Archive for June, 2019

Platinum White Pearlescence: 2019 Acura ILX A-Spec Review

Posted in Del Sol, ILX, Integra, Vehicle Reviews on June 26, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (2013 ILX Premium):  215,114

Odometer (2019 ILX Premium A-Spec):  5,329

It’s about time I got to try out the latest ILX!

Since its mid-2012 debut as a 2013 first-year model, the gateway model to the Acura brand has undergone two separate ‘refresh’ exercises – the first in 2016, and now again in 2019.  Quality has improved, tech has advanced, styling has evolved, and yet the pricetag has stayed constant and even gone down throughout the way.  At $32,545 as-tested for the A-Spec variant that I put a few hundred miles on over the past week, I consider it a very strong bang for the buck.

It’s no mystery that the elimination of the manual transmission option that took place in 2016 was a dagger to my heart and soul, but the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission is not that bad.  In fact, I sort of enjoyed more of a kick-back driving style over the last few days.  It must be old age settling in because I’ll be turning 38 later this year.  Yikes.

The ILX I tested has essentially the same motor as my 2013:  a 2.4-liter, 201-horsepower, straight-four with iVTEC.  So it goes without saying that long-term maintenance should be a breeze (I’m well into the 200k+ range with mine).  Where the new ILX sets itself apart from mine is in terms of the technology.  Navi with voice recognition, touch-screen display, ELS Studio premium 10-speaker audio, and a host of safety features are all things that are “new” to me.

Beyond that, the aesthetic treatment is handsome, with the A-Spec package bringing in 18″ wheels, sport red leather seats with suede inserts, a contrasting decklid spoiler, and exclusive badging.  I have to admit I considered for a moment whether Acura would notice if I swapped the interior of the 2019 into my 2013, but it’s probably best that I not find out.

It was fitting that along with the new ILX came a 2018 Kelley Blue Book “5-Year Cost to Own” trophy that Acura representatives gave me for my display case.  I can’t think of any other individual who can attest with 100% certainty of that.  The car has cost me $7,600 to maintain over the course of 215,000 miles.  That includes 29 oil changes, 8 air filters, 2 sets of rear brake pads, 2 transmission fluid changes, and 4 sets of tires.

I found the newest ILX to deliver all that I’ve come to know and enjoy from my 2013 – sans the clutch pedal – and even a bit more.  I think the 2019 would make a great, efficient, reliable daily driver for someone that gives exclusivity and value at the same time.  Consider the fact that Acura sold only 1,351 ILX models nationwide in the month of May 2019.  To put that in perspective, that same month the company sold 5,415 RDX models and Honda sold 32,800 Civics.  Personally I love driving something that not everyone else drives.

Dig It:

  • Large back-up cam screen
  • Audio system +++
  • Blind spot monitoring tech
  • Appearance – exterior, especially rear
  • Nimble, fun-to-drive dynamics
  • Improvements to details like the key fob quality
  • Subtle features like a “Start” button that changes color
  • Bang for the buck – so much content for the price

Meh:

  • Aux + cig lighter hook-ups are in the center console under a lid
  • Rear cross-traffic alert overly sensitive – beeps when cars are passing by even far away
  • Front turn signals are LED, rear are halogen – should be uniform
  • Multiple people commented on the obnoxiously large “A” emblem up front
  • I don’t know if I’ll ever be a fan of black wheels
  • Some LED license plate lighting would be an inexpensive way to class up the rear

Here’s a video I put together, and below are some pics from my week with this sweet little ride.

KBB awards on display!

The subtle yet effective aesthetics are evident here

From this perspective the cars are 100% similar

The LED taillights are perhaps my favorite feature of all

Head to head

The bottom line

Keys – old, new.  The new is more durable and feels heavier / higher quality.

Check out the comparison of “A” badges

Short vid and pics from over the weekend, including a jaunt to “Horny Toad” in Cave Creek for lunch, and a meet-up with friends in east Mesa.

The Captiva Blue 1993 del Sol Si belongs to fellow YouTuber Chris Sadowski.

