Wheeled Weekend: ALV 2016 Awards Program; “Neo Classics” Japanese Classic Car Show

Odometer (Integra):


Trip Distance:  758 Miles


Let’s test-drive some new cars!  Today’s update brings you a summary of my wild & crazy weekend o’ fun.  The first half consisted of an automotive program local to the Phoenix area, and the second half involved me taking a crazy drive to California and back so that I could be there for fewer than 24 hours.  Sounds like me, right?

For the last 5 years, I’ve volunteered to help with a Phoenix area “COTY” (Car of the Year) program that caters to folks who are athletic in nature.  It strives to weed out and select the new vehicles each year that stand out as superior for those who demand more from their vehicles:  Those who participate in outdoor sports, primarily.  So it makes sense why GM entered its new Colorado pickup truck, and also why they chose to outfit it with all sort of accessories like an optional kayak rack in the bed.


This year’s “Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year” (ALV) program was based at the San Marcos resort in Chandler, Arizona.  In all we had 28 new vehicles vying for awards in 8 categories.  The two-day event was structured with a media/journalist day on Friday and then a consumer/athlete day on Saturday.

Prior year ALV event write-ups can be found here:

New this year was a destination drive to lunch in Fountain Hills, Arizona at the Eagle Mountain Golf Resort.  In the afternoon, there were both on-road and off-road short drive routes made available for the 35 or so journalists who attended.  The location, Butcher Jones Recreation Area, was perfect for both types of driving as it was adjacent to a nice, curvy two-lane paved road as well as some gnarly dirt backroads.  I got a chance to try my hand at driving a new Toyota Tacoma TRD on some incredibly gnarly terrain using its “crawl control” feature.  The Ram Rebel won first place in the extreme off-road category.


I also got my first chance behind the wheel of Acura’s second-generation NSX supercar, stickering at $197,000.   The NSX was entered in the event as a special feature only, since clearly its abilities from a cargo-carrying and off-road perspective are limited.  Acura’s Allie Coulter reserved a 40-mile drive for me in the car and I must say I fell in absolute love with it.  While the driving experience differs dramatically from that of my 1992 NSX, that doesn’t make it “bad.”  It’s just a 2017 approach to a 1990 formula, and that means the car is faster, safer, more technologically advanced, and…. missing a clutch pedal.  I can honestly say that’s the only place I find fault with it.



How does the car behave, anyway?  I punched it in Sport Mode getting onto the Beeline Highway southbound and it kicked me back into my seat.  Zero-to-sixty only takes about 3 seconds in that car, so the G-forces are enough to plant you firmly in your nicely bucketed seat.  The intoxicating part about driving the NSX is the growl of the motor behind the cabin.  It emits such awesome sounds at any RPM.  Visibility was better than I’d expected.  And the car turned more heads on the 101 southbound freeway during rush hour than a supermodel.


On Saturday, there were test-drive opportunities made available to about 60 athletes who came to the San Marcos to evaluate vehicles and cast their votes.  Other key winners were the Nissan Titan, Kia Cadenza, Kia Soul, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Nissan Armada.


At the conclusion of the ALV awards ceremony, I grabbed the Integra and hit the highway to drive off into the sunset on Interstate 10.  For the next 6 or so hours, I let the I GS-R’s 1.7-liter, VTEC engine sing to me at 4,500 RPM at 80 miles an hour.  Traffic in Corona, California was jammed thanks to road construction, but I finally made it to my hotel in Torrance a little after 9:00 p.m.


This was only the second year of the “Neo Classics” 80’s & 90’s Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS).  It is hosted at Toyota’s headquarters.  Last year, I attended with my Legend coupe.  This year, I decided to showcase my ‘newest’ car, the Integra.  I was in good company.  Just moments after my arrival, a squad of “DA” bodystyle Integras like mine rolled in and I was able to park next to them and make a few new friends.



I also reconnected with a few old ones, including Jeff Koch from Hemmings, Ryu Asada who’s a designer at Mattel / Hot Wheels, and Ben Hsu from Japanese Nostalgic Car.  The quality of both cars and of people is always exceptional at the JCCS event so that’s why I hope to keep attending year after year.

Thanks for coming along on my weekend adventures!  The rest of my photos and a short video are below.

ALV kick-off dinner last Thursday night at “La Stalla” in Chandler, AZ (sponsored by Toyota)


Groups assembling to do the car drives & reviews


Acura’s 2017 MDX Advance


Sweet NSX photo captured by Mark Elias Media Services


Love the design of Kia’s new Cadenza


Davis Adams from Honda, along with a couple other event participants around the new Ridgeline


Nissan’s Titan showing some off-road prowess


Breakfast is served!


Midpoint / driver change for Friday’s media drive


The Ridgeline pickup bed doubles as an ice cooler!


Biggest downer about about Fiat 124 Spider which was entered:  this automatic transmission.


With Shad (GM) and Darryll (VW)


Audi’s new Q7 was on-hand for evaluation.


Its most intriguing feature to me?  Four-wheel steering.  My 1991 Prelude had that!  Here is comes as part of a $4,000+ option package.


With Will who drove up from Tucson to participate


Now, for some pics on the LA trip:  Quick visit to Honda HQ in the Integra


Arriving at the show at the same time as my friend Chris in his immaculate second-generation Prelude.


Lineup of “DA” Integras.  These guys were all California locals but very welcoming!


With Chris and his Prelude.


One of the Integras had Honda S2000 gauges!


Say what you want, but I loved this ultra base model 1985 Civic DX with only about 40,000 miles on it.


