Archive for October, 2018

NSX Visitors, TLX Video, & a Gas Station Called The Thumb

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, TLX, Vehicle Reviews on October 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,211

You know when you’re at Chili’s and someone orders chicken fajitas that come out from the kitchen steaming sizzling and evoke interest from jealous onlookers at other tables?  That’s called the “fajita effect,” at least according to my friend John who was visiting from North Carolina this past week.  John was one of a few of my friends who joined for an evening at one of the American middle class’s favorite chain restaurants.  Since John was in his red 2000 NSX, my house that night looked a bit like an Acura dealership.  The other cars you see here are a loaner 2018 TLX, my friend Jack’s 2006 RSX, and my 2013 ILX.  Another friend commented, “All your exes (X’s) are home.”

John was in the middle of a monumental 8,000-mile road trip from coast to coast, and back.  He started out in NC around September 10 and made his way to San Francisco, California in time to participate in this year’s NSXPO.  From there, he spent additional time roaming around California, working his way south to spend time in Joshua Tree National Park before starting his eastbound return trip, which is what brought him through Phoenix.  He ended up staying 3 nights at my place and I was happy to have him around.

Joining the party was Trent Streeter from Tucson who you met in a recent AcuraConnected article, who drives a beautiful 1992 NSX in Berlina Black.  I made space in the garage for both to park indoors while they were at my house, and I must say I enjoyed having some nice looking eye candy in there!

We attended a Cars & Coffee event in Chandler, along with several other NSXs.

My NSX is running & driving in tip-top shape thanks to some extensive preventive maintenance performed at Acura of Tempe.  Here are the items that were addressed:  Replace timing belt, water pump, tensioners, cam sensor, outer belts, replace valve cover gaskets and cam seals, replace VTEC solenoid seals, replace coolant hoses, replace rear brake pads, resurface rear brake rotors.

While all of this was being done, I roamed around in a loaner 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  I enjoyed it a lot – especially its all-wheel-drive and confidence-inspiring handling during a couple of unusually rainy days here in Phoenix.  I put together a 10-minute video showing some of the highlights.  I took the car to a couple of important destinations.

One was a gas station & restaurant called The Thumb in Scottsdale which has been featured on TV (Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives).  They have great BBQ – I went with the pork brisket breakfast tacos, which sound like an odd combination, but trust me – it works.  They also sell race gas (95 octane).  I did not fill up the TLX with that.

The other destination was a historically significant home on 2nd Street in Phoenix near my office.  It was the site of 2 murders in 1931 by a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd.  She gained national notoriety not just for the fact that she killed her two roommates over a love affair, but because she later dismembered their bodies and mailed them in luggage via train to Los Angeles with intent of dumping the bodies into the ocean.  She spent most of the rest of her life in & out of insane asylums and court rooms, but lived to the ripe old age of 93.  I saw a film about her at a cool spot called FilmBar.

This purple home is where Winnie’s crime was committed.  Today, 87 years later, it’s surrounded by high rise condominiums.  It’s the only original home left on the entire block.

Here’s FilmBar where I saw the flick.

Here’s the video I put together on the TLX.

Another interior shot of The Thumb; this one features the fish tank.

Delicious breakfast tacos + potato salad on the side.

Racing fuel sold here!

Trent’s custom NSX interior.

Tyson, Trent, John

John gave me a silver NSX to add to my collection of memorabilia.

I got the 1994 Legend GS out for a bit of fun in the sun.

Special shout-out to my friend Rick from Rick’s Audi Double YouTube channel for sharing some logo stickers with me.  If you’re into car detailing and have even the slightest obsessive-compulsive disorder, you’ll definitely want to subscribe.

The 1990 Honda Accord EX got some mechanical loving this week with a $1,200 timing belt & water pump service at Hon-Man in Tempe.  The car’s prior timing belt was 10 years old and due for replacement for a time-based interval.  It is running & driving perfectly.

For those who haven’t had enough YouTube yet, I have 2 more videos for you to check out.  The first was put together by my friend Dom when I let him drive my NSX back in September at NSXPO.

In this next one regarding Acura’s return to Precision Crafted Performance, I make an appearance at around 6:40 in.

