Archive for February, 2018

Desert Valley Auto Parts Junkyard Trip, a Video Collaboration with Chris, & a Visit from Jay

Posted in Arizona, Blog, Integra, NSX on February 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  156,369

Odometer (Integra):  246,561

I clearly don’t watch enough TV, because somehow I missed the fact that a local Phoenix area junkyard was the set of a Discovery Channel TV show back in 2011.  The series, called Desert Car Kings, was filmed at Desert Valley Auto Parts (DVAP) near 7th Avenue & Deer Valley Road on the north end of town.  I haven’t been able to find any episodes online but there are a handful of short clips on YouTube and it looked like a pretty cool series.

The desert is indeed a great place to look for vintage cars and parts.  While interiors, dashboards, and rubber/vinyl trim pieces age and crack terribly, usually the fundamental body parts – frames, panels, and engine components – stay remarkably rust-free and preserved. I frequently visit the local junkyards for that reason, but the ones I’ve been to have a lot newer cars in them and sometimes aren’t very well organized.  DVAP was laid out in a very orderly fashion by make.

Desert Car Kings lasted for just 1 season and 10 episodes, but one of the things they did during the show was restore cars from the junkyard.  That’s always sort of been a fantasy of mine:  Plucking a car from the path of imminent destruction (the crusher), giving it new life, and putting it on the road.

My friend Dane who you met on the recent MDX trip to Nevada introduced me to DVAP.  He is quite the connoisseur of vintage and collectible cars, with the following in his collection currently, from oldest to newest:

  • 1959 Imperial Crown
  • 1964 Dodge 440
  • 1966 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 1969 Imperial LeBaron
  • 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo
  • 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4
  • 2010 Lincoln MKZ

Can you sense some Mopar loving there?  Dane and I visited DVAP on a Saturday morning and got more than our $2 admission worth wandering around and checking out the inventory.  In the end, we didn’t make any purchases.  Here are 8 minutes of random video I recorded.

Check out this lineup of a couple of the year 1992’s best performance sport coupes.

This weekend, my friend Chris came over to grab lunch with me.  I met him a couple of years ago through the local Integra club (“AZ Second Gens” – about 50 members strong) and have followed his car adventures on his YouTube channel ever since.  Here’s the link so you can take a look and subscribe for yourselves.  We did a car-key swap and headed to lunch at a burger place a few miles away.  Here are a few minutes of video of the meet-up.  It was great to link up.

Here’s the video Chris put together.  27 minutes worth!  Get your popcorn ready or order a pizza first.

While you’re on YouTube, I have some other gems for you.  Check out this next video if you get 30 seconds to spare.  It’s an Acura commercial from around 1993.

What caught my eye right away – without even having to do rewind and replay – was the bridge crossing of an NSX and a Legend at about 8 seconds in.  “Navajo Bridge!” I screamed in my head.  I’ve driven over it dozens of times.  What’s odd, though, is that the video was shot just 2 years before a new bypass bridge west of the original 1929 bridge was completed.  The deck that the Legend & NSX were being driven on is now only open to pedestrian traffic.  Even so, how can I possibly resist re-creating this with my own cars in the newer bridge that runs parallel to it?

Notice in the freeze-frame above, the distinct pattern of criss-cross metal railing along the side.  Below, I’m standing on the same bridge (but along its west side, instead of east) and you can see the newer bridge in the background.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined some friends for brunch at 5th Avenue Cafe in central Phoenix.  Roger showed up in his 1965 Dodge station wagon, and I took the NSX.  There was a little bit of ‘something for everyone.’

Earlier in the week, I got to go to lunch in a 1962 Porsche owned by my friend Bob.

It had an incredible amount of interior space for a vehicle of that size!

I had company from San Diego this past weekend:  My friend Jay rolled into town on Thursday evening in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550 drop-top.  What a stunning ride in Storm Red.

He and I cruised down to Tucson on Saturday morning to meet up with some friends for brunch at Cup Cafe inside the historic Hotel Congress.

Perfect day for a patio chat.

Baked egg something-or-other.  Those potatoes were my fave, though!

