Archive for the California Category

Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, Vigor on September 17, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  112,562

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

“How do you keep it smelling like that?” asked an attendee at last Saturday’s Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, after poking his head into my 1994 Acura Vigor.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “It smells just like an old Honda.  It reminds me of one I used to have,” he said.

As it turns out, the “old Honda” smell conversation came up more than once – enough to make the wheels in my mind start spinning.  Does the Car Freshner scent tree company need to develop a new scent, called Old Car?  I call dibs on royalties for anyone who takes the idea and runs with it.

This weekend, I joined 423 other participants at the largest show dedicated specifically to Japanese classics, in the southwest region and perhaps in the country.  Now in its 14th year, the show – dubbed ‘JCCS’ by long-time attendees or supporters, is now enhanced with expanded eligibility criteria.  Historically, showing a 1990s car required special consideration & approval because the cutoff for allowed model years ended at 1985.  Now, just about anything Japanese that’s up to & including model year 1995 is eligible.  The change comes at a time when so many venues – including Radwood shows, and the recent Japanese Automotive Invitational, are starting to devote special recognition to the “Neo Classic” 80s & 90s era.  Totally awesome.

JCCS took a thorough and organized approach to its execution – starting and ending on time, and even orchestrating roll-in and staging in an orderly fashion.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Japanese (thus the reason why I drive Japan-built automobiles) are masters of precision.  Volunteers guided incoming vehicles to their respective assigned areas, but the traffic jam at the gate (and on the grounds) was definitely more than the Marina Green park is probably used to seeing on a Saturday morning at 7:00.

Model Citizen‘s Patrick Strong acted as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the day, spotlighting key exhibitors, rattling off raffle ticket numbers for prize winnings, and conducting the awards presentation at the conclusion.  Meanwhile, the lawn filled up with hundreds of Japan’s best creations:  in all, about 150 Nissan / Datsun vehicles, 87 Toyotas, about the same number of Hondas, some Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and a lonely Isuzu in the mix.  Some were stock, while others were highly modified.

As the day pressed on, I enjoyed bumping into some of the many people who make the automotive hobby such a rewarding pastime – friends from the Honda community poured in and it became a bit of a reunion for me.  I partnered with my friend Mike, who drives a 1989 Prelude Si, on content for our YouTube channels and caught up with colleagues from the Legend, NSX, and Integra clubs.  When the time came to grab lunch, I opted for the food truck on “vendor row” with the shortest line, which ended up being a crepe vendor.  It’s the first time I can say I’ve ever eaten a crepe with bacon and avocado in it – those were two key ingredients from the “California Sunrise.”

I was, of course, wearing my “Alive With Five” T-shirt commemorating my Vigor’s 5-cylinder motor.

Car shows aren’t always about coming home with “hardware,” but it’s rewarding when the judges recognize the vehicles that stand out in exceptional ways.  Winning honors in the Neo Honda & Acura category were my friend Rob Pia with his 1994 Legend LS sedan and Leon Palassanian with his 2001 Integra Type-R.  While Leon’s Integra technically falls beyond the 1995 model year cutoff, because the car’s generation started in 1994, it was eligible.  And at only 30,000 original miles on the odometer, it was a show-stopper and a crowd-pleaser.  It was one of two Type-R models on the show field – the other was a white Canadian-spec model.

I wrapped up my trip by chauffeuring a friend to Palm Springs and having a bite to eat there, before pressing on to Phoenix.  The late night drive was made better with Paula Abdul on the stereo – via cassette tape adapter, of course – with “Straight Up.”  It only seems fitting that a 1988 song accompany me home from what was an incredible day embracing an iconic era for automobiles.

Here is a 7-minute video capturing some of my trip as well as the show itself.  As always, pardon the amateur camera and editing quality!

And while you’re here, stop by ImportArchive.com.  My friend Darren (same who prepared the digital drawings of the cars in my garage) has spent 15 years collecting and scanning brochures of Japanese automakers.  I’ve contributed a few materials to his archive and I’m excited to see it grow.  Downloads are made available once he gets the items digitized (over 50,000 scans are completed to date).

Spectating attendees Steve & Zac making the rounds

This is the display I made up for the Vigor – including a quote from the original sales brochure

Friends stopping by to visit.

