The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 2: Getting My New 1992 Integra Home

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,325

Few people probably get excited about 25 year old Acuras like I do.  But anyone who follows my blog knows how anxious I must have been after completing the purchase of my latest acquisition to get it home and in my garage.  The only problem was, it was located about 800 miles away in another state.

Before I left Auction City in Redwood City, California on the Saturday that I bid and “won” the car, I had arranged for transport via a broker called Montway.  The rate came in at $570 door-to-door to Phoenix and because of the frequently traveled cities between which the car would be transported, I was assured by a representative that dispatch would likely happen within 48 hours and the car would get picked up early the next week.

If only.  48 hours came and went.  72 hours came and went, and not a word from the shipper, who’d told me I’d be receiving an email as soon as it was assigned.  So three days in and it still hadn’t even been assigned to trucker.  I called and emailed them.  On day 4, I was told, “We are working to find a carrier.  I’ll call around personally.”  On day 5, “Your order is now in priority status,” whatever that means.

Each time I inquired as to the status, I was getting the runaround, and my patience was wearing thin.  The Integra was parked at an auction facility that needed it gone – and I didn’t want people messing with it (knowing there would be another swarm of potential bidders coming in soon and not wanting them to touch it).

Finally I received a break on the afternoon of day 5 (Thursday) when Montway called.  “We’ve found a carrier,” they told me.  “He can pick up the car on Monday and his rate is $770.”  I was floored for a couple of reasons.  #1 – Monday would have been 9 days after I placed the order for immediate pick-up.  #2 – The quoted rate was over $200 more than I was already told the transport would cost.  I told the representative, absolutely not.  Cancel my order.

And right in the middle of trying to host my brother, his wife, and 3 kids at my house for the weekend, I was forced to book a last minute flight from Phoenix to San Jose so I could go pick up the car and drive it home myself.  It seemed more than a little crazy:  Flying out alone, trusting a 26 year old car that had been driven only 20 miles in the last 2 years (according to Carfax records), and attempting a 12-hour, 800-mile drive home.  But I’m not right in the head.

I boarded my Southwest flight on Friday night around 9:30 and was in my motel in Sunnyvale, California by a little after 11:00 p.m.  I didn’t sleep well that night in anticipation of the following morning’s events.  It’s worth mentioning here, this was the third time I’ve flown into San Jose airport to drive a new car home:  The first was the Legend coupe on March 26, 2003.  The second was the NSX on December 17, 2011.  That must be a good area to buy cars from.

Another Uber bright and early on Saturday morning took me to Auction City in Redwood City where I shook hands with Edward Lauber, the owner, who said, “I hear you collect Acuras.”  My car was pulled around to the front and I was sent on my way at 8:30 in the morning.  I only had 1/8th of a tank of gas, so my first stop was a Chevron on Marsh Road before hitting Highway 101 southbound.

Here’s where things got interesting.  I accelerated onto the onramp and got settled in.  I pulled out the cigarette lighter to insert my phone charger and the entire assembly was a little bit loose.  I jiggled it around a little and could sometimes get the phone to take a charge for a second, but it would not stay charging.  My battery life was at 22%.  Great.  I advised a few people that I would likely be unavailable by phone for most of the day after it died.

I was pleased at how the Integra handled at freeway speed, with revs < 4,000 RPM at 75 miles per hour, unlike its counterpart the GS-R.  Road and wind noise were not bad, the engine sounded healthy.  Then I made an attempt at the cruise control.  No dice.  The light on the “master” switch illuminated, but the system would not engage.  Shoot – I had 12 hours ahead of me and my right leg was not happy about it.

Over the course of the next 730 miles, I made a list of 13 weird electrical things going on with the car.  Some were quite puzzling.  My favorite was this:  When you activated the left turn signal, after it flashes 5 times, it started flashing the “Door” light in the instrument cluster, the clock, and the rear window defrost button.  How are those things even related?

At this point I was fairly confident there is something wrong with the entire system.  And the longer I stared at the dash, the more I noticed things about it.  Nooks and crannies all had water spots in them, white in color.  It’s almost like someone sneezed milk over the entire dashboard at some point.  Was a water-related incident to blame for the fact that all the electronics were on the fritz?  Likely.

But the good news is that I sailed along in comfort and style on Highway 101, Highway 152 toward Los Banos, and then I-5 southbound without any mechanical issues whatsoever.  The clutch, brakes, and gearbox were perfect.  The A/C blew cold.  The windows, locks, and headlights all worked.  So for that I was extremely grateful.  Here is my list of other things I noticed:

  • Radio antenna would not go up.  It went up during the auction, I remember noticing it.  So did something get disconnected or broken in the week the car sat there afterward?
  • The radio itself is a quirky thing.  Sometimes it doesn’t work at all; other times I get sound from just 1 speaker.
  • The Intermittent wiper speed does not work.
  • The clock reset itself to 1:00 twice during fuel stops.
  • Once I heard the “open door” chime when no doors were open.
  • Sometimes the clock is “fuzzy” / fizzing in and out.
  • The dome light doesn’t turn on.
  • Marker lights and license plate lights don’t work.

