Archive for December, 2016

The Legend Rolls 550,000 Miles on a Christmas Trip to Utah

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Utah on December 26, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,085


It took me 5 years to go from 500,000 to 550,000, but I finally got there last night.  I made a Christmas 800-mile round-trip to southern Utah this weekend and celebrated the milestone on my way home, along Highway 93 just north of Wickenburg, Arizona.


Mechanically, it was smooth sailing aside from adding a little power steering fluid and getting a check-engine light.  As a matter of fact, somehow I achieved 29.7 miles per gallon on the way up Friday night.  I guess that’s partly thanks to the fact that my speeds were usually between 65 and 70 miles per hour.  They still haven’t paved an interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas so it’s mostly back roads for that 4.5-hour stretch.


Fittingly, my return trip took me through “Santa Claus, Arizona” – a now-abandoned tourist trap that in the 1930s was a gas station, gift shop, and restaurant.  Vandals have destroyed what’s left of it, but the map still clearly confirms its existence and I stopped for a few pictures at Saint Nick’s run-down residence.


The place can be yours, if the price is right!


Snow-capped peaks in the background – it was chilly out there, for Arizona standards anyway.


Here’s the roll-over video and a few scenes from Santa Claus.

A few other photos from recent events.  Allie from Acura mailed me a “Nouvelle Blue Pearl” 2017 NSX model car.  I told her it’ll go nicely in my garage!


Fueling up in Wickenburg on Friday afternoon


Sunset when rolling through Las Vegas, Nevada


Visiting mom, and also a visit from our friend Jack


Re-creation of a 20-year old photo (top) taken in 1997 with mom’s Legend.


My brother’s 1993 Legend LS 6-speed (139,000 mi) next to mine.


The ILX getting snowed on in Holden, Utah.  Jack – from a few pics above – borrowed the car this weekend and put it to good use.


My uncle Dande picked up a 2013 ILX too.  “Polished Metal Metallic” automatic.


Family photo of mom’s side of the family.


A few other videos for your viewing pleasure today.

ILX in snow – thanks Jack for the clip:

Link to Xtreme Coupe YouTube channel – my brother’s page.  Watch his Lexus IS300 project updates:

Link to interesting video on the evolution of automotive design:

Link to Hagerty Engine Rebuild Video of a Chrysler motor.  Pretty fascinating stuff:

Have a great week!

Dirt Playground: “Willcox Playa” in Southeast Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, NSX, Road Trip on December 18, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  549,086


Odometer (Legend sedan):  150,755


Odometer (Integra):  238,331


Odometer (Vigor):  106,387


Odometer (ILX):  188,457


Odometer (NSX):  106,412


Trip Distance:  390 Miles


My maturity level took a deep dive on Saturday when I sat in my driver’s seat and looked out upon a gigantic expanse of perfectly flat land in all directions.  I was unsupervised.  I had a slick-shifting 6-speed transmission at my fingertips.  And my sense of adventure begged me to go have some fun.  So, I hit the Traction Control button to deactivate any kind of traction aid, gripped the steering wheel, and let ‘er rip.  Result?  I haven’t had that much fun driving a car since my autocross adventure in 2009.  Talk about a riot.


My friends Jason and James were there to witness it — encouraging it, even.  The Willcox Playa – some 3.7 square miles of dirt flatlands – is a dry lake bed in Arizona’s Cochise County in the southeast corner of the state.  But for me, it was a playground where I could pretend I was a professional rally driver.  I can only imagine how much more fun the experience might have been in a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle.  Time to plan another trip back.


This weekend trip started out as an excuse to meet up with one of my road trip partners in crime, Jason Pawela of Driven for Drives.  Jason was crazy enough to join me on the 8,000-mile Alaska trip earlier this year and I hadn’t seen him for about 6 months since.  We decided to plan a lunch meet-up at the exact geographic midpoint between us:  Willcox, Arizona.  The town of 3,700 people lies 194 miles from Phoenix and 195 miles from Las Cruces.  It was absolutely perfect from a logistical perspective.


