelude Si 4WS.  Ryan owned the same car and we liked keeping each other updated.  His car looked like this:


Ryan is from South Dakota but he and his dad visited the Phoenix area about 5 1/2 years ago and I met up with them.  Here’s the picture we took on November 12, 2008.  We stood in front of the Legend, of course, which had around 349,000 miles on it at the time.


This week, Ryan’s back in town so he stopped by for a visit last night.


Ryan still has his Prelude, but it’s come a long way in the last few years.  Such a long way, in fact, that Honda Tuning Magazine did a feature story on it a couple of months ago.  Here’s a link to some tech specs on Ryan’s build from the Honda Tuning website.



Ryan took the wheel of the NSX for a spin around the block.  We both commented on how much the NSX feels a lot like a Prelude with its nimble handling, great visibility, and precise shifting.


We also took the ILX for a spin to grab a bite to eat.


Thanks for the visit, Ryan and Emily!


Million Mile Miata – here’s something you all might enjoy.  Sometime last fall, Road & Track editor Zach Bowman picked up a < $2k craigslist ‘beater’ that he’s determined to drive to 1,000,000 miles.  It had 325,000 on it and needed its fair share of maintenance.  A few days ago he rolled 330,000 in the middle of the night, somewhere in Texas.

I’m not totally sure what Zach’s objective of this exercise will be, other than to push his little 1990 Mazda Miata until its odometer rolls over, but that’s a good enough reason for me to (and hopefully some of you!) tune in.  You can follow Zach’s travels via the Million Mile Miata Facebook page.


Here’s a little more background on how the MMM idea got its start.  Good luck, Zach!  I’d love to meet you the next time you’re rolling through Arizona!


On a related subject of long-distance road-tripping:  I’m insanely jealous right now.  My friend Jason (who you’ll remember from the recent Canyon de Chelly road trip) is currently on a 17-state, 5,000-mile road trip across the country in his black 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6-speed.  Check out this picture taken yesterday, just outside Amarillo, Texas.  It looks like a pretty barren landscape, except for those specks along the horizon.


Those specks are actually 10 Cadillacs buried in the ground, at an angle, that have been spray-painted over and over again by tourists.  This is the Cadillac Ranch.


I don’t know how much access Jason will have to a computer during his trip, but keep an eye on his website, Driven for Drives.  I’ll do my best to share bits & pieces of his story as he sends them to me, too.

Safe travels, Jason!  And to any others of you who are out on the roadways this weekend.

Urban Exploration: Beeline Dragway

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on May 21, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,551


Odometer (ILX):  79,709


I’m not usually one to trespass.  I’m a clean-cut, straight-A-student kind of guy.  But deep down inside of me, I’ve always liked exploring buildings that are off-limits.  I guess part of the thrill is that of potentially getting caught.  One of my favorite adventures recently was exploring an old deserted ghost town called Modena, Utah in fall 2012.

For 5 years now, my weekday afternoon commute has taken me through the Salt River – Pima Indian Community.  Daily I’ve passed within 50 yards of this looming 3-tiered abandoned structure south of the Beeline Highway, but I’ve never taken the time to dig deeper — until yesterday.  I decided to finally see if it was even possible to access the building.  I hit the brakes in the ILX and took my next left-hand turn.  Just before entering the driveway of an abandoned double-wide trailer, I veered onto a one-lane dirt road and pointed the car toward the concrete building to the east.


I could tell that the road at some time was paved, but decades of aging had returned it almost completely to earth.  I dodged a couple of huge potholes.  Soon, I saw that the square building had a 10-foot-tall chain link fence all the way around it (and barbed wire looped around the top).  Except, there was an opening just wide enough to drive through.  It was too tempting to resist.


I pulled the ILX into the fenced-off area and hopped out for a few pictures.  One step out of the car and noticed the pavement was glistening in the sunlight.  “Crap,” I thought.  The entire ground was absolutely covered in shards of glass from broken bottles.  I was hoping my Michelins would hold on.  And they did.



I hurriedly took a couple of shots with my cell phone since my Nikon was at the house.  The north end of the building at the ground level was totally open, so I peeked inside.  Elaborate graffiti artwork adorned every surface, and a few stray pieces of garbage at the far end of the room were probably someone’s furniture at one point.  I didn’t take the time to climb the staircase and view the upper floors of the building, but I’d like to go back – and armed with a better camera.



So what is this place?  Its history dates back to 1963 when it was known as the Beeline Dragway.  It was opened that year as a 1/4-mile drag race track.  In those days, races were held on Saturday nights in the summertime and on Sundays in the winter – with some cars hitting speeds up to 200 miles per hour.



