Archive for April, 2015

Sunday Group Drive: Long Loop to Lynx Lake, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Milestones, Road Trip, Vehicle Reviews on April 27, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,182


Odometer (ILX):  123,824


Trip Distance:  243 Miles




“My Bugles spilled all over!”

That was James’ flustered exclamation immediately upon exiting his Ultrasonic Blue Mica Lexus NX200t on a pullout of Highway 89 on Sunday morning.  This particular road is unlike most of our state highways for a few reasons:  It delivers seemingly endless twists and turns, the corners are banked, and the pavement conditions are as smooth as can be.  For any car enthusiast, all those factors can only mean one thing:  Wheeeeee!


So, as James took the corners aggressively in his “cute-ute” SUV to keep up with me in the ILX and Peter in his 3-series station wagon, his open bag of Bugles chips that was sitting on the floor repeatedly got rolled over by a rogue water bottle.  And James, hands white-knuckling the wheel at 10:00 and 2:00 positions, was powerless to stop it from scattering crumbs all over the place in the process.


It was all worth it, and this Sunday drive did not disappoint. This was a small group with 3 unique luxury cars:

  • 2002 BMW 325iT (Peter) – $36,250 as tested
    • 5-speed manual
    • Sport, Premium, and Cold Weather packages
    • 2.5 liter Inline-6
    • 189 horsepower
    • 190,155 miles
  • 2013 Acura ILX (Tyson) – $31,980 as tested
    • 6-speed manual
    • 2.4 liter 4-cylinder
    • 201 horsepower
    • 123,824 miles
  • 2015 Lexus NX200t (James) – $43,398 as tested
    • 6-speed automatic
    • F SPORT and Navigation packages
    • 2.0 liter 4-cylinder
    • 235 horsepower
    • 2,901 miles

From our home base in Scottsdale, we made our way northbound (Loop 101 -> Interstate 17 -> Highway 74 -> Highway 60) and our first stop was for fuel and snacks at the Mobil gas station in Wickenburg.  That’s where James got ahold of those Bugles which later became the strewn-about crumbs in his back seat.


Peter’s 5-speed 3-series took the lead with Jack playing the role as copilot.  As soon as traffic and road conditions permitted, the white station wagon quickly left me in its dust.  Thanks to its custom upgraded H&R Sport suspension and 18″ low-profile tires, the BMW was well-suited for the twists & turns of Highway 89.  The ILX, too, seemed to be right at home in that environment.  Jack drove it for a stretch and commented on how superior Honda’s stick-shifts are.  (A shame, since as of the 2016 model year, Acura has nixed the option).  Between Wickenburg and Prescott, the highway ascended about 3,300 feet in elevation; rowing between 3rd and 4th gears it was fun to hold the motor in the higher RPM range and make use of VTEC technology.


Prescott welcomed us with light rains, refreshing pine-scented air, and cool mountain temperatures.  There was only thing one left to make it a perfect road trip:  tasty food.  And for that, we went to the Lone Spur Cafe on Gurney Street in historic downtown Prescott.



Since it would be on our way home anyway, we decided to hit up Lynx Lake for a few pictures.  I last visited both Lynx and Watson lakes in the Prescott area in February in the ILX.  When we turned off Highway 69 at Walker Road, I noticed that there were even a few snowflakes on the roadside as we headed toward the south shore of Lynx.  We were glad to have sweatshirts.  I know all my readers up north are rolling their eyes at how we Arizonans crank our seat heaters to “HI” when the temperature dips below about 70 degrees.


James let me take the wheel of the Lexus for the drive home from there.


Coming from a lower-slung sporty sedan, I expected the NX to be a little less agile around the corners due to its higher center of gravity.  What I instead discovered was that the NX “thinks” it’s a car, and behaves accordingly.  If I had closed my eyes while driving (not recommended!), I could have easily mistaken the ride & feel for a sedan, and that is impressive considering the vehicle’s heft and profile.

Lexus tries hard to put all the controls at optimal locations.  I noticed that the cruise control stalk (tucked away behind the lower right side of the steering wheel) is the same one that my mom’s 2003 Lexus GS430 had.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix/change it!  The rest of the cabin is a nice place to spend time.  I liked the red stitching on the dashboard (part of the F SPORT package) and the abundance of soft-touch materials surrounding the driver.