I think we have a real project on our hands – and I’m not even sure that I care to address most of those, as long as the car runs & drives well.  And it sure does.  It survived extended highway miles, a steep grade up the Grapevine north of the LA area, and 3 different segments of gridlocked traffic all with constant A/C running.  Meanwhile my right leg got accustomed to being permanently set on the throttle.  I took Highway 210 to Highway 57 to Interstate 10.  Then I could finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

By now, it was around 4:30 p.m. so I figured it was time to go find a way to turn my dead phone on so I could check messages and let people know that I was doing okay.  I stopped at a Starbucks in Palm Desert, California for that.  I was able to use my laptop battery to send a charge to my phone and get it back up to about 20% life remaining before I headed out again.  Dusk came around 6:30 and I was crossing into the Arizona state line, and by 8:30 I was pulling into my driveway in Phoenix – exactly 12 hours after leaving Auction City earlier in the morning.

It was a relief to be home.  The known issues with the Integra were the least of my concerns.  I got home safe and sound, and that was all that mattered to me.  My brother and his family were still at my house so I enjoyed the evening with them and relaxed.  A little later on, I pulled the car in so it could be parked with the rest of the collection.  It fit in nicely.  And of course, I had to wear my “Just one more car.  I promise” T-shirt for the occasion.

Now what?  Come back for my next post as I begin to address some of the car’s issues – both cosmetic and mechanical.  On the to-do list will be a few visual enhancements:  OEM floor mats, rear mud guards, dent removal, factory exhaust tips, etc.  And I plan on putting historic license plates on this one for sure.  It has earned them!  Here is a video capturing 13 minutes of the adventure.

Text from my friend calling me out on buying another car

Firing up the Integra and getting ready to roll out

Lunch stop at Taco Bell in Buttonwillow, California

Starting to see the final stretch through the desert

Good thing I didn’t need any fuel from these pumps in Desert Center

Dusk as I roll into Arizona

Kid-approved!  I arrived home to my brother’s family who was still there visiting.

Come back soon for my next write-up and a video on getting the car cleaned up!

End note: Do I have any Gen 1 Prelude fans in the audience?  This 1982 model belongs to my trusty mechanic, Tait at Hon-Man Auto Care.  It has only around 100,000 miles on it and is going up for sale.  Let me know if you’re interested!

26 Responses to “The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 2: Getting My New 1992 Integra Home”

  1. Perfect morning read! A few electrical mysteries for sure, but overall sounds like you got a nice example. I’m still in love with that Torino Red. My PDR guy says he thinks he can get the Pebble Ash door back to where it should be, so you might get lucky on yours too. It doesn’t look as bad as mine. 😦 I’ll report back on that.

  2. Chris Miller Says:

    After reading about the electrical gremlins it almost sounds like water or flood damage. I hope that’s not the case and simply a few relays or controllers that are cooked from long hot summers. Those parts can be tracked down.

    • That thought crossed my mind, definitely. Driveability is unaffected, in which case I can live without a radio and cruise control. Even the A/C works well. I’m dropping off the car next week with Hon-Man to see what they can come up with. Also, Integra parts are far more readily available than Legend parts so if I need a new ECU or electronic components, maybe those can be sourced from a parts car or something along those lines.

  3. EPIC. POST. That’s quite the adventure to pick up a new car… and even cooler that it’s the third time you’ve done that journey for an Acura. And here, I thought my journey down the NJ Turnpike to get my Accord was an adventure. 😉

    Looking forward to following your journeys with the ‘Teg. Those are a strange series of electrical issues… I’m inclined to agree with Chris that it seems like some kind of water damage. Did you see any evidence of serious leaks when you previewed the car? Keep us posted… enquiring minds want to know!

    (And glad the engine held up well. Those non-VTEC B-series engines never got the respect they deserved. Dad had an Integra LS year’s ago, and the engine was fun, although lacking the F1 noises of the GS-R power plant.)

    • Thanks Tim! Yeah this one has some issues to sort out – both cosmetic and mechanical – but it’s a long term, back burner project for now. The fundamental components appear good and the car starts up on the first crank. I’ll do my best to keep everyone here updated as we figure things out. Hope your week is going well!

  4. Holy cr@p — what an ordeal! At least you made it back with the car safely, and it seems to be in great overall mechanical condition. It should be “fun” sorting out the poltergeist electrical things. Good luck with the project! Love that color for this car, btw.

    • I know! Lol @ poltergeist – yeah, we’ll see what kind of can of worms I just opened up with this one. At least it’s purdy. I can’t wait to offset it with some proper alloy wheels. 14’s. I don’t know of any new cars these days with 14″ wheels. Maybe the Mitsubishi Mirage? Haha. Thanks Brad.

