Archive for July, 2015

Quick Pics in Tempe, Arizona & Vigor Maintenance Update

Posted in Legend, Vigor on July 30, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  534,153


Odometer (ILX):  135,367


I took a little lap around Lakeshore Drive at Tempe Town Lake on Wednesday after work.  Nobody was out (it was a little too hot).


In the background here is the Mill Avenue Bridge which dates back to 1931 and continues to carry traffic across the Salt River.


As a “road history” fan, I learned something during my research about the Mill Avenue Bridge.  It was preceded by an even earlier structure – the Ash Avenue Bridge – just to the west.  This photo shows the Mill (left) and Ash (right) bridges in the 1920s.


The Ash Avenue Bridge, built in 1911, offered a critical first link across the Salt River but was short-lived.  It was far too narrow to accommodate two lanes for automobiles, and it was irreparably damaged by a flood in 1919.  The bridge was finally closed in 1933, two years after the Mill Avenue Bridge was finished, and eventually was demolished in 1991, except for just this tiny piece on the south bank which now has a pedestrian patio/viewpoint on top of it.


This October 2013 article by Jay Mark shares more about the very interesting history of this important piece of road.  It was built by convict labor!  During the two years it was under construction, 15 inmates escaped.  What a grand plan that was.  Haha.

I’ve enjoyed showing off my ‘new’ Acura Vigor to friends in the 4 weeks that have gone by since I picked it up on the 4th of July in Denver and drove it home to Phoenix. This past Sunday, I met up with my friends Chuck & Patty who have a custom 1988 Legend L convertible.  It was warm weather for top-down cruising, but that didn’t stop them from getting brunch at Pier54 in Tempe!


Later that same day, my friend Jason from New Mexico rolled through town so we got some Hawaiian BBQ.


The Vigor already undergone quite a bit of transformation both mechanically and cosmetically.  This week, it received a fresh tint job thanks to Desert Shield in Tempe, Arizona.  The purple, bubbled, hazy film on the windows has been professionally replaced with a charcoal 30% all the way around.  I’m very happy with the results.



From a maintenance perspective, since I had purchased this car knowing little (read: nothing) about its prior history, I pretty much had to start from scratch.  Tait Johnson, otherwise known as “Hon-Man,” has operated a repair shop in Tempe since the late 1990’s that specializes exclusively in Honda & Acura automobiles. One glance at the parking lot upon arrival and I knew that I’d found Honda Mecca.  There were at least two dozen Honda or Acura cars in the parking lot.


I had Tait’s team go through the Vigor with a fine-toothed comb to see what they felt needed addressing.  In the end, they did identify a few things.

  • Blockage in Evap Drain Hose:  This was causing the A/C condensation water to drip on my feet / floor mats rather than underneath the car.  Fixed free of charge.
  • Valve Adjustment:  This Vigor had a nagging “tick” that left me a little concerned.  Tait’s team got it purring like a kitten.
  • Distributor Shaft Seal, O-Rings, Cap & Rotor:  Per recommendation, this fixed a leak.
  • Timing Belt Inspection:  Any Honda lover knows that timing belt maintenance is one of the most critical part things to keep in mind for long-lasting engine life.  In most cases, the interval is every 90,000 miles.  I once had a 1991 Honda Prelude Si that broke its old/original timing belt and bent some valves in the process.  That engine was toast afterward.  Tait found that the Vigor’s belt has in fact already been changed, though there was a concerning aspect of the install – one “guide” is installed backwards and the water pump that was used is a low quality unit.  At some point in the coming weeks, I may do a full timing belt package with Tait for peace of mind.


At 104,392 miles, I got the car back after these items had been addressed and cruised home happily.  Thanks to my friend Hy for recommending such a great shop.

On the upcoming list of items to address, though somewhat back-burner:

  • Exhaust System:  From the get-go, the Vigor has been a little louder than I think it should be.  I suspect that even though the body doesn’t show any signs of rust-through, the car’s exhaust system probably has some wear & tear from spending 20+ years in Colorado where winters are fairly brutal.  Midas quoted me around $500 to get it back to new.
  • Leather Re-Do:  My friend Donald works for a high-end upholstery shop in Scottsdale and said he’s confident he could easily replace the panel of my driver side seat bolster that is worn out.  And not to worry – he’ll match that “Cognac” colored interior to perfection!

So, in coming attractions:  I’m about to hit the road in the ILX this afternoon and head to sunny St. George, Utah (~800 miles round trip).  The occasion?  High school class reunion!  The Pine View High School class of 2000 is ready for a 15-year regroup.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade & a half.  See you on the flip side.  Bonus points if you can find me in this photo from one the dances my senior year.