Among other adds for F SPORT are the sport-tuned suspension (which we definitely put to work), perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel, cornering front fog & driving lamps, special door scuff plates, and active sound control (“ASC”).  That feature is a bit of an oddity:  It’s a dial mounted to the dashboard below the steering wheel that controls the level/intensity of engine sound coming into the cabin.  Oddly enough, the NX even has a G-meter.  Those are all nice efforts to make the vehicle fun and sporty, but something tells me its primary buyers are folks who probably aren’t going to care.  I picture the NX spending more time fighting for parking spaces at the mall than doing any kind of technical driving.  I have to wonder how the NX would fare on an extreme road like Bloody Basin.


All-in, I enjoyed driving the NX200t more than I thought I would.  At 80 mph on the freeway, there was almost undetectable wind noise.  We streamed Bluetooth audio from James’ iPhone and the 8-speaker audio system rocks out (thanks for reminding me that Bloodhound Gang exists!).  We got dumped on by a cloudburst coming down a curvy section of Interstate 17 between Sunset Point and Black Canyon City.  Even though the NX was wearing summer tires, traction was grippy and confidence-inspiring.  The windshield wipers (front and rear) did a great job of sweeping away the rains and I must say I really enjoyed the higher ride height of a crossover and the visibility it gave to what was going on around me.

Many thanks to James, Peter, and Jack for coming along and to the folks at Toyota/Lexus for giving James access to that sweet NX so it could join us for the drive.  That about wraps it up for this weekend’s adventure. Thanks as always for coming along!  Photo gallery below.

Westbound on Highway 74, following the Lexus


Peter’s E46 takes the lead


ILX spotted in the sideview mirror of the NX


Just about to start our climb from Wickenburg to Prescott


Mile marker near Yarnell on Highway 89


Quick pullout off the highway


Arrival in Prescott


Walking a few blocks to our lunch spot at Lone Spur Cafe


Lunch bunch at Lone Spur


Peter knew just the right angles to get on his wagon pictures


Lining up the cars


Beauty shot


And hey, check out this milestone I hit a few days ago!  123,456!  If it had been one degree warmer, it could have almost been a perfect capture.


Weekend Roady: Wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah

Posted in Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip, Utah on April 20, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  123,150


Odometer (Legend):  533,182


Trip Distance: 1,454 Miles


11:10 p.m., Saturday night.  Intersection of 600 West and 100 South.  Dark alleyway near the train tracks.  It felt like a horror movie in the making already.

I took the driver’s seat of the ILX, pushed in the clutch, and punched the “START” button.  Something seemed off.  The exhaust sound – it was louder than I’d anticipated.  My ears were drawn to the back of the car.  Slowly I turned around to look over my right shoulder.  Glistening in the moonlight were hundreds of pieces of broken glass, and wide open to the outside air was my right rear window – or what used to be my window.  I’d just been a victim of vandalism.


Back outside the car (with it still running and headlights now turned on), I walked around to assess any potential body damage, but didn’t find any.  My next thought – was anything missing?  I reached for the trunk release button and opened it up.  My laptop computer and suitcase were still in there.  At this point, a microscopic feeling of relief crept in.  I debated about calling the police right then and there – but, what good was a police report going to do in a city 700 miles from home?  I already knew I’d be out of pocket a few hundred bucks for a new window regardless.

It wasn’t until I got a few blocks away, sitting at a stop light on West Temple, that the thought dawned on me:  MY WORK LAPTOP.  I had two computers in the car.  The second one had been sitting on the floor in its black bag behind the passenger seat of the car.  Gone.  At that point, mind racing, I did dial 9-1-1.  The operator calmly told me I’d need to submit the police report online.  So, instead of continuing on to have a good time with my friends, I went back to where I was staying and got on the SLC PD website to fulfill that action immediately.  What a night.


The rest of the weekend more than made up for that horrible incident, but I will forever remember the night of April 18th and the 10-hour return drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix with no right rear window the following day.  Thankfully for most of that stretch, I was on Interstate 15 southbound with its 80 mph posted speed limits so it went by quickly.

