Archive for September, 2015

NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 5: Final Leg, El Paso TX to Scottsdale AZ

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 28, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  537,971


Odometer (Legend sedan):  149,635


Day Distance:  434 Miles


It wasn’t until I popped my waffle out of the iron onto my paper plate this morning at the Hampton Inn that I realized it was in the shape of the state of Texas.  I guess they want to make sure people remember where they’re waking up.


Today, I bring you the conclusion to a 5-part, action-packed, 2,655-mile round trip drive to Houston, Texas from Scottsdale, Arizona.  My friend James and I departed last Wednesday evening so it’s taken us 6 days to cover that kind of ground.  Technically, though, we collectively covered 5,310 miles, since we took two of my cars.  I’m a little afraid to find out what my credit card statement tells me on the next billing cycle — anyone want to guess what I spent on Premium gas?


Gabe and James (another James, this one driving the red Legend sedan) rolled into El Paso late last night and shared our hotel room.  After we fueled up and had a pre-drive chat, it was time to once again head westward on Interstate 10.  Only a few miles down the road, we crossed into the “Land of Enchantment.”


In fewer than 200 miles, we crossed another state line into Arizona and I said, “It’s about time!”


I set the pace at 81 miles per hour for our 4-Acura convoy and we were pleased that traffic was light, weather was good, and road conditions were optimal.  Even as tired as I was, it was still a better way to spend a Monday than sitting inside an office.  Our only stops were in Lordsburg, New Mexico and then in Picacho Peak, Arizona.  When we got to the Phoenix metro area, I stuck my arm out the window to send Gabe & James D onward to California while James L and I continued to my place.  Gabe and James have another 6 and 10 hours to drive today, respectively.  Crazy.

I’m thrilled with how well the cars performed.  For having a combined 687,606 miles on them, the trip went absolutely flawlessly.  The only fluid I had to add to either car was some of Kevin’s power steering fluid to the coupe once we got to Houston.  Oil and coolant levels remained perfect on both vehicles.  All I have to do is get that tire nail hole patched from Saturday, throw the tire back on the coupe, and it will be ready for another cross-country trip.

I’ll include just a few photos from today, and hope to have a video ready to share later this week.  Many thanks are due to the folks who made this trip possible:  To TJ Vetrone for putting on such a world-class event, to James Lee for driving my second car, to Chris Miller for working night & day to get his car ready for the meet so I’d be able to see it there, and to the many other friends who I interacted this weekend who feel more like family to me at this point.  Thanks, and I’m already looking forward to the 2016 event wherever it ends up being.

Dust storm warning sign on I-10


So close, but yet so far!


Tucson downtown skyline


Photo from James whilst approaching the Phoenix area


Lo and behold:  A Rosewood Brown Vigor sighting, just a few miles from my house.


Home, tucked away, and in dire need of a car wash to get rid of some slaughtered bugs.


Thanks for being a part of the adventure!

NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 4: Awards Ceremony, Drive to El Paso

Posted in Legend, NALM on September 27, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  537,541


Odometer (Legend sedan):  149,207


Day Distance:  742 Miles


Texas is too damn huge.  How is it possible that James and I spent an entire day driving and never left the state?  Here’s how today’s drive directions could have been written:

  1. Enter I-10 westbound at mile marker 750
  2. Drive 742 miles
  3. Exit I-10 westbound at mile marker 8

That’s it.  I’m pretty sure those 742 miles could have taken me through several states in any other region of the country.  I guess there’s one great thing about a simple day on the road – it gave me plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and appreciate the chance to listen to good music without worrying about navigation.  James and I have just checked into a hotel in west El Paso for the evening after spending about 11 hours staring at the open road.  A couple of nice things about driving westbound:  We’ve already gained back one of our two “lost” time zones, and we were chasing the sun so we had more daylight to work with.



This morning, NALM Awards Director Kevin P. Amoth took the spotlight during the closing ceremony for the 11th Annual National Acura Legend Meet.  Kevin’s presentations are always fun-filled and thoughtful.  He even had a few special items for me:  A license plate frame, some replacement cruise control & audio buttons (mine are well worn), and a replacement sticker for the top of my coupe’s airbox cover.  “It’s the last one in the country!” Kevin told me.  I believe it.  Kevin and I have a special tradition for NALM events that we’ve been carrying out for a few years now.  Each year, I take a silver Sharpie marker and sign my name – and a short message – on the underside of his trunk lid.  This year, it was the first time he’s brought his 1994 “Polar Bear” coupe, so I had a clean slate to begin with.



I had some ants in my pants after a couple of hours in the meeting room, especially knowing how long James and I would be driving later that day, so we said our farewells and made our way to the parking lot to hit the highway shortly after 10:00 in the morning.  Unfortunately, that meant that we missed the announcements about award recipients.  Here’s what I know so far:

  • Best in Show:  Jeff
  • Best Wheels:  Kevin
  • Cleanest Engine Bay:  Mike
  • “Because Racecar”:  TJ
  • Best Paint:  Larry
  • Most JDM:  Ross
  • Longest Drive:  Sergey (Seattle area, WA)
  • Best Participant:  Ed
  • Most Improved:  Chris

Truly those awards were very well deserved.  In all, NALM attendees drove a total of over 25,000 miles to be in attendance at the meet.  It took a lot of time, effort, and money for them to be a part of it.  And you know what?  I bet you could ask any of those guys if they thought the trip was worth it and they’d say YES without even thinking twice about it.  Here I am 11 years into it and not regretting a single mile.


An isolated thunderstorm dumped just enough water on the Katy Freeway to make it the first time my Legend GS has been driven in rain since 2008.  No matter.  “It’s not going to melt,” as someone wise once told me.  I’ll detail it up when I get home to Phoenix sometime.  By the time we got to San Antonio and beyond, the skies were clearing.  Everything west of the Highway 1604 interchange got a little more desolate and I was okay with that, because it meant I could set my cruise control at 83 miles per hour in the 80 mi/hour zone and not be worried about excess traffic.


Our only stops today were in Sonora, Texas at the Pizza Hut and then at the Love’s gas station in Van Horn, Texas, for fuel.  An easy-peasy drive – and tomorrow, we have only 6 hours remaining until our arrival in the Phoenix area.  Stay with us as I’ll have one more installment at the conclusion of this adventure!

A few more photos from today follow.

Kevin presenting Mike with the “Golden Glow” Award this morning.


Quick photo of my car with Ben’s white coupe.  I will see Ben in a few weeks at NSXPO in Palm Springs, and we’re going to get a similar photo of our NSXs together.