The raceway has been closed since 1975 when the lease expired with the Indian community.  It has since been replaced by larger, much more modern facilities elsewhere in the valley including Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) and Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.  Unfortunately, today there’s not much left of the Beeline Dragway.  Some 40 years after its closure, the only memory of Beeline that still stands is this graffiti-tagged main building.



Here’s an overhead view of the area.  Beeline Highway is along the top, with the lone building in the center of the screen as the structure which I entered.  The track itself extended horizontally toward the east from the main building.


I like to think about what the reaction would have been if, 50 years ago, I pulled up at Beeline Raceway in a 2013 Acura ILX.  For the 12 years that it was open, this building was witness to the height of the muscle car era.


I found this really neat video from 1969 when the Beeline was at its heyday.

Thanks to D25 reader Ryan for sending me this pic of his TL arriving in his home state of South Dakota.  Nothing like a little road trip to kick-start the summer.


And a huge congratulations to our Italian reader, Francesco, on hitting an impressive 320,000 kilometers in his Fiat!


Thanks to all of you who continue to share your milestones with me.  Keep ’em coming.

ILX Drive: “The Thing” in Dragoon, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on May 19, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,490


Odometer (ILX):  79,440


Trip Distance:  358 Miles


I’m such a gigantic sucker for tourist traps.


How did it take me this many years to succumb to the temptation and check out “THE THING”?  I’m not sure, but I finally took the opportunity to visit a roadside attraction that I’ve passed by dozens of times.  It’s located along the remote reaches of Interstate 10 in southern Arizona, in the desert landscape between Tucson and El Paso.  I took my 2013 Acura ILX for a day-trip on Saturday to see what this place was all about.


Leaving the Tucson area eastbound, motorists are assaulted right away by bright yellow billboards in rapid succession, advertising this so-called “Mystery of the Desert.”  It’s enough to make you wonder, “What in the heck is it?”  And that’s exactly what the entrepreneurs who run “The Thing” want you to do!  By the time I arrived at Exit 222 for Johnson Road about 40 miles later, I had counted upwards of 15-20 billboards with various messages luring me in.


You really can’t miss this place.  Just when you start zoning out as the interstate makes its way through some rocky outcroppings, your eye is caught by the giant yellow structure.  There might as well have been a fishing line reeling my ILX into the parking lot because I had taken the bait big time.  I plunked down $1 cash and told the cashier, “One adult admission please.”  The man pointed to a door against the back wall and said, “Go through the door.  Follow the yellow footprints.  The Thing is in the third building.”  And off I went toward the entrance.



I thought that the entrance door would lead me into a dark, enclosed room of some sort.  My eyes were blinded when it instead opened up to the outside.  The adventure just kept getting weirder.  Yes, there were yellow painted footprints on the sidewalk ahead of me, so I followed the cashier’s instructions to see where they’d take me.  It felt like some sort of treasure hunt.  Each of the 3 buildings was a giant warehouse of sorts with artifacts on display.  The first had a couple of antique cars (1932 Buick and a 1937 Rolls-Royce), each covered up in a thick layer of dust.


I picked up my walking speed a little bit.  “What is this stuff?  Take me to The Thing already!” I thought to myself.  I paused just momentarily to check out a few other things.  Mannequins, an old phonograph, various vintage pieces of furniture, guns, and Indian artifacts.  Cool, but I wanted to see The Thing.  Continuing on I went:  Building 1, then outside, then Building 2, then outside, then, I entered Building 3 at last.  A colorful banner told me that I’d arrived.  I felt like Clark Griswold when he finally spotted the perfect family Christmas tree.


There it was.


“It’s A Wonder!”

Yes, indeed.  So, there was The Thing in all its glory, enclosed in a cinderblock vault with a plexiglass cover over the top.  So, what was it?  I think I’m going to be a tease and let the secret remain.  Hahaha!

I grabbed a mushroom Swiss hamburger at the Dairy Queen attached to the gift shop before heading back toward Phoenix.  It felt great to finally know what The Thing was.  Here are the rest of my pics from the trip!

Pit stop in Benson, Arizona near Tombstone


Sandstone rock formation on I-10


Exiting at Johnson Road where The Thing is located


From the outside, the warehouses at The Thing are painted vivid colors.


I followed the dirt road around toward the Big Rig parking because I wanted the full experience.


Hype?  Yeah, lots of it.


In we go.


Souvenirs galore.  Yes, this place is a definite tourist trap.


Here are those yellow footsteps.