Drive to Five Review: 2016 Acura ILX Tech Plus

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip, Vehicle Reviews on July 26, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  534,140


Odometer (2013 ILX):  135,215


Odometer (2016 ILX):  6,399


Trip Distance:  306 Miles



I’ve already had over 3 years of experience in road-testing Acura’s entry level model which debuted as a 2013 model in mid-2012.  I can say with a certainty that over the last 135,000 miles, my ILX has been a real peach to own and maintain:  Zero unscheduled maintenance, flawless performance and it still handles as nicely as the day I got it.  But, as can be expected, inevitably automakers have to go back to the drawing board every few years and make updates to their vehicles to keep them at the forefront of technology and design trends.

Enter the newly-refreshed 2016 ILX to join the TLX and RLX sedans in the Acura sedan family.  It was November 2014 when Acura first showed us the production-ready 2016 ILX at the Los Angeles International Auto Show which I attended with the Redline Reviews crew.  Unveiled in stunning Catalina Blue in A-Spec trim, the ILX was a sight to behold.


Notable changes for the ’16 model year include both cosmetic and performance enhancements.  Gone is the base model’s weak 150-horsepower motor, and now standard across all ILX models is the 2.4 liter, 201-horsepower 4-cylinder engine.  It’s the same one that my ILX has, and which came standard on stick-shift-only models from 2013 through 2015.

The sad news is that the manual transmission, with its sheer perfection in its crispness and precision, is now eliminated as an option.  For 2016, all ILX models will have an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, carried over from the car’s larger TLX midsize sedan sibling, which I’ve already reviewed.  I’m a die-hard 3-pedal manual guy, but that new automatic left me impressed.  More on that later.

Before even seeing the refreshed ILX itself, it only takes one look at the key fob to know what great lengths Acura went to on improvements.  Gone is the “chrome” plated unit that gets chipped and ugly within months of normal use.  Now the fob is a hard black plastic that feels quality and looks like it will endure the test of time much better.


My test model was equipped with three different package options, including (but not limited to!) the following:

Premium Package:

  • Leather Sport Seats
  • XM Satellite Radio
  • Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
  • Blind Spot Information
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Monitor

Tech Package:

  • Navigation System with Voice Recognition
  • ELS 10-Speaker Sound System
  • GPS-Linked, Dual-Zone, Automatic Climate Control

AcuraWatch Plus Package:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Collision Mitigation Braking
  • Road Departure Warning
  • Lane Keeping Assist

All of the above brings the tally up to $33,820 including destination and handling.

Where to Today?


To put this new ILX to the test along with my “old” ILX, a few friends and I (okay, 16 of us!) headed for the hills of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona to a place where I’ve visited multiple times in the past – Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway.

In attendance were a wide variety of cars — ten of them, in fact:  Two ILXs, a Mini Cooper, a GTO, a 370Z, a TL, an FR-S, an RS5, a 300ZX, and… a Corolla to round things out nicely!  Brock’s orange Mini 6-speed was the cutest crowd pleaser of the bunch.  Did you know it’s powered by only a 3-cylinder motor?  If I’d taken my 1994 Acura Vigor on this drive, we would have had 3, 4, 5, 6, AND 8 cylinder motors all present on this 300-mile Saturday cruise.


No road trip is complete without proper fuel, and for some reason my friend Peter has a tradition of buying these orange-flavored Hostess Cup Cakes every time we take a drive together.  He shared one with me.  Thanks, P!  Breakfast of champs.



Getting even more settled into the cabin with its “Graystone” colored leather appointments, I started to take note of the many things that were different from my personal car.  Sun visors are made from the same fabric as the headliner, rather than from vinyl.  There’s now a two-setting memory seat function with controls on the driver’s door panel.



The instrument cluster has a higher resolution display between the gauges and a lot more available information.  The bezel around the cupholders on the center console are now a painted finish rather than chrome, keeping the reflective sunlight from beaming occasionally in the driver’s face as it sometimes does with my 2013 model.  Even the seat belt buckles are a new design that’s easier to grab!

Love that rear camera which uses a much larger screen and with higher resolution than the one I’m used to looking at.


Overall fit & finish felt great, as is expected from a premium brand.  I do wish the plastic lower part of the door panels was more resistant to scuffing, as my ILX at 3 years old is showing fairly significant wear there from getting in & out of the car.


You’ve already seen those brilliant “Jewel Eye” headlamps which I adore, but the whole front & rear ends of the ILX have been reworked to give it a more aggressive performance vibe.  The grille has been tweaked slightly and the ILX now has a new set of 17″ shoes.  An optional “A-Spec” package offers 18″ wheels and fog lamps which further heighten the curb appeal.