I-10 westbound approaching San Antonio – this isn’t something you see in Arizona.  “Hurricane Evacuation Route”


Pizza Hut parking lot in Sonora, Texas


And the open road awaits


Fueling up at Love’s in Van Horn, Texas


Dinner is served!


Safe travels to all you other NALM-goers who are still traveling to your respective homes.

NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 3: Car Show, Dealership Visit, and BBQ

Posted in Legend, NALM on September 26, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  536,775


Howdy y’all.  See?  It’s only been 48 hours since I made myself a Temporary Texan, but I’ve already assimilated to the language and culture of this region.  The last couple of days have been action-packed with Legendary activities.  We are, quite literally, “sweating to the oldies.”  Old cars, that is.  With lots and lots of Houston humidity thrown in.


Our group took over the Marriott breakfast area on the 10th floor of our hotel, then migrated to ground level and pulled our vehicles around to the west side of the building where they could be staged in preparation for our car show and visit to the neighboring Acura dealership, called John Eagle.  NALM Director TJ Vetrone had arranged with the manager of the dealership to have our cars roll through the Service facility in preparation for a quick photoshoot of each.  He made special considerations for my two ‘twins,’ and we got a photo of them together. John Eagle is the largest-volume Acura dealership in all of Texas.  I believe it.  The facility is gargantuan, and its staff members were most welcoming.


Next up, we received instructions for our NALM “Concours d’ Elegance.”  We just called it a car show; we aren’t that fancy.  Voting forms were passed out which contained 8 categories by which attendees were asked to pick one “best” car for each.  The competition was extremely fierce and emotions ran high.  Alan from FL and Kevin from GA got into an especially heated discussion (all in good jest, of course) over some apparent misrepresentation of who owned which car.  We’ll see how the award recipients end up playing out at tomorrow morning’s NALM Closing Ceremony. Each car owner took the time to explain his vehicle’s story during the show while the judging was conducted.  Here’s Chris giving the lowdown on his 1994 GS.


TJ brought out our catered lunch and served up sandwiches & sodas from the bed of his pickup.  It was great to prop up a camp chair and sit in the shade while conversing over riveting topics like “What’s the Legend’s weight?”  I saw an opportunity to take a special survey during that downtime, so I grabbed a pen & paper and walked along the lineup of Legends in the car show to take note of the mileage reading of each.  Here are the findings:

  • 19 Legends being judged
  • 18 generation 2; 1 generation 1
  • Average miles:  218,292
  • Total miles:  4,147,555
  • Total trips around the earth:  166

Those are some impressive statistics from our group of long-lived cars!  This evening, my local Houstonian friend Mark came over in a legendary car of his own, a 1995 Subaru SVX.  I hitched a ride with him to dinner in his so-called “spaceship.”  The SVX model design is famous for its 10 windows.  Mark’s car is even more unique because he’s changed out the automatic transmission for a 5-speed manual.  It made a great shuttle ride to our dining destination at Spring Creek Barbeque.


As the sun sets on another fun day with friends and cars, we are nearing the conclusion on this great annual event and people are already starting to talk about where the event may land next year.  Here are the rest of photos and a play-by-play of what went on throughout the day here.

My friend Aaron has a tradition of throwing himself over the hood or roof of my cars whenever I see him.  Today was no exception.  Hey, don’t scratch the paint!


To a non-Legend enthusiast, all this NALM Nonsense is a bit insane.  I had a good laugh at my friend Leif’s comment via text this morning.


There’s no doubt the nerd level among some of us is off the charts.  I realized that fact this evening when I asked my friend and fellow attendee Ben to recite his car’s 17-digit VIN.  He spat out the number just as memorized as if I’d asked him to say the alphabet.

It wouldn’t be a NALM without at least some kind of mechanical need!  I noticed a nail in my front left tire this morning so I promptly replaced it with my full-size spare… which was also flat.  Luckily, Evan came to the rescue with an air compressor and we got it loaded up to 33 psi for the long upcoming trip home.


My friend Humberto and his buddy Vikas stopped by to say hello!  Humberto drives a Milano Red Acura TSX and has been a Drive to Five reader for some time now.  Thanks for the quick visit, guys!


Lunch is served:


Matt showed us the original purchase invoice for his 1994 Acura Legend sedan.  It’s been in the family since brand new.


Matt brought along the youngest member of the Legend fanclub, Gus!


Everyone checking out Larry’s immaculate engine during the car show.


Ed, Alan, and Mike had the right idea with the camp chairs in a shady spot.


Mike’s “Golden Glow Pearl” was stunning in the sunlight!


Chris displayed his window sticker & fact sheet on his 1994 Legend GS.


Ross brought his Cobalt Blue Pearl 1991 sedan out, and included a few notes about what makes it special.


Notice in his summary:  He saved this car from the junkyard and put it back on the road where it belongs!


Spoilers for days.


Car show, engine judging.


TJ presented me with a “LEGEND” customized vanity Nevada license plate.  Thanks, man!


Little preview into some of the car show drama we had!  More on that in an upcoming video.


Figured it was worth a shot to walk just a block down the road from our hotel and get a picture with Chris at the entrance to Houston.


Checking out the undercarriage of Chris’ Legend GS at John Eagle dealership a little later.


Dinner location at Spring Creek BBQ


Group at dinner


And saying a fond farewell to Mark, Misty, and Ian who joined us for tonight’s meal.


Thanks for joining for another day!  The adventure continues tomorrow with a long drive home ahead.

NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 2: Exploring Houston’s Scenic Backcountry

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2015 by tysonhugie

The NALM games have begun out here in Tex-Ass!  Welcome to the 11th Annual National Acura Legend Meet.

As I peer down upon the couple dozen cars in the parking lot from our room here on the 16th floor of the Marriott host hotel in Katy, I see some tired cars and some tired people.  It’s been an action packed but very enjoyable day.  Gabe has his 1993 Legend coupe up on a jack stand to address some wiring issues.  Jeff is finishing up a concours-level detail job.  And a few people are unloading stuff from their cars after today’s couple-hundred-mile driving adventure through the Sam Houston Forest.  It was a sight to behold to participate in a convoy of Legends as we visited some photo opportunities and dined on some of the best ‘cowboy grub’ I’ve ever had.


At 9:00 in the morning, NALM Director TJ Vetrone called a driver’s meeting and gave us a briefing on the overall route and destinations we’d be visiting throughout the day.  Along with the help of his dad, John, TJ truly showed us a great time.  Our first stop was an abandoned town called Richards.  Oops, I guess not abandoned:  296 people live there.  For the 45 or so minutes until our arrival, my concentration was aimed as much at the cars ahead of me as it was behind me.  It’s not every day I get to drive down a highway sandwiched in between cars of my same make and model.  I must say I enjoyed the view.


