Archive for the Arizona Category

Independence Day Trip to Payson, Arizona & Introduction to Jeff’s 1990 Accord EX

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Reader's Ride, Road Trip on July 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  249,324

Trip Distance:  180 Miles

Sometimes it’s nice to just get out of town for a couple of hours – to be independent from the urban grid, listening to Sugar Ray or Chicago, checking out some new terrain.  That’s why on Independence Day, my friend Jack and I hopped into our Acura hatchbacks and headed for the hills.  The small town of Payson is only about 90 minutes away, yet it affords temperatures around 20 degrees cooler than the Phoenix metro area.

Jack’s 2006 RSX took the lead for most of the drive, and I followed him in the Integra GS-R.  We went “non-chain” with our dining selection and seated ourselves at the bar at Pinon Cafe, which has called Payson home for the last 45 years.  It was a little early to be ordering from the lunch menu, so I grabbed a green chili & cheese omelet, with potatoes and wheat toast on the side.  Everything hit the spot.

Payson was bustling with residents preparing for their 4th of July festivities.  We stopped by a nearby park on Main Street and they were setting up for the fireworks launch later in the evening.  Would have been nice to stick around and check out the display, but we hit the road and headed back home.

Every once in a while I get to share with you some exceptional cars.  Here’s one I think you’ll enjoy seeing.  In a recent blog post, I talked about a burgundy (Mulberry, actually) 1990 Honda Accord EX that my friend Jeff was entertaining the idea of selling.  Jeff has decided to keep the car for the time being, but needs a place to store it, so it will be residing in my garage.  He brought the car over earlier in the week.

This car is something truly special:  The first model year for the fourth-generation “CB7” chassis Accord, this 1990 EX was purchased new by Jeff’s mother on September 5, 1990 with 18 miles on it from Scottsdale Honda for around $19,000 out the door.  Over the next 28 years, she cared for it to an incredible extent – literally, spending over $28,000 maintaining it on spare-no-expense dealership services.

Let’s put that into context:  My 2013 ILX turned over 200,000 miles a little over a year ago.  Total spent on maintenance from new to 200,000?  $7,169.  So this Accord has had 4 times that amount spent on it, and still has 64,000 miles to go until the same mileage.

Spreadsheet excerpt including totals at the bottom.  It’s had 8 batteries and 3 timing belts.

Unfortunately, Jeff’s mother passed away earlier this year.  Her pride and joy Accord has just over 136,000 miles on it.  And that’s where we are today, and why Jeff has chosen to allow me to display it on loan in my modest collection for the time being, though it’s deserving of far more.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car preserved to this extent – even many high end exotic supercars don’t enjoy the pampering this car had.  $1,800 alone was spent on periodic details to keep the paint and finishes looking fresh.  The car has a dash mat, car cover, steering wheel cover, anything that could possibly be used to preserve its appearance.  Enjoy the walkaround video below!

Taco Tuesday in the Vigor, Literature Highlight, Gearbox Magazine Podcast Feature

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, Vigor on June 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor): 111,196

Odometer (Million Mile Lexus):  975,453

I know, only 25,000 miles to go on Matt Farah’s old 1996 LS400!  Some of you may remember when I put a couple thousand miles on that car back in October 2015 when it only had 922,000 on the odometer.  My friend Adam ran into the car (well, not literally) in Colorado this weekend at a rally event.  I told him to check and see if my log book entry was still present in the glove compartment, and it was!  I wonder when and where the big event will take place.  Thanks for the update, Adam!

I’m a sucker for Mexican food.  Breakfast burrito in the morning, quesadilla at lunch, and tacos for dinner.  I could do that.  So every Taco Tuesday is a bit of a special day for me.  And check out these beauties I found:

Sometimes we get so focused on traveling beyond home that we forget to appreciate the destinations that are within arm’s reach.  I was just talking the other day with a friend about wanting to do a “staycation” sometime in the near future for those reasons.  For now, I satisfied my literal and figurative cravings for something new by trying a restaurant that opened last year in the lobby of the historic 1928 Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix.

Now dwarfed by modern skyscrapers on all sides, the elaborate San Carlos was once one of Phoenix’s most elaborate and high class destinations for the elites who visited the area.  Some say it’s haunted – and for good reason.  An actress plunged to her death from the rooftop not long after the hotel first opened, and to this day it’s said that her spirit inhabits the premises.  I didn’t go in search of any ghost-hunting.  I went for the tacos – and they were worth it!