My favorite thing about the outside of the car is the LED turn signals.

Driving Experience

Amenities and handsome looks aside, the driving experience is really of greater importance to me.  Clearly the 201-horsepower, 2.4 liter 4-cylinder motor is a bulletproof powerplant, having logged well over 100,000 miles on mine without skipping a beat.  Direct-injection is a new addition to that motor for 2016.  For a lightweight car like the ILX, that kind of power is more than sufficient to get forward momentum at a brisk rate.  I didn’t get the chance to have a flat-out drag race between my ILX and the 2016, but they feel right on par with one another in terms of acceleration.


Right off the bat, it’s easy to tell just how civilized the 2016 ILX has become compared to its predecessor.  Where my ILX 6-speed revs at nearly 3,500 RPM at 80 miles per hour, the new ILX 8-speed only works the motor at a little over 2,000 RPM.  This translates into a substantially quieter cabin thanks to diminished engine and exhaust noise.  You can actually carry on a conversation in there!

Mount Lemmon was bustling with bicyclists and tourists as is typical on a Saturday, but the 26-mile stretch from Tanque Verde Road all the way to Summerhaven at 8,200 feet gave us dozens of curves to evaluate our diverse group of cars.  When you’ve got a lineup of sports cars in your rearview mirror and you’re in the lead, you feel the pressure of setting a pace that’s fast enough to be fun but conservative enough to be safe.  Both ILXs are well suited for canyon carving.


The 8-speed automatic transmission is a revolutionary dual-clutch unit, carried over from the Acura TLX model.  Shifts are lightning fast and to be honest, I couldn’t believe that it got into 5th or 6th gear by the time it got to the end of my residential street!  Eight gears sounds like a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised at how little “gear-hunting” the car had to do when commanded to accelerate.  A drop of the throttle beckons near-instantaneous response from the powertrain as it downshifts.


The general consensus on the ILX was a hearty thumbs up in pretty much every regard.  Donald, who owns a 2009 TSX, said the car felt more nimble than his car.  Peter, who drives a 2004 TSX, said he was most impressed with the response from the transmission, especially in Sport mode.  I have to agree with him.  During descent from Summerhaven, the car would effectively hold its gear, avoiding the need to get on the brakes frequently.  We stopped briefly during our descent to enjoy the view of Tucson from “Windy Point” rest area.


Safety Tech

The technology advancements in the new ILX are extensive, ranging from not only the “fun” stuff like the rocking, 10-speaker ELS stereo, to a full suite of safety features.  The lane departure warning does a really nice job of accurately reading the road, the adaptive cruise control is a convenient way to “set it and forget it” with regard to speed maintenance, and there are six airbags in the cabin.  All of Acura’s sedans are rated as top safety picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


Final Take

While the ILX didn’t have the bloodthirsty growl of Kyle’s 400-horsepower GTO or the on-rails handling of the FR-S, in my mind it hits a bullseye in purpose and function.  It’s a comfortable cruiser on the highway – quieter, more refined, and better appointed than the prior iteration.  Yet it still has a thirst for a twisty mountain road and feels right at home with its Michelins gripping a tight hairpin on a mountain pass like the Catalina Highway.  For anyone in the market for a fun-to-drive sports sedan, I’d give this one a nod of approval.

Here are the rest of my photos and a very short walkaround video!


402 combined horses at my command!


Graystone interior


Driveway duo


Sunset in Scottsdale, Arizona


Pre-roadtrip with staging at Chevron


Arrest-me-red Scion definitely was a crowd pleaser


Midpoint on the drive – Picacho Peak, at the Shell station


A few scenes from around Tucson


ILXs at a stoplight side-by-side


Brunch bunch at Viv’s Cafe off Catalina Highway in Tucson, Arizona


Kyle’s GTO getting ready to lead the pack upward from Windy Point rest area


Enjoying cooler temperatures at higher elevations north of Tucson


Matt’s 370Z NISMO getting surrounded by ILXs


Can I please have these LED taillights for my car?  I wonder if they’re plug & play.


Rest area


Descending from Summerhaven




Back to Tucson we go


Following Peter who was at the helm of the 6-speed 2013 ILX


Rounding up the gang for lunch post-drive


Still having fun with my “new” old Vigor, by the way!  This week it got a valve adjustment, new distributor cap, and a full detail.


San Diego, California Weekend Road Trip

Posted in California, ILX, Road Trip on July 16, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  534,065


Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,991


Odometer (ILX):  134,665


Trip Distance:  734 Miles


I bet you didn’t know that the “official” Center of the World is actually in the middle of the desert about 10 miles west of Yuma, Arizona.