NALM Photographer Dani Stir was the man of the day.  This guy will do anything for a photo-op.  I watched him climb atop a full size Chevy pickup and I watched him stand outside a moonroof at 70+ miles per hour, facing rearward, to capture in-motion shots.  And he did it all with a smile on his face.  Thanks, Dani, and we can’t wait to see how the pics turn out!



Yankee’s Tavern in Carlos, Texas was the dining venue of choice for a late lunch – and what a great choice it was.  Following John’s recommendation, I went with the Patty Melt (and added some mushrooms for good measure).  It was a winning selection!  This thing was juicier than any burger I’ve ever had.  It wasn’t long before TJ and Dani started cooking up another photo idea, so soon we lined up the cars yet again for a picture on the grass just behind Yankee.  I was given the exclusive opportunity to stage both of my cars atop a small hill, with the remainder of attendees grouped below.


On the way back to our host hotel in Katy, we did have just one more stop to make:  The Grimes County Courthouse.  Built in 1894, this structure today stands as an “island” of source with pavement all the way around it.  One at a time, under John’s direction, each driver pulled his car over by the front steps of the building while Dani snapped a photo.

It’s a successful NALM day in the books.  For those who couldn’t make it this year, I hope this gives you a quick glance into how our day went.  There’s much more to come.  See you tomorrow.

Hotel room with a view!


Alan doing some finishing touches on his Legend GS detail:  “Back to Black” on those plastic trim pieces.


Leon installed a NALM sticker on the hood of his 1995 Legend LS.  Official Pace Car!


Kevin saved the day by coming to my rescue with some power steering fluid that I was low on.


Departing the Marriott, following Mike’s gorgeous 195,000-mile 1991 “Golden Glow Pearl” sedan.  Mike bought that brand new.  How many of you have kept the same car for 24 years?


Fuel up in Montgomery, Texas.  Btw, gas is cheap here!  I saw $1.95!


Tyson and Chris – standing with our “twin” GS sedan 6-speeds.  Mine has 148,000 miles and his has 141,000.  The cars are only 145 production numbers apart.  Both were built in February 1994.


A rare sighting – I got to follow my own car while driving Chris’ GS.


Even more rare:  My coupe, with my sedan in the mirror, while driving Chris’ car.  This was just prior to our photo op in Richards.


The four Desert Mist Metallic Legends lined up.  These are all 1994 models.


Tyson and James posing with the cars.


Alan is from the Tampa area and he brings out this straw hat to every NALM.  I need one.


Sorry, just can’t get enough of these butts.


Vanna…. er, Chris Miller!


Legends parked at Yankee Tavern!


16 ounce Rib Eye!  Wednesday nights.  I need to go back.  Blake’s 6-speed 1994 coupe pictured.


Inside Yankee Tavern.


Alan on the phone with his wife Nancy.


Gearing up for a photoshoot on the grass.


Chris taking a look at his engine bay.  Grimes County Courthouse in the background.


Special visit from a Houston local and a good friend of mine – Mark.  He brought his big-bodied bombshell, “Vivian” out to say hello.  Vivian is a 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8.  She sounds pretty mean with that custom exhaust.


Check you tomorrow!

NALM 2015 in Houston, Part 1: Scottsdale AZ to Katy TX

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on September 24, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  536,520


Trip Distance:  1,149 Miles


I MADE IT.  My annual pilgrimage to Legend Mecca is underway and it feels like I’ve done this before.  In fact, I’ve done it ten times – every year driving to a different city around the country to meet up with other car geeks.  On Tuesday night, a few fellow enthusiasts with the same idea stopped by my house in the late evening.  James, Gabe, and Mirel took a short break in my living room before heading out in the middle of the night.  James had driven all the way from the San Francisco Bay Area, Gabe from Los Angeles area, and Mirel a local guy just getting ready to embark.  We had 6 Legends at my place in Scottsdale for a couple of hours.


Gabe, Mirel, James, Tyson pictured below.  Those three crazies next to me continued on to Houston around 11:30 p.m.


On Wednesday afternoon after work, my friend James and I hit the road in two matching 1994 Legends:  My 1994 LS coupe, and my 1994 GS sedan.


Ahead of us was a 6-hour drive that evening to an overnight stay in Las Cruces, New Mexico with our friend Jason.  When we rolled our convoy in the combination KFC / Taco Bell in Benson, Arizona, the cashier gave us a head nod and said, “Nice cars!”

Jason rolled out the red carpet – and comfortable sleeping accommodations – for the weary travelers.  His place is located right off I-25 so it made for an easy getaway the following morning bright and early.  James and I fueled up on Lucky Charms and then hit the road with another 11-hour stretch of road ahead of us.  Those 11 hours soon became closer to 13, thanks to a few delays.  No cross-country road trip is complete without them.  First of, all we got gridlocked in El Paso traffic right at morning rush hour.  After breaking free from that mess, I got on the walkie talkie and told James that I wanted to pit stop in Van Horn, Texas next.  By then, both of us were ready for a bathroom break and a beverage.  James snagged this photo of me with the cars.


The next several hours, I kept a close eye on James in my rearview while enjoying the west Texas countryside ahead and around me.  Traffic broke up and pretty soon we had our cruise control speeds set at 85 miles per hour thanks to the 80 mph limit on those interstate freeways.  Our next fuel stop was in “Ozona,” a quaint little town of 3,200 people and a few gas stations.  At each fuel stop, I topped off both cars.  The interesting part?  The Legend sedan consistently got about 1/2 mile per gallon better mileage.  I guess that might be in part due to the fact that it has only 148,000 miles on it as compared to the coupe’s 536,000.  The window sticker quotes a highway rating of 26 but both cars were getting beyond that – the sedan sitting right around 27.


San Antonio traffic was a cluster.  I thought I was being all clever to suggest that we avoid downtown at rush hour by going AROUND town on a 26-mile bypass loop called Highway 1604.  But, my confidence was quickly squashed when we came to an immediate halt on the offramp.  For the next 30 minutes, we dealt with aggressive drivers, narrow lanes, heavy traffic, and a woman in a Ford Expedition who was so dead-set on not letting James merge that she nearly caused an accident in the process.  We were glad to get back on the open road toward Houston when we reconnected with I-10.


Finish line in sight, James and I had just about 50 miles to go to the NALM host hotel in Katy.  As the sun dipped down in my rearview mirror, I was rocking out to some good music and I had a Red Bull in hand for a little extra caffeine kick.  James said over the walkie talkie: “So, this is where we get to figure out how to balance a Red Bull between our legs?”  The Legends equipped with a manual transmission have zero cup holders, so handling a beverage on the go inevitably becomes a bit of a challenge.