Jonathan making his attempt at a group shot, selfie style.

Jonathan and his roommate Corey’s garage.  I approved.

And a quick clip of me driving Jay’s Benz.  It’s 100+ more horsepower than I’m used to handling.

Thanks, Jay, for the visit!

I think you’re all caught up now!  Have a great week!

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Drive to Five Review: Nevada Ghost Towning in the 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Posted in Ghost Town, MDX, Nevada, Utah, Vehicle Reviews on February 13, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  246,192

Odometer (MDX):  5,756

Trip Distance:  1,056 Miles

I needed a workhorse to travel back to an 1800s mining town this past weekend and Acura gave me just the right vehicle for the job.  After now completing over 1,000 miles in the latest iteration of its 3-row SUV, I can say with a certainty that the latest MDX is a capable, fun-to-drive machine that offers up first class comfort for a trip of that distance.  Do I have to give it back?

This now marks the fourth time I’ve put a third-generation MDX through its paces.  Here are some prior reviews from here on the blog:

Coming up in April, Las Vegas, Nevada will once again play home to a regional Acura NSX club meet-up called WestFest.  Last year, the event brought out over 50 cars and 80 people.  As part of the planning committee, my role is to establish and plan out the logistics of a scenic group drive to be held on Saturday, April 28th.  It’s not easy to come up with drives for a caravan of that size.

Considerations:

  • Where haven’t we been yet?
  • What will traffic & weather patterns be like on the day & time of our trip?
  • What are the road conditions – are they appropriate for a group of sportscars?
  • Are there any tolls or park fees to consider?
  • How can we keep everyone together, or does it make more sense to split the group?
  • Are there places for fuel and snack stops along the way?

As one can imagine, it takes a great deal of effort to coordinate such an activity.  I partnered up with my friends Dane and Brandon, both Las Vegas locals, to take the MDX out on Saturday morning and scout the terrain.  It was the perfect vehicle for our expedition to the desert:  Second-row accommodations are posh, with captains’ chairs and plenty of space all around.  There are of course independent climate controls for passengers in those areas.  Meanwhile, I pampered myself up front with a heated seat heater, heated steering wheel, and convenient cup holder for my iced caramel macchiato.  You’d think we were going to the local shopping mall and not to the middle of nowhere.

Our drive route for the day was about 160 miles and took us 4 hours from start to finish, including our sightseeing and lunch stops.

Nelson, Nevada is one of many ghost towns in the vast expanses of land around the southwest.  It’s nestled in El Dorado Canyon, about 12 miles off Highway 95 to the east.  If you blink, you might miss the turnoff, so it’s a good thing Dane was coaching me from the passenger seat on where to make my exit at Highway 165.  We passed only one other vehicle on the way into Nelson from there.

The two-laner got a little more narrow, a little more rough, and more curvy as we dipped down in elevation toward the Colorado River.  Soon the buildings of the old mining town came into view, along with dozens of old cars left out to the elements with windows down (or broken out) and interiors rotting away.  I parked the MDX in a dirt lot and we got outside to wander around a little, noting how silent it was outside aside from the scuffling sound made from our shoes on the gravel.

We must have been the first tourists in town that day, because an old man came out of what appeared to be the main general store and put away the ‘closed’ sign while inviting us inside.  The wooden building doubles as his home, but he sells all sorts of remnants of the Wild West in there.  My favorite display was an exhibit of some the various films that the town of Nelson has appeared in, including the Kurt Russell classic “Breakdown.”

Luckily for us (and unlike Kurt Russell’s red Jeep Grand Cherokee in that movie), the MDX was didn’t give us any check-engine lights or troubles of any nature.  We snapped a few photos in Nelson before continuing eastward another few miles to where we could nearly drive right to the banks of the mighty Colorado River on a dirt road.  There was a nice paved turnaround spot that I think will make for a perfect photo-op for the group of NSXs at the April event.

Our next destination on the drive loop was Searchlight, Nevada – a teeny spot on the map that (like most small towns in that area) – got its start as a mining community in the late 1800s but mostly dried up by the mid 1950s.  The name came from one of its original prospectors who said, “It would take a searchlight to find gold out here.”