Aztec Green shining during a brief glimpse of sunlight (it was overcast most of the day).


I love seeing original ads & paperwork laid out like this on display.


Ultra clean Honda CRX.  It’s tough to find one of these that hasn’t been heavily-modified!


Armando and his two Subaru SVXs.


Met a new friend named Brian who drives this immaculate Berlina Black 1991 NSX.


And Chris brought out his real Polaroid camera and took this shot (which he later scanned for me).  It’s hard to believe just how far camera technology has come.  But I love how vintage it looks!


28 Responses to “Wheeled Weekend: ALV 2016 Awards Program; “Neo Classics” Japanese Classic Car Show”

  1. I do not see any pictures of you behind the wheel of the new NSX while driving it. Did you really drive it?? Or did you dream of driving it? 😉 Just kidding.

    • I was too excited to worry about getting a bunch of pics! But I can assure you I did drive it. Now I just need to talk someone into letting me have access to the car for a week at a time. Or more!

  2. Oh yeah. Forgot to mention something. That new NSX would look quite nice in your new expanded garage. 🙂

  3. Conor Kenrick Says:

    Give me that Civic DX right now….

    • Isn’t that sweet? I loved it. The absolute most basic thing ever. No A/C, manual roll-up windows. I don’t even know if it had a tape deck inside. But it was just in amazingly cherry condition.

  4. OMG!!! That NSX!!! Yikes!!! Hauls the mail, huh?

    • Oh yeah. It goes for sure! And the crazy thing is watching it leave a parking lot when it’s in “quiet” mode. Since it’s a hybrid, it can be as silent as a Prius as it’s rolling around!

  5. Is that a Maxima wagon between the prelude and teggy?

    • Yes! The old Maximas were well represented. There was also an entire class for 240SXs. Supras. MR2s. 3000 GTs. All the best cars from that era!

      • wow, talk about a rarity! We bought one of the first Maxima wagons in the state – Halloween 1984! Loved that car and would love to find another one.

  6. If you’re bringing home souvenirs, I’ll take that first-gen Accord…

    Great post- gotta love all the 80’s and 90’s Honda/Acura metal on display. Now, I think I speak for your readers when I say: “We need more details about that NSX test drive!!” 😉

    • Haha, I guess this will have to count as a “teaser” until I get access to the NSX for a more extended / thorough review. Rest assured I will work on making that happen 🙂

  7. The Neo Classics” 80’s & 90’s Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) sounds great wish I would have known I might have brought along the 93SE. Though to be fair it’s not quite ready yet.

    So here is one of those impossible questions. Hypothetically speaking if Acura offered u a new NSX would u take it? The caveat is u have to relinquish ur entire current collection to get it.

    What would u do!?

    • Your 93 SE is more “ready” than most of the vehicles on display at the show! It would have surely won some type of award. Odd that you’d ask about getting a new NSX in exchange for my entire current collection, because I was doing the math earlier today. My 1990s fleet (excluding the ILX) comes out to $196,015 when they were brand new…. so those 5 vehicles come out to almost exactly the cost of the 2017 NSX I was driving on Friday!

      • As we’ve discussed before the original NSX was a marketplace disruptor and was aggressively priced.

        Today not so much. I wonder how many years it will be before the current gen becomes affordable as used vehicle?

        BTW, I’m sure most here would agree don’t give up your collection no matter what color NSX Acura may throw ur way 😉

  8. The new NSX looks amazing! Pleased to see the Integra out and about. Hardly see a stock one these days =)

    • That’s for sure! As I was pulling away from the parking lot at the show, someone asked, “When are you going to let that go?” I said, “Today!” but that’s when I rounded the corner and we didn’t talk money 🙂 Haha. I don’t think I’ll sell it for awhile yet.

  9. Midnight Mystery Says:

    Hey, glad to see you drive a “Brand New” NSX!!!!!! I haven’t been doing much lately, I don’t have access to the Internet, or a device, very often!!! But I enjoy reading your blog posts!!! Well, that’s “real” country living… But I’m very excited to see you drove an NSX, which I knew you would at some point…

    Hmmm…. I’m pressed for time, but is Honda “re-releasing” the ultimate Prelude, did I read?

    • Hey Wes, I’m glad you’re able to get online from time to time! And I hadn’t heard anything about a potential new Prelude but I would fully support that idea 🙂

  10. Chris Green Says:

    Nice account of that action-packed weekend! Nice to know that the new NSX didn’t make you want to turn in your old one, amazing as it is.
    I enjoyed the pictures of the 80s-90s show. Thanks for including the Polaroid shot!

    • I think it’s so cool that you have a Polaroid camera at all! I’ll have to hop on Ebay to see what they’re going for. I’m glad the clouds held up just long enough for you and Chris H to stay dry and get home! Where do you keep all your awards for your Prelude?

      • Chris Green Says:

        I almost forgot I had that camera, and had never really used it! I am going to look for a folding SX-70 now–they’re really cool! As for awards, I actually am realizing that I have awards that I may not be sure which car they’re for. I need to organize them, I guess, and find a place to put them. A garage like yours would be perfect for that! I can only dream…at least here in LA. Your cars are all award-winning as far as I’m concerned, and your Integra was definitely the best one there!

  11. New NSX drive AND a classic Japanese car show? Thats a helluva weekend right there!!!

    • Yeah, definitely! It was a busy one but worth the effort. Now if I could just have talked Allie from Acura into letting me bring that car home for an overnight (or multi-night) test drive. Hope your weekend is going well Dave!

  12. I’m surprised you didn’t drag that Barbados Yellow Prelude home behind all those RPMs at 80.

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