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Fast Car Friday: 2018 Southwest Lifestyle Media Drive in Chandler, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on October 21, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,683

Every once in a while, I get to feast on an automotive sampler platter by driving a dozen or more new cars in a single day.  Sounds like a pretty awesome way to see where the auto industry is going, right?  This past Friday, I participated in the Southwest Lifestyle Media Drive in Chandler, Arizona at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

The available offerings came from a wide array of configurations:  A 104-horsepower Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid and a 797-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye are at vastly different ends of the performance spectrum, but both of them played a strong game as contenders in this unique “vehicle of the year” program.

The Southwest Lifestyle event builds on a former event called the Active Lifestyle Vehicle (ALV) of the Year that was 14 years running.  ALV Co-Founder Nina Russin stepped away after her many years of success, and journalist Becky Antioco took the reins to reinvent it as something fresh and new.  The result was a 1-day program hosted at the Bondurant Racing School facility where about 20 journalists put 17 vehicles through their paces and ultimately cast ballots to name top winners in 5 categories.  Here were the final results:

  • Car of the Year – Best Value:  2019 Kia Forte EX
  • Car of the Year – Performance / Luxury:  2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Redeye
  • SUV/CUV of the Year – Best Value:  2019 Subaru Ascent
  • SUV/CUV of the Year – Luxury:  2018 Lexus LX570
  • Truck of the Year:  2019 RAM 1500 Longhorn

SLMD kicked off on Thursday evening with a reception at the Sheraton Grand Resort, giving local journalists the chance to interact with representatives from the auto manufacturers in a casual setting with food & beverages.  Friday’s activities started early, with a lineup of fully spit-shined new cars ready to pound the pavement by the time registration got underway at 8:00 a.m.

Both on- and off-road drive routes were made available – the latter subjecting the trucks & SUVs to a pretty gnarly series of terrain challenges that were custom-built for the event by Bondurant staff.  Scott Brown from Fiat-Chrysler was proud of how the company’s latest Wrangler “JL” made light work of those obstacles.  It was a very competitive playing field all around, and ultimately the Subaru took top honors.  Journalists may have been swayed by the fact that it has 19 cup holders.

For the on-road portion, a 20-minute drive route gave journalists the chance to subject vehicles to both city & highway driving environments, thanks to easy access to the Interstate 10 onramp and traffic-free surface streets in the near vicinity.  This playground was where I first experienced that nearly-800-horsepower Hellcat as well as the new, limited-edition 480-horsepower Ford Mustang Bullitt.

The Mustang’s release coincides with the famous Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt” which was released 50 years ago exactly, and the model plays homage to that heritage and history.  According to Sam Schembari-Negroni from Ford, engineers even modeled the car’s exhaust note after the original.  I found the car an awesome all-around package – especially its slick-shifting 6-speed manual.

Rounding out the lineup were an assortment of other trucks, SUVs, and passenger cars – each selected for the event because of the characteristics that make them great vehicles for folks living in the southwest.  In about 4 hours’ drive time – broken up by a delicious BBQ lunch sponsored by Fiat-Chrysler, I had the opportunity to drive 12 of the 17 vehicles, and I can say with a certainty that I’m excited about the direction things are going in the auto industry and it’s a great time to be a driver and enthusiast.

I thank the Southwest Lifestyle Media event directors as well as the automakers for the opportunity to participate!

New Kia Forte

With Natalie Kumaratne from Honda and James Lee from Six Speed Blog, at the opening reception

Our host facility for Friday’s fun

Event Directory Becky gives us a welcome & instructions

Test-driving a Honda Pilot Elite

The Volkswagen Alltrack, left, was 1 of 3 vehicles in the event with a manual transmission, which I was glad to see.  The Infiniti QX50, at right, was a nice family cruiser.

This was some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had.

My pick was a “burnt ends” combo platter with cole slaw on the side.

Winner in the luxo-SUV category was this big Lexus

Scott Brown, right, explains some of the features of the new “JL” Wrangler Sahara.

Weekly Digest: A Marathon, Some Accords, & NSXPO Follow-Up

Posted in Accord, Milestones, NSX, Reader's Ride, Running, Vigor on October 10, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,679

Odometer (Accord):  302,093

I have all sorts of news to catch up on here but I’ll keep the message short & sweet so the photos can tell the story.  There have been a lot of articles coming out on the recent NSXPO in San Francisco, but I’m particularly pleased with how this one came together.  I wrote a short piece on a father & son from Tucson, Arizona who both own NSXs.  It’s here on AcuraConnected.