Mirel came out in his Legend

Mirel, Chris, Tyson, Corey, Nick, Jonathan, Greg, John, Ken

Two of the cars in attendance were extremely rare Turbo Grand Prixs, produced in partnership with McLaren for the 1989 and 1990 model years.

Quick Trip to LA for Honda’s 60th Anniversary in the United States

Posted in Legend, Road Trip, SLX on June 22, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  566,392

Trip Distance:  764 Miles

Sixty years is quite a while.  When American Honda first launched in the United States in 1959, the company only sold two-wheeled vehicles.  At the time, Honda was operating out of a small storefront on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

As part of some anniversary festivities, the American Honda main office in Torrance celebrated with an employee/retiree car show.  I was given the opportunity to participate as well, and I picked the car that most “needed” a road trip because it hadn’t seen one in a while:  The Legend coupe.

I’m pleased to report that the car performed flawlessly for the 800-mile round trip trek.  Among the ‘celebrity’ encounters were Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda and renowned vintage Honda restorer Tim “Merciless” Mings.  Tim played the lead role in the comprehensive restoration efforts for “Serial One” – the first vehicle that Honda sold in America.

Here is the video about the restoration of Serial One.

Below are some pics, and here is my video on the Honda 60th.

Nicely set up G1 TSX at the show in Torrance

With Acura GM Jon Ikeda and the newly-restored 1961 Chevrolet pickup

Rare Honda City Cabriolet

There’s the “Dream Project” G2 NSX that ScienceofSpeed built for 2017 SEMA

Activities throughout the week

Clean original G1 Integra

With Andrew Quillin from Acura Public Relations

I thought it was fitting that a map of the Honda campus had a ‘Legend’

With Curtis Millward from Acura’s agency, Mullen-Lowe, and Scott King who used to work for Honda

Ryu Asada from Mattel / Hot Wheels, arriving in his G1 Formula Red NSX

Coupe interior

I parked next to Scott’s NSX

Display on the Legend

Following Scott at the conclusion of the show

A friend sent me home with lots of literature & swag, including some original magazines from the 1980s and 1990s

I got a kick out of this flyer inside the magazine.  Anybody want a Louver Kit for their Integra?

Look at these other etched glass blocks commemorating special events in the company’s history

The library is looking more and more complete!

I’ve been enjoying the green Skittle from time to time.

Dug up a couple more 20-year-old vintage pics of my 1989 Prelude just for kicks recently.

Cabin trip on a muddy road in 1999 with friends from high school.

Also, huge thanks to my buddy Sean in Austin TX who sent me some swag related to the Hill Country Rallye, a Porsche road rally each year that brings out some of the best of the best in the community!

Have a great weekend.

ILX 7-Year Anniversary: PAPA Visit to Apex Motor Club – Maricopa, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Milestones, PAPA, Racing on June 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  215,000

About 45 minutes from my house is an automotive playground called Apex Motor Club.  Designed with the idea of becoming the “premier motorsports club of the southwest,” Apex was co-founded by entrepreneur and automotive enthusiast Matt Williams.  Matt graciously invited a handful of members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA) to attend a media program on Wednesday morning, June 12, designed to give journalists a glimpse of exactly what the facility currently offers – and will offer in the future.

The heart of Apex is its 2.2-mile track, part of “phase 1” of three phases of expansion that the facility will undergo in the coming years.  The track itself offers something for pretty much any skill level.  I experienced it from a beginner’s perspective in a series of parade laps that got my blood pumping.  If a “parade lap” can do that, imagine what kind of full-on competitive racing could do.  Matt and his team welcomed us with an introduction to the history and the infrastructure.  Apex is located in Maricopa, Arizona, a small community on the outskirts of the greater Phoenix area.

Today, the amenities are relatively scarce aside from a shade pavilion and some portable toilets.  But there are plans in the works to build a clubhouse, restaurant/bar, pro shop, and private garages on the property.  Considering the entire project just broke ground less than a year ago, there has already been some impressive momentum.  Over 100 memberships have already been sold.