Nice 1987 Legend on show at the Honda (sponsor) booth

David drove down from the Bay Area in his 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed

These folks must have been smelling that Vigor interior!

This is the 1993 Legend LS currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer website.  It is stunning, and can be yours if the Price is Right!

Let’s throw some non-Hondas into the mix – I can’t only show my fave brand!

Armando’s beautiful 1974 Mazda RX-4.

Lexus SC rear ends.

Look at that Land Cruiser!

Right-hand-drive was the name of the game.

Gorgeous Honda S roadster.

My friend Chris’ 1979 Accord

My friend Hyram’s 1990 Legend

Second-generation Integra lineup

Stopping in Palm Springs on the way home to see a Legendary friend, David.

 

Spy shot of me thanks to James of Six Speed Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I had this little newspaper clipping from 2008 framed to hang in the house.

Junkyard sightings from last weekend:  Vigor, Legend, Prelude 4WS.

Anyone catch the updates to the ILX for model year 2019?  Fancy front & rear!

And finally, I was thumbing through a 30-year-old Acura brand magazine.  There was an area where they highlight interesting news or reader submissions.  Check out this paragraph about / by none other than Estelle Getty who played “Sophia” on Golden Girls.

Now you know!  Have a great week!

Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) Recap 2018 – Attendees By the Numbers

Posted in California, Car Show on September 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  250,488

It’s now been three weeks since Pebble Beach was abuzz with the automotive extravaganza referred to as ‘Car Week.’  There continue to be a lot of great articles about it, including this one released just today by my friends Ben Hsu & Ryan Senensky of Japanese Nostalgic Car.

If you ask Karen at Motor Trend about how this year’s inaugural Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI) event came together, she’ll tell you, “It took an army.”  The planning, logistics, and execution of a car show that brought 40+ cars from areas across the nation were daunting tasks that she spearheaded for the August 25-26 event.  Luckily for Karen, she had plenty of help.  Motor Trend partnered with Infiniti on making it all happen.  And having proudly participated myself, my medallion now resides in a display case at my home (below).

(Photo credit to Trevor Yale Ryan from Speed Hunters)

What started as an idea hatched by Motor Trend’s own Ed Loh evolved into a revolutionary event in a lot of regards.  Never before had Japanese vehicles been given such a spotlight at Pebble Beach, and the media and public now agree:  It was a success.  Now in the same signature location at Pebble since 2014, Infiniti was looking to diversify and expand on its display, especially since the brand is coming up on a 30-year anniversary next year.  Remember the Q45 flagship sedan?  It’s three decades old!

Naturally, it made sense to showcase Infiniti’s own heritage and spotlight a few noteworthy cars.  Infiniti also decided to allow its competition into the arena by specifically showcasing models from Acura and Lexus on its own turf.

The list of participating vehicles was curated internally and cars were sourced from throughout the country – coming from as far away as Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan.  Some models proved tougher to locate than others.  A first-generation Integra, for example, was on the original list but not readily available, so they went with my second-gen instead.

Something you won’t see in any other articles about the event is a comprehensive list of exactly what vehicles came, but I got my hands on one.  Here is the participant list in ascending order by model year:

1959 Datsun 220 (truck)
1964 Datsun 1500 Roadster (black)
1964 Mazda R360
1967 Nissan Patrol
1967 Toyota Sport 800
1967 Toyota Toyoglide 700
1967 Toyota 2000GT
1968 Honda N600 (white)
1970 Mazda Cosmo Sport
1969 Subaru 360 Deluxe Coupe
1969 Subaru Truck (2nd Gen Sambar)
1969 Toyota FJ040 LandCruiser (seafoam green)
1970 Datsun 240Z Safari Tribute
1970 Isuzu Bellett (orange, black hood)
1971 510 BRE Datsun Trans Am 2.5
1971 Z432 Nissan Fairlady
1973 Mitsubishi Galant GTO MR
1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R
1972 Suzuki LJ20 Jimny
1974 Nissan Cherry X1-R
1975 Honda Civic CVCC
1975 Isuzu 1st Gen 117 Coupe
1976 Honda Civic Lady Concept
1978 Dome Zero
1978 Subaru Brat
1982 Grand Prix Mazda RX-7
1987 Toyota GTO Celica Race Car
1990 Acura Legend LS Coupe
1990 Lexus LS Prototype
1990 Mazda Miata Show Stock C Racer
1990 Nissan Pao
1991 Infiniti M30
1991 Nissan Figaro
1991 Toyota Dan Gurney’s Eagle MkIII IMSA GTP Championship Car
1992 Acura Integra GS-R Hatchback – Mine!
1992 Autozam AZ-1 Mazdaspeed
1992 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R
1993 Infiniti Q45t
1994 Infiniti J30
1994 Nissan 300ZX IMSA GTS
1997 Acura NSX-T
1999 R34 V-Tech Nissan Skyline
2007 Infiniti FX35
2018 Infiniti QX50
2022 Infiniti P9 Roadster