Detail on that sign:


Located in the far southeast part of the state, Felicity, California has a pretty bold claim to fame.  The unincorporated community is home to a population of two along with a number of odd architectural buildings, including a pyramid that’s claimed to be the center of the world.  Among the attractions is this 25-foot-tall section of the original Eiffel Tower staircase.  It leads to nowhere and serves no purpose other than to attract people like me, and that’s pretty much all it’s done since it was planted there in 1983.  This little roadside attraction is just one of a handful of sights to see along the Interstate 8 corridor.



How are real estate prices doing in your neighborhood?  A median house in San Diego, California costs just a little over $700,000 (as of May 2015 data).  If it wasn’t for the insane cost of living there, I’d consider relocation to that area.  I can’t think of a more perfect climate – 263 sunny or partly cloudy days per year, average temperatures ranging from 55 to 72, and beach proximity within a stone’s throw.  I was lucky to reside in San Diego County from 2001 to 2003 as a volunteer representative for my church, and I’ve returned to visit many times in the dozen years since.  This past weekend, I took a few friends along with me for the ride.

Drive time from Phoenix to San Diego each way adds up to about 6 hours after you’ve made a couple of bathroom or fuel stops.  For the most part, our route took us parallel to the Rio Grande River which forms the international border with Mexico.  In fact, at times, it’s possible to look south from Interstate 8 and see the fence in the distance which separates the two countries.


Aside from our quick detour in Felicity, we were stopped once at an agriculture checkpoint just past the California state line and again about 50 miles from San Diego at a Border Patrol stop.  Otherwise, it was smooth sailing.  James was at the wheel of the ILX as we descended from Jacumba to the sea level elevation and watched the exterior temperature dip accordingly.  It’s been quite some time since I was able to ride around in my car with windows down & moonroof open.

The “sunny San Diego” nickname didn’t hold true for us, as Saturday was filled with gushing gutters and intense thunder while the clouds unleashed from about 11 a.m. until at least 5 p.m.  Still, we had a good time enjoying the sights & sounds of the bustling Hillcrest area around University Avenue and we found a few great places to dine, people-watch, and make a few new friends.


Thankfully, on Sunday morning it was back to business as usual and the clouds retreated long enough for us to enjoy some al fresco dining on the front patio at Huapango’s on 5th Avenue & Pennsylvania (best breakfast burritos in town!).


Thanks for coming along, and here are the rest of the photos from our quick weekend SoCal tour in the ILX.

Here’s the pyramid at Felicity.  The center of this pyramid – which we didn’t enter due to it being after-hours – is said to be the official center of the world.


Proof!  Established in 1985.


This seemed a little ridiculous.  The distance from our hotel to a friend’s hotel was .4 miles.  But when I plugged it into Apple maps on my iPhone to get directions, it gave me a 3.4 mile route, taking every possible roundabout way rather than just straight down the street.  Sometimes “smart” phone technology is the dumbest way to go.


My car at the Best Western parking lot.  Everything was so green compared to the desert landscape I’m used to.


Sunday morning, headed to brunch at Huapango’s.


Back to the car for our return trip eastbound.


Easy drive, straight out I-8 to Maricopa County, Arizona we went (via El Centro).


More time in the passenger seat for me.  Good chance to enjoy the scenery and play around on my phone!


The 90’s Are Back

Posted in Blog, ILX, Legend, NSX, Road Trip, Vigor on July 12, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  534,030


Odometer (Legend Sedan):


Odometer (Vigor):  104,384


Odometer (NSX):  100,807


Odometer (ILX):  133,489


Total Combined Miles:  1,019,680

Time warp.  If you drove down my street last night at 7:40 p.m., you would have seen me standing on a step ladder in the middle of the street to capture a picture that embodied the essence of 1990’s Japanese car design.  The Vigor, Legend, and NSX parked on my driveway were three of the four vehicles marketed by Acura Division of Honda Motor Company in the early 90’s under the “Precision Crafted Performance” slogan.  I’m pretty sure the neighbors were peeking out from behind their blinds and making fun of me.


Some 20-plus years after they were introduced, each of these vehicles have aged well and are well on their way to becoming classics.


Ranked in order of price here, the Vigor was $28k, the Legend, $41k, and the NSX $65k when new.  That’s $134,000 worth of cars, that I paid a total of $36,500 for.  Did I get a deal or what?


In the background here were two “hiding” Hondas – my neighbor’s black Accord and my 2013 ILX.


Thanks for putting up with my craziness but this was a photoshoot I’d been wanting to do for some time now.


Today I have a grab-bag of features to share – no real “theme” but rather just a a few updates on what’s been going on this past week.