My 1,400-mile weekend trip’s purpose was to attend the wedding reception of my cousin Kelsee who got hitched at the Salt Lake City Mormon temple.  Along the way, I made a bunch of special visits that broke up the trip and made it memorable.  The first place I had to check out was the teeny town of Holden, Utah off Interstate 15.  I knew Holden wasn’t going to be of any great size when I saw the “NO SERVICES” sign attached to the exit sign on the offramp.


Sure enough, it’s a quaint farm town with a couple of boarded up stores and probably a higher population of livestock than human beings.  The town was established in 1855 as a Mormon pioneer settlement.  A sign at the entrance to town states the following about the people of this community:

Residents of Holden still radiate the enduring qualities bequeathed them by their hardy pioneering ancestors:  thrift, perseverance, and a strong, abiding love of God.

My friend Chandler grew up in this community and just happened to be there, so I paid a visit to him and his family.  They certainly do radiate those qualities!



At Chandler’s recommendation, I again pulled off the interstate in Scipio, Utah about 15 miles further north on the interstate.  Originally settled in 1859, Scipio has never really ‘boomed’ but rather lingered in the population range from 300 to 500 people in the last 150 years.  Today, the main street – “State” – has an antique store that still looks to be in business.  A couple of other buildings are most decidedly NOT in business.  I positioned the ILX in front of a couple abandoned gas stations for pictures.  Those old pumps are my favorite.


After lunch with my dad & stepmom in Salt Lake, I visited my friend Branson and rode around his neighborhood at a whopping 10 miles per hour on a Yamaha golf cart. I also took a peek at Branson’s 164,000-mile 1995 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  He takes great care of it.  Branson and I originally met through a Legend enthusiast forum in 2003.


Branson and I decided to take his nieces and nephew for a mini road trip in the ILX to Herriman, about 7 miles away.  There, we checked out a 2,800-square-foot home that was built in 2011 and modeled after the feature home in the 2009 Pixar movie “UP.”  However, unlike the home in UP, this one didn’t levitate with balloons!  It sure did stand out, though, amidst all the monochromatic, cookie cutter homes surrounding it.

Here’s what the Pixar movie house looks like:


And the real deal:


My cousin’s wedding reception was a top-notch affair at the Ivy House on 600 East in downtown Salt Lake.  It was great to reconnect with friends and family members there.


The randomest thing of all was when I ran into my grandparents at a gas station in Beaver, Utah on the way home.  I ended up following grandpa’s white 2000 Toyota Avalon the rest of the way to their home in St. George, about 100 miles away.


As for a conclusion to the dramatic opening story:  My employer issued me a new laptop computer within 2 hours of my workday today, and my ILX goes in tomorrow morning for a $349 rear window replacement at Safelite so all will be well soon.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!  A few more pictures are below.

Chandler’s family’s backyard with garden in Holden, Utah


Entrance sign to Holden at the north end of town on Main Street


Antique store on State Street in Scipio, Utah


Sign back to Interstate 15 from State Street


Another abandoned service station in Scipio


Location of that service station – intersection of State & Center


Loved this old pump


Lunch with dad & stepmom (and friend Jeremy) in Salt Lake at Cheesecake Factory


Shot of the “UP” house in Herriman


Love the Wasatch Mountains!  It was a perfect weather day.


Springtime is in full swing in downtown Salt Lake.  Here I was parked just outside the Ivy House reception center.


Fueling up next to mom & Todd in their 2010 Volkswagen EOS in Nephi, Utah


1992 Acura NSX – 100,000 Miles Achieved

Posted in ILX, Maintenance, Milestones, NSX on April 16, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,180


Odometer (ILX):  121,438



I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting time or place for my 1992 Acura NSX to turn over its first 100,000 miles.


My friends and I were just finishing up an exhilarating run up southern Arizona’s Mount Lemmon, last Friday, April 10th.  As the NSX odometer’s numbers crept steadily upward like digits on a Vegas slot machine in slow-motion, I watched as the “1” started peeking its way up from below.  Digital odometers will never be as fun as those old “rolling” kind!