I parked my 1994 Vigor about a block east of San Carlos along Monroe & 1st Street for $4 (photo above taken at the top level of the garage) and wandered around the downtown district a little.  “Centrico” is accessed from street level and has a small bar inside along with a few tables.  I seated myself at the bar – as the only person there – and ordered up a set of 4 chicken tinga tacos for $10.  They most definitely hit the spot.

Here are some other updates for the week:  Recently, I was featured by Brian Driggs of Gearbox Magazine on an hour-long Podcast discussing this and that about how he and I got into the automotive hobby and what we are doing with it.  If you want to check out the ramblings, here’s the link!  Thanks Brian for the opportunity.

The Integra GS got some lovin’, including replacement of this discolored passenger sideview mirror with a replacement unit which I got from a friend (off a junkyard car) and had repainted at Fix Auto Phoenix for $96 in the correct Torino Red paint.

This car is looking mighty fine!  From a dinner outing last Friday evening:

Here’s the latest on it from my YouTube channel:

I took the other Integra, my GS-R, up to Flagstaff, Arizona yesterday afternoon to beat the heat.  In just a 2-hour drive, the temperature drops about 20 or more degrees.  The car did great for the 300 or so mile round trip.  I’m at around 248,700 on that one and anxious to see it crest 250,000.

The new 2019 RDX selection was on sale at the local dealer when I stopped by as well.

You all know I’m crazy about car literature.  I can get lost going through my boxes and boxes of car magazines from the 1980s and 1990s.  Below is a pic of envelopes with just a handful of the items.  In all I have 57 pieces of literature or brochures specific to just the Acura Legend.  I also have 151 items of ‘generic’ Acura interest, in about 6 boxes in my laundry room.  Yes it’s all categorized in an Excel spreadsheet too.  Shocker.

I came across a few cool pieces, including an article from February 1992’s Road & Track where six sedans were tested against each other:  Acura Legend LS, Audi 100, Mazda 929, Acura Vigor GS, Lexus ES300, and Mistubishi Diamante LS.  I loved a few phrases in particular about the Legend.

This is the instrument by which the other sedans in this category have been setting their watches… Still the dictionary definition of smooth, refined, and reliable, the new Legend LS remains the benchmark.  Consider a zero-to-60-mph time where the next best competitor is more than a full second slower.  The others begin to close the gap at the quarter-mile mark, but by that time, the big Acura’s powerplant has established itself as the powerhouse of record, without a hint of strain.

Love that!  From a 1994 “New Cars” magazine issue:

Did you know that across the entire model lineup, there were 22 colors offered in 1994?

And I thought this was kind of interesting.  On January 6, 1998 – just a little over 20 years ago – I pulled a Kelley Blue Book valuation of my mom’s then 1993 Legend L sedan with 64,000 miles on it.  Suggested retail was $21,200.

That’s it for the archive preview today.  Few more shots from my Vigor / taco outing:

Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

Saturday Lunch Outing to Cave Creek, Arizona; Garage & Integra Updates

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip on June 19, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,449

Odometer (Integra GS):  71,937

After 97 days without rain in Phoenix, the streak was broken last Saturday – on the very day that about 15 friends and I had a group drive planned.  While most car clubs would be devastated by a little bit of moisture in the air, we loved it!

While seated at lunch at the Horny Toad in Cave Creek, Arizona, we peeked outside and saw our variety of vehicles getting drenched.  And a wide variety they were!  From a Toyota iQ to a Mercedes-Benz 500SL, we had all our bases covered.  Roomie James presented us with a vivid blue Kia Stinger.  I rolled in the Integra because, as my daily, it’s usually closest to the ‘exit row’ in the garage and I didn’t mind it getting wet.

Things have been busy here at the Auto Spa.  In anticipation of having the car club folks over, I did some arts & crafts at the local FedEx Office.  I photocopied some of my cars’ window stickers (and made them all a standard size), then laminated them for display on each vehicle.  I’m still missing a sticker for my Integra GS-R but the rest of the cars either have originals or reproductions thanks to help from fellow Acura owners.

I also finally had the chance to hang up an acrylic plaque with the May 2017 article from Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car on the Integra.  I was able to make room for it along the west wall of the garage.

The “new” Integra GS is coming along nicely.  Last week I was able to ditch the clunky, flat-spotted, 17-year-old Goodyear 195-60-14 tires and replaced them with new Falkens at Discount Tire.  It ran about $400 out the door and the car rides 100 times better now.

New floor mats are on order (aftermarket, for now) and a friend helped me source a passenger sideview mirror to replace the existing one since it’s a bit mismatched and has the wrong mirror glass in it (it doesn’t say anything about “Objects In Mirror” and the image is distorted).  Stay tuned!  I dropped off the replacement mirror for paint today.