The highlight of my trip was when journalists were invites to experience the track firsthand.  I was sandwiched between a Corvette and a Porsche, and we followed a Camaro pilot car.  My little ILX felt understandably a little out of place.  But for each of the 5 successive laps, I got a little more confident in not only the layout of the track but in how to best control my vehicle.  For a “parade” lap it was a pretty spirited experience, and I can confidently say I left plenty of tire tread – and probably a good deal of my brake rotor lifespan – out on the track.  I definitely had a grin on my face when it was all said and done.

In a fitting conclusion to the trip, my 2013 ILX rolled 215,000 miles on the way back to Phoenix – perfect timing since that day was the 7-year anniversary of the day I first took ownership in 2012.

Entry to Apex in Maricopa

Some of the Apex-branded vehicles on-site

Staging area for vehicles

Getting our introduction to the lay of the land

Brittany from Apex, and Matt Ferguson from Barrett-Jackson

Some of the Apex team including co-founder Matt Williams (second from left)

Track tour in a Ford Raptor pickup

Entry to the 2.2-mile course in the ILX

This wasn’t my ILX’s first time on a track.  In 2012 I drove it on the high speed oval at Nissan’s proving ground.

Red SLX Evaluation Continues, del Sol Cleanup, & Visit from Jason

Posted in Del Sol, SLX on June 13, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  214,899

Did you get your Tetanus shot this year?  Because we are about to dive into the rusty SLX and do some preliminary cleanup and evaluation.  First item of business was getting the oil changed at the Honda dealership near the house.  My service advisor, Richard, advised me over the phone that the undercarriage looked “rustier than the Titanic.”

That was not a very good sign.  But his technician was able to get my new front brake pads and rotors installed without too many challenges, which took care of the “metal on metal” grinding that I observed in the first video.  One small step forward, I guess.

I did also successfully get the vehicle registered and I’m happy to report that it seems to run and drive well despite the obvious cosmetic issues.  Even the air conditioning works well.  I went over the paint with a one-step Zaino by hand but I hesitate to get too aggressive with anything beyond that since the clear coat is so thin.  Turned out okay, right?

The question at hand is where and how to prioritize any upcoming work.  This vehicle falls at the very bottom of the list in terms of “needing” to get things done.  And when I do get to that point, I think safety & mechanical concerns rank way above getting new leather seats.  For example, one of the tires is from 2006.  I don’t trust a 13 year old tire in 120 degrees in Phoenix summer at any speed.  So there’s that.

The car that doesn’t need a lot of work is the del Sol.  I did a light engine detail and it came out looking showroom fresh.  I also installed the replica floormats that I had picked up on Ebay a few weeks ago.  They look nice for the price!  A timing belt replacement is scheduled since the existing unit is from 2011.  Hon-Man to the rescue.

It’s been a fun little adventure getting started with these projects, and I had company from a couple of friends this weekend to get a glimpse at what’s going on in my garage.  Jason of Pawela’s Garage stopped by for a couple of nights in his 1998 Ford SVT Contour 5-speed in brilliant Toreador Red.  The car was awesome to drive!  The look on my face when we took it to breakfast shows just how much I was enjoying it.

Then later in the weekend, my friend Ken brought his Suzuka Blue Honda S2000 over for a quick lunch run.  It is such a night & day driving experience from the del Sol.  Super tight and fun.  That color is amazing, too.

Here’s the next video installment, if you dare!

And a short video highlighting some of the adventures with Jason.

Door sill cleanup

The passenger fog lamp lens doesn’t even have a housing behind it

That new awning is coming in handy

Quick touch-up on wiper arms

What in the world are they using on their roads in Illinois? OMG.

Initial pics post-cleanup

Taking care of that rear wiper arm and installing a new blade

Proud member of the Hagerty Driver’s Club and got a greeting card in the mail

Birthday outing for a friend

SLX + SLX pics

Heading to breakfast with Jason on Saturday morning

Swapping keys for a bit

A friend made this meme and I had to share it.

That paint looks absolutely wet!

A local friend gave me a Motor Trend 1994 Import Car of the Year award!  I don’t even know how rare this thing is (maybe 1 of 1?) but it was for the Honda Accord.

Jason working on SLX projects

Squeezing 2 (small) cars into the west garage

More to come!