Followed closely by my Legend coupe (driven by Peter) and Legend sedan (driven by Jason), we turned west on Pecos Road from Interstate 10 as we came into the south end of the Phoenix area.  Just 5 miles later, I had to pull over to the shoulder for this short video clip:

I’m a historian in every sense, so if you’ll bear with me I’ll share a little about my NSX and its life since its February 1992 date of manufacture in Japan.  I’m the fourth owner of this NSX.  The first owner made his purchase on September 29, 1992 and had the car for almost 5 years.  The second had it for only a year.  The third owner had it for over 13 years, and then I came along. I first test-drove the car on Sunday, December 11, 2011 while my friend Matt and I were in the Bay Area for a Metallica concert.  It had 80,441 miles on it.


Love at first sight?


The following Saturday, December 17th, I flew back to San Jose and sealed the deal with a certified check and a handshake.  The car had 10 more miles on it by then, and I drove away at 80,451 as the new proud owner.  My first fuel stop was at Gas N’ Go on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose.  I paid $3.65/gallon for 12 gallons of Premium and went on my way.  Yes, I saved that receipt.


I listened to the Top Gun soundtrack on cassette tape (it came with the car) for a good portion of the 721-mile drive home.


I’m still in contact with all 3 prior owners. In fact, shortly after I bought the car, I snail-mailed some current pictures to its original owner, William, and he responded gratefully with the following comments:

That is indeed my NSX.  I really was interested in owning one from the time they came out, but the feeding frenzy drove the prices out of reason.  I drove it on the weekends and sometimes on Friday to work.  I was racing Formula cars at Laguna Seca at the time, so I drove it to Monterey once a month and parked it with the Ferraris, the Porsches, and the occasional Lambo that the other racers would bring.

Its second owner, Gary, also had some fun at the very same track:

I did manage to race that car on an open track day at Monterey’s Laguna Seca racetrack and I guarantee that the weakest part of the car was the driver!  How many cars have you had that can be driven through traffic jams and then spend the day racing around the track at 8000 RPM, and then step back in for a wonderful return home trip.  Most of the other participants had to trailer their cars to the track and have all the spares they felt they needed to keep the car going. Two Corvettes had such brake failures that the ran into hay bales at the end of the long straight.

The day before the track day I managed to spin the car four spins while trying to enter a curving onramp near my home.  Mostly because I needed to replace the Yokohama tires that really wear out too quickly and with bad grip at the rear the car really starts acting more Porsche-like and hard to handle.  New Dunlops were perfect timing for the next day on the track and never again spun out the back end.

Up until that the day I picked the car up, it had lived 100% of its life in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I bought the car as a 30th birthday present to myself in December 2011 and brought it to its new home in Arizona.  Since then it’s been with me on a number of adventures.  Here’s a lengthy post where I shared a bunch of those.


What does it cost to own and operate one of these old cars?  As mentioned, I took delivery at 80,451 miles.  Today, the car has 100,060.  So, I’ve put on 19,609 miles and I’ve spent $2,347.14 keeping it on the road.  That means it’s cost me 8 cents per mile.  Keep in mind that we’re of course excluding the cost of fuel, registration, insurance, and emissions testing.  This is strictly a maintenance cost.


Unlike on my Legend coupe, I don’t have “all-inclusive” records back to new on this car, but I do have quite a chunk of paperwork in a 3-ring binder that I’ve taken the time to log and that I continue to track on an ongoing basis.  Here’s what I have record of on this car since it was brand new:

  • 18 oil changes (I currently use Castrol GTX 10W30)
  • 4 batteries
  • 1 timing belt & water pump change (Jan 2011 @ 78,239 mi)

Aside from that, there have been various other repairs over the years.  The big ticket items were a $1,700 repair due to a “snap ring” issue (common a certain subset / production run of these cars) at 37,000 miles and a $2,500 repair at 65,000 miles that included mostly brake work.  Total maintenance cost on record (remember, I’m certain that I don’t have a piece of paper for everything that’s ever been done to the car) for 100,060 miles and 22 years of service is $16,498.55.  That comes out to 6 cents per mile over its entire lifetime.