Some cars were sourced from owners themselves (a registration form on the JAI website was made available for anyone who wanted to submit his or her own vehicle), but many vehicles came from museums as well as the automakers themselves.

Lists are fun, but you know what’s even ‘funner’?  (I don’t care if that isn’t a word – I’m using it).  Let’s extract some data from these.  A quick pivot table reveals some interesting results.  To nobody’s surprise, 19 out of the 45 cars – or 42% of the overall show field – were Nissan and Infiniti models.  I can honestly say that prior to this exercise, I’d never heard of a Dome.  Toyota, Honda, and Mazda had roughly the same level of representation, ranging from 11% to 15%.

Now let’s take a peek at the years in question.  It appears that the 1990s were the best represented with 15 cars (1/3 of the show field).  The 1980s were surprisingly slim, and the 2000’s cars are arguably out of scope here because I don’t know if they yet qualify for a “classic” designation.  Don’t make me feel older than I already do!  I graduated from high school in 2000 (“Y2K,” better yet), so it’s a touchy subject.

All of this will come into consideration when it comes time (now) to debrief, and then move forward right away for future year planning.  For 2019, JAI will roll onward and become bigger and better as the show field evolves.  I’m excited for the chance to work with Karen and others in any way that I can engage and assist.  Thanks again for letting my humble 1992 GS-R play a small role in making it happen.

And for anyone looking to get into the classic Japanese car hobby, I have a couple of auction links for you today:

1993 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed in Black on Black

1985 Honda City & Motocompo from This DrivetoFive Article

Happy bidding!

Monterey Car Week – 2019 NSX Reveal, The Quail, and Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI)

Posted in California, Car Show, Integra, Misc Travel, NSX on August 27, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  563,515

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,199

Kids today will never understand the struggle of juggling 3 of these bad boys in the car during a road trip:  Huge compact disc albums, each holding 96 sleeves for seemingly unlimited playlist material.

How else do you think I was able to stay entertained long enough to drive 500,000 miles?  Little did I know when I picked up Jewel’s “0304” album in 2003 that I would be standing next to Jewel herself at a private concert 15 years later.  It’s one of my faves!  I loaded it back into my 6-disc CD changer just recently for good measure.

There she is, in the flesh!

Once again it was my turn to hobnob with society’s elite – even if just for a day.  As I did last year, I attended some of the “Car Week” festivities along the Monterey Peninsula in the Bay Area of central, coastal California.  The Integra got to ride out there on a transport carrier, but I caught a flight on Thursday afternoon and skipped the drive (I didn’t have time for a 24-hour round-trip adventure, as much as I would have loved to do it).

This year was the first time for a new event called the Japanese Automotive Invitational.  It’s no mystery that there is an up-and-coming appreciation for cars that historically haven’t been considered part of the “classic car” community.  Shows like the Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) and Radwood are designed around capturing some of that movement.

JAI has taken things to an even greater level.  The scene in and around Pebble Beach, California is dominated each August by supercars with six-figure pricetags.  But how cool is it that now a 1992 Acura Integra – an $18,000 car when new – received a VIP invitation to be parked in the same venue?  I was thrilled at the opportunity when it arose.

Last Thursday evening, I attended a private Acura event at the Carmel Valley Ranch.  It took me longer in traffic to drive the 80 miles from San Jose airport to Monterey than it had taken me to fly 800 miles from Phoenix to San Jose.  Gotta love rush hour – but at least I was driving a Ford Fusion Hybrid rental car that pretty effortlessly delivered 40 mpg.