Automotive journalist Jeff Koch who did the photos for my Hemmings feature last November invited me to check out a car he was testing.  It’s this 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat in “TorRed” paint job.  It’s an absolute monster of a car, with a 707-horsepower V8 engine that left me grabbing for a handle when Jeff gave it a little gas on the Loop 101 onramp.


Even just while parked outside the pizza joint where Jeff and I grabbed lunch, the Hellcat drew a crowd of Mopar fanatics.


Sometimes I wish I had 700 horses at my command, but then I realize that my 201-horsepower ILX is getting 34.8 over miles per gallon.  I’ll take the fuel economy.  You all know how much I drive.


On Thursday, my friends Chris, James, and I went over to check out a sweet custom home owned by our friend Shelly.  Look at that lineup of garages!  Real estate goal of mine, for sure.


Meanwhile, I’ve made some great progress this week with my “new” 1994 Vigor GS.  I had to laugh when Chuck from Acura’s Public Relations team in Torrance, California made a comment on my Instagram post about picking up the Vigor.  “You own more cool Acura cars than we do — and we’re Acura, for crying out loud!”  Well, Chuck, come borrow the keys any time!


I had a few visitors this week coming to check out the car.  One was Joe who drives a 1995 Legend LS.


One was my friend Armando who drives a sweet Subaru SVX.


And one was Phil who drives a 1992 Legend LS.  Thanks to all you guys for stopping by!


The Vigor got some detailing this week.  I took to the undercarriage with a high pressure wash so I could clean out 20 years’ worth of dirt & gunk that the car had accumulated during its lifetime in Colorado.  Then I hit the paint with a hand-wax of Meguiar’s carnauba wax and buffed it off with a microfiber towel.  It turned out nicely.


The interior doesn’t need much but I’ll probably condition the leather soon.


Exhaust tip polish:  Before & After


Freshly painted wiper arms in black satin Rust-Oleum.


Oil change and full inspection at Acura of Tempe (couldn’t resist a photo with a new TLX)


And looking pretty shiny now.


Ben from AutoNation where I purchased the car sent me a follow-up email.  It’s clearly a “form” email, but I had to laugh at how he offered to help me understand how to operate the “technology.”  Thanks, Ben, but I can handle 1994 technology just fine!


In other Acura news, my younger brother Payton picked up a sweet ride for his daily driver.  He’s now in a 1993 Legend L coupe 6-speed with just 135,000 on the odometer.  He sent me this text earlier in the week to share the news.


After some fresh window tint and a quick wash, he had it looking great already.  Congrats Payton!


Yesterday, a few friends and I went to Sedona for a day.  It’s a nice escape from Phoenix – only about 120 miles each way – and offers cooler temperatures and nice landscapes all around.  I’ve blogged about Sedona multiple times, including most recently in a Toyota & GMC pickup truck comparo back in May.  James captured this photo of the ILX northbound on Highway 179.





Scenic viewpoint in Sedona


Couldn’t sit here long – parking not allowed along that stretch, and the lot was full with tourists!


Dating back to 1993, this McDonald’s on Highway 89A is the only one in the world with its arches painted turquoise instead of yellow.  The city mandated the color change in the interest of preserving the “desert” color scheme of the town.  Even the homes blend in. Here I’m with Jack and Donald, two of my road trip partners.  Thanks to James from Six Speed Blog for taking the photo.


Rolling back into Phoenix on Interstate 17 southbound


And lastly:  I don’t know where or how this photo was captured (and it wasn’t by me!) but isn’t that new NSX sweet?


Have a great week!

New Addition: 1994 Acura Vigor GS 5-Speed

Posted in Colorado, Vigor on July 5, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,911


Odometer (ILX):  133,031


Odometer (Vigor):  104,259


Trip Distance:  909 Miles


Ugh, I’m obsessed.  As if it wasn’t bad enough having 4 Acuras around, I’ve adopted yet another.


From a 1993 Acura Vigor sales brochure:

From the moment of its introduction, the sophisticated Acura Vigor luxury sports sedan has generated excitement, admiration, and respect from the most important critics of all its satisfied owners.

As the newest model in the Acura family, the Acura Vigor has an impressive reputation to uphold: a promise of luxurious comfort, inspiring performance, unquestionable quality and state-of-the-art safety engineering.  And judging by the early returns, the Acura Vigor is proving itself more than equal to the challenge.