Here’s my detailed spreadsheet if anyone is interested in the nitty gritty.




The car currently has a few maintenance needs which I’ll be addressing prior to the NSXPO event in Palm Springs this October.

  • Passenger rear inner CV boot leaking
  • Oil pan gasket leaking
  • ABS pump accumulator faulty

I’m lucky to have the country’s premier NSX service & repair facility right here in my own backyard.  Science of Speed in Chandler, Arizona has made a name for itself as the place to have NSX service or upgrades performed.  Every time I’ve been into the shop, there are at least a half-dozen NSXs up on the lifts getting something done to them.

On the topic of milestones and maintenance:

The ILX drove 9,015 miles in the little over two months’ time between February 3rd and April 11th.  It went in on Saturday for an oil change, tire rotation, and replacement of the alternator belt — a $275 service at Acura of Tempe.  It sure is nice being able to go three times as far on an oil change in the ILX than I was used to doing in my Legend.

I took a quick shot of “old” and “new” ILXs on my way out.  You can see the subtle differences in the rear bumper and the taillights between the 2013 and the 2016 models.



Cruising Arizona’s “Catalina Highway” in 5 Performance Hondas

Posted in Arizona, Legend, NSX, Road Trip on April 12, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  533,178


Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,723


Odometer (ILX):  121,263


Odometer (NSX):  100,060


Trip Distance:  307 Miles


Remember when car keys keys looked like this?


Honda Heaven.  That’s what I experienced on Friday.


Most days at the office, I’m trudging through incoming email volume from 150-250 messages during my 9-hours at my desk.  But every once in awhile, an escape from that harsh reality is just what the doctor ordered.  Accompanied by 6 car-enthusiast friends (including James from Six Speed Blog and Jason from Driven for Drives), I headed for the sunny mountain roads of southern Arizona in search of what I’d call “automotive therapy.”  Three hundred miles later, I wore a grin of contentment that clearly reassured me:  that drive was totally what I needed.


Our special guest on this particular excursion was author Steve Lynch, pictured above.  I first met Steve through a group of automotive journalists called Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) a number of months ago.  He and I attended a roundtable discussion at the Phoenix Art Museum that centered around “how to write a book.”  As it turns out, Steve is an expert on such matters as he is a published author.  His 1997 book Arrogance and Accords details some of the inner dealings at Honda during the early 1990s when he was employed there.  He later went on to spend 17 years working in Finance for Mercedes-Benz and currently writes for an automotive blog called The Truth About Cars.


Naturally, when I saw Steve pull up to a later PAPA event in his eye-catching Rio Yellow 2008 Honda S2000, I had to pick his brain a little more.  We ended up deciding to coordinate a drive/story.  And that’s what you’re here to see today.


The Catalina Highway which ascends Mount Lemmon just north of Tucson, Arizona is one of my favorite stretches of highway and I’ve talked about it a few times in the past on this blog, including August 2012 after I’d recently taken delivery of the ILX, and November 2013 when I took a 2014 Acura RLX there to review it.  The thirty miles from the base of the highway near Tanque Verde Road to the summit at Summerhaven are full of twists and turns, and it’s only fitting that we equipped ourselves with automobiles that were up to the task.  Here were our contenders for our Friday fun-day:

  • 1992 Acura NSX 5-speed
  • 1993 Acura NSX 5-speed
  • 1994 Acura Legend LS Coupe 6-speed
  • 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan 6-speed
  • 2008 Honda S2000 6-speed

Departing from the Phoenix area, the first 100+ miles of our drive were relatively mundane interstate commuting on Loop 101, Loop 202, and Interstate 10.  I led the pack in the Legend coupe and set the pace for our 4-car caravan.  After dealing with some heavy construction traffic on Grant Road in Tucson, we finally made it to our meeting spot with Steve who was already snapping pictures.