The private grounds of the Carmel Ranch provided an intimate setting for around 100 attendees – select media, Acura enthusiasts (10 members like me from the NSX Club of America), Acura personnel & support teams, and the entertainment.  Four-time Grammy Award nominee and singer-songwriter Jewel Kilcher (better known as just “Jewel”) took the stage and shared her talent with the group – both in dialogue and in song.  Jewel was an engaging speaker and I was a little star-struck to be just a few steps away from her platform.

The star of the show – though Jewel was a crowd favorite – was the 2019 Acura NSX.  Now moving into the third model year of its second generation, the latest NSX is receiving suspension & chassis enhancements as well as a broader palette of available colors.  During Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda’s remarks at the podium, the cover was pulled off a vivid “Thermal Orange Pearl” NSX.  It was stunning from any angle.  I enjoyed admiring its lines while in the company of friends and colleagues.

On Friday, I met with representatives from Motor Trend to assist with load-in of show cars at the JAI show venue.  There were roughly 40 vehicles anticipated, including noteworthy models like the Nissan GT-R, Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS400, and a few Acuras:  My Integra GS-R, a 1990 Legend LS coupe, and a Formula Red NSX.  Over the course of the next couple days, many friends stopped by the display and sent me pictures of/with my car.  I especially loved the phone of automotive journalist Jason Cammisa (bottom right).

My next stop on Friday was The Quail Motorsports Gathering.  For 16 years, The Quail has brought out some of the world’s most famous and exotic vehicles.  Tickets are limited in availability and usually priced upwards of $600 apiece, if that tells you anything about how exclusive the venue is.  But for many, the event isn’t just about the cars.  It’s also about the culinary pavilions and opportunity to bask in an environment of manicured lawns and important (or at least wealthy!) people.  I felt out of my league but enjoyed myself either way.

Within 24 hours of picking up my rental car at the San Jose airport, I turned it back in.  This trip was the pure definition of a “whirlwind,” but an enjoyable one it was.  Enjoy a collection of photos and a video below!

I knew I was on the right track when I spotted a 2019 MDX A-Spec ahead of me on the interstate ramp.

Orange was the name of the game in all decor!

Precision Crafted Cocktail, anyone?

Actor Jesse Metcalfe was one of the event’s attendees

An orange so juicy I want to lick it.

Jewel behind the wheel of the NSX.

NSX Club of America Vice President May “May Purple” Lee.

Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda

Automotive journalist Carlos Lago & his wife

I’ll take it!

Nightly stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey

The Infiniti display near Pebble Beach at the Japanese Automotive Invitational

This weather was a shocker, especially when coming from August in Phoenix.

More from the Infiniti display.

My friend Jerry’s 1990 Legend LS coupe at JAI

Arriving The Quail and seeing a lineup of friends’ NSXs

Acura was giving away orange hats at The Quail.

With Charles Koch from Acura Shows & Exhibits, and fellow NSXCA member Ed Somers

With Motor Trend’s Karen Brown at JAI

Couple quick sidebars:  Thanks Jhae for the limited edition pin!

And I saw this 1G CL on craigslist.  Did you know that if you rearrange the letters in an ACURA emblem, it can spell CAR?  (see top left).

Have a great week!

Trip to San Diego, California: Beach Time, Car Time, & 250k Integra Milestone

Posted in California, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip on July 16, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  250,279

Trip Distance:  801 Miles

I seriously have the worst luck with losing sunglasses.  I’ll never forget the time I left a pair sitting on the trunk lid of my car near Bryce Canyon in Utah a few years ago and drove away.  I realized it a few miles down the road, looped back, and ended up finding them but they were missing a lens that was nowhere to be found.  So I plunked down another $80 on a replacement pair, which I’m sure I lost again.

The most recent casualty was from a massive wave in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday afternoon.  I think I got a little ambitious with how far I wanted to immerse myself.  Next thing I knew, I was overtaken and ended up with eyes and mouth full of saltwater as I went completely underwater momentarily.  The shades were a lost cause, but I’ve learned my lesson:  This time I bought replacements for $14.99 from a convenience store.  At that price, they’re disposable anyway.

Losses aside, this trip was just what the doctor ordered for a few days of reprieve from a busy schedule and some toasty summer temperatures in Arizona.  Some friends and I spent a couple of days in the Hillcrest neighborhood, celebrating a birthday and enjoying the sights and sounds that the city had to offer.  I took the Integra GS-R on this trip – knowing that the Legends will see plenty of use in the next week or so for the upcoming NALM trip to Colorado.  I stopped by the Imperial Sand Dunes, which were completely empty.  Go figure, nobody wants to burn their feet in July out there!