I spent a few hours last week stripping off the dealer add-on plastic wheel well moldings (and all the tape/glue that they left behind).  Time lapse video still pending.  You’ll see it here on the next blog entry.

Wall art – currently awaiting the next picture to go along with the other 5 on my wall from IDrewYourCar.com.

Hemmings article on display

Window sticker copies!

Also showing off this brochure with my custom aluminum wheelstand my brother made me.

Looking clean after removing the pin stripe and moldings.

Current passenger mirror on the car – mismatched and pieced together with glue I guess?

Lastly – continuing the trend of posting a car here or there when I know of great opportunities, here are a few selections for you today.

If you’re looking to get into the NSX game relatively inexpensively and with a really rare car, check out my friend Todd’s 1996 NSX in Brooklands Green.  It needs some cosmetic TLC but might make a good entry level NSX for someone out there.  The configuration is 1 of only 25 cars produced in its interior & exterior color combo.

Craigslist link here.  Tell Todd I sent ya!

If family sedans are more your thing, you might want my friend Asmar’s 1993 Accord Special Edition with only 50,000 miles on it.  It’s all original minus the tires, so plan on doing a little preventative maintenance.  But the price is right.  He’s located in Seattle.  Message me for details and I’ll put you in touch with him.

And another CB7 Accord, this one a 1990 EX in a stunning burgundy color (“Mulberry Red Pearl,” if you want to get technical).  This one is being offered privately to only qualified buyers as it’s not listed on any sites.  In other words, a “good home” is an absolute must.  Contact me for details.  It’s a 136,000 mile automatic for sale by the original owner, located here in the Phoenix area.

Have a great week!

Southern Utah Weekend: Bryce Canyon National Park & Glen Canyon Dam

Posted in Arizona, Legend, National Parks, Road Trip, Running, Utah on June 5, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  561,413

Trip Distance:  1,070 Miles

Do you know what a hoodoo is?  The name to me sounds a lot like “voodoo,” and according to the Internet, can be used interchangeably with it.  But there’s an alternate definition you may not have heard of.  A hoodoo can also mean a column of weathered rock.  Check out this view of a vast number of hoodoos that I saw on Friday at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.  Now you know!

This past weekend’s 4-day, 1,000-mile road trip took me through Bryce as well as some of Utah’s other scenic wonders.  It was the perfect escape from the day-to-day grind.  I’ve visited Bryce a few times in the past, including when my friend Peter’s TSX rolled 200,000 miles three years ago and a trip to “Hell’s Backbone” in the ILX five years ago.  Still, I can never get tired of seeing that amazing landscape.  I took for granted that I grew up with so many beautiful national parks virtually in my own backyard in southern Utah.

My tried and trusty Legend coupe was the chariot of choice for this backroads adventure, and it delivered perfect reliability as I knew it would.  The idea for this trip came about because two friends were competing in the Bryce Canyon Ultra Marathon – a “50K” (32-mile) trail run that would subject them to some of the region’s most challenging terrain but also some of the most rewarding views.  I think they’re nuts, but then again my own sanity is a little questionable too.

Bryce is one of five national parks in Utah and perhaps one of the least traveled – just the way I like them.  The way we got there was pretty straightforward, with a night in my hometown of St. George on Thursday, and then northbound to Cedar City.  From Cedar, that’s where things got interesting.  We climbed nearly 5,000 feet in elevation on Highway 14 eastbound over the course of 18 miles – windows down, sunroof open, and soaking in the glorious temperatures.

From there, we hooked north on Highway 148 past Cedar Breaks National Monument.  By that time, we were at 10,000 feet in elevation – high enough that even on June 1, we saw snow on the roadside.  Cedar Breaks was awe-inspiring.  We were also delighted that there was next to no traffic.  The road is closed from November through May so it had just recently opened back up for the season – literally, the visitor center opened the very day we were rolling through.

Our destination for the next two nights was Panguitch, Utah – a tiny (2,000-resident) town on Highway 89 and home to the Blue Pine Motel, which has been there since 1901.  While the accommodations weren’t first class, they were definitely warm and inviting.  It’s a family owned atmosphere and a step back in time.  We loved our stay.  My friend and I visited Bryce Canyon later that first afternoon, some 20 minutes away, and soaked in some of the views from Rainbow Point and Sunset Point.  Cars are $35 but we picked up an $80 annual parks pass for admission into any of the National Park units for an entire year.  Seems like a decent value!