Steve had scoped out the drive route to Summerhaven beforehand – even going so far as to plan out a few potential stopping points along the way.  The first was at Seven Cataracts, about halfway up – a dramatic overlook of the valley below with ample parking space which we had entirely to ourselves.  The higher in elevation we got, the more pronounced the smell of fresh pine trees became.  The temperatures and light breeze as we got to 6,000 and 7,000 feet made it the perfect weather for windows-down (or top down!) weather.  We rowed our 5 manual-gearbox Honda & Acura cars to the 8,200-foot summit and then paused for a patio lunch session at a restaurant called Sawmill.


From there, it was time to play what we liked to call “musical cars.”  Keys got tossed around.  We looped back to Seven Cataracts as a way to give people the chance to car-swap and experience the other vehicles on the roster.  While slow-moving traffic did at times slow our pace and we were mindful of the need to watch for bicyclists and the local sheriff, we still had enough chances to let our engines breathe at higher RPM and give our suspensions a workout.  At the end of the day, we nodded our heads in agreement that there was certainly no “best” car of the bunch.  Each one had its merits and its drawbacks.  But there are certainly things that stood out from my driving impressions that I’ll share (and similarly, Jason and Steve will also be posting on their respective sites).


  • The 1992 NSX is what I can best describe as a “raw” driving experience.  There’s no power steering so it’s heavy at slower speeds but undeniably direct and responsive once you get rolling.  Body roll is nearly non-existent and there is nothing quite like hearing the roar of VTEC from behind your head when climbing the grades.  It’s a challenge to get in & out of the low car without a bit of a strain.  This car rolled 100,000 miles on the way back to Phoenix later in the afternoon.  You’ll see a feature story on that soon.


  • Kelvin’s 1993 NSX is mechanically identical to my 1992 but has a different shift knob which I loved and a performance exhaust system that really gave the 270-horsepower 3.0 motor a nice growl.  Kelvin’s got me thinking about exhaust systems now!  At 144,000 miles, the car still drove as tightly as mine does at 100,000.


  • The 1994 Legend coupe must still have a few of its original elderly 230 horses alive, because the car was still able to easily pull itself up to the summit without a ton of downshifting.  It’s a torquey motor and still sounds and acts healthy.  The suspension on the car is original (and very noticeably so).  While the ride is comfortable and quiet, the amount of body roll is excessive and the car exhibits understeer extreme when pushed in the corners.  Steering feels overly assisted for a performance driving environment.


  • My 1994 Legend sedan was only driven 278 miles from last July to December.  It sits in a storage garage and comes out once every few weeks for a walk around the block.  This 300-mile drive was good for the car, I’m sure.  I noticed a light puff of blue smoke when Jason fired it up at the beginning of the day – I suspect there is a valve stem issue brewing.  But that Legend sedan became an all-day crowd pleaser.  Everyone talked about how comfy the seats were and how smooth the clutch and gearbox were.  The car is equipped with a Stromung exhaust system that Jason said did “drone” on the interstate a bit, but was fun to have on the mountain roads.


  • Steve’s 2008 S2000 was just as fun as could be.  From the moment I hit that START button on the dashboard I knew there were good times ahead.  Despite having the smallest motor in the group – only a 4-cylinder – it had 7 more horsepower than the Legends.  Handling is light and the car can be “tossed” in any direction effortlessly.  It’s a riot to let the motor rev into the higher range.  Finally, there is simply no substitute for the feel of a top-down convertible on a perfect springtime day.  I loved every second of it.

The takeaway from all of this – and something I think that Steve will convey in his upcoming article – is that these cars embody how it’s possible to inject a fun-to-drive demeanor and a healthy dose of performance into a car that is still comfortable enough to drive every day.  Honda has always been good at this.  Still, we all agreed, the company has been in a bit of a rut in this regard.  Sure – the new NSX will hit the sales floors later this year, but most of us will probably never afford one.  And the newly-announced Civic Type R will make a nice machine.  But where is today’s Acura Legend coupe or today’s Acura RSX?  Give me a fun-to-drive luxury sports coupe that is actually within financial reason.  That’s all I’m asking.  And to the Honda corporate folks who I know follow my blog, that’s my plea.


Many thanks to my awesome friends for coming along on this trip, and especially to Beau from The Shutter Co for sharing his professional photography skills.  It’s thanks to him that we got most of the great shots featured herein.

