Saturday Lunch Drive to Cave Creek, Arizona

Odometer (TL):  97,505

Trip Distance:  70 Miles

Last weekend’s pre-Independence Day lunch outing involved the 3 most patriotic cars we could get our hands on:  A red NSX, a silver CL, and a blue TL.  Eighteen cylinders, 17 gears, and 816 total horsepower gave us the motivation we needed to get to one my favorite restaurants in the area:  The Horny Toad in Cave Creek, Arizona.  And the pulled pork sandwich was well worth the time and distance to get there.

Visiting for the weekend was my friend Jake from Virginia (check out his blog!) who though admittedly a die-hard BMW guy, didn’t mind spending a few days putting miles on some glorified Hondas.  The CL is owned by my friend Matt and for being an east coast car with nearly 250,000 miles, still felt tight and nimble.  Walkie talkies in hand, we chatted it up on the way to our lunch spot while playing “musical cars” and giving each driver a taste of the three participating vehicles.  Jake complimented the CL’s gearbox, to which Matt said, “That’s the car my daughter will learn to drive on.  If she can’t drive a stick, she can’t drive.”  I like his thinking!

The clear handling winner of the trio was the NSX, with its low slung stance and the lightest chassis of the bunch.  It’s a car that makes no apologies for delivering raw and un-computer-assisted performance.  However, in a straight line, the TL with its 16 horsepower advantage gave the NSX a run for its money.  In fact, the cars were neck & neck in a playful drag race along Scottsdale Road on the way back to Phoenix.  For sheer cruising enjoyment, the TL reigns supreme and we enjoyed blasting its DVD-Audio sound system to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.”  The car transforms in a rolling concert hall with the right media.

And that CL – we kept coming back to it – was a great performer for having double the miles of the other two.  It’s a shame Acura only offered the 6-speed manual transmission for one model year in the second-generation CL.  When that car was phased out after the 2003 model year, the brand forever parted ways from a manual transmission V6 coupe.  And that’s a huge loss for someone like me who would love to see a successor to my Legend.

A couple of weeks ago, I delivered the ILX to my brother Payton in Utah where it will stay for the time being.  The fun part of the drive up to St. George was that my friend Jeff rode with me.  Jeff found himself a real cream puff of a car:  This 1995 Honda Del Sol Si 5-speed from the original owners with only 40,000 miles on it.  He was nervous about taking a 22-year-old car on a 400-mile drive without knowing much about its maintenance history, but he made it home safe and sound.

I had a nice weekend with family members including mom and grandma.  Payton and I spent a couple of hours at Snow Canyon State Park on Saturday morning capturing footage the video you’ve already seen.

Look at that setup!  Payton ahead of me in the bed of a Ram pickup, filming backwards.

Quick visit to grandma for a grilled cheese.

Fun news blurb on Acura’s Facebook page when they announced my 200k milestone:

And here’s an article that Jalopnik author Andrew Collins put together on the car.  It’s received over 50,000 views and 220 comments.  My favorite was, “And the crowd goes mild.”

At the other end of the mileage spectrum, does anyone remember the Chevy Citation?  This 1982 V6 model only had 30,000 miles on it.  Jake and I went to test-drive it for a couple of friends.  It’s just as underwhelming of an experience as you think it is.

The car, though, reminds me so much of my 1986 Celebrity that I have to like it.

What a great era for car commercials.

Edit:  Here’s a short video of some clips I took.  (Including Jake struggling to find the hood release, haha).

Saying farewell to Jake until his next visit!

Here’s a sneak peek of a photoshoot I put together last night.  I wrote a guest editorial for a major automotive website that you’ll soon be reading about.  Have a great rest of your holiday weekend, everyone!

11 Responses to “Saturday Lunch Drive to Cave Creek, Arizona”

  1. Cool post, although I’m going to call a foul on the lack of any pulled pork sandwich photos!!! 😉

    Any thoughts on the driving dynamics of the TL so far? Are you planning to write a review?

    And that photo at the end reminds me of a poster I had in college. I think it was called “Justification for Higher Education.” Great pic!