One of the ways I always like to dig up nostalgia when I’m in San Diego is to stop by some of the areas where I lived during the 2001-03 timeframe when I was a missionary for my church.  Even back then, I was eyeballing NSXs.  This one, spotted on June 15, 2001, is evidently still owned by the same person 17 years later.  I just today ran the plate using a smartphone app called MyCARFAX.  The car had 30,000 miles back then, and it has 50,000 today.  It’s a 1992 “Grand Prix White.”

And speaking of digging things up:  The first place I visited this weekend was Ramona, California, where my assigned partner and I lived in a converted horse stable, pictured below, that we lovingly called the “Shack.”  In January 2002, we buried a time capsule there with intention of digging it up 5 years later.  It’s now been over 16 years and I have no idea if or when we will ever exhume it.

The property as it sits today:

Christmas 2001 looking mighty festive.  I was standing in the doorway.

I paid a visit to the temple on Interstate 5 at Charmant Drive – a grand, white, castle-looking structure that is as striking from inside as it is out.  It was built in 1993 and has 72,000 square feet.  The grounds are always immaculate too.

Just a couple of miles away, I met up with a handful of “car friends” at a parking structure on the San Diego State University (SDSU) campus.  Included were a nice lineup of Legend GS models owned by my friend Jacob, Mike’s 1989 Prelude, Ryan’s 2018 Accord, Jay’s 2008 Mercedes, and eventually Jorge’s 2011 BMW wagon.

We shot the breeze over burgers & fries at Rock Bottom Brewing on La Jolla Village Drive, and by then it was time for me to hit the highway and make my way back to the desert.  The Integra performed well, achieving its 250,000 mile mark just as I descended the grade from Jacumba to Ocotillo on eastbound Interstate 8.

Enjoy some photos and 2 videos from the weekend below!

Imperial Sand Dunes

Heading up Highway 67 toward Ramona

Lineup of mailboxes in buckets of cement, in Ramona

Roaming around the hills east of Ramona

Arrival at the temple

Jacob’s 1994 GS Legend in Sirius White

Eyeballing Jorge’s 2011 BMW

Ryan headed out on Interstate 5

250k milestone!  (Of course, with the ABS light permanently lit!)

Always liked this old hotel – “Stout’s Hotel” in Gila Bend.  It dates back to 1927 but hasn’t been open since the 1980s.

Lastly:  Continuing the “List your car here” trend.  I have a local contact with a 54,000 mile 1995 Legend L sedan automatic pictured here.  It has been neglected, to be quite honest, but runs and drives well and has super low miles.  Does anyone want to bring it back to its deserved glory?  Contact me.

Best Hits of the 80s & 90s – Round 2: “Radwood” Car Show in Sonoma, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip, Vigor on March 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  110,907

Trip Distance:  1,542 Miles

The front desk clerk at the Motel 6 in Sylmar, California raised his eyebrow and gave me a perplexed look.  “So it has no plate?” he asked as he was reading the paper I’d filled out to get a parking permit.  “No – that is the plate.  Five-C-Y-L.”  “Oh,” he said.  “And it’s an Acura Rigor?”  I had to correct him.  “No, it’s a Vigor.  They stopped making them in 1994.”  “Ahh,” he said, “I used to have a 1994 Civic.”  In my mind I rolled my eyes and felt like saying, “just give me the room key.”

I got another dose of the magnificent 1980s and 1990s this past weekend on my trip to a car show that suits precisely those model years.  This was thus the third time I’ve driven between Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area in 3 weeks.  I’m getting to know that Interstate 5 corridor like the back of my hand!  This time, the purpose of the trip was not to buy or transport a purchased car, but rather to meet up with some friends at a celebration of all things “rad,” at Radwood 2018.

Sonoma Raceway has been around for 50 years and is nestled in the southern Sonoma Mountains at a landform called Sears Point.  It has a 2.5 mile long course and capacity for 47,000 spectators.  This weekend, the facility played host to a wide array of cars from the decades of yesteryear – complete with the wardrobe and music that go along with that era.   Here’s a link to my post about the prior Radwood show, held in Anaheim last December.