Kelvin & Tyson – dressed for the occasion with our matching Formula Red twins


The 2015 Lexus RC350 was driven by James and acted as our photo/chase car.  Thanks for bringing it!


Rolling shot of the Legend coupe


Pit stop at Seven Cataracts


Steve’s S2000 was blinding in the sunlight.


Nothing like seeing two Acura NSXs in your sideview mirror.


Lineup at one of the lookouts


Jason seemed to enjoy his time behind the wheel


James and Tyson at lunch


Making our descent


Mile marker near Windy Point lookout on Catalina Highway


Heading out again, this time as a passenger in the S2000


Following my Legend sedan back down the hill


Legend sedan


Stretching our legs along the roadside


Met up with Zac of Baker Brothers Garage back in Tucson


Group shot.  Kelvin had already departed but this was everyone else!


Tyson, James, Steve, Beau, Jason, and Peter.  Thanks guys!

Easter Weekend Road Trip: Family Shuttle to Palm Springs, California

Posted in California, ILX, Road Trip on April 6, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,850


Odometer (ILX):  120,919


Trip Distance:  1,619 Miles


I got home from work this afternoon and found a package in the mailbox addressed to “The Road Trip King.”


Thanks, Alex, for sharing that awesome “AQRA” Illinois Route 66 plate!  I have some of the coolest friends!


As much as I enjoy my solo time on the open road, I always welcome the chance to have a road trip companion (or three).  This time, my car transported some very important cargo, including my mom, my grandmother, and my aunt.


My overall drive consisted of four roughly 400-mile-each stretches of road: Phoenix to St. George, Utah; St. George to Joshua Tree, California; Palm Springs to St. George; and then returning home to Phoenix.  It seems that Palm Springs has been on my frequent destination list lately.  I was just there a couple of months ago for a visit to Thermal Raceway as part of our NSXPO 2015 planning activities.  This time, the purpose of our trip was to attend a surprise birthday party for my grandma’s brother, Reo.  The first part of my journey was the drive up Highway 89 from Flagstaff on Thursday night.


By midday on Friday, I’d picked up my 3 fellow road trippers and we hit the highway, headed for southern California by way of Las Vegas, Nevada.  As soon as we exited at Nipton Road on Interstate 15 southbound after crossing into the California state line, I knew we were in for a roller coaster ride. For the next 75 or so miles, the Morning Star Mine Road took us through the Mojave National Preserve (the same route a friend and I took last November).


While the desert was a beautiful place to be, it’s also a very rugged and dangerous environment to be because of the extreme weather and remote location. Luckily the temperatures were friendly to us. Road conditions, however, were less than optimal. There were potholes the size of manhole covers and at least 6-8” deep. We definitely smacked a few of those at 55-65 miles per hour and felt the impact.



After we had driven through the desolate towns of Cima, Kelso, and Amboy, we started closing in on the community of Twentynine Palms, named for the trees found there by Colonel Henry Washington in 1852 while completing a survey of the area.  Aunt Jodi piped up from the backseat. “Look, there’s one of those homestead shacks I was telling you guys about!” Sure enough, it was time for a history lesson and a prime opportunity for a pit stop.


As it turns out, in this “Wonder Valley” region of the Mojave Desert, there are hundreds of teeny homes that dot the landscape.  And by teeny, I mean they’re typically no larger than a one-room, 12-foot-long rectangle.  These structures started springing up around 1938 when a homestead act was put into place, granting up to 5 acres of land to settlers in exchange for just being willing to build a structure on the property. Very few of them have endured the test of time. In fact, probably 9 out of 10 have crumbled to nothing more than a few walls and a caved-in rooftop. Here’s a very interesting article from 2004 in the Los Angeles Times about the history and fate of some of these homes.  We stopped to get an inside look at one of them.


Our evening was spent watching the sunset from the second-floor balcony of the High Desert Lodge on Twentynine Palms Highway after a delicious chicken enchilada dinner at Mi Casita Nueva Mexican Restaurant down the road.

The next morning, we had places to go and people to see.  Right off the bat, a special occasion took place on Highway 62 through Morongo Valley:  My ILX rolled 120,000 miles.