Certifiably Insane x 2: Acquiring a 1996 “Radiant Red” Acura SLX Premium

Posted in SLX on June 10, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Fir Green SLX):  178,690

Odometer (Radiant Red SLX):  139,142

Because one is never enough, right?

As much fun as I’ve had with my 1997 SLX that I picked up in December, I’ve always had in the back of my mind that it was a “placeholder” until a better one came along.  Kind of like my 1992 Integra LS sedan was last year – I let it go when I found (or a friend found, rather) my now-current 1992 Integra GS sedan with a higher trim level and fewer miles.

Incidentally, this is the first time my blog posts have been back-to-back car purchase stories, since I just talked about the new del Sol a few days ago.  I didn’t ever intend on taking on 2 additional vehicles simultaneously, but the timing worked out that way.

As you can see, I’m sitting on “twins” briefly until the Fir Green Mica base model heads to its new home – which is already determined, so I don’t even have the trouble of needing to list it for sale.  More on its future owner/use to come in a later blog entry.

What about my latest 1996 is so compelling?

For one, it’s only the second “Radiant Red” I’ve ever seen – and I’ve never seen one in real life – only online.  My preferred colors were Radiant Red, and Ebony Black, in that order.  Back in December, I started a daily search across a variety of online vehicle classifieds.  I wanted the “Premium” trim for its special goodies, including power folding chrome sideview mirrors, heated leather seats, alloy wheels and other features.

My search was not fruitful for a very long time.  Geographic location-based buy/sell apps like OfferUp which can be difficult to get a nationwide grasp on.  AutoTrader has exactly zero SLXs listed.  Then there’s Facebook Marketplace, which can be especially tricky because it only allows a geographic search radius of 100 miles.  My strategy there was to pick a handful of major cities around the country each day to see what popped up.

On a Monday morning around 6:00 a.m. I decided to hit Chicago.  Boom.  Eyes lit up, all of a sudden I was wide awake.  A semi-truck repair company had taken this 139,000-mile example in on trade toward some repair work performed and was selling it, along with a handful of other mixed-bag cars (Chevy HHR, Ford pickup, and other randoms).  It had just been listed the day prior.

I sent an initial inquiry to the seller and asked for his phone number.  We spoke briefly, and I think he was a little uneasy about dealing with someone about 1,700 miles away.  I tried to ease the tension a little by later sending a photo of my current SLX via text.  I got the VIN on his, ran a Carfax, and proceed to make payment and transport arrangements.  By 11:00 a.m., the deal was done and transport driver pending assignment.  That was easy!  I arranged transport via a company called Montway.

Pick-up – coincidentally, in a suburb of Chicago called Phoenix, Illinois.

Arrival in Phoenix, Arizona about a week later.

The SLX arrived on Memorial Day, May 27th.  Come with me as I take an initial walk around and see exactly what we are dealing with.  The funny thing was, when I Google street-viewed the address on the vehicle title, I saw the SLX parked there in August 2017.

Check out the video below if you dare see this Illinois rust bucket in all its glory.

Ad inquiry

Photo from the ad

Photo from the ad

Would it have made the trip from Chicago to Phoenix?  I sort of doubt it.

Clean two-owner Carfax.

The new Acura SLX:  Designed for people with a well-developed sense of adventure, and an equally well-developed sense of taste.

First pics

That duct tape interior, though!

3.2 V6 rated at 190 hp

#Chicago – this is what we knew to expect!

The antenna was a series of Phillips head screwdrivers and hose clamps.

First wash

A visit from Jack as I begun my initial detail efforts

More to come on how this played out!

Side note, go see the video that Ethan from Hello Road put together on Radwood Las Vegas.

My Legend GS makes an appearance at about 3:05 in!

Pocket Rocket: Introducing the “Samba Green” 1993 Honda Civic del Sol Si

Posted in Del Sol, Road Trip, Utah on June 6, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (del Sol):  88,292

Trip Distance:  800 Miles

So this ought to be a fun summer cruiser, right?  I put together a spreadsheet the other day of all the cars I’ve owned.  If we exclude temporary “project” cars and the like, the grand total comes out to 27 vehicles.