I took the ILX to southern Utah over the weekend and competed in my 12th St. George marathon.  For about the first half of the 26-miler, it rained.  Adding to the struggle, my meager 3 miles of training didn’t amount to adequate preparation (shocker!) and my pace-per-mile reflected that.  In all it took me nearly 5.5 hours to finish, but my mom was there waiting for me at the finish proudly.

The ILX rolled 208,000 on the way to Utah Thursday evening.

My niece and nephews made a great cheering squad at about mile 25 when I passed by them (slowly).

Mom sat this one out but spent the day volunteering instead.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some ‘car fun,’ including a visit from my friend Michael who has a Fathom Blue ILX.

A couple of fourth-generation Honda Accords made their way to the house (for short- or long-term, not yet known) but I’m doing a bit of work on each one and enjoying getting to know the platform.  This particularly nice one is from a one-owner history right here in the Phoenix area.  While showing over 136,000 on the odometer, it easily looks like a car with < 50,000 miles on it.

Plus, what’s not to love about those automatic seatbelts.  Just like the ones in my two Integras.

This Mulberry Pearl car was featured on my YouTube a couple of months ago and I was shocked how quickly the video took off.  It’s now been viewed over 50,000 times and commented on over 700 times.  People have a lot of love for these old Accords!

The second Accord is this 1993 SE with 302,000 miles on it.  While it runs and drives well and has a very solid background & maintenance history, it does need some cosmetic and mechanical help so I’ll be putting some effort into it as time permits.

My friend Brad and his roommate Richard from Chicago stopped by.  Brad, sorry to post this one with your eyes shut!  But glad you were able to make a fly-by visit in Phoenix on the tail end of your 2,000-mile national park tour!  By the way, our weather cleared up right after you left.

I visited Acura of Tempe yesterday to drop off my NSX for a new timing belt & water pump, and took the time to admire my friend Leon’s 2001 Integra Type-R which is on display in the showroom.  You’ll recognize Leon’s car from JCCS 2018 in Long Beach recently.

My loaner while the NSX was in for service was this new TLX V6 SH-AWD with only 2,000 miles on it.  Do you like it?

I thought this article was a worthwhile read on a guy who hit 600,000 miles on his Accord, if you get time to check it out.

Finally, here are some cool ads someone sent me for the Vigor.  Acura’s marketing agency back in the day really had some skill.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Bay Area Road Trip! “NSXPO” 2018 in San Francisco, California

Posted in California, NSX, NSXPO, Road Trip on October 2, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

Someone told me the other day in a text message, “You must really like cars if you’re traveling to see them.”  Well, yeah!  You just can’t attempt to explain an automotive obsession to someone who doesn’t understand it.  And that’s okay.

I was a participant a few days ago at this year’s largest gathering of Acura NSX owners in the country, deemed NSXPO and started in the late 1990s.  NSXPO is like NALM (the National Acura Legend Meet) but on a much larger (and more expensive) scale.  While NALM registration for this year’s Colorado Springs event was $90, NSXPO cost $400 – and neither of those, of course, included other expenses associated with the trip:  Fuel, lodging, most meals, and other incidentals.  This is a spendy hobby, but I can think of no more rewarding way to invest in a good time.

NSXPO reached capacity and sold out in just a matter of days after registration went live this past May – a full 4 months in advance of the event itself.  This marked my fourth NSXPO attendance, though admittedly I “cheated” and flew in for two of them:

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

  • NSXPO 2015:  Palm Springs, California
  • NSXPO 2016:  Orlando, Florida
  • NSXPO 2017:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The four core planning committee members definitely had their work cut out for them with a group of this size.  Establishing logistics for an event of any size in the urban San Francisco Bay Area is a feat, let alone with over 230 people and 130 vehicles in attendance.  Pictured here are the core team members (May Lee in purple, Roger Estrella and James Ubarro in orange at right, and Les Rowe – not pictured, along with NSXCA President Peter Cunningham, and special guests).