Building #1


The 1937 Rolls.  Sign reads:  “This antique car was believed to have been used by Adolf Hitler.  The Thing is, though, it can’t be proved.”  Clever.


More footsteps leading to the next building.


This one felt like a museum.


Edison phonograph.  “Plays Cylindrical Records,” the sign said.


What the heck?  A bedroom set in this building.


Post-tour lunch @ DQ.


And back to Phoenix I went!  Drive time was about 2.5 hours each way.


Thanks for joining!

Modern Motorcycle Diaries

Posted in Blog on May 17, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,471


Odometer (ILX):  79,039


Too cool not to share.  My friend Jim tipped me off on the story of a man from El Paso, TX who sold everything he owned and set out on a motorcycle ride over the next two years that would take him through 36 countries in over 120,000 miles of riding.  That man is Alex Chacon, and his page is called Modern Motorcycle Diaries.


Prudhoe Bay, Alaska!  One of my must-see destinations.  Hopefully in 2015.


Alex has captured some of his most memorable moments in a brilliant 3-minute video.

Here’s more on Alex’s background.

Check out this shot taken yesterday morning along McDowell Road in the Salt River – Pima Indian Community.  Too tempting to resist!


Have a great weekend!


Press Preview: 2015 Ford F-150 Pickup

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on May 15, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,467


Odometer (ILX):  78,930



These 3 words are a big part of my childhood.  As long as I can remember, my dad had a Ford pickup truck in the garage.  I even learned to drive a stick shift in a teal green 1994 Ford Ranger.

Here was our F-150 at Lake Mead, Nevada where we frequently vacationed with our watercraft during the summer.  My youngest brother Payton (pictured at left there, and now 26 years old) must’ve been digging in the dirt.


At some point we also had this bright red F-250.  With its extended cab and long bed, it felt like driving a school bus.  Forget about trying to park anywhere.  And need I mention the fuel economy?  This particular 1994 model year 3/4-ton Ford was powered by a 460-cubic-inch V8.  I’d be surprised if my dad was getting anything north of 10 mpg around town.


What I did love the most about that truck, though, wasn’t just the fact that my dad had camouflage seat covers.  It was the 5-speed manual transmission.  Rare, I think.  And man, it was fun to drive.


It’s now time for a whole new chapter in Ford pickups.  Ford representative Brandt Coultas flew in from Dearborn, Michigan to share a presentation with the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) on Tuesday evening about the all-new 2015 F-150. I attended the media presentation in Tempe, Arizona and learned a lot about F-150’s, past, present, and future.  Did you know that this truck has been America’s best-selling pickup for 37 years and counting?  Chances are, you’ve owned one – or at least known someone who has.  A new F-150 is sold every 41 seconds on average.  That’s 763,000 per year!


One of the hottest topics about this Ford is its all-aluminum construction.  Much like the first generation Acura NSX, the F-150 will be made entirely of aluminum.  This means that designers have helped the pickup shed over 700 pounds.


Brandt hit a button on the key fob and the tailgate dropped down smoothly.  We are talking about a whole new level of technology and refinement.  No “slam the tailgate down, make a running start, and hop up inside” here.  The tailgate has a step-ladder built in.  And, in all seriousness: a pole that extends to form a grab handle.  Why, I never.


LED headlights pierce the nighttime darkness with ease – we received a demo of that later on.  The glass moonroof in this truck covers nearly the entire roof.


Part of Brandt’s conversation centered around the durability testing that the prototype vehicles have undergone.  The state of Arizona plays a key role in that process:  Davis Dam, located in the western part of the state, is a 13-mile steep grade that Ford’s test vehicles must climb — in the heat of the summer, towing a full load, with the A/C on full blast.  In all, Ford subjected its test vehicles to over 10 million miles of evaluation before giving this new model the green light.


Despite the fact that Ford is going for a “rugged” buyer, this truck will still have some luxury amenities.  There are LED lights casting a light glow around the interior door handles:  green when the door is shut; red when the door is ajar.  Safety-minded or just for “wow” factor?  You decide.  Here, Joe Sage (Editor, Arizona Driver Magazine) gives that moonroof a look.


Thanks, Brandt for the preview!  We all look forward to getting some seat-time in the new F-150 later this year.


Just for fun, a little more of my dad’s Ford pickup history, in chronological order.

1979 F-150 (circa 1983)


1989 F-250 (circa 1992)


1992 F-250 (circa 1994)


1994 F-150 (circa 1997)


2004 F-150 (circa 2007)


Now, how long before he buys a 2015 F-150 and puts camouflage seat covers on it?