Joining for this one was another seasoned road-tripper, James Lee of Six Speed Blog, who typically joins our group drives in whatever “flavor of the week” he’s road testing at the time.  This week, it happens to be a saucy red 2017 Toyota Corolla with a host of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) goodies.  Yes, I just used the words “Corolla” and “racing” in the same sentence.  I was surprised, too.  Jason’s car of course was the 2004 Mazda 6, now with 217,000 miles and still as robust as ever, and I was in my 2013 ILX.


It took us about 3 hours to get to Willcox, and we met up with Jason spot-on at our 1:00 predetermined time.  Dining options in a town of 3,000 people are sparse, and I’d already eaten at 2 of the 3 top-rated spots on Trip Advisor.  (See:  Chiricahua National Monument road trip).  Next on the list?  “Grandma D’s Cafe.”  It sounded safe.  And it ended up being one of the most hospitable places I’ve ever dined.



Housed in the historic part of Willcox at the northwest corner of Haskell Avenue and Maley Street, the place appeared to have been there forever.  Luckily we had enough time to eat before the 2:00 p.m. closure (grandma cooks breakfast & lunch only!).  I went with the Cochise Burger, adorned with green chiles, avocado, and an over-easy egg for a little extra protein.


Grandma was nice enough to get a photo with us and I jotted down our blog websites on a notepad for her.  If you’re reading this, thanks for the hospitality and the great food!  Hope to see you again, Gma!


At this point, we did a car-key-swap and I got to drive Jason’s Mazda the few miles toward Willcox Playa.  To get there, we headed west on I-10 about 4 miles, then south on Highway 191 to a dirt road turnoff that we’d scouted out thanks to Google Earth.  The entrance to our playground was right where we thought it would be.  Luckily for us, the dirt was hard packed for the most part — I’m sure if it had rained recently, we wouldn’t have gotten past the gate.  And also luckily for us, we didn’t venture into any dangerous parts of the Playa.  It wasn’t until after our visit that I read online that the U.S. Military uses portions of the area as a bombing range.  Yikes!

It was a memorable journey for us and I hope you enjoyed being a part of it!  Some additional photos and a short video are below.  Don’t mind the circus music 🙂

Fueling up at Picacho Peak, midway between Phoenix and Tucson


Entering Grandma D’s in Willcox


The Cochise Burger at Grandma D’s


Lined up outside the restaurant:  James’ Corolla, Jason’s 6, and my ILX


Park near the railroad tracks


Arriving at the Willcox Playa


Clearly James was having a good time!


Where’d those skid marks come from?


Getting down and dirty.



Wide open spaces, just like that Dixie Chicks song.


It was colder than it looks.  Definitely a breeze in the air!


Headed back to Phoenix near Picacho Peak (at left) on Interstate 10


I’m going to put in a plug here for my friend Darren of “”  Darren contacted me after my recent Jalopnik feature offering to do some digital artwork for my garage.  I am thrilled with what he put together for me!  Each of my five “old” Acuras has been drawn up in exact detail and printed in 13×19 size.  Even the colors are spot-on.




A perfect addition to the garage!  Thanks Darren!


Finally, I’m a nerd about anniversaries and last night just happened to be my 5th anniversary with my 1992 Acura NSX.  It was December 17, 2011 when I flew to San Jose, California and picked up the car.  Last night, James and I went over to Tempe Town Lake for a couple of celebratory photos with the Mill Avenue Bridge in the background.


Of course I wore a T-shirt to match the car.  Duh!


It’s been a fun 5 years and 26,000 miles with that one.  Have a great rest of your weekend!

Quick Northern Utah Trip & A Few Links for Light Reading

Posted in Utah on December 16, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  187,981


It’s uncommon for me to ever have to navigate a vehicle on snowy roads these days.  I love to joke with my friends in snowy regions about how much of a chore it is to shovel the sunshine off my driveway each winter here in Phoenix.  But for a couple of my college years in northern Utah, I did get a hefty dose of “Slick Road 101” and the Legend and I both survived it.  Here are some photos from January 2005.