There are a few that stand out as unique:  My Infiniti I30 and Chevy Celebrity were my only non-Honda/Acura cars.  The SLX is my only 4×4.  And even though 22 of the 27 have had moonroofs, none have been a true “removable top” or convertible.  Enter the del Sol, which in fitting translation to English means, “Of the Sun.”  Because this one will actually let me feel some of that Arizona sun like no moonroof ever could.

Honda’s fun, yet economical two-seater CRX model lasted through 2 generations and 8 model years until it was discontinued after 1991.  Two years later, a successor was named and the “Civic del Sol” was launched in the United States in 1993.  Its top trim was the Si model, with a 1.6-liter, 125 horsepower 4-cylinder motor and 5-speed manual transmission.  It was Honda’s attempt at giving a roadster-like driving experience, many years before its legendary S2000 roadster came out.

The Civic del Sol model evolved over a 5-year lifespan, including cosmetic changes, powertrain changes, and even a name change (by dropping the “Civic” prefix).  At its peak, the del Sol sold over 25,000 units in the United states its initial model year, dropping each year for 5 years until only 5,000 were sold in 1997.  That kind of trend is sometimes typical for new model launches – as I recall, the Acura Legend had a similar linear sales decline over the 5 years its second-generation model was sold.

This is a fun commercial from when the del Sol first came out.

Samba Green is certainly one of the most polarizing colors that a conservative company such as Honda has ever offered on a production vehicle.  While my Aztec Green Integra is pretty wild itself, it can’t quite compare to the lime green hue of the del Sol.

This Samba came from the original (77-year-old, if you can believe it) owner named Fred who lived in northern Utah.  He kept it for 26 years and drove it during summertime in western Wyoming and northern Utah.  His maintenance records were painstakingly detailed, including a 14-page handwritten ledger kept in the glove compartment which documented every single fuel up and its associated MPG.

That’s some attention to detail I can appreciate!  When Fred decided to part ways with his del Sol in late April, my friend Jason in Salt Lake was the first to respond to a classified ad listing.  It wasn’t for about a month that I was able to make a trip to that area and pick up the car, so Jason and his wife were gracious enough to store it at their home for me.

The pick-up agenda coincided with an already-planned visit to northern Utah to visit friends and family members the last weekend of May.  I arrived at the Salt Lake airport and was picked up by the little green machine and Jason.  Our first stop was for some fine dining at a place called Lucky 13.  Shaun and Sunny decided to join us, in their Legend & TSX respectively.

I had a nice weekend traversing northern Utah topless and visiting family.  On Saturday I met up with some other local Honda/Acura fans at Legends Sports Bar.  In addition to Shaun coming out again, we had Talin in her MDX, Daniel in his Integra GS-R, and Nate in his Tacoma.

The del Sol’s buzzy 1.6-liter made the 800-mile trek from Logan, Utah, to Phoenix, Arizona with ease.  I made good use of my cassette tape audio adapter, and I took the top off after sundown near Wickenburg for the final hour or so of the trip.  I can definitely see why there is such a devout enthusiast following for these little cars!  Looking forward to seeing what kind of fun I can have with it!

Here is a short video and below are some additional photos of my new little green machine.

Original ad (redacted)

Photo from the ad

FaceTiming with Jason to see the car for the first time, from 700 miles away.

The car at Jason’s (with his Legend in the background)

Check out those green stripes on the seats!

Jason’s son has a future in automotive modeling.

Initial mileage at 87,170.

Getting new tires at Discount – gotta love how cheap tires are for 14″ wheels!

Already got ahold of some literature including a Car & Driver magazine from when the car debuted.

Incidentally, a friend of mine is pictured in the 1993 brochure!

New floor mats, soon to be installed.

Key handoff from Jason, even though he wasn’t technically the person I bought it from – he just held the car for me for a few weeks.

Visiting a park in northern Utah named after a relative.

Canyon cruise with Ryan and his 2001 Honda S2000.  Vastly different car, and superior in a lot of ways.

Visiting my friend Paige at the Parts Department at Jody Wilkinson Acura in Salt Lake.  I’ve known her since I was 16.

Rolling back home with a visit to mom, who wore the right color for the occasion.

Visiting my brother and his kiddos.

Home sweet home, tucked in!