As was clearly published in Steve Lynch’s April 2015 article on The Truth About Cars about “orphaned Hondas,” I’ve been on the lookout for an “Arcadia Green” Acura Vigor GS for some time now.  I’ve crossed paths with a few but they’ve been total junkers.  Bad paint, torn-up interiors, worn-out clutches, theft/recovery, and salvage title history.  It’s amazing what kind of wear & tear can be thrown at a car in two decades’ time.  But as I was en route in my Legend GS sedan to Acura of Tempe for its semi-annual oil change last Saturday, I was notified by my friend Kevin about a newly-listed Vigor on AutoTrader that he highly recommended I consider.


This car appeared to fit the bill nicely.  It was my #1 color choice, a stick-shift (requirement!), and a true certified one-owner with clockwork emissions checks every two years.  Best of all, it was an extremely low-miler with just a fraction of the miles compared to some of the Vigors I’d been considering.  This one had traveled on average fewer than 5,000 miles per year since new.


So, while the Legend sedan was in for its 146,914-mile service, I was on the phone with Ben from AutoNation Subaru in Centennial, Colorado trying to swing a deal on that Vigor.  In the end, we did come to an agreement on terms.  Included in Ben’s end of the bargain, he’d be picking me up from the Denver airport when it was time for me to retrieve the Vigor a week later.

What about this odd-looking, ancient, boxy Acura holds so much appeal?

  • The Vigor is extremely rare and only had a 3-model-year lifespan:  1992, 1993, & 1994
  • The car sold only 43,908 total units, and 1994 was the lowest year at 8,722 units
    • By comparison, the Legend flagship was sold for 10 years and totaled 477,831 units
  • This car was powered by Honda’s only longitudinally-mounted 5-cylinder engine giving it 50/50 weight distribution
    • The 2.5 liter puts out 176 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque
  • The Vigor came from an era when every Acura model was available with a stick shift transmission.  Today, zero are.
  • This car was the predecessor to today’s best-selling Acura TLX sport sedan, filling the gap between the Integra & the Legend where today, the TLX bridges the gap between ILX & RLX
  • The 1994 model year saw improvements over the prior 2 years, including increased rear seat room & a softened suspension
  • Production of the Vigor ended on May 13, 1994.  Since this car was built in April of that year, it was probably among the last few hundred cars off the line.
  • Every Vigor has notable and very distinguishable features:  Yellow integrated fog lamps and “frameless” door windows.
    • If you roll down the windows in this car and open the door, it’s like a convertible’s door
  • This Vigor is equipped in “GS” trim, making it top of the line.  The GS got a power moonroof, full leather upholstery, and an upgraded stereo which set it apart from “LS” models.
  • Has there ever been a cooler name for an interior color than “Cognac”?


My flight to Colorado would be Saturday morning the 4th of July.  On Friday, I slept as best as I could knowing that I had to be at the airport the next day at 5:00 in the morning.  But when you’re anxious about getting a new car and you know you have an 850+ mile drive the next day and aren’t even sure if the car will make it, it’s tough to catch any shuteye.


Ben from AutoNation Subaru picked me up in a Legacy wagon promptly at 9:30 after my short flight on Southwest and we made the 30-minute drive to Centennial.  We both kind of laughed a little at the thought of someone like me going to such great lengths to buy a 21-year-old Acura.  The Vigor was backed in at the covered entrance to the showroom in a delivery area when we arrived at the Arapahoe Road facility.


Ben said he’d had the car detailed the night before, and I could tell.  It was gleaming.  Right off the bat, I did notice some flaws:  both the front & rear bumpers were scuffed, the tint was purple and bubbling all over, and some of the wheels had a little clear coat failure.  But the body itself was absolutely miraculous in its condition.  For being a Colorado car and in an environment where winters are very harsh, it didn’t have an ounce of rust.  I couldn’t detect any paint work at all, and everything was factory original.  The driver’s seat showed a little wear on the side bolster but otherwise the interior looked like a brand new car.


While Ben rounded up paperwork with his finance guy, Mike, I had 10 minutes to chill, so I walked around the car and then started rummaging through the glove compartment.  The leather-bound owner’s manual was there, and I noted that the original owner’s name (Kathy) & her information were handwritten on the inside of the front cover.  Kathy bought the car from Riverside Acura in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 23, 1995 from salesman Jack Storey who left his business card there.


I got a little hopeful that I’d find an original build sheet / window sticker inside the portfolio.  I stuck my fingers down into the pocket and BINGO.  Found it.  Folded 6 times and ripping in multiple places, but clearly the piece of paper I’d been looking for.  The MSRP on the Vigor was $28,735 including destination and handling, kind of shocking since the Legend flagship at the time was a full $10k more expensive.  That paperwork discovery made my day as much as getting the car itself.


Unfortunately AutoNation wasn’t able to give me any other documentation on the car aside from an in-house work order showing that they replaced the sway bar bushings in the front suspension at 103,342 miles.  They also provided a Carfax print-out but it didn’t show much more than clockwork emissions tests every two years.