Dane, Brandon, and I rolled onward toward Highway 164 westbound and then over to Interstate 15 northbound.  I hit the gas on the onramp.  For a full size SUV that’s loaded down with technology and comfort niceties, the MDX still scoots down the road with more than ample power.  I observed an overall combined MPG of about 26 despite going heavy on the throttle a few times.  Range on a full tank is in the high 400s.

The Country Club Buffet at Primm Valley Casino, right along the California-Nevada state line, satisfied our hunger before we made our last stop of the day.  Stacked along the east side of I-15 are 7 columns of vividly painted boulders, referred to as “Seven Magic Mountains.”  The massive rocks were cut from a nearby quarry and painted fluorescent colors by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.  The art installation was opened in 2016 and will be removed sometime this year, so I was glad to get a chance to see it.

The MDX stickers at $58,000 as-tested, including Tech & Advance packages with a full suite of AcuraWatch driver-assistance aids.  I found the LKAS (Lane Keeping Assist System) to be helpful but could do without the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control).  I much prefer to set a cruise speed and have it be maintained – with the Adaptive engaged, the vehicle starts slowing down well in advance of approaching a vehicle ahead, so you have to change lanes very early which isn’t always possible or convenient.  It’s something I could learn to live with, but just an observation.  The only other gripe I had was with the aesthetics of the black wheels.

There’s a lot to love about the MDX.  Those captivating jewel eye headlights with LED turn signals are just as much “function” as they are “form.”  The ELS Studio Premium audio system will knock your socks off.  I set the bass and the subwoofer to maximum levels for optimal punch, and it retained crisp clarity all the way up to max volume level 40.  Sirius XM channel “90s on 9” never sounded so good.  And if it’s solitude you want, a quiet cabin is easy to achieve too.  I sailed along at 75 mph with minimal wind, road, and engine noise.  The MDX’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission keeps the revs low at those speeds.

It was tough to give the keys back after being pampered for 7 days, but I was glad for the opportunity to sample the high life!  Below is a 7-minute video and a collection of other photos from my week with the Modern Steel Metallic MDX.  Thanks, Acura, for the loaner!

Back seat comfort

Fueling up at Circle K in Phoenix

And we’re off!

Rolling into Las Vegas at sunset

5,000 mile milestone!

Arrival in Nelson

The ‘general store’ in Nelson

Loved this 1950 Buick!

Next stop:  Interstate 15

Red carpet treatment!  Brandon & Dane getting the door at Primm Valley

Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada desert

Brandon’s 1993 Legend L 6-speed coupe

MDX parked in front of Siegfried and Roy’s house in Las Vegas!  See the “SR” on the gate?

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Announcement: 2018 National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) – Colorado Springs, CO – July 18-22

Posted in NALM on February 8, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  559,013

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  156,310

It’s official!  For its 14th annual event, the National Acura Legend Meet is heading to colorful Colorado.  The announcement was formally posted on the AcuraLegend.org forums on Tuesday, February 6th.

To get your tachometer revving, here are a few planned highlights of the event:

  • Scenic cruise to Breckenridge
  • Day trip up Pikes Peak Highway – the famous 14,000 foot peak, and one of the highest elevation paved roads in North America
  • Drag strip event at Pueblo Motorsports Park
  • Dealer day at Pikes Peak Acura

Here are the locations of all prior events, as shown on the NALM Website too.

Registration is expected to go live around April 1, and the event will be held from July 18 through 22.  The host hotel will be the very accommodating Woodland Country Lodge in Woodland Park, just a few miles up the road from Colorado Springs.  Have you ever seen such a view from a hotel parking lot before?

This one will be going for sure!

We are excited to see what this year’s festivities bring.  Attendees are slated to attend from various parts of the country, some driving from as far away as Florida.  I’ll post updates here as they become available.

Stay tuned next week for a featured review on this 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid which I’ll be putting through its paces on a trip to Utah and back.