The Legend had 150,000 miles on it at the time.  I’d barely gotten my journey started.


Sometimes, even I opt for a flight over a drive.  In this past weekend’s case, the choices were a 12-hour drive (that could easily turn into many more in inclement weather) or a 90-minute flight.  Given the short timeline, it made the most sense to hop on Southwest and let my pilot do the driving.  The ILX got left at Phoenix “Sky Harbor” airport.


My rental car at Salt Lake City International Airport was a “gutless wonder” (I think my dad coined that phrase) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta with 48,000 miles on it.  It took a lot of coaxing to get it to freeway speeds, but comfort was OK and it got incredible MPGs.  My dad and stepmom live in a community called Providence, nestled on the east bench of Cache Valley at the tip-top northern end of Utah.  It’s a college community, home to my alma mater Utah State University, and I usually make it up there about twice a year.  The valley is a beautiful place, as seen from my dad’s backyard.


After an overnight stay at a friend’s house in South Jordan (SLC suburb), I made the northbound drive about 100 miles to Providence.  My 87-year-old grandmother is recently widowed and needed a lift to run a couple of errands in town.  We also met up with some other family members for lunch at one of my favorite pizza joints near the USU campus called Fredrico’s Pizza.  The garlic bread is always dripping in delicious butter.


Cache Valley got a dusting of snow on Saturday night and I got the chance to use that unfamiliar object called an ice scraper that Advantage Rent-A-Car had conveniently left in the passenger seat of my Jetta.  I paid a visit to my uncle Jeff in Taylorsville, south of Salt Lake, who’s been building and racing hot rods for as long as I remember.  His current projects are a Chevy Corvair and a 1965 Chevy II Nova.  I captured a short video of the Corvair.  I’m quite confident its growl woke up everyone in Jeff’s neighborhood from their Sunday naps.  Here’s a very short video I took:

Arrival at Salt Lake City International Airport.


Incidentally, this airport was the one featured in the classic 1994 film “Dumb & Dumber,” though the movie was supposed to have been set in Rhode Island.

Northbound to Logan on snowy roads


Morning in Cache Valley


My workplace has become ultra festive.  Here’s a collage of photos taken the other night.

Had a couple of nice visits this past week from friends, including Chase and Michael who are both from Texas.


And Matt who’s local and who drive a 2001 CL.


Special thanks to my friend Kevin for sending me some classic Acura ads.



And here are few more decade-old pictures from my time at Utah State in the wintertime.




Lastly:  Check out a few cool links on articles that you might find interesting:

  • My friend Brendan Saur’s article about a 1995 Legend L coupe on Curbside Classic
  • My friend Ben Hsu’s article about Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels designer, on Japanese Nostalgic Car.
  • My article about a guest speaker at the upcoming Arizona Concours d’Elegance on

Have a great weekend!

Saturday Road Trip: X Marks the Spot, Musselman Honda, and SidDesign

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on December 4, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  549,077


Odometer (ILX):  187,814


Trip Distance:  232 Miles


The weird, the offbeat, and the random destinations of the world always pique my interest.  How many people do you know who would drive out to the middle of the desert just to see a 60-foot-wide piece of concrete in the shape of an X that’s been there for 50 years?  I guess I’m that person.  And thus the reason why fellow blogger Joe of Bowtie 6 emailed me back in October about an article he’d seen on NPR on that topic.


The article talked about something called the “CORONA” Project.  During the Cold war in the 1960s, the United States government needed a way to calibrate its satellite system.  Someone came up with the brilliant idea that they could install X’s in the desert for the satellites to hone in and affix on, thereby increasing the accuracy of any images being returned.

Sounded like a road trip opportunity to me!