This marked the longest trip I’ve taken in my Vigor in the nearly three years I’ve owned it, save the initial drive home to Phoenix from Denver when I bought it in July 2015.  I’m happy to report that the car did remarkably well.  I departed Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and had rainy weather throughout the westward trek to the Los Angeles area.  Then I headed north on Interstate 5 to the 580, the 680, the 780, and on to my final destination for the evening in Vallejo, only about 15 miles east of the Sonoma racetrack.

My drive took me across the Benicia – Martinez toll bridge across the Carquinez Strait.  There are a lot of waterways in the area — something I’m not very accustomed to since I live in the desert.

In Vallejo, I met up with my friend Jay who’d flown in from San Diego for the occasion.  He rented a 2005 Honda S2000 on Turo which we took to dinner along the waterfront at an Italian restaurant.  I did a quick parking-lot wipe-down of the Vigor before bed and it ended up getting rained on again overnight anyway.

Saturday morning, Jay brought over some thrift store apparel finds:  A vivid multi-color Wrangler button-down and a “California Lovin” blue hoodie.  If you’re going to attend a vintage car show, you have to look the part.  He also loaned me some pretty tubular Ray Ban sunglasses.  My friend Jason took his wardrobe to a whole new level, complete with a copper wig.

We timed our arrival at Sonoma just right in order to roll in with my friend Chris from San Francisco who brought his black 1994 Legend GS 6-speed.  The car show was broken up into a few different parking areas, with “Radwood Royalty” being a paved lot and everyone else staged on a grassy hill next to it.  Things were a little muddy thanks to the prior night’s rain but luckily the clouds held out and things stayed dry all day.  The wind, however, got chilly and I was extremely grateful to Jay for giving me that hoodie.

As was to be expected, there was a very vast array of automobiles from two to three decades ago.  I would say the German brands dominated the field, with a lot of very clean “E30” 3-series BMWs including my friend Aaron’s exceedingly rare “IX” all-wheel-drive model.  I saw a car called a Bitter for the first time, and I kind of chuckled that it had the same interior color as my Vigor – and even called it the same thing (“Cognac”).  My preferred picks of course were some of the Honda products, including two very clean third-generation Preludes (this one showing off its four-wheel-steering feature).

It was great to reconnect with friends again and catch up over taco truck food and classic music.  There were a lot of accolades for the Vigor and its quirky powertrain combination.  I made sure to display the window sticker and sales brochure, and I popped the hood to showcase that 176-horsepower, 5-cylinder powerplant proudly.

Coming locally from the SF Bay area was my buddy Shervin, in his 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD.  It had 205,000 miles on the odometer and a massive binder full of receipts.  Shervin dressed the part of a successful 1980s professional in a business suit, and he accessorized his car with some period-correct items like cassette tapes and some Avery business card templates.  He sure knows how to show up to a board meeting in style.

Radwood was the only car show I’ve ever attended that had giveaways allocated by way of thumb wars and rock-paper-scissors.  The “Best Japanese” award ended up going to a very clean Nissan Pulsar Sportbak.

I sadly gave back the borrowed Ray Bans and hit the highway southbound, going as far as Buttonwillow, California that evening (only about 4 hours away).  The Vigor proved itself as a pretty good road tripper with comfortable revs and a surprisingly quiet cabin considering it has frameless door windows.

I checked in at the Motel 6 around 9:00 p.m. – my third night in my third M6 of the trip.  If there were such a thing as a Diamond Platinum Preferred Motel 6 member, I’d be top dawg.  But when’s the last time you saw a window-mounted climate control unit that looked like this?  I guess the motel was last remodeled about when Radwood-era cars were new.

The final stretch to Phoenix was on Sunday, with just one more stop in Palm Desert for a bean & cheese burrito and an energy drink to fuel me up.  It was a whirlwind trip, but what Drive to Five adventure isn’t?  Thanks for coming along and enjoying some of the great 80s and 90s with me!

Traditional stop in Desert Center.  I go there with all my cars!

Fueling up in Palm Desert at Chevron.

Taco Bell for lunch in Buttonwillow.  Does it look familiar?

It should.  Because I was just there with the Integra sedan six days prior.

Northbound on Interstate 5 at the split with I-580.  I took this same route last year when I went to Sacramento for NALM 2017.

Westbound on I-580 toward Dublin.

Met up with my friend Brian at his office.