My drive took me through Los Angeles, then upward on Interstate 5 — a road I’ve come to know and love in 2018 thanks to multiple trips:  Radwood, my Integra purchase, and then my Integra drive home.  Beyond that, I was also just in the Bay Area for Car Week.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the first two days of this year’s event – the track days at Thunderhill Raceway.  Then again, I’ve never been much of a performance driver and I have a lot to learn about pushing my car to its limits before I make a fool of myself!

For my own NSX, the trip to California was like going back home.  In December 2011, I purchased the car in San Jose.  It almost seemed like it was already familiar with the roads out there.  After a roughly 12 hour total travel time, I arrived at our host hotel, the Hyatt Regency SF Airport, on Thursday afternoon and arranged for a few local friends to come over and hang out.  We went out in downtown Burlingame that evening in my friend Ken’s 1987 Legend sedan.

On Friday morning, we braved commute traffic northbound to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was worth it.  The Golden Gate is perhaps the best-known in the SF Bay Area.  When completed in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, at 1.7 miles.  Today it has a $30 million “zipper” movable barrier system that allows lane usage & direction to alternate.

From Horseshoe Bay, we were able to take panoramic photos of all the cars lined up together.  Lunch was served up at the Presidio, with special guest speaker Graham Rahal, who has scored himself some impressive race wins during his career.  Graham was the youngest person to win an American open-wheel race, at age 19, which was ten years ago.

The evening took us out across the harbor from the Embarcadero pier area – a 45 minute bus ride from our Hyatt.  As dusk settled in, we were surrounded by stunning views of the illuminated city skyline from out in the water.  Dinner was served and we had a short program, all while boating along on a massive ship that took us out to the Bay Bridge, around Alcatraz Island, down to the A&T Ballpark where the SF Giants were playing baseball, and then back.  The round-trip adventure took about 3 hours, and the highlight was seeing our friend Randy Chua propose to his fiance.  (She said yes, which was received with a round of applause).

On Saturday, the caravan of NSXs rolled out toward the high elevation community of Woodside, tucked into the mountains about 30 miles south of SF.  Mountain Terrace served up a brunch menu there on the grass.  Unfortunately, I had to work that morning and arrived a little too late to join in on that – so I grabbed lunch on my own across the street at a historic spot called Alice’s.  It was originally constructed as a general store, but converted into a restaurant in the 1950s.  Today it serves a variety of car clubs and motorcyclists year-round, which explains why two of the sandwiches on the menu are the “Yamaha” and the “Honda.”  You can guess which one I ordered.

For the next hour, I pointed my NSX southbound on Skyline Drive and enjoyed the twisty roads and the scenery.  One particularly fun stretch had curves that narrowed to just a single lane of traffic with speed limits at 15 miles per hour.  I went a little bit faster than that.  The NSX excels in such a driving environment.

By the time I arrived at our next stop, Canepa Car Museum in Scotts Valley, most of the group had already beat me there.  The museum itself also doubles as a dealership, showcasing some of the finest sportscars I’ve laid eyes on.

My friend Dom made an appearance back at the Hyatt.  He and I have crossed paths in social media circles for some time now, but this was our first time hanging out in person.  He was in his blue 2013 ILX.  I threw him the keys to the NSX and let him take it for a whirl.  We finished our test drives just in time for me to quickly change into more formal clothes and get to the pavilion next to the pool.  Seating was already underway for our closing dinner and awards ceremony.

We were honored to hear from Motoharu Kurosawa, otherwise known by the name Gan-San, who had an extensive professional racing career.  Representatives from HART (Honda of America Racing Team) also addressed the congregation, while dinner was served.  Awards were given out for the best original and best modified NSXs, and the long-awaited announcement was made regarding dates & location for next year’s event.  NSXPO 2019 will be held in Washington, DC on October 9-13.

All too soon, NSXPO drew to a close and we bid farewell to some of our friends who we only get to interact with once or twice a year.  I caught a few hours of shuteye and hit the road early (but not yet bright) on Sunday morning, hauling the entire 11-hour, 800-mile stint with only a few short stops.  My NSX performed flawlessly and I had plenty of time to jam out to music and enjoy the drive.

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

Pre-departure on the group drive to the Golden Gate Bridge

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

Looks like this guy’s been to a few meets over the years!

Lunch time

My friend Ben’s 2005 Silverstone NSX-T….

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

A visit from David who has a Legend he showed at Radwood

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon