Archive for the California Category

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

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

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

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

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

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

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

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

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

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

Lunch time

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

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

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

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon

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!