Jay’s rental S2000 that we took to dinner.  It was a fun little ride for 13 years and 133,000 miles old!

Waterfront view from dinner.

Having some fettuccine alfredo with Jay.

Arrival at Sonoma with Chris and his friend Alfred in my sideview mirror.

Pretty good shine on these old rides.

Remember the Mitsubishi 3000 GT Spyder?

And better yet, remember the 1980s Chevy Nova?  Someone actually restored one of these and I love it!

View overlooking the venue.

My friend Chris who flew up from LA for the occasion.

Driving home through some misty fog on I-5 southbound.

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!

NSX Performance Driving Event at Honda Proving Ground – Cantil, California

Posted in California, Integra, NSX, Racing, Road Trip on January 1, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  557,630

Odometer (Integra):  245,708

Odometer (ILX):  203,182

Odometer (Legend sedan):  156,131

Odometer (NSX):  109,664

Odometer (Vigor):  108,672

Trip Distance:  874 Miles

Happy New Year!

I haven’t been to a theme park since 1994.  This is a picture of 12-year-old me (in socks & sandles — that fashion was OK back then, I think) with my brother Bentley trying out the mini golf course at Disneyland in California.  We got our fill of roller coaster rides, cotton candy, and entertainment.  Fast forward 13 years and I think I found an “adult” Disneyland.  It’s a 45,000-acre playground in the middle of nowhere in the California desert, and it’s called the Honda Proving Center.  I got a behind the scenes look at this magical place on Saturday, December 9th.  It may just be the happiest place on Earth.

It’s not every day you’re sitting in the driver seat of a $180,000, 573-horsepower supercar with a professional coach in your passenger seat.  Doing 118 miles per hour on cruise control on a 7-mile-long high-speed oval track.  And getting to the straightaway and having the coach say, “Ok, put the gas to the floor and hold it there.”  My eyes got as big as pie plates.  “What?!”  “Punch it.”  I obeyed, and we shot to 155 miles per hour – a personal land speed record for me – in a matter of a few seconds.  By the time I’d completed two laps and we exited the track, 80 miles per hour felt like idling through a school zone.  My sense of speed was completely out of whack.

My track time was part of an “NSX Drive Experience,” made possible by special invitation by some of my friends at Acura.  It catered largely to folks who are long time brand advocates or potential NSX shoppers.

My track experience credentials prior to this event were pretty pathetic.

  • I did a 105-mph open-road race in 2007 & 2008 (Bonneville 100 in northern Nevada)
  • I did an SCCA autocross course in 2009 (NALM – Branson, Missouri)
  • I drove on a road course in 2010 (Miller Motorsports Park – Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • I 1/4-mile drag raced my car in 2016 (Atlanta Dragway – Atlanta, Georgia)

Needless to say, I’m still very much a novice when it comes to putting on a race helmet and getting out on a racetrack.  That changed to a small degree this weekend when I took advantage of the opportunity to experience 2 hours in the seat of a Nouvelle Blue Pearl 2017 Acura NSX.  And my coach – professional driver Ken Hill – actually said my skills were pretty impressive.  “Quick hands,” he told me.  I’ll take it!

I drove out to California City late Friday night in the Integra, whirring at 4,500 RPM all the way to the Riverside area, then on up the Cajon Pass to Victorville on I-15, then taking two-laners the remaining 80 or so miles to my hotel, the Best Western.  Roads were lonely and it was a clear night for the 7-hour drive.  The following morning, I made my way north to the entrance to Honda’s facility in Cantil – a nondescript turnoff after miles and miles of nothing but telephone poles, where a white sign and HONDA in red block lettering guided me in.

Honda has owned the property since 1990 and it was used by the company’s Research & Development team for its first 20 or so years.  It went through a $28 million renovation in 2015 as part of a conversion from “durability” testing to “dynamic” testing as its focus.  Today it’s a closed course that allows test engineers to put prototype vehicles through their paces.  I saw a couple of vehicles in camouflage while behind closed gates, but any photography was of course strictly prohibited.

The session kicked off with Acura Senior Manager John Watts and pro driver Ken Hill giving us the lay of the land – some NSX model-specific background, the story on the facility, and some safety briefings along with a description of what we were about to experience.  Our “class” of 8 or so people was able to see inside the building’s operations center, with its wall full of TV screens capturing surveillance of every jackrabbit or tortoise that moves on the property – along with each and every vehicle, of course.