Bryce Canyon National Park was established 90 years ago and covers about 55 square miles.  Navigating it is easy since there’s just one main 18-mile-long, north-south road with a loop at the end.  We hiked 1.3 miles round trip on the Navajo Trail loop at Sunset Point before hitting up the restaurant inside the lodge for a delicious bite to eat.

The runners rocked their event, which started and ended in the foothills east of the small town of Hatch on Saturday.  The level of difficulty was pretty extreme, with a 7,000-foot elevation change over the course of the 32 miles, along with high temperatures, rocky or sandy footing, and windblown dust.  Our friends came in at 9 and 10 hours – exhausted but feeling accomplished.  We treated them to Diet Cokes on ice, just as they’d requested.

The small town vibe continued when we made friends with the owner of Cowboy Smokehouse back in Panguitch, who gave us a free order of bacon-wrapped sweet potatoes for our appetizer.  It tasted better than it sounds.

By Sunday morning, it was time to make the trek back home, so my friend and I headed out southbound on Highway 89 under a bright blue sky.  We stopped just once in Utah – for fuel in Kanab – but decided to lollygag a little at the Arizona/Utah state line in Page.  We happened to arrive at the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell just in time for a 10:30 a.m. tour (and it would only cost us $5 each).  Score!  I’ve always wanted to take a dam tour.  It was a dam good time.

For 45 minutes, we were part of a group of 15 people listening to a tour guide teach us about the dam and its history.  We got to ride in two elevators, down a total of over 700 feet to the base of the canyon where the Colorado River runs below.  The dam was completed in 1966 but the lake behind it, Lake Powell, took 16 years to fill up!  Today there are 8 turbines capable of generating 1.32 gigawatts of power.  When I read that on one of the signs, it made me think of Doc Brown’s quote in Back to the Future about needing “1.21 gigawatts.”  Great Scott!

My favorite part of the tour was learning that for 1 year only, traffic did flow over the dam itself.  I asked our tour guide about it because I could see the the faded remnants of a double-yellow line on top of the concrete.  She told us that for just 1 year (1978) traffic was directed across the dam, because construction was taking place on the adjacent bypass bridge.

For lunch, we hit up Fiesta Mexicana in Page, then worked our way to Flagstaff on Highway 89 and connected with Interstate 17 for the final 2 hours of downhill slide into the Phoenix Valley.  If only we could have brought some of the cooler temperatures back home with us!  The oven has been preheated and we are ready to bake here until October or so.  Gotta love it!

Thanks for coming along!

Glen Canyon Dam Tour

Here’s something new for the blog.  I have 3 readers who are selling cars and who contacted me about listing them here.  Does anyone have interest in these?  Let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the sellers.

Brandon’s 1990 Legend L coupe for sale

  • Automatic
  • 155,000 Miles
  • San Diego, CA
  • $ Make Offer

Matt’s 2003 CL-S for sale

  • 6-Speed Manual
  • 255,000 Miles
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • $4,300

Srikanth’s 1991 Legend L sedan for sale

  • Automatic
  • 151,000 Miles
  • Providence, RI
  • $ Make Offer

More trip pics – snow along Highway 148, in June

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Pond near the starting (and finish) line of the 50K race

Hanging with mom at the finish line

Sandy’s Audi Q5 got dirty while my Legend stayed clean back at the motel

Small town talk:  I had to ask someone what “chicken lights” are.

Blue Pine Motel parking

Hanging at Glen Canyon Dam.  Watch your step!

View looking toward the bridge over the Colorado River

That’s a lot of concrete

The dam’s 8 turbines

Not an elevator button you get to see every day

Have a dam good day!

Southern Arizona Saturday: Douglas, Arizona Road Trip & Historic 1907 Gadsden Hotel

Posted in Road Trip, Arizona, Integra on May 27, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  248,090

Trip Distance:  464 Miles

Occasionally, my friend Jason and I like to get together for lunch.  The only challenge is, Jason lives 388 miles away and in another state (Las Cruces, New Mexico).  Though for us, that “challenge” is actually an “opportunity.”  Over the years, we’ve targeted some awesome midpoint destinations like Duncan and Willcox.  This time, we decided to head to the historic Mexican border town of Douglas, Arizona.

Incorporated in 1905, the town was named after a mining pioneer named James Douglas and was home to two copper smelters.  Perhaps its most significant architectural structure is the Gadsden Hotel which opened in 1907, destroyed by fire, and then rebuilt in 1929.  The Gadsden name comes from James Gadsden, who was the U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1853 when the United States bought a 30,000-square-mile region from Mexico via treaty.

The hotel itself is a five-story, 160-room building with elaborate features like a Tiffany & Co stained glass mural across one of the walls in the lobby.  It seemed like the perfect destination for our Saturday lunch jaunt.