Finance Mike and I completed our business inside his office.  “Who’s the car for?” he asked.  “Just me,” I told him.  I mentioned that I already had a couple other Acuras and he said, “You should get an NSX.”  He was surprised to learn that I already had one.  It would be inappropriate to complete any car sale transaction without a proper key-handoff photo, so Ben and I posed for a couple of those before I drove off the lot.  That drive-away, by the way, was the first time I’d even driven the car.  I had declined a test drive upon first arrival because I already knew I wanted to buy the car.  Probably not the smartest move, but it worked out anyway.


How’s it drive?  The car’s 176 horses are elderly and I’m sure they hadn’t been pushed to a great extent in a very long time.  As a matter of fact, the Carfax showed that the Vigor had only been driven about 1,000 miles per year over the last 4-5 years.  I was about to embark on a nearly 1,ooo-mile trip taking place in a single day.  Crossing fingers, I got on the Interstate 25 southbound onramp and gave it a go.  The clutch felt good, the suspension tight, and the 5-cylinder engine gave off a unique growl upon acceleration.  At 75 miles per hour, I set the cruise and noted the RPMs at right around 3,100 RPM in 5th gear.  We were in business.  I spent roughly the next 13 hours getting to know my car.  Visibility was great, thanks to huge rear windows and a high seating position.  I got comfortable easily.


It became clearly evident, though, that cars have come a long way in technology and amenities in the last two decades.  I’d almost forgotten what it was like to set up climate control settings manually – as in, fan speed & temp – without just being able to dial in a thermostat.  The Vigor has no radio controls on its steering wheel, and of course no connectivity for an iPod of any sort.  There’s no keyless entry.  And, unlike my ILX which has 6, there are zero cupholders.  Upon sending a photo to friend and Acura conoisseur Scott, he replied with:


It wasn’t until about 100 miles into my drive that I even turned the radio on.  I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds that surrounded me in that “Cognac” colored interior.  The motorized antenna mast went up on command, and I connected my tape deck adapter and iPod for a concert.  Album of choice?  Ace of Base “The Sign,” which was released in 1993.  I wanted the first song to be a period-correct selection, so this was the obvious way to go.


I noted that the brand new Michelin tires provided an ultra smooth ride.  I was also a little amazed that the frameless door windows did not have any wind noise, even at highway speed  When asked by a friend how the car rode & drove, I replied:  “Like a 21-year-old brand new car.”  I pulled off I-25 just briefly when I saw a sign for “Greenland,” since I felt it only appropriate in my Arcadia Green car to document such a thing.


Since Ben had sent me off with a full tank of gas, I didn’t need to stop for fuel for awhile.  While on the phone with my friend Chris from Maryland, I pulled into the Shell station just north of the New Mexico state line in Trinidad.  The Vigor took only 5.6 gallons of Premium fuel to go its first 186 miles – netting economy of over 33 miles per gallon!  Not bad considering the window sticker has an EPA rating of 27 mpg highway!   I grabbed some Wendy’s to go, which I ate VERY carefully inside the car.  No fries allowed under the seats here.


Raton Pass at 7,800 feet in elevation took me over the Santa Fe trail and on southward into New Mexico, where I grabbed a quick roadside photo and then continued on my way.  For being a holiday weekend, the interstate was miraculously “dead” and I was able to set the cruise control at 78 miles per hour and enjoy the green, rolling hills.  There were dark rain clouds on the horizon and I knew it was only a matter of time until my clean Vigor got dirty.  Luckily it had brand new Bosch wiper blades that swept the windshield clean with ease.



It wouldn’t be a proper road trip unless I did a little bit of sightseeing, so I scouted out a place to get a picture in Albuquerque.  Having seen the entire TV series “Breaking Bad,” I knew that the show’s location was in Albuquerque, and I’d been able to Google the location of the main home used in it.  It took me about a 15-minute detour to get there, but soon I arrived at 3828 Piermont Drive and it felt a little unreal to be driving in front of a house I’d seen on TV so many times.  I got out of the car long enough to take a “selfie” with the house in the background, and then a shot of the Vigor parked on the street in front of it.


Just moments before I was going to leave, another vehicle pulled up to do the same thing, and I saw the garage door of the home roll open.  A woman stood there with her hands on her hips giving us crusty looks.  I took that as an invitation to leave, so I happily headed back down Wyoming Street to Interstate 40 and on my way.


At this point, I was a little over halfway home and I was determined to press onward.  I declined the chance to stop at other roadside destinations like the historic Route 66 bridge in Rio Puerco, but instead pointed the nose of the Vigor westward and decided not to stop until I needed food or fuel.


