Archive for the Integra Category

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!

The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 1: Purchasing My 1992 Acura Integra LS Sedan 5-Speed

Posted in Integra, Legend, NSX, Vigor on March 20, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  559,191

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  157,914

Odometer (NSX):  109,834

Odometer (Vigor):  109,341

Odometer (Integra Hatchback):  247,112

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,318

Trip Distance:  1,514 Miles

If you put on your fancy pin-striped suit and walked into your local Acura dealership about 25 years ago in 1993, you might hear “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40 played over the radio in the showroom.  If you had the means at that time, you could say to a salesperson, “I’ll take one of everything,” and then you’d proceed to drop about $210,000 MSRP ($365,000 equivalent in 2018) on the six different models that Acura sold at the time.


Today, cars of that era are cheap.  So cheap, in fact, that two of mine were bought on credit cards.  Just like that.  As if you’re picking up a candy bar at the local CVS Pharmacy, but instead you just bought yourself an entire automobile.

A lot of people have collections.  A friend of mine collects Pyrex cookware.  My sister-in-law collects vintage luggage.  And I just happen to collect Acuras.  This past weekend I successfully closed the loop on a matching “set” that I’d been striving 20 years for, since about age 16.  Do I deserve a recognition award or rehab therapy?  I’ll let you decide.  Jalopnik thinks I’m a little nuts, but that’s okay.

Here’s how the timing worked out and where I got each of my six now-classic Acuras from:

  • 2003:  1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed in San Jose, California
  • 2008:  1994 Legend GS sedan 6-speed in Logan, Utah
  • 2011:  1992 NSX 5-speed in San Jose, California
  • 2015:  1994 Vigor GS 5-speed in Denver, Colorado
  • 2016:  1992 Integra GS-R 5-speed in Seattle, Washington

And now #6:  The newest adoptee into my family of early 1990s Acuras is a “Torino Red Metallic” 1992 Integra LS sedan.  Here are the many reasons why I had to have it:

  • All original paint and interior (Flint Black was my first choice, but Torino Red was second)
  • Completely rust-free body and undercarriage
  • Unmodified / stock configuration in every way
  • Low miles, 116,562 as of the sale date (that’s 4,400 per year)
  • Only two owners, the second having owned it since 1996 and then donating it to charity
  • Functional everything (A/C, electronics, clutch / brakes / engine / trans)
  • 5-speed manual transmission (I would not even consider an automatic)
  • 1992-93 model year “refresh” design styling to front and rear, super rare to find on the Integra sedan “DB1” chassis
  • Clean title
  • Recent timing belt maintenance history
  • LS trim deletes the ABS (anti-lock braking system) which is often times problematic (as is the case on my 1992 GS-R model)
  • Accessory OEM wing spoiler with LED brake lamp
  • My family’s first Acura was a red, second-generation Integra sedan in 1996.  It’s like going back to my roots.

This was not an easy car to find.  Oh no, not by any means.  I’d been on the hunt for literally years, scouring SearchTempest to collect craigslist postings from nationwide on a nearly daily basis.  I had at least a half-dozen friends on high alert, too.  I almost settled a few times.  One car that surfaced in Salt Lake City was everything I wanted but with extreme rust and a fraction of the price.  I was willing to make concessions but that wasn’t one that I wanted to deal with.  It seemed that for every 10 second generation Integra hatchbacks, there was only 1 sedan.  Rare, rare, rare.

Then Friday, March 9th came along.  In my typical fashion, I revved up my Internet browser in between meetings at work and did my customary “1992 Integra” keyword title search on the craigslist aggregation site.  I saw a posting 3 lines down in SF Bay.  “1992 Acura Integra – for auction – $700.”  Without knowing any of the other details, I clicked the ad and my eyes got as big as those hearts on the heart-eye emoji.  Sedan, check.  Manual, check.  Original, check.  It was too good to be true though, because it was 12 hours away and available via live auction only.  A phone call to the selling dealer was disappointing, as they would not deal with any offers remotely.  “You have to be here to bid,” the representative told me.  Damn.

The wheels in my head got spinning.  A last-minute flight from PHX to SFO would run me $360 and put me on the ground a little after midnight, so I’d need a hotel.  And then what if the car was junk and I didn’t buy it?  I’d be spending that same amount to fly right back home.  Could I risk dropping $800+ just for the chance to buy?

Then a crazy thought came to mind.  I was already planning on going to Los Angeles the following day to meet up with friends for a cars & coffee event.  What if I drove out earlier, took a massive side trip north to Redwood City, attended the auction, and then back-tracked to LA for my scheduled events?  Could I?

On 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, I departed from my friend Kyle’s birthday party in central Phoenix behind the wheel of my garage queen 1994 Legend GS 6-speed sedan – a car that had only been driven about 1,000 miles in the prior 9 months.  I’ve owned it for a decade and I know that it’s up to date on maintenance, but most people would still agree it was a little gutsy to get into a 24-year-old car with 156,000 miles on it and plan to drive nearly 800 miles, alone, in the middle of the night.

The I-10 corridor is no unfamiliar place for me.  In the dozen years I’ve lived in Phoenix, I’ve driven the interstate to LA probably a hundred times.  So I set the cruise control, fueled up on a Monster “Mean Bean” energy drinks, and watched the miles go by while listening to some hits on my 80-gig iPod classic with a cassette tape adapter (for that true period-correct experience, of course).