Once again, our enthusiasm was dampened when traffic came to a literal stop on the freeway.  We sat in a parking lot on I-10 eastbound for about 15 minutes.  I even turned the car off because people started getting out of their vehicles.  Do you know how frustrating that is to be within 50 miles of your 1,300-mile road trip destination and be stuck in a traffic jam?  Worst of all, I knew we were missing the pizza party at Brother’s Pizza where all other NALM attendees were dining out.  When we finally DID start moving again, we were engulfed in a cloud of dust because the construction zone sent us through an unpaved portion of road.  Goodbye clean cars!


I didn’t care, though, at that point.  Because we were about to meet up with my long time friend Chris Miller of Baltimore.  For the last 8 weeks or so, Chris has painstakingly been preparing his new acquisition, a 1994 Legend GS, for participation at this year’s NALM.  Except – I was one of only a few people he told about it.  His arrival at NALM was to be a complete secret for most of the attendees.  James and I met up with Chris at a Walmart parking lot off the Katy freeway, then arrived at the Marriott host hotel in caravan.  The reactions of those who hadn’t before seen Chris’ new car was priceless.  His work and efforts had paid off.  When Chris pulled into the parking lot and put his car among the 30 or so other Legends in the parking  lot, he had everyone’s attention.


And so began the reunion with all my great Legend friends.  These are people from all over the country who come together once a year in celebration of this crazy thing called Legend Love.  Ben flew from Shanghai, then drove his car from San Francisco.  Sergey drove from Seattle.  Alan drove from Florida.  Kevin brought his 300,000+ miler from Georgia.  Nothing stops these people!  They are here because they want to be, and I’m honored to call them friends.  We have a fun next few days in store and I’ll bring you the latest as time allows.

Here are a few first pics from the adventure!

James following me out


Fuel stop in Benson, Arizona


Entering Texas


And getting stuck in El Paso traffic


Group text with other NALM attendees.  I guess they weren’t having any better luck in Houston than I was in El Paso.


I kept checking Chris’ location to see if he’d beat me to Houston, since we were trying to align our arrival times.


Split of I-20 and I-10.  I took this same route earlier this year when I drove the ILX to Dallas.


Rolling 536,000!


Legends as seen outside Sonic in Ozona, Texas during our lunch.


Closing in on San Antonio on I-10 eastbound.


Traffic.  Bleh.


Fuel up at Love’s just east of San Antonio.


Legend Lineup at the Marriott in Katy, Texas.  Just a fraction of them!


More to come!  Stay tuned.

Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem: Getting Ready for NALM 2015

Posted in ILX, Legend, Maintenance, NALM on September 20, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (1994 Legend Coupe):  535,330


Odometer (1993 Legend Sedan):  178,352


Odometer (1994 Legend Sedan):  147,051


Combined Legend Miles:  860,733

Now that my fleet of Acu-rides has grown to a half-dozen, one of my readers requested a photo of all the keys in a lineup.  Well, this one’s for you, Sunny!  In order here L to R are 1992 NSX, 1993 Legend sedan, 1994 Legend sedan, 1994 Legend coupe, 1994 Vigor, and 2013 ILX.


It’s that time of year again when the Legend fans of the world (all two dozen of us, ha!) get together at an annual event called the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM).  It’s tradition – even obsession – for some of us to make sure it happens each year.  For 2015, our host city will be at the fourth most populous city in the United States (at a staggering 6.3 million residents in the metro area):  Houston, Texas.  This destination marks a homecoming of sorts, since the inaugural NALM in 2005 was held in Dallas a few hours to the north.


For this voyage, you’ll be joining me for a trip length of 1,178 miles each way, which according to Google Maps should take 16 hours & 24 minutes of drive time.  Get your road snacks ready.


This will be my 11th NALM.  The last few years’ events are detailed here:

Here’s a photo of last year’s program in Los Angeles.  I think we had 30-someodd cars in attendance.  Panorama!


A 2,400-mile round trip journey is no small undertaking, so I have to make sure my Legends (2 of the 3, anyhow) are up to the challenge.  For this trip, my 1994 coupe and 1994 sedan will be making the drive.  Thanks in advance to a yet-unnamed friend who will be driving one of the cars on my behalf.  On Saturday morning, I took the Vigor over to swap it out for the 1994 Legend sedan in storage.



Back at the house, it was nice to start “seeing double” again.  I’ve had the coupe since 2003 and the sedan since 2008.  They were built 5 months apart (9/93 versus 2/94) but they are the same model year, color, and drivetrain.


Let’s take a peek under the hood and check out a few fluid levels.  Here’s the 4-door.


And here’s the 2-door.  Identical, right?  Only to the untrained eye.  The coupe is missing a sticker on its airbox (Kevin, I know you sent me one – I just haven’t installed it yet!) and has some aftermarket stereo wiring.


For kicks, the new 1993 sedan.  Some clear differences here.  Let’s ditch that aftermarket air intake soon.


The coupe went in for maintenance on Thursday afternoon and received a full inspection and 5W30 oil change at Acura of Tempe.  I added a new page to my 2-binder collection of receipts, and a 257th line to my maintenance spreadsheet on that car.  The technician noted some (known) oil leaks and he said the front tires are “yellow” status so I should probably rotate those on my next oil change.  Otherwise, a clean bill of health and Dana, my service advisor sent me off with “Have a great trip!”  Even she has no doubt the car will get me to TX & back.



We will depart on Wednesday evening.  I’ll post as best I can with regular updates, so come back soon!

I have a few fun high-mileage topics to share with you:

My coworker, Todd, achieved the 320,000 milestone in his Volkswagen Passat this week and sent me a photo. Congrats, Todd!


My friend Spencer sent me photos of an Accord his dad took on trade at the family dealership in California.  It’s a 2000 model year with 509,000 miles on it, and the original automatic transmission!  Looks pretty decent for that kind of mileage!


509,000 miles on a 2000 comes out to 33,933 miles per year!


And finally, I’ve reached out to the folks at The Smoking Tire who are on a mission to get to the 1 million milestone on a 1996 Lexus LS400.  Site founder Matt Farah bought the car not long ago with just a little fewer than 900,000 on the odometer.  He’s passing it around to various automotive journalists around the country and letting them help the old Lexus get to 7-digit territory.

I thought this article (and video) about the LS were great.  The article discusses how most often it’s the type of OWNER responsible for achieving high-mile status, rather than the type of car.  Take care of your vehicle and it’ll take care of you!