Daylight diminished and I had spotty rain showers all the way into Holbrook, Arizona where I grabbed a bite to eat and checked the oil in the Vigor while topping off the fuel tank.  I watched 4th of July fireworks from the interstate in Winslow, Arizona (and yes, I’ve stood on a corner there!).  The last stretch of road was Interstate 17, dropping down sharply in elevation from Flagstaff into the Phoenix metro area.  Even at 11:00 at night, there was fairly heavy holiday traffic along this piece.  It was 11:50 when I finally rolled into my driveway, grateful for a safe trip and happy to have finally made it home.

I’m not yet sure what the future holds for my new Vigor but I fully enjoyed spending 909 miles with it.  Here are the rest of my trip photos and a video!

Early morning flight on Saturday at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


Vigor on display in the delivery area


Ben filling out my temporary registration tag


Driving away!


That interior color is really bold!  I do like the woodgrain trim which goes from the dash to the door panels.


A few pictures at the Greenland exit off I-25


Few bumps and bruises but not bad shape for its age


Love those integrated fog lamps


The AutoNation advertisements will be ditched soon


Headed southbound toward New Mexico


Revs at 80 in 5th gear


This is how you improvise when you don’t have a cup holder


Not the Vegas you’re thinking of!  This one is a small town in northern New Mexico


Historic Rio Puerco bridge was once a part of Route 66


Arizona state line!  And, apparently I have a taillight bulb out.


104,000 milestone


Christmas in July.  Home the following morning with the NSX (and a piece of the Legend)


Going through paperwork


Here are a few more shots from that brochure for any who are interested!





There were 6 colors available in 1993.  Arcadia Green was offered only with Cognac interior.


Thanks for reading!

Urban Exploration: Beeline Dragway Part 2 – Disappeared

Posted in Arizona, ILX on July 2, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,911


Odometer (ILX):  132,763


Thanks, mom, for always digging up the best pictures to post on Facebook.  This gem from about 1995 was shared today.  I’m at far right, breaking every fashion rule imaginable in those socks & sandles.  And didn’t I look thrilled to be waiting for the parade?


Happy 4th of July weekend, and I hope you’re all as festive as my family was.

Someone named Damon in Ohio is giving me a run for my mileage.  He posted on Wednesday to Acura’s Facebook page after hitting 500,000 miles in his 2002 Acura TL.  That comes out to a little over 38,000 miles per year.  Impressive.  Apparently he drives 200 miles round-trip to his job.  Keep the miles coming, Damon.


Just a quick post for today.  Urban Exploration:

Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespassing onto private property, this is not always the case.

It was a little over a year ago (May 2014) when I let my curiosity get the best of me and finally went wandering around inside an abandoned automotive racetrack called Beeline Dragway that had been unused since about the late 1970’s.  The dragstrip’s run in operation was short lived, at only a little over a decade.

There wasn’t much left to see when I stopped by 15 months ago except for a graffiti-ridden, concrete, 3-story tower which once housed the announcer and equipment.  The quarter-mile asphalt lanes had long since been dug up:


Since I drive past that same location every weekday on my commute home via Highway 87, it dawned on me the other day that I couldn’t see the tower any longer.


“That’s odd,” I thought.  Why would they decide to finally tear a building down that had already been abandoned for 4 decades?  Was there some trouble going on in there perhaps?  So, I pulled off the highway and started cruising around in search of any remains for the building.  I found this particular concrete slab, but the location just didn’t feel right.  I clearly remembered being further east than this.


Taking a step back.  “Nope, this still doesn’t seem like where it was.”


So I went driving around on the dirt paths out there.


And a little more.


And, then I had an idea.  Google Maps.  If I pulled up the satellite view, it would probably have an older image that would still show where the concrete tower & staircase used to stand.  BINGO.  I zoomed in and saw the rectangular shape, and I drove my ILX over to park directly in front of where that building used to stand.  I was the blue dot here.


These are the photos I took in that spot, where the building would have been in the background.



Nothing now remains aside from a few chunks of blacktop.


Another Phoenix landmark gone by the wayside, much like Bill Johnson’s Big Apple and Pinnacle Peak Patio.

EDIT:  Thanks to loyal reader and local Phoenix resident Hy, I’ve been granted permission to post a few exclusive pics from the Beeline Dragway dating back to 1978.  Hy attended the “Winter Nationals” event in February of that year and snapped these shots:



Special guest for the occasion was Billy Carter, brother of then-president Jimmy Carter.  Here he is riding atop a 1978 Corvette.


Thank you very much for sharing these pictures!

Hope everyone has a safe & fun holiday weekend.