Archive for January, 2019

Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction 2019: From Starfires to Supras

Posted in Arizona, Car Show on January 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  564,893

Our shuttle bus driver from the offsite parking lot to Barrett-Jackson this year must have also had a part-time job as a comedian.  There was a collection bucket for tips & donations at the front of the bus, as many buses have.  But the difference with this one was that it had a picture of a 1985 Ford Escort taped to it.  “Escort Fund,” he called it.

Over the radio he announced to all passengers, “If you see an Escort there today, go ahead and bid $24 on it for me.”  I don’t know if he’ll ever realize his dream of owning such a car (or of such a car ever being sold at Barrett-Jackson) but I admired his optimism and of course his appreciation for a 1980s piece of history.

The mecca for automotive auctions is a place where you can look in virtually any direction and see a six- or seven-figure automobile – soon to be up for grabs to the highest bidder.  While my pocketbook stayed firmly planted, well, in my pocket, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells (mmm, nothing like exhaust in the morning) of the 47th annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction.

The 8-day event kicked off with a full roster of activities planned, and I went on opening day with a few friends to scout out the scene.  I had quite a few favorites, including an exceptionally clean 1950 Buick convertible – a car I’ve always wanted to own ever since finding vintage photographs of my late grandfather with his.  We perused the available inventory, both indoors & out, and enjoyed plenty of nostalgia.

While I love seeing a “tri-five (1955-57)” Chevrolet as much as the next person, they are exceedingly common at events like these.  My greater appreciation goes toward cars that are more obscure – something like the 1971 Ford Thunderbird.  Just look at the beak on this thing. And critics gave the 2009-2013 Acura design language a hard time!  That was tame in comparison.

Among the highlights for Barrett this year is the sale of the first production 2020 Toyota Supra, a car that for about 20 years has been absent from the marketplace.  Toyota’s newest iteration – the 5th generation – was unveiled by Craig Jackson at a press conference on Monday morning.  It will be powered by a 335-horsepower motor and share a chassis with the BMW Z4.  Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions after a short introduction.  I raised my hand and asked if the car will have a manual transmission.  The answer, sadly, was a “no.”  And such is the sad case for so many of today’s modern performance cars.

The only two Hondas that I recall seeing – and I’m sure there were more – were both from model year 2001, and silver in color.  One was an exceptionally clean S2000 with fewer than 1,000 miles on it, and the other was VIN 00001 NSX (an automatic, sadly).

Low mileage is definitely the name of the game for most of the cars going up for auction.  It’s not uncommon to see vehicles on display with fewer than 100, even – such as a 2001 Plymouth Prowler with only 24 on it.

I got my fill of horsepower at this year’s Barrett-Jackson auction.  Maybe someday I’ll actually have the means to sit in the bidder area and throw a few bucks down on a Ford Escort for that shuttle driver.   Enjoy a few pics and a short video below!

Also, speaking of auctions, go take a look at my 1990 Accord EX up for grabs at 7 days, no reserve on Bring a Trailer!

A friend is also selling his 1995 Dodge Stealth which ends the same day.  Have a look at his auction.

Mercedes going all crazy with this 6×6 G.  Pretty ridiculous!

A few of the 50s and 60s cars in the salon showcase.

New cars had their chance in the spotlight too, including this BMW 12-cylinder, $160,000 sedan.

This Oldsmobile had my favorite color of the event.

The below sign made me laugh.  Yes, I reminisce about my Celebrity.  But I don’t ever expect to see one at Barrett-Jackson.  Although, a Ford Pinto recently sold there for about $18,000, so you never know.

Here’s the S2000.

Jack worshiping the Mercedes SL.  We all love these!

Gotta love a Nova SS.

Looking Forward While Looking Back: Future Classic Car Show 2019 – Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in Car Show, Integra, SLX on January 14, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  250,590

I saw a meme on Instagram the other day that said something like, “I called out for Alexa when I meant to summon Siri.  I can’t believe I’m living in an era when I get my robot servants mixed up.”  If you’re my friend Rob, it gets even more complicated.  He has a Rumba that he named Steve, who works on Thursdays.  I wonder if Steve gets along with his fellow e-housemates.

Truth is, we are living in the future.  The year 2019 just seems so far out there, it’s still tough to comprehend.  And things really start to sink in when you realize that by some of the cars from your high school era are now becoming classics.  Yikes.  Thankfully, there are events like Future Classic Car Show that give us a chance to reminisce a little on those oft-forgotten rides from 1975 onward.  These are cars that are positioned to be (or are already becoming) collector vehicles.