A couple friends and I took a trip to Bartlett Lake, northeast of Phoenix, yesterday with the ILX.


A little dirt road didn’t scare me away.


Perfect weather now that we’ve dipped out of triple-digit temperatures.  Welcome, fall.


Hope you’re enjoying the weekend too!

New Addition: 1993 Acura Legend L Sedan Automatic

Posted in Legend on September 17, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  535,301


Odometer (ILX):  141,139


This 1993 magazine advertisement got it so right:

“Few people are discerning enough to appreciate the very best.  Which, of course, is part of the appeal.”

95 AutoShow Ad - Legend G2

Let’s just say I allowed another car to creep into the stable:  my tenth Acura Legend overall, and my third currently.  Pretty soon my house may start looking like “Legend Land” – my buddy Alan’s place near Tampa, Florida.  (He has 6)


Please allow me to introduce 1993 Legend sedan production number 29,711.  It was manufactured in June of 1993.



Tech Specs:

  • Canterbury Green Metallic (G-75M Paint Code)
  • Taupe (Type E) Interior
  • 200-Horsepower, 3.2 Liter, “Type I” C32A Engine

The story on this special Legend dates back to the fall of 1993.  Mr. John Brindley treated himself to a brand new car from Rosenthal Acura in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  It was sold by a salesman named Kirk Slobody whose business card is still carefully placed into the owner’s manual sleeve.  John had been cross-shopping a variety of other cars at the time, including stopping by the Lexus dealership in Silver Spring to see what they had to offer.  The Canterbury 1993 Legend L caught his eye when he looked at the color palette.


As an “L” trim level car, the MSRP came out to $34,585 including Destination & Handling.


After working a deal with Kirk, John drove away on this 45-day Maryland temp tag.


The Legend was a regular daily driver for the Brindley family for its first 10 years.  It became a family tradition for John’s son, Sean, to take pictures with the Legend over the years.







By 1996, the Brindley family moved to Austin, Texas and took the Legend with them.  In December 2004, Sean joined the Acura Legend enthusiast forums.  He was 16 years old and had just received the Legend (now at around 136,000 miles) as his first car.  He started posting fairly regularly, racking up 860 posts – sharing photos, looking for feedback, and participating in the overall ownership community.  It was then that he and I first started corresponding, as I was also an excited Legend driver with my newly-acquired 1994 LS coupe.

Sean posted some photos on the Legend forum on June 9, 2005 after his pride & joy Legend had been freshly tinted & detailed.  I was one of the first to respond with this comment:  “CLEAN!  Looks fantastic!”  I would have never thought that (almost exactly) a decade later, Sean’s Legend would be making its way to Arizona for a new home.  Here’s that forum post:


In July 2006, Sean moved on to a brand new 2006 Honda Accord EX-L coupe 5-speed and the Legend was retired from daily duty.  It instead became an airport car for his dad and was used only occasionally.  By now, the car has racked up over 150,000 miles.  The clear coat on the paint began to fail, the leather seats hardened and cracked, and some mechanical needs surfaced:  the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) failed, the Check Engine light came on, and the car developed a few leaks.   For the next 9 years, the Brindley family continued to hold onto the Legend as an extra car, but finally decided in 2015 it was time to find it a new home and clear some space.

In deciding the fate of the Legend, a few options were available.  A dealership offered $1,000 on trade when Sean’s mom bought a new Volvo.  The Brindleys also had the option of donating the car or selling it outright.  One last idea was to send the car to the collection of the biggest Legend fan in the country – not Ludacris – but me.  So Sean reached out in late April 2015 to gauge my interest in adopting another car into my fleet.  Between April and July, Sean and I corresponded about the idea of sending his car to Arizona.  While mechanically sound enough to make the 1,005-mile drive from Austin to Scottsdale, we decided it would be our best bet to engage the services of a transport company.

By July 24, a transport truck was scheduled.  Sean and his family prepared the car by doing a final wash, taking a few more pre-departure photos, and getting things ready to roll.  Sean’s sister, Meghan, tweeted a final photo on the day that the Legend was picked up by Elite Auto Transport at the family home in Austin.  Looks like even Tyler the pup was enjoying himself.


It was both a happy and a sad time for Sean, having grown up around the Legend.  He was only around 5 years old when his dad had brought the Legend home in 1993, so it had been a member of the family for almost as long as he could remember.


Sean sent me some photos of the final interior wipe-down.


Even though Sean has moved on to classy sportscars like this red Porsche 911, the Legend would always hold a special place in his heart.


There are few original cars in existence with such a rich and intact two-decade history.  Sean’s family had logged every gallon of gas since the car was new.  The first entry was on September 6, 1993.  The odometer read 359.1 miles at that time.  The cost of fuel was only $1.25 per gallon and it took $18.75 to fill the tank.  The record book goes on for 32 pages with that same level of painstaking detail.  They call this log the “SLB,” which stands for Stupid Little Book.


A few words from Sean here (excerpt from an email he sent me):

This is a true one-owner car.  We bought it new in Maryland and since then it’s lived in three states (MD, VA, TX).  It’s never been in an accident or had any major body work.  Car has factory 6 CD changer that won’t eject.  If you ever get it out please tell me what CDs are in there — would be interested to know what was being played years ago.

There is a dent on the hood from a truck with a trailer ball backing into us. It happened at a little league game years ago and they didn’t leave a note.  There’s another dent in the passenger side rear fender. This is from a trash can in our drive way blowing over during a wind storm. I’m really mad we let this happen. The car shouldn’t have been so close to the trash cans. I’m sure it can be repaired by a talented dent technician.  The front bumper has been replaced — not from an accident but by my mom driving over a parking stone at church one Sunday.  The low front end got hooked on a parking stone and when she reversed it ripped off. Came home in the back seat of the car and was replaced with a OEM unit.

What you’re getting is what must be one of few original owner Legends left. It’s been loved by its family but it’s time to let it go. I’d really like to see this car enter your collection and can’t wait to see it restored to its new condition.

The fact that the Legend has some dents and dings is understandable given its age and mileage.  But the remarkable thing about this car’s two-decade history is that Sean and his family know the story on each and every one of those, as can be seen in Sean’s note.  The first order of business when I got ahold of the inch-thick folder of records was to put everything in order chronologically.


Next, I built the Mac-Daddy of maintenance record spreadsheets by combining Carfax records, receipts, and the handwritten notes from that 32-page record book.  It took me about an hour to add all the line items.  In the end, there were 109 records.  The Legend has been dutifully maintained throughout its lifetime – both by John and Sean at home, as well as a few Acura dealerships.  It was entertaining to weed through the file and find a few gems:  A reference to a tire blow-out, a passenger window replacement from when a frisbee shattered it, and a rattle in the center console that ended up being linked to…. a cassette tape that was stored inside!

