Odometer (Legend): 543,818
Odometer (ILX): 174,826
This must be what Honda Heaven looks like!
Acura race team driver Peter Cunningham knows a thing or two about vintage Hondas. After all, he’s driven them competitively since 1987 – nearly 30 years! Peter’s car collection has now grown to include some of the rarest of the rare – including a vehicle or two that were never even originally sold here in the United States. He and I go back quite a ways. In fact, I threw him the key to my NSX last October at the Palm Springs NSXPO so he could take it for a spin.
I caught a flight to Milwaukee on Wednesday morning bright and early from Phoenix. Luckily, my “early bird” Southwest check-in gave me an “A” group boarding priority so I was able to get a window seat right over the wing, just where I wanted it. In-air travel time was right around 3 hours. Right off the bat in MKE, I noticed how humid it was – but I wasn’t complaining – the temperature, at 88 degrees, was 20 cooler than back home.
My yellow 2016 Kia Rio from Dollar Rental was a sight for sore eyes.
At least I wasn’t at risk of losing it in a parking lot. I was, however, in dire need of re-learning to drive an automatic transmission. I exited the rental car lot and realized I still had my inspection waiver I needed to give back to the attendant. So I had to loop around and re-enter the garage. I found a place to quickly park the car with the hazard flashers on so I could run over and turn in the paperwork. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when I returned to the car that I realized: I had left it idling in “DRIVE” with the emergency brake activated the whole time. As in, I hadn’t even put the car in park. Doofus move. But that’s how I’m used to driving my stick shifts! Coast into a space, pull up on the brake, and voila. Thankfully the Rio didn’t go anywhere while I’d stepped away.
The location of Peter’s museum was about 20 minutes north via Interstate 43. It’s a convenient area with easy freeway access. I wasn’t sure until arriving exactly who had been invited nor what to expect during the program.
Peter’s Collection Hall – dubbed “RealTime” Collection Hall – is named after the race team with which he’s competitively driven since the 1980s. Among the vehicles on display is a souped-up Acura TSX which itself is a seasoned RealTime race veteran. The location of the Hall is not far from RealTime Racing’s headquarters in Saukville. Aside from a small sticker on the glass front door, it’s not well marked, and that’s by design. This is intended, after all, to be an exclusive, invite-only, private facility for special occasions like this first one.
The interior space is divided into a few distinct areas: Immediately upon entering the building, the showroom greets the visitor with a highly-polished concrete floor and special signage. A glass counter showcases rare brochures and other artifacts from Honda history. And included in this area is Peter’s pride and joy – a 1981 Accord 3-door with 4,657 original miles on it. The car at 35 years old is so well-preserved it seems like it may have been teleported through time.
Continuing on into the first of two warehouse areas, the walls are lined with special Honda and Acura automobiles that are backed into their assigned parking spaces. For this grand opening, the center aisle was filled lengthwise with end-to-end banquet tables that had dinner seating capacity for I would guess at least 100 people.
At the far end of this room is a painstakingly-constructed reproduction façade of Honda’s original North American headquarters which was located in Los Angeles in the 1960s. The signage, aspect ratio, and even drainage system (though indoors) has been designed in exact detail to mirror that of the original building. The “real” location (4077 Pico Boulevard), incidentally, is currently up for lease and most recently housed an acupuncture studio.
There were too many cool cars on display to even begin to comment about each, so I’ll post a 5-minute video below and let my readers take a stroll through the Hall at their own leisure. The opening night program consisted of a few remarks by Peter from the balcony while everyone was seated for dinner (catered by Poco Loco Cantina).
Peter acknowledged the many people who had traveled great distances to attend. One guest, Guido, had flown in all the way from Germany. Among those who’d been invited were a few great friends of mine, including Jhae from Phoenix, Ben who I’ve known for years from the NSX community, and Scott & Sandy who are friends from Palm Springs who I visit regularly. Ben and I posed for a photo next to the 1987 and 1990 Legends on display.
On Thursday I woke up to sunny weather in Glendale and spent the morning getting my bearings with the neighborhood. I’d arranged to meet my friend Brad near the WI/IL state line but we hadn’t yet defined a meeting point. My drive down I-43 and I-94 was a breeze – within about an hour I’d already pulled over for a customary photo at the Illinois state line.
Our meeting point ended up being Kenosha, a beach town on Lake Michigan. It was great to catch up with Brad and also take a gander at his 2004 Honda Accord coupe 5-speed which he’s had since new. I offered to trade him my yellow Kia for it but he didn’t entertain the idea.
Back at the Milwaukee airport, I made myself at home at Gate C21 by spending about an hour wiping out 250 missed emails from my work inbox. Reality set in about 3.5 hours later when I came out of the Phoenix Sky Harbor terminal and walked into the blow dryer that is our summer evening weather. Gotta love it! Thanks for coming along!
I took this photo before flying out so that I could remember my parking space
Traditional flight beverage: OJ!
This is the interior of that <5k mile 1981 Accord
The Power of Dreams, indeed!
My favorite car in the collection: Peter’s “Monaco Blue” Acura NSX. It’s one of only 3 in this combination (black interior, 6-speed manual transmission) for the model year.
Hey, that looks familiar! Peter has a GS-R similar to mine and with almost the same odometer reading (241,000).
This 1995 Accord was something special. “DX” base model: Manual windows, manual mirrors, manual locks, no radio, no air conditioning, and a 5-speed manual transmission. Bare bones, but with fewer than 10,000 miles!
This is a 1966 Honda T360: Honda’s first production automobile!
Column shift manual transmission. That would be fun to drive!
Here’s the man with the vision! Peter himself.
RealTime race driver Ryan Eversley and his girlfriend Jen were seated next to me.
Jake Cole (fellow NSX fanatic), Peter, and me
What is this stuff around the wheel well of this Ford Taurus? Rust is abundant in WI and something I rarely see in my area.
Some nice homes in the Glendale area.
Headed south toward the Illinois state line
Lake Michigan in the background, as seen from Kenosha.
It’s pretty out there, and weather couldn’t have been better.
Brad’s 2004 Accord was looking good in the parking lot at lunch.
Have a great weekend!