My 1992 Integra made its live news debut two days prior to the event on Phoenix’s Fox 10 Studios at a 5-minute preview for the show.  The video is posted here.  It was a fun experience to gush about my car for 45 seconds on TV.  My moment in the spotlight starts at about 1:40 in.

Now in its fourth year, the ClassicCars.com “FCCS” was held on Sunday, January 13th on the upper levels of the Scottsdale Quarter parking garage – a venue vast enough to accommodate nearly 100 “official” show cars as well as many, many other spectator vehicles that were equally worthy of recognition.  The panoramic view of Phoenix’s surrounding mountain ranges made it a nice venue for the scenery aside from just having great cars to look at.

The show itself served up a vast array of cars – domestics and imports, stock and modified – each with a proud owner by its side and a cool story to tell.  I especially enjoyed bumping into a few friends from the local automotive community as well as making new friends.  My car happened to be parked a few vehicles away from an exceptionally clean 1986 Accord LX-i hatchback and I had a good time chatting with its owner.

The crew from ClassicCars.com, including Carter & Nick, were making the rounds to meet & greet the cars & the drivers.  You can see Nick starring in the “Driven” series on the company’s YouTube channel.

Visiting me for the event were two of my friends from Las Vegas:  Brandon and Dane.  They showed up in a couple of exceptionally cool cars – Brandon’s new TL Type-S and Dane’s Dodge Stealth.  I got the chance to drive both over the course of the weekend.

We all made a quick visit to Zinburger for a bite during the afternoon and then returned to the show for another lap and the awards ceremony.  Sponsors and stakeholders did a great job of recognizing the cars and participants who stood out.  Until next year, enjoy a few more photos of the phestivities!

Not-so-candid camera

Loved the button-mania on this 1980s Trans Am – notice, only 8,000 miles!

Recognize this one?  You’ll see a blog post soon about a NEW Supra (which has very big shoes to fill)

Lineup – you can see the variety here

Love a clean yellow Mazda RX-7

There’s something special about these Toyota pickups.  And if you look closely, you’ll see my friend Trent’s black 1992 NSX way in the background.

My Teg was sandwiched between a Cadillac Seville (diesel!) and an Audi sedan

Is that S2000 wing wild enough for ya?  And a rare 5-speed Lexus SC300 too.

Whoa, how many “Black Ice” tree air fresheners did this guy need?

Last couple small unrelated updates:  Anybody want this little Integra?  Seattle, Washington.  1992 GS 5-speed with 130,000 miles, being sold by my friend Stephen.  It’s super clean.  Contact me if you’re in the market!

I’ve done a few small updates to my new-to-me Acura SLX, including hunt around for parts at the local junkyard.  I saw a few things I wanted off this late-1990s Trooper but it had 2 vehicles stacked precariously on top of it and I didn’t dare get too rowdy.

Not bad looking for an old box.

Engine detail – before

After.  It’s subtle.

Finally:  I have to close out this blog entry with something a little different.  Some of you know or have at least seen photos of my friend James De La O, who joined me and a few others inside the showroom at Pikes Peak Acura last July at NALM 2018.  He was proudly displaying his red first generation Legend sedan that day.

He’s at front left here in our group photo.

We lost James over the weekend at age 34.  The impact hits our Legend community especially hard because his wife, Kiley (in the photo behind James, at top left) is also a longstanding member of the family that this group of people have become.  I felt like taking a short drive this morning in James’ honor because years ago I remembered seeing a street in north Scottsdale with James’ same last name.

James was a great guy and I am honored to have gotten to know him over the last 10 years.

Life is way too short.  Glad to have great people to spend it with.  As my mom likes to say, “Carpe diem.”  Thanks for reading!

I’m Officially Insane: Acquiring a (Cheap) 1997 Acura SLX – the “Acuruzu”

Posted in SLX on January 1, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  113,832

Odometer (SLX):  178,359

Oh no I didn’t.  Oh, yes I did.  Roll those eyes!

On August 18, 2017, I got an email – as I often do – from someone who heard of me through the Jalopnik article on my crazy obsessed garage / collection.  This one came from a guy named Wyatt in southern California who had a 1997 SLX.  It reads as follows:

Pretty sweet.  Well, cutting to the chase, Wyatt only kept that SLX for 16 months and put about 2,000 miles on it, and now it’s mine.  Funny how things work out sometimes.  It’s no mystery I’ve kind of had a hankering for one of these quirky vehicles for a while.  I first wrote an article about it back in March 2014 where I introduced my blog audience to this creation of badge engineering.