There are 49 oil changes on record, indicating that the oil was changed on average every 3,638 miles (a perfect interval).  In all, the receipts total $14,396.94.  This comes out to an 8 cent-per-mile operating cost over the car’s first 178,000 miles.  As a point of reference, my 1994 Legend coupe’s receipts totaled $35,915.40 over its first 533,000 miles, resulting in a cost of 6.7 cents per mile.  I went into greater detail (including posting screen shots of the maintenance history) in the 140,000-mile maintenance comparison post recently.

Back to my acquisition of this special car now:  On August 3, the Legend was picked up by the transporter in Austin.


Three days later, the truck driver from Elite Auto Transport called me on a Thursday morning and notified me that they’d be arriving in Scottsdale during a certain window of time that afternoon.  I was at the house, logged in remotely and working, when I heard the semi truck pull up outside.  I took a pic from the front door and sent it to Sean immediately.  My delivery had arrived.


The car was every bit as described:  Cosmetically a little bit tired, but clearly cared for over its lifetime.  I took it for a quick cruise around the block and then had to get back to my work for a couple of hours before really digging in to see what I was dealing with.


First interior photo


The smells, sights, and overall feeling took me immediately back in time to 1997-1999 when my mom owned an identically-equipped (though different color) 1993 L sedan that I used to love cruising around in right after getting my driver license.  It was the first car that got me “into” Legends.


It was a bit odd to get used to cruising around in an automatic-equipped car, as my other 5 Acuras are all stick shifts.  The 4-speed automatic transmissions in the 1991-95 Legends are notoriously abrupt, especially from first to second gear.  Some friends and I lovingly refer to them as the “whiplash” transmissions.


I wasted no time in introducing the Legend to its siblings.


The first place I visited was the Shell gas station on McDowell Road near my place.  The car was thirsty for 13 gallons of Premium.  I happened to be parked next to a TL and an MDX.  It was Acura day at the pumps.


My buddy Jeremy stopped by to check out the new ride.  I think he liked it more than his BMW X5 “M”.  Hehe.


And so begins another chapter for this 22-year-old classic car.  Its needs are many, and my “project car” funds are tighter than ever, but I have a long term vision of restoring it to factory original condition.  At some point, one of the upgrades I have planned will be the installation of this OEM trunk spoiler in factory-correct color.


One feature that I’m really getting to love is the cup holder!


Thanks, Sean and the rest of the Brindley family, for sending this cool old car my way!

Oh, and the wait is over!  Check out my custom tags on the Vigor.



Trip to Torrance, California: Honda S2000 “Homecoming III” Event

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, NSX on September 13, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  535,296


Odometer (ILX):  140,911


Trip Distance:  861 Miles


How does a lowly Legend owner get a VIP invitation to a car show with over 200 Honda S2000 sportscars?  Luck of the draw, I guess!  It happened to me and I made a special trip to Honda’s North American headquarters in Torrance, California this past weekend to celebrate the occasion.



It’s been almost exactly 5 years since I attended the last s2000 meet-up of this magnitude.  That one was called “Homecoming II” and was organized by the same individual who put on this year’s shindig.  I shared a write-up, photos, and short video of that event on the Acura Legend forums at the time (it occurred just 6 months before I started this blog, or you would have seen it here).  One of the many highlights of that event was the chance to personally meet Mr. Shigeru Uehara, the father of the NSX & S2000.


My Legend had just 441,000 miles on it at that time, so it’s taken me 5 years to add another 94,000 miles.

“Homecoming III” was slated to be even bigger and better than the prior event.  I took off from work last Thursday afternoon and hit Interstate 10 westbound.  Well, not right away.  Interstate 10 in Phoenix is a bit of a danger zone right now, with about a dozen random “car shootings” taking place over the last couple of weeks.  I detoured around Loop 101 until I got to Avondale before hitting the 10.  The 430-mile drive was smooth sailing and it reminded me of how I racked up so many miles on the Legend in the first place: Low revs on the highway (fewer than 2500 at 75 miles per hour), smooth ride, and a great stereo.  It was sundown by the time I rolled LA town via I-10, Highway 60, I-605, Highway 91, and I-110 to my exit on Sepulveda Boulevard.  Welcome to Los Angeles.


Friday was an action-packed day including meetings with key contacts at Acura regarding next month’s NSXPO convention in Palm Springs.  By late afternoon, my ‘hired driver’ (AKA, trusted friend) Peter had arrived at our hotel in Torrance with the NSX which would also be attending Homecoming, so both cars were safe and sound on location.  I worked up a sweat doing some last-minute detailing in the parking lot (LA is experiencing a heat wave and the humidity is killer!), but both cars ended up glistening with some Meguiar’s quick detail spray and a little tire shine.  My friend Ira had arrived from Portland in his 2002 Acura NSX in Long Beach Blue Pearl, as seen here in the background.


Game day (Saturday) came quite a bit earlier than we’d hoped.  My alarm went off at 3:15 a.m., in fact.  By then, I’m sure Peter was regretting his decision to volunteer as my second driver for this crazy adventure.  We had a 4:25 a.m. meet-up with others from our hotel, a 4:45 meet up 2 miles away with the 12 other “showcars” in the Homecoming event, and a 5:05 arrival at Honda’s huge campus where we staged the showcars in a “mock” situation.  I’m telling you, the ENTIRE DAY had timing laid out with that kind of precision.  Exhausting.


In the meantime, Event Director Mike Trinh put us to work – breaking ice bags, filling up the cargo beds of two Ridgeline pickup trucks, and throwing in bottled waters and iced teas.  By 7:30, we were ushered into hiding with our cars around the backside of the building while the row after row of Honda S2000 rolled onto campus and into their designated (by color) parking areas.  If you’re afflicted with a moderate to severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like I am, you’ll greatly appreciate that the fact that every section of the parking lot was perfectly color coordinated.  See what I mean?




The S2000 model has a huge enthusiast following, as do so many other Honda models.  The “S2K” (as it’s lovingly been named) sold over 66,000 units in total from its first year in 2000 through its final year in 2009.  I know a few of my loyal readers are lucky enough to own such a vehicle, including Conor.  This is his baby:


I talked for a bit with Chris Martin from Honda Public Relations and he asked me to help him pull a 2016 Honda Pilot out of the garage and bring it over to the showcar area.  I happily obliged, and though my drive distance with the Pilot couldn’t have been more than 1/2 mile, it was my first time in the all-new redesigned model and I liked what I saw.  Chris also had an Accord coupe and an HR-V on display.  The HR-V was a 6-speed manual!  It seemed like it would be a blast to drive.