I headed out from the Phoenix area in the ILX on Saturday morning and it only took me about 45 minutes to get to the first X.  You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it:  Tucked away southwest of the intersection of Jimmie Kerr Boulevard and Sunland Gin Road, I drove right to it thanks to a map I’d seen online.  Each of the 272 X’s were 60 feed in diameter and consisted of 4 pieces angling outward.  They are placed at 1 mile intervals in a satisfyingly perfect configuration for someone who has OCD like me.  The center has a small, metal, round marker.  This one said:  “$250 fine or imprisonment for disturbing this mark.”  I wonder if that’s still the case?


Some 50 years later, it’s no surprise that many of the markers have been destroyed or removed completely as development of the desert has moved forward and the markers are no longer in use.  Only about 117 of the 272 are still left.  Handily, Google gives us a map showing the location and status of each marker.  Purple = gone.  Yellow = damaged.  Blue = present.


Let’s zoom in on that a little more.  You can clearly see that urban development is coming from the northeast.


The next stop on my Saturday tour was a historic motorcycle dealership in Tucson.  Helen Musselman and her husband started selling motorcycles in 1945 and became one of the first “official” Honda dealerships in 1959.  She’s worked there since the beginning, and at 98, she still hasn’t retired.  Back in August, Honda’s “Kokoro” Tumblr page written by Charles Schnieber featured a YouTube video of her.  I fell in love with Helen from the get-go.


Musselman Honda is located in central Tucson just south of a busy road called Grant.  The overall look of the building has not changed in the 70 years of its existence.  What I found even cooler was that the showroom has an entire room dedicated to historic photos, shop manuals, and motorcycles themselves from Honda’s history there.


I spoke with a sales representative and asked if Helen was in.  “She takes weekends off,” he said.  “We need to get her signing autographs – we get people in here all the time asking for her!”  It’s too bad I didn’t get to shake Helen’s hand, but I did peek inside her office.


I had a hankering for chips & salsa so I looked up reviews for local lunch spots and was sold on the above review.  I ended up going to another historic Tucson destination:  A family-run Mexican food spot called “Club 21” on the east side of Oracle Road.


I had the place to myself – which is either good or bad depending on your perspective.  The food was tasty, though, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet.  I always find it amusing when a server brings out a plate and says “Careful, the plate’s hot.”  It seems to happen at every Mexican joint I’ve ever visited, just before my fingers get fried for trying to turn the plate around on the table.  Just once in my life, I want to be told “Touch this plate – it’s fine.”


On my way back to Phoenix, I did stop for one more X.  This one was off Battaglia Road near the teeny town of Eloy.  It actually took me a couple of tries to find it because the surrounding area had overgrown with tumbleweeds, but I tracked it down and took a few photos.  I’m sure the people driving past were wondering what kind of crazy nonsense I was up to taking pictures of a piece of concrete in the middle of a field.

The last thing I want to show you today is a special story about my friend Sideiq, better known as just “Sid.”  After a recent Jalopnik website feature of my car collection & garage, Sid emailed me offering to do some digital artwork of my vehicles.  Sid is more than just your everyday artist.  He has cerebral palsy, and he was diagnosed at a year old.  From Sid’s bio:

“I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was a year old.  Cerebral palsy affects my muscle coordination, particularly with my arms, legs, and speech.  Because of my disability I use my feet and toes to control the computer with an oversized keyboard and trackball.  I get around in a motorized wheelchair that I also control with my foot.  But these hindrances do not hold me back from translating my goals and dreams into reality.”

This week, Sid sent me two digital images:  A G2 Legend coupe and a G1 NSX, beautifully framed.  How cool is this?




And showing them off




I’m thrilled with the pictures and can’t wait to hang them up in my home.  For anyone wanting to check out Sid’s website, he’s at and his Etsy page is here.  Thanks, Sid!  You’re awesome.

And thanks to the rest of you for reading!

Abandoned gas station in Eloy, Arizona


One of my favorite stops on the Phoenix-Tucson drive.


This concrete pad used to be a Nickerson Farms restaurant that was demo’d.


Guard rail in the middle of nowhere!


Arrival at Musselman Honda in Tucson


Neat image of Honda’s original US distribution office on Pico Boulevard in LA that I visited last month.


Vintage pic of Musselman Honda