My first of four track experiences was the oval, followed by a demonstration of a zero-to-100-mph-to-zero acceleration and braking exercise.  Ken showed me how to activate the NSX’s “Track / Launch” mode by holding the selector knob to the right for 5 seconds.  The power and grip that this unleashed was unreal.  From a dead stop, 60 miles per hour came up in only 2.7 seconds, my helmet deeply planted against the headrest.  We rocketed to 100 miles per hour, then clamped down on the brakes.  The carbon ceramic brake equipment brought us to a sudden and controlled stop.  Nausea anyone?  It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing this on an empty stomach.

We made our way to a small autocross track where I tried my hand at keeping an NSX inside some painted white lines while dodging cones, and finally went to the Winding Road course which is a true simulation of what a curvy mountain road might look and feel like.  The road itself has a few tricks up its sleeve, like a steep hill that makes you feel like you’re going to launch the car, and a decreasing-radius turn that catches a lot of people by surprise.  Ken and I took several laps and with each one, I became more and more comfortable with the car.  This picture is not me!

My heart raced and my palms were sweaty but I gained confidence and continued to be blown away by the NSX and its capability.  My skills were so good, in fact (patting myself on the back here), that I caught up to the car in front of me and we had to pull off the track to wait for them to get more of a head start.  After this segment, we went to a reception where lunch was served and iPads were available for surveys and NSX Build Configurator access.  All participants were provided a poster and goody bag for their participation which was a nice souvenir to take home.  Organizers even offered to top off my fuel tank prior to departing, but my Integra was already sitting at full capacity.

It was a dose of reality to get back into my 4-cylinder, 160-horsepower, 244,000 mile Integra to start heading home but my nerves needed a break anyway after so many thrills.  I had just one more sight to see on my drive home, so I made a special point to visit the “Musical Road” off Highway 14 on Avenue G in Lancaster, California.  It’s a road paved with grooves in it that when driven across, plays a song.  I tried it at 60, 45, and 75 miles per hour.  Check out the video below for what that ended up sounding like!

Many thanks to the folks at Acura for such an awesome event.  More to come in the next couple of weeks as I play catch-up on current events and get 2018 off to a timely start!

Late night arrival into California City

Chilly day the following morning!  The Integra took an extra crank to start.

Departing my Best Western

Long and lonely road to get to the proving ground

Made it!

Parked next to a “Still Night Pearl” 2018 TLX A-Spec.  I knew I was in the right place.

With my friend Curtis from Acura’s agency

Pre-drive briefing in the lobby

VIP status!

Photo on display from Mr. Honda’s visit to the facility in the early 1990s

2018 RLX out front

Detail on the different driving experiences available at the track

Heading out in the afternoon!

Arrival at the Musical Road in Lancaster

Visiting my friend Jerry in Palmdale who has a 1993 Integra GS sedan

I thought this spot on the top of a pass on Highway 138 was pretty cool.  Mountain Top Cafe.  It’s been there since 1940.

Descending toward my junction with Interstate 15.

“Mormon Rocks” along the San Bernardino National Forest.

Swag that I brought home!  Nice shirt + some reading material.

I sent a text message to Ted Klaus, project leader for the NSX, and thanked him for building such a magical machine.  He had a nice reply!

It made me appreciate my generation 1 NSX even more.

I liked this image showing the NSX, Vigor, and Integras.  Missing Legends!

A couple of weeks ago there was a ‘twin’ to my Legend coupe (one VIN apart, in fact, #833 and mine is #832) for around $2,900.  I was tempted to grab it and keep for eventual restoration.  Or spare parts!

Speaking of blue NSXs, I wanted to share this sweet one that ScienceofSpeed in Chandler, Arizona built for this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.  Shout out to my friend Erik for sharing the pics.

When was the last time you saw a 1989 Honda Accord SE-i coupe?  This beauty has only 42,300 miles on it, and was recently acquired by my friend Kai who is doing some mechanical restoration work on it.

The local Arizona NSX Club of America chapter members got together last month for a holiday dinner at ScienceofSpeed.  I got to park my 1992 indoors next to our dining tables.

It was nice to reconnect with the 20 or so members who came out.

That Audi R8 on the lift was a little out of place!

Talk soon!