    • Hi Tim! I have the same “Justification for Higher Education” poster – it was always a big motivator. Someone just needs to photoshop some Acuras in those garage bays, haha.

      I really failed by not taking pics of my pulled pork. My bad!

      As for the TL, I don’t know if I’ll do a full blown review but I would like to film a more in-depth video expressing some of the stuff I like and dislike about it. I had it out yesterday and noticed the clutch isn’t as smooth as in the other cars. It’s sort of grabby. I really haven’t even left town in it yet so maybe I’ll post more of an update once I take a real road trip. I think I’m taking it to San Diego in two weeks for a friend’s birthday.

      • Brad Heffran Says:

        If the clutch is grabby, there might be hot spots or a glaze on the flywheel. My old Honda has a similar issue, which I blame on the lame stop and go Chicago area traffic. Haha.

  2. Brad Heffran Says:

    A Chevy Citation! I haven’t seen one of those in years. My next door neighbors had one when I was a kid. The same neighbors also had a Buick Skylark. I don’t think they realized they had bought two cars built on GM’s infamous X platform. The junk yard claimed both before the odometers could hit 100k 😀

    • Yes! It was funny, when the seller started the car up it sounded exactly like my Celebrity. 2.8 liter carbureted V6. The poor thing was leaking so much antifreeze that Jake & I didn’t dare drive it too far. Matter of fact, I don’t know if I got into its top (3rd) gear even, haha. Speaking of junkyards, I’ve been wanting to go peruse the local yards. I’ll have to remember my oven mitts this time. Anything metal in the sun out here can brand you.

  3. Oh geez! A mid 80’s Citation and with 30k miles to boot. Love the vertically mounted radio.

    I remember those days for sure. Not exactly a Citation, but a friend of mine had a Chevette. Talk about a POS! That was a miserable little car, but hey!! They provided transportation.

    So, if you don’t mind my asking… Out of curiosity, what was the asking price for the Citation?

    • My friends Scott & Sandy were considering bidding on it to take to a “Concours de Lemons” show (a tongue in cheek car show dedicated to all the worst cars, but in the best condition). They ended up opting out of this one. It went for $2,700. Since there is a lot of interest in the Citation, I edited this blog post to include a 2 minute video pieced together of clips that I filmed when we checked the car out. For your viewing pleasure, haha!

  4. If you needed a white car to complete the theme you should have let me know.

    “What a great era for car commercials.” Perhaps, but what a terrible era for cars, especially domestics… Sometimes there’s a reason cars have such low mileage. Sometimes they’re too unreliable and disabled to achieve much else.

    Our Pontiac 6000STE (almost long forgotten now) from day one spent far too much time returning to the dealer for rack & pinons (6), windshield washer pumps (3), broken power door lock membrane switches (4), rocking driver seat assemblies… should I go on?

    I even had a run in with the dealership owner (the infamous Evan Mecham who later became governor of AZ) who tried to blame me for many of the issues… Good times.

    Needless to say this car was the tipping point for us and led to my first Honda. I’ve never looked back.

    • Oh the 6000! Where was that one in the hierarchy of A-Bodies? I would guess the Century was at the top, Celebrity at the bottom, and 6000 & Cutlass Ciera somewhere in the middle? Anyway – sounds like you made the right choice by switching to Honda. As I mentioned to Joe above, I just inserted a short video of some clips I shot of the Citation while checking it out. Sadly no acceleration footage! I didn’t want to break anything. Haha

  5. Gotta love those Citations. I have to say though, my 1980 4dr Malibu (while a slug with a 229 v6) withstood all sorts of abuse. Cost me (I think) $850 with 80k miles and I put on another 100k. Money well spent. And my 87 Cutlass Ciera with the sorta of ‘legendary’ Iron duke 4cyl. Similarly bought for around $1500 and also put about 100k of relatively low maintenance miles. Not very tight or sophisticated cars but they were least for me 🙂

    • Oh yeah, you definitely got your money’s worth out of the Malibu and Ciera! Hard to believe those cars are pushing 35-40 years old. Believe it or not there are enthusiast forums dedicated to 80’s GM A-bodies. I’ve racked up a couple hundred posts in my time on Haha

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