From his wireless microphone, Mike T kicked off the opening ceremony and announced the originating city and owner’s name for each of the “showcars” as they filed in during a parade.  Peter and I were sandwiched into the middle of the pack, but in line next to one another.  I took the lead in the NSX and Peter followed in the Legend as we pulled into the main event parking lot amid a cheering crowd.


One of the key highlights of the morning was getting to visit the Honda “secret museum” down the street a few blocks on Van Ness.  I think this marked my fourth time going in there, but it never loses its appeal to witness the preservation of such neat low-mileage examples of important Hondas of the past.  Best of all, I reconnected with pioneer Acura founding executive Kurt Antonius and the Manager of Auto Shows & Exhibits, Dave Heath.  Kurt is pictured here.


This is one of the vehicles on display:  A 78-mile (yes, 78!) example of the 2004 Acura NSX.



We were starving by this time, so our first stop when we got back to the S2K Homecoming location was to get in line for the Habit Burger food truck.  It was worth the wait!  Italian ice was served up for dessert – a perfect remedy for the extremely humid weather that left us all chugging water and looking for any slice of shade we could find.  Around 2:00 p.m., Mike kicked off the closing ceremony which included a raffle of dozens of items that were donated by event sponsors, many of which were quite high in value.  I laid low for the rest of the afternoon back at our hotel, and made the return drive to Phoenix bright and early on Sunday.

One bonehead moment to share from the 6-hour drive home:  I stopped briefly to use the restroom at the Love’s gas station in Quartzsite, Arizona just after crossing in from California.  As I shuffled through paperwork and garbage on the passenger seat to collect a pile for the trash, I inadvertently threw my $80 sunglasses away in the trash bin.  It wasn’t until I was a mile down the freeway that I went to grab for them on the seat and realized they weren’t there.  I debated about whether I should return, but decided it was worth it.  So, the folks fueling up at Love’s gave me a few weird looks when I returned to the station and took the lid off the trash bin so I could root around in there.

Yep, found the glasses.

Many thanks to the friends who made this memorable weekend possible!  Here are the rest of my photos and a 4-minute video.

Someone else’s video:  My parade entrance starts around 5:50.

Friday meeting location at Honda’s main office in Torrance.  This is the lobby.


Found a random place for dinner that evening.  Looked a little retro.


A 2016 ILX was improperly parked in the showcar area bright and early.  So, it got towed.


Die-hard Honda fan, Steven, trailered this race-ready Honda S800 all the way from Dallas, Texas for Homecoming.


Lining up – Peter in the Legend, me in the NSX.


Parade fanfare.  I’m still trying to track down video coverage of this.


Ira’s gorgeous Long Beach Blue NSX with 28,000 miles.


The crowd assembled for the opening ceremony.


Interior of a 39,000-mile red NSX on display.


Lineup of yellow S2000s


And silver ones…


And black ones…


Visiting with my friend Ben (left) who’s a fellow Legend owner, as well as Mike (center), the guy in charge.


The S2000s were led into he facility by Acura NSX “Pace Cars” which each wore this decal.


Interior of the HR-V 6-speed.


The 2016 Accord Coupe.


NSX + Legend


NSX + Legend again




Abandoned roadside Legend spotting this morning on I-10!  Looked like it had seen better days…  It had already been tagged by Highway Patrol.


By the way, I had a couple of neat features happen this week.  First, this photo share from music artist “Fabolous” who has 2.5 million followers on Instagram.  He posted an old (2007) photo of my Legends in Logan, Utah on his page on Thursday and it’s up to almost 27,000 likes now.


The second share was from Acura HQ when they featured a photo of my coupe for #FanFriday.  Sweet!


Thanks again for coming along on this adventure!

Quick Overnight Trip to Hollywood, California

Posted in California, ILX, NSX, Road Trip on September 9, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  534,436


Odometer (ILX):  140,832


Trip Distance:  796 Miles


Happy hump day!

It wouldn’t be a proper 3-day holiday weekend if I didn’t try and squeeze a little roadtrip in somewhere.  A friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for about a year and a half was playing at the “WeHo Sports Festival” at the University of California – Los Angeles campus and I took the opportunity to cruise out to LA and meet up with him for a night on Saturday.  WeHo is short for West Hollywood, and the WSF event attracted a total of over 2,000 athletes competing in 10 different sports.  My friend, Jeff, had flown in from Calgary, Alberta, to play soccer.


The 400-mile I-10 westward voyage on Saturday morning was uneventful and even a little boring – my only two stops were for fuel and snacks at 339th Avenue in Tonopah, Arizona, and then again at Washington Street in Palm Desert, California.  I did roll 140,000 miles though, so that was exciting.


I found my way easily to the UCLA campus off Highway 405 and Sunset Boulevard.  UCLA has over 43,000 students, making it nearly twice the size of the student body of my undergrad institution in Utah.  The campus itself sits at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains and covers 419 acres of land.  I thought it was very well laid out and clean.


Unfortunately, Jeff’s team didn’t perform all that well but I still enjoyed spectating from the sidelines in 80-someodd degree weather.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to use my cheapo $6 foldable camp chair that’s been rolling around in the trunk of my ILX for the last six months.  After fighting Highway 101 traffic for about 45 minutes en route to our hotel (welcome to LA!), we met up with our other friend Jack, then enjoyed a night out in Hollywood glamour (or lack thereof, in our case).  I talked a little about Hollywood during my blog post from last August when I attended a party out there.


On Sunday morning, Jack and I wandered from our hotel down Hollywood Boulevard to the TCL Chinese Theatre.  On the way, we crossed the “Walk of Fame.”  Even by 10:00 in the morning, the streets were already bustling with selfie-stick-wielding, foreign tourists.  For a minute, I felt like I was on The Strip in Vegas, because there were guides passing out pamphlets and trying to sell me on a $49 tour of the city.  I respectfully declined (I had to get my car out of the paid parking lot by 11:30).

The Walk of Fame consists of over 2,500 pink stars embedded into the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard.  Each one contains the name of someone famous, and I recognized the names of a few actors, musicians, and directors as we wandered around.  About 20 new stars are added each year.


TCL Chinese Theatre dates back to 1926 and has been home to hundreds of movie premiers over the years.  It’s currently home to the third largest commercial movie screen in North America.  But what brings thousands of tourists to the facility every year is the concrete out front:  Here, you can see over 200 handprints, footprints, and autographs of famous people that have been immortalized on the ground.