We took Indian Canyon Road on into Palm Springs for a hearty breakfast at “Bit of Country.”  After a quick visit to friends Scott & Sandy, it was time for the grand event:  My grandma’s brother Reo’s surprise 85th birthday party.  All of our time in the car was made worthwhile in the space of just this one-minute video clip:

After enjoying several hours of food, family, and friends, it was time to set sail yet again.  For the return leg of the trip, instead of going through the Mojave Preserve we opted to take interstates 10, 210, 215, and 15, which would take us a bit longer distance-wise but would probably be just as fast as the back roads.

The last stop on our adventure was in a teeny town on the outskirts of Death Valley National Park called Baker, California.  There’s not much to see in Baker aside from its 134-foot-tall thermometer — the largest in the world.  The thermometer’s height is symbolic of the record 134-degree Fahrenheit temperature recorded in nearby Death Valley in 1913.  The structure was built in 1991 and restored in 2014.


What makes the Baker thermometer even more special to me was that it was the first place I ever did a “photoshoot” of my 1994 Legend coupe on the day that I bought it: March 26, 2003.


Sunday morning’s Easter egg hunt with the kids was a hoot, and after that it was back to the road for my return leg to Phoenix.

Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as I did!


Climbing out of one of the homestead houses in Wonder Valley


Morning in Joshua Tree, California


Arrival at the birthday party


Nephew Rex doing some Easter egg hunting


Road Trip to Dallas Part 2: “Maple & Motor” Legend Lunch

Posted in Legend, Reader's Ride on April 2, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,846


Odometer (ILX):  119,147



Among the many highlights of my 2,205-mile drive to Dallas, Texas and back this past weekend, I wanted to devote a special blog entry to an event that was especially fun for me.


Having been a part of the online “Acura geek” community for over a decade now, I’ve done my fair share of networking.  Today, I have car-enthusiast friends in every major city in the country.  When I started putting together my plans to visit Texas, one of the first things I did was reach out to a few folks there to see if they’d be interested in meeting up.  Turns out, they were.  And they did.

TJ drove all the way from Houston for our lunch meet-up, and Marc came from Austin.  Each of them had a 3+ hour one-way drive.  Now that’s dedication!  Our venue of choice was a renowned burger joint on Maple Avenue in Dallas called Maple & Motor.  It’s a former gas station which was turned into a restaurant and it has received multiple awards including a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives.  Its motto is “Low Class Cool.”


Seating was tight and the lunchtime crowd was bustling, but we were able to find a table fairly quickly for our party of 7 while we enjoyed a few minutes of car talk and delicious tater tots.  Pictured here from left to right are Marc, Tyson, Lance (Escalade), Scott (GS350), Blake, and TJ.  Yes, we let a couple non-Legend people join us because they’re still fans.  And thanks to Amanda for taking the picture.



Here’s a little about the Acuras in our party.  First off, this is Blake’s 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  It was the first Milano Red LS coupe 6-speed on the production line that year.  His car was the 805th Legend coupe built overall for the 1994 model year, and rolled off the line just 27 cars before mine.


It’s nearly broken in at just over 1/4 million miles on the odometer, but you wouldn’t know it by taking a test drive.  During my short spin around the block, I was impressed with its pick-up.


This powerplant is 3.5 liter V6 with a performance air intake system and other upgrades.  Blake has installed a custom Stromung exhaust system which gives the car a nice growl.


This showroom-fresh example is Marc’s Granada Black 1994 LS Automatic with special options like the OEM gold grille/emblems, chrome wheels, and spoiler.


Marc recently snagged this gem from a California dealership and had it shipped sight-unseen to Texas.  He has no regrets, and it’s a stunning example.  It has traveled just 128,000 miles since new.  I took a drive in this one, too, and it felt like going back in time two decades.  It even smells great.


Not to mention that leather interior.


Thanks, Marc and Blake for the test-drive opportunities!


I look forward to seeing all of these people at this year’s National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) in Houston this coming September.


My friend Randy didn’t make it to the Maple & Motor meet-up, but we caught up later over a Whataburger shake just up the road.


When the trip was all said and done, I had a lot of bugs to show for it.


Thanks again for being a part of the adventure!