You see, this isn’t an Acura at all.  Or a Honda, for that matter.  It’s an Isuzu, and in light of the surging demand for SUVs in America in the late 1990s, Acura’s new MDX wouldn’t be ready for 5 more years, so they slapped an “A” emblem on a Trooper and went with it.  The vehicle only sold about 6,500 units in its 4-year lifespan, making it even more rare production-wise than the generation 1 (1991-05) NSX.  The shaded center section here reflects annual sales between 1996 (at bottom) and 2001, totaling 6,590.

Wyatt’s SLX was a bit of a rarity – a 1997 base model in Fir Green Pearl over Light Silver Metallic two-tone paint.  The base trim level meant it had no alloy wheels, no heated seats, no leather (though someone had later added it, aftermarket), and no fog lamps.  Still, its original MSRP was somewhere in the mid $30’s.  It was originally sold via a dealership called Acura 101 West, in Calabasas, California.

Its first owner was named Jeff and he kept it for an impressive 18 years after his purchase in September of 1997, always registering it in the southern California region where it was kept free of inclement weather and probably rarely driven off pavement.

But the off-pavement potential is specifically what attracts me to having an SUV, especially a cheapo one that I don’t mind beating up from time to time.  In all my car comings and goings, I’ve never owned a 4×4, despite the fact that sometimes I drive my poor front-wheel-drive cars like they’re rally machines.  So the fact that I could have a large, high-clearance vehicle on standby for the occasional camping trip is pretty appealing.  And, the price was (very) right.  So I bit.

Due to an intermittent slipping transmission issue in 4th gear, we decided it would be best to have the vehicle transported as opposed to driving it the 400-someodd miles from Los Angeles to Phoenix.  I later asked my mechanic about the transmission, and he said, “This vehicle has the 4L30-E transmission, which is perhaps the most problematic trans ever built.  It’ll be $2,800 to rebuild.”  That’s encouraging, haha.  It took about a week for the SLX to arrive via transport carrier.  Wyatt sent this pic while it was being loaded.

Here’s a pic while it was being unloaded at my house.

My first dose of reality came when I took it to the Honda dealership down the street to have the oil changed since it was 2+ years old.  “Your belts need changing, but we can’t get parts,” the service advisor told me.  “Same a few other things. About all I can do for you is get you new tires and change your fluids.”  So this is what it’s like owning a vehicle based on a chassis from a manufacturer that’s been out of business for 10 years.  In fact, almost exactly 10 years.  Isuzu pulled the plug on all U.S. market operations on January 31, 2009.

A couple of friends correctly guessed which vehicle I’d acquired based on some of my prior mentions of wanting an SLX.  Jason solved the puzzle after seeing a comment I made on Facebook just a couple of days after getting it.

Woody was thrilled that I finally followed through on this February 4, 2011 Facebook post saying that “one day” I’d get one.

We’ll see where I go with this one!  It’ll be like no Acura I’ve ever experienced before, I am certain of that.  Here’s a 7-minute video introduction.  I’ll keep you posted.  Thanks for reading and watching as always, and Happy New Year!

First day!

A YouTube viewer also suggested I need an Acura SUV.

Ready to unload from the transport truck.

This is what they call the “safari sunroof.”  It’s massive!  And still works – most of the time!

Paperwork and manuals.  This SLX was sold with a lot of “Total Luxury Care” (TLC) materials.  That was Acura’s roadside assistance program back in the day.

Detail work has started but is not yet fully underway.  I did clean up the chrome center caps to the wheels with some Mother’s mag & aluminum polish.  Here is the before:

And here is the after!

First fuel up.

A great deal of maintenance was done on this vehicle (per Carfax, anyway) at a place call H&H Motors in Van Nuys, California.  I was able to look them up and about to reach out to inquire about getting service records, but then I saw that Yelp says the place has closed.

Chillin’ in the backyard while waiting for the new garage floor.

A few photos from an evening at Dreamy Draw Park off the 51 freeway & Northern Avenue in Phoenix.

Not bad!

Comparison with 2019 Acura MDX A-Spec.  Vehicle design has come a long way in 22 years.

Wyatt was happy to hear that I’m enjoying the vehicle.  He posted this to his Instagram story.

Initial detail underway – console before.

Console after.

Wax job in the garage.

Stay tuned!

Closing note here:  I’d like to put in a plug for my friend Rick who has been a garage inspiration of mine for many, many years.  Rick has a channel on YouTube called RAD Garage (which, incidentally, just surpassed 3,000 subscribers yesterday – congrats, Rick!).

His content centers around his incredible garage – the tools, the decor, the supplies, and vehicles that inhabit it.  Rick’s attention to detail – and I mean, the most fastidious attention you’ll ever see – is a total inspiration to anyone who’s ever obsessed over his or her vehicle’s cleanliness.  Thanks Rick for featuring my garage on your blog.  Here’s the link so my readers can check it out.

Link to Rick’s YouTube.