Beverly Hills, 90210:  It’s a location that’s been made famous thanks to TV and movies, and it’s pretty posh for sure.  Driving along westbound Sunset Boulevard, you see posters alongside the road frequently saying “STAR MAPS!” and encouraging you to pull over at some roadside stand and get a guide to (I’m guessing) where the movie stars live.  I didn’t take the time.  Even as I type this entry, Weezer’s song “Beverly Hills” is stuck in my head.  I was surprised to learn that the median income there is only about $90,000 – I might have expected it to be at least in six-figure territory.


As has been widely publicized in the news, California is experiencing a huge drought right now, and the impact is even hitting the folks in Beverly Hills.  The streets’ medians have had their sprinklers shut off, allowing the grass to die off and turn gold.  I saw a huge billboard along one of the interstates that said, “Let Your Grass Go California Gold” with a photo of a dead/dying lawn.

I rolled home Sunday afternoon, exhausted from such a quick adventure:  Arrival in LA at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, departure at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.  Would you expect anything else from me?  In & out.  Places to go and people to see.  Thanks for joining!

A rare sight of traffic freely flowing on northbound, 8-lane, Highway 405 in Los Angeles


Meeting up with Jeff at the UCLA campus


Route (really round-about route, suggested by my phone) to our hotel from UCLA


Anddddd, of course.  Parked traffic on the 101 freeway thanks to an accident.


ILX street parking


Wandering past the Hollywood Wax Museum on Sunday morning


Following Jack’s red IS300 on Hollywood Boulevard – and he happened to be next to an ILX


Spotted a Prius towing a U-HAUL trailer on eastbound I-10 on my way home.  I wonder how many MPGs he was getting.


Coming up soon:  The Legend coupe and the NSX are heading to Torrance, California this weekend for a special event at Honda Headquarters.  You’ll read about it here before too long!

In preparation, I hauled 2 new rear tires over to Discount Tire for install…


Rolled 101,010 miles…


And fueled her up!


Press Preview: Ford F-150 “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” Demonstration

Posted in PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on September 6, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  104,556


Odometer (ILX):  140,793


Shout out to my buddy Cody from Random Drive for the sweet Drive to Five logo!


For a couple of summers in the mid-1990’s, my family spent most weekends at the lakes near our home in southern Utah.  We’d load up my dad’s 1994 Ford F-150 with as much gear as it could handle, latch on our two Yamaha WaveRunners, and crawl into that teeny extended cab for a ride over to Lake Mead or Lake Powell.  Even then, before I was a license-holder, I noted in appreciation how handy my dad was at driving with a trailer full of toys.


Hey, check out those shades!  Man, I was a nerd.  Still am?


The winner of all trailer-towing competitions was most definitely our friend Mike.  He drove this TWO-TRAILER “train” to Lake Powell once with his PowerStroke Ford 3/4-ton pickup.  What is the overall length of this thing?


Quad cab (long bed!) full size pickup + massive Maxim boat + dual jet ski trailer.  How did he ever get that all down the road?

If you’re like me, you might get a little anxiety when asked to back up a truck & trailer.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it can take multiple attempts to get it just right – and it can lead to a little frustration, not to mention embarrassment.  Imagine showing up at the boat ramp and wiping out against the dock or completely miscalculating the water entry angle.

“Trailer backing” is not something taught in any Driver’s Ed class that I’m aware of, so for many of us, the first time we were dealt that task was in a real-world situation.  Ford has gone to the drawing board with this problem and developed a solution.


That solution is called Pro Trailer Backup Assist (PTBA).  Step by step:

  • The trailer is connected to the truck (Ford has developed technologies to help with even this aspect, including a multitude of cameras that lessen the need for a “spotter.”
  • The dimensions of the trailer are loaded into the truck’s computer – it allows multiple “saved” trailers which can be named.  i.e.  “Boat” or “Cargo.”
  • A checkerboard-like sticker is placed facing upward on the tongue of the trailer.  This is scanned/read by a rear-facing camera on the tailgate of the pickup.
  • From “Park,” the driver engages PTBA via a button mounted on the lower instrument panel.
  • Using mirrors, the back-up camera, and the old fashioned “turn your head around” method, the driver removes his or her hands from the steering wheel, shifts into reverse, and allows the truck to idle backward.
  • Trailer direction is controlled via the dash-mounted dial – right to turn the trailer right, left to turn the trailer left.  The truck’s wheel spins on its own – quickly at times – to make needed adjustments.  Releasing the dial entirely causes it to center again and back the trailer straight rearward in its current line.


How’d I do?  Well, my training was limited.  I started out by playing a touch-screen “game” inside the tent where I used my fingers to direct a backing-up F-150.  I passed that test without destroying a truck or trailer, so walked outside feeling pretty confident.


“Which one do you want to back up?” asked Nick from Ford’s agency.  I scanned the parking lot.  My choices were:  ATV trailer, small travel trailer, larger travel trailer, or… on the horizon, I saw the big enchilada:  a 22-foot-long “Supra” ski boat.  Yes, that’s the one I wanted.

I saddled up inside a white “Limited” trim level F-150 for my real-world demonstration.  When Ford says “Limited,” it’s true.  The VIN / production number of the trunk is printed on a placard atop the center console.  But exactly how many “Limiteds” will be sold?  Ford representatives didn’t know.  The truck rings in at around $60,000 as-equipped and is powered by a powerful yet fuel-efficient V6 “Ecoboost” engine.  Tech specs aside, the purpose of Tuesday’s exercise was to experience Ford’s PTBA system in a controlled environment.


Nick joined me in the cab of the pickup and I performed a couple of “un-assisted” backing exercises.  It took a bit to get my bearings, but I sorta-kinda got the hang of it.  I didn’t try anything too technical, though.  “Now,” Nick said, “Turn on the backup assist.”  I followed his instructions and got rolling.  It’s pretty intuitive, that little dial.  The degree to which I turned it would correspond with the severity to which the trailer would cut left or right.  And the good news is that even when you go “hard” with the dial and crank it full-tilt, it still won’t let the trailer jackknife.  Somehow, Ford’s engineers have thought of everything.  (And it’s earned them 5 patents)



So, with some level of skill, I managed to back that ski boat into a narrow parking space at a 90-degree angle.  And with that, I was awarded a short video for my efforts and a keychain & baseball cap as parting gifts.  Thanks, Ford, for showing me the latest in truck tech!



Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend!  I just got back in town from Hollywood, CA in the ILX (full write-up to come).


I had the chance to get these two out for a lap around the block this evening.


Happy Labor Day!