  5. Hey Tyson I don’t know that I share your sense of trust and perhaps that is why auctions can be a risky proposition.

    However I do feel confident Tait can sort it all out… If there’s one thing I learned long ago it’s “there isn’t any problem you can’t fix if you throw enough money @ it.”

    BTW I did smile a little when you mentioned the lack of cruise control, +12V power port, etc. I can recall a time (back in the day) when I drove from NY to Miami without those “necessities” too. Though to be fair at that time those were less needed than today…

    Best of luck with the new acquisition I’m sure it will all work out and you’ll have great stories to tell us.

    • I was at Tait’s yesterday with the Legend sedan for an oil change. (I really like the shop dog he has there. Her name is Amy Winehouse). I “warned” him that I’ll be dropping off the 1992 Integra LS next week to have him start sorting it out. I think we’ll start with the basics, just fluid changes. If it ends up needing something more involved, we’ll have to play it by ear. His team is really good about helping me find rare and/or discontinued parts whenever they are needed. Do you want to meet up with me over there and check out the new ride? I can let you know the date & time. It might be Tuesday or Wednesday.

      • Sure… look forward to it.

        Or… how about I drive the 93SE over tomorrow and we do breakfast that is if you didn’t have something planned in the morning. Either way, let me know.

  6. If I lived in the Phoenix area, I would have given you a ride to the San Jose area and trailed you to make sure you got back to Phoenix safely. But I knew the car would get you back home. I know what Hondas and Acuras are capable of. 😀

    Tyson, I have my first DrivetoFive blog request. Do you think you could test drive that Prelude that is for sale and report on it? The first generation Prelude was the first Honda I ever owned. I loved it! Mine was a 5 speed manual. Have you ever driven a first generation Prelude with manual transmission? I would love to see your take on it.

    • I will have to take you up on that. I am going to back to Tait’s place next week and can take the Prelude for a spin around the blog (and probably even get some video!). I will report back. Thanks Carlos.

  7. You are certifiably crazy. However, the thought had crossed my mind to offer to fly up there to drive your car back to Phoenix for you. It’s called a mother’s love…. but I never acted on the thought. Please don’t pull this stunt again; my nerves are frayed enough. 🙂

  8. I think you’ve officially lost your mind, Tyson. Also, weird question, but I was wondering if there’s a certain credit card you prefer, as I imagine you get insane cash back / points for all of the gas, flights, and dining you do on the road. Love the collection!

    • Haha, I think you’re right, Nick. And I’m glad you asked the question about credit cards. I actually put the entire Integra purchase on a credit card that has 0 APR for 15 months AND is getting me cash back. It’s from Chase and it’s called the Freedom Unlimited. I dig it. Thanks for reading!

  9. Chris Green Says:

    I just read both posts and watched both videos. I love your passion! I thought I was crazy when I found out about the ’89 Prelude at 7:30pm and drove an hour to go look at it, then bid on it on Ebay (and won it) the next day, then picked it up the day after that right before a vacation trip to Monterey, but this beats that by a long shot! I’m so amazed by your stamina at making these long drives and taking the leap of faith these cars require. Congratulations, and see you at Radwood! Because that’s right, you’re on another marathon drive to California right now!

    • Haha, I’m glad you can relate to some extent to the effort I went to to get the car. And the saga isn’t over yet, as clearly there are some bugs to work out when I get back home. Yes – look forward to seeing you in a few hours! I’m glad the weather forecast looks so much more cooperative. Talk soon!

  10. An interesting turn of events for the car, having to end up driving her home. I’m pleased that mechanically, the car managed to get you home – but it’s a bit of a pity that the car seems to have a handful of electrical bugs. Here’s hoping you can get them fixed relatively easily. Looking forward to the updates about the Integra as you bring her back to her former glory.

  11. The “One More Car” photo with that expression is priceless. Your electrical issues sound like a pain but should hopefully be easy enough to diagnose with a wiring diagram and a few cups of coffee. I’m wondering if any of the various electronics share some common grounds that are going bad. Surely Tait will get it all fixed up for ya!

    • Stay tuned! I’m hoping so, too. We’re taking it over there tonight. And I’ll be watching for updates on your E36 as you begin to look into motor work. Gotta get you back on the track with that thing pronto!

  12. You sir, are cray cray with a capital CRAY. Only you would pull off such a drive in one day in a car you didn’t know anything about. But she sure is a beaut.

    • Yeah, to this day I’ve never had a “fly in, drive home” car purchase work out badly in terms of breaking down on the way home (knock on wood). We will see what Tait & his crew find out this week & next as they start in on it. Then I’ll probably move on to a few cosmetics. I was quoted $195 so that’s a necessity to preserve the interior and add a little privacy around here.

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