And short of being inside Mexico, wouldn’t you think that the best (or at least most authentic) Mexican food would be found as close to the border as possible?  So it worked out perfectly that Casa Segovia at the Gadsden is less than one mile from the international border checkpoint.

My drive started out around 8:00 on a Saturday morning – a little earlier than anticipated because we’d forgotten about the time zone difference between NM & AZ.  Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, so Jason got a jump on me, and I hurried to hit the road as well so that we could arrive in Douglas around the same timeframe.

The Integra GS-R whirred to 4,200 RPM happily and stayed there for the next 3.5 or so hours.  I did make just one stop, at Picacho Peak along Interstate 10 about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, for some Lunchables and a Vitamin Water.  Judge away!

Meanwhile, Jason was on his way, too, but from the opposite direction.

The last hour or so took me through some of southern Arizona’s famous old western towns, including Tombstone (“The Town Too Tough to Die”) which was bustling with tourists who were probably headed to the O.K. Corral to see a gunfight reenactment.  I motored on through town and found my way via Highways 80 and 191 to Douglas – so close to the Mexican border that I could see the international fence toward the end of the street.  Jason was already there, snapping pictures and getting acquainted with the lay of the land.  I parked the ‘Teg behind his 2004 Mazda 6.

The Gadsden was elaborate by even today’s standards, so I had to imagine that it must have been home to some really wealthy guests back in the day.  When we walked through the front entrance, we saw that the interior of the lobby had been decked out in a dozen or so round tables with silver place settings and turquoise napkins.  We later found out that this was for a wedding to be held later in the day.  We had the place largely to ourselves – and clearly we had “tourist” painted on our faces because the gal at the registration desk asked, “Can I help you?”

I was a little star-struck at how intricate some of the architecture was – a large rounded staircase dominated the foyer and for some reason reminded me of the movie Titanic.  The woodwork was detailed, and the stained glass mural lined the entire east side of the roofline.  There was a photo album on the front desk that I thumbed through to see some of the historic photos and newspaper articles that the Gadsden had been featured in.  I also confirmed my suspicions about the hotel being primarily an escape for the elite:  Eleanor Roosevelt was noted as having stayed there.

I loved seeing all the brass keys hanging behind the registration desk.  Real keys, from long before the days when we started using those newfangled credit card ones.

To our left was an entrance to Casa Segovia, the Gadsden’s in-house restaurant.  Jason commented “I feel under-dressed for this,” and I muttered, “I don’t know how much this is going to cost,” as we walked inside.  We were both pleasantly surprised:  I honestly expected most of the entrees to be about twice the cost they were.  Score.  There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted something substantial and Mexican, so I went with the chicken fajitas, which came out still-sizzling along with two tortillas and some sides like guacamole and sour cream.  TDF, they were.  That means “To Die For,” a phrase I learned from my mother.

Meanwhile I caught up with Jason who’d driven nearly an identical distance to Gadsden as I had, in his tried and trusty Mazda with 249,000 miles on it.  Considering my Integra had 248,000, we collectively showed up in Douglas with about half a million under our belts.  We took a few photos of the cars at other locations on “G” Street, including the Grand Theatre just a block north.  The theatre’s marquee said, “NOW SHOWING,” but based on the looks of things, the only thing it was showing was its age.

Next, we buzzed the 8 or 9 blocks south to the international border fence, but without a passport I wasn’t able to (nor had I intended to, for this trip anyway) cross into Mexico.  And lastly we stopped in at the Visitor Center, equipped with stacks of pamphlets of brochures and a sign-in guest book which Jason and I of course tagged.  Our visit was short but sweet in nature – all of 90 or so minutes spent together until we split ways and sailed to our respective homes in opposite directions – but we enjoyed catching up.

Next time I’ll make it an over-nighter and request whichever room Eleanor Roosevelt stayed in.

Tracking Jason’s location while en route

Fork in the road at Benson, Arizona where I headed south on Highway 80

Getting close!

Davis Road which cuts across from Highway 80 to Highway 191

Just about there

Arriving in Douglas, you see the sign pointing you to Mexico

Parked and ready to eat!

Historic image showing the hotel looking largely the same as it does today.

Dinner specials from July 3, 1969.  It’s $3.25 for rib eye steak!

Exterior shots

International border fence at the Mexico line

Stopping in Tombstone on way home to get a little dust on my cowboy boots, err… sneakers.

Thanks for coming along!

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

Posted in Arizona, California, Integra, Road Trip on March 22, 2018 by tysonhugie

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!

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!