Speaking of SUVs, if you’re in the market for something fun and quirky to have a little 4×4 fun with, go look at James‘ Isuzu VehiCROSS, currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer at no reserve!  The auction ends on Monday.

It’s one of the most radical designs of the 1990s.  Have a great weekend, all!

Video Release: “Fabulous Fives” 555,555 Milestone; Visits with Joseph & Michael

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, NSX on February 5, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  558,967

Odometer (Vigor):  109,340

It’s no mystery that my friend Josh Clymer and I are Mileage Masters.  We thrive on seeing that odometer turn just one more digit…. again, again, and again.  About 5 years ago, Josh launched a blog called TSX Travels, and he began documenting his journeys in his 2005 TSX, just like I started with this blog in Spring 2011.

Josh and I have collaborated on drives and milestones in the past, despite the fact that we live 926 miles apart.  In fact, we got together for a “Dueling Acuras” video production in February 2016.  Somewhere along the road, we got the crazy idea that we should coordinate our all-fives roll-over for the same time and place.

Well, here’s the grand finale!  Josh drove from Boise, Idaho, I drove from Phoenix, Arizona, and we met in the middle – St. George, Utah – for a monumental milestone celebrated together last October 7th, 2017.

It was a busy and fun weekend here, with a friend visiting from southern California and a trip to a new destination in Arizona to see another friend’s car collection.  Years ago when Honda was first getting into the transportation industry, its first mobility tools were scooters and motorcycles that were sometimes sold under the advertising tagline “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda.”

I think the same general motto holds true today for Honda and its other other brands, because my friends Joseph and Michael are two of the most quality individuals I’ve ever met.  Joseph is the proud owner of a 1992 Acura Vigor and I first met up with him at last year’s Japanese Classic Car Show.  He rolled into Phoenix on Friday afternoon in a newly-acquired 2003 Acura CL in stunning Aegean Blue Pearl with only about 60,800 miles on the odometer.

We enjoyed a night out in Old Town Scottsdale with friends, including sampling the dessert menu at Sugar Bowl, a landmark for the last 60 years since it opened in 1958.  The hot fudge sundae was (as my mom says it) “T-D-F.”  Or, in other words, to die for.

Saturday morning, Joseph and I took a road trip in the NSX about 35 miles away to the west end of the Valley near the base of the White Tank Mountain range.  There, a small community has sprung up in recent years called Verrado.  Though it falls within the broader Buckeye, Arizona city limits, Verrado is very much a self-contained and unified little town.  Its cozy Main Street had a variety of restaurants, and we chose Tempo Urban Bistro for our meet-up with another Acura-owning friend, Michael.  He drives a 2014 ILX 2.0.

Michael’s latest acquisition – which he shared as a surprise after brunch – was a 1988 Acura Legend L sedan Florence Blue Metallic.  From the moment I opened the driver door and took a whiff of the interior, it took me back to some of my prior cars.  That classic “Old Honda” smell is something so unmistakable.  We took the Legend for a spin and it drove smoothly and solidly – a testament to its build quality for being nearly 30 years old.  Can’t wait to see what Michael’s plans are for it.

Speaking of blue cars, I took the opportunity to do a little test-driving this weekend too.  One of my local dealerships, in Tempe, Arizona, now has a 2018 Accord Sport 6-speed manual in stock.  It’s finished in “Still Night Pearl” – a striking color shared with the TLX A-Spec.  The driving experience left me overall pretty impressed.

The Accord’s motor is small:  a 2-liter turbo, but it’s able to crank out over 250 horsepower.  That made ample “oomph” to get up to highway speed on the I-10 onramp at Warner Road with ease.  The clutch was soft and the car felt “big” to me – perhaps because I’m used to daily-driving my little Integra.  I think it’s awesome that the Accord is still offered with a stick shift for those of us who prefer to row our own gears.  For $31,200, it’s a lot of car for the money.

Here’s a video from the day trip to Verrado and some scenes with Joseph’s CL, too.

Group out at Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale

Saturday morning NSX cruise

1988, 1992, and 2014

The Accord that I test drove had a few miles on it, at 133

Have a great week!