By midnight local time, I was near Palm Springs.  Around 1:00 a.m, I was in LA.  And by 3:00 a.m., I was already northbound on Interstate 5 with my sights set on the San Francisco Bay.  The Legend hummed onward in 6th gear with little effort, delivering a remarkable 27 miles per gallon on one of my fillups.

Daylight started peeking out over the eastern horizon a little after 6:00 a.m., and by that time, I could already see the finish line.  I was northbound on Highway 101 crossing through San Jose – oddly enough, the same place where I’d purchased my NSX and my Legend coupe years ago.  Clearly it’s a good place to find quality cars.  I arrived at the auction house in Redwood City well before it opened, so I had a $15 omelet at Squeeze In about 3 miles away and collected my composure for a busy day ahead.  I think I had 3 bites of food.  My stomach was in absolute knots.  But I liked the sound of this omelet for obvious reasons.

I’ve been to plenty of auctions before.  Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale has been an annual tradition for me lately.  But I’ve never bid or even been serious about buying before.  And for that reason, my anxiety was through the roof.  Because the minute I walked into the warehouse and saw the Integra, I got this feeling like I knew I would be buying it.  Parked between a Ford utility truck and a Volkswagen Golf, it was the oldest of the 21 different vehicles up for charity auction that day.

Auction City allows prospective buyers to check out the inventory before the bidding starts at 10:30 a.m.  So, I did just that.  I cranked up the car, checked the electronics, and gave the clutch a few kicks.  The engine bay looked remarkably clean, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw a yellow sticker:  The timing belt change record.  April 2012 at 111,000 miles.  Score.

At this point it was “game on.”  I found myself getting protective every time someone else got in or around the car to take a look at it, slam the hood, lean up against it, or rev the motor.  I tried not to get my hopes too far up, and I also tried to keep my head on straight.  The combination of racing thoughts and complete lack of sleep left me feeling lightheaded a couple of times.

An old man next to me leaned over and commented on the Integra, “Needs a lot of work,” he said.  “I ran the Carfax and the timing belt hasn’t been done yet.”  I knew he was wrong, but I didn’t say it.  Keep your bids off my car, man.  A sheet of paper on the dashboard said “Suggested Retail $1,925.”  What would it go for?

At registration, I had been given bidder #37 so I got my card ready as soon as I saw the Integra was almost up.  I stood near the car and tried to understand the mumbo-jumbo coming out of the auctioneer’s mouth in the echoey building.  Luckily the numbers were understandable if nothing else was.

I raised my hand repeatedly like the nerd in the front row of the class who knows the answer to every stupid question.  I had a max bid amount in mind, and I was going to keep my hand in the air as long as I could until that number was reached.  At least 3 other people were fighting me for that car.

Two minutes later, it was SOLD for $2,700, the auctioneer exclaimed.  I won it.  Giddy.  Amazed.  How the heck did that just happen?  I was on cloud 9.

Immediately I started looking into logistics.  Within 30 minutes, I had pre-paid for a Montway transport truck so the logistics were taken care of (or so I thought – more on that later).  After all 21 vehicles in the hall had been sold, I met with a representative to handle payment & paperwork (he of course asked why I’d felt compelled to bid to the point that I did).  By the way, the Integra was the only car of the 21 to sell for a price point above its posted “Retail” price.  Yeah, so what.  I was prepared to go even higher.

With that, I knew the deal was sealed and my nerves calmed back down.  But my weekend adventure wasn’t over yet.  For the next 6 hours, I fought heavy rain almost all the way back to the Los Angeles area, including a horrendous construction zone on the north end of the city with poorly marked lane lines and heavy traffic.  By the time I rolled into my Super 8 in Torrance, I’d white-knuckled so long my hands were permanently gripping the Legend’s steering wheel.

For the first time since Thursday, I finally settled in and took a minute to breathe.  The next day came early, as I picked up a long-time friend named Kazuhiro from his hotel nearby and we went to Cars & Coffee South Bay in Gardena.  Kazuhiro was on vacation from Japan for a week.  Back home, he has a 1995 Legend GS sedan that looks exactly like mine.  It was great to finally meet him, as well as reconnect with other friends from southern California despite the drizzly weather.

I headed back home to Phoenix at the conclusion of lunch at Eatalian Deli and enjoyed the next 6 hours of solitude and success after having achieved all of my trip’s goals.  After unpacking the car, I made the most long awaited reunion of all:  My flannel pillow.  What a weekend.  Now I just had to figure out a way to get the car home.  Come back to the next post to see how that went!

So that’s the story of how after a 20-year quest, I ended up with a fleet of every vehicle configuration that Acura sold in the early 1990s.  And I only paid about $53,000 for all six, so I guess you could say I got 75% off.  And that’s a bargain deal I can live with.  Check out the 19-minute video including scenes from the auction itself.

Welcomed to Redwood City bright & early after an all-night drive

Arrival at Auction City on Saturday morning

That engine bay – clean!

Paperwork showing the “suggested retail” price of $1,925

Left rear quarter.  Those exhaust tips are not OEM!  (But that will change)

Front left quarter.  The car needs some TLC but it’s a strong start.

These were the makes, models, and final prices for all 21 cars auctioned.

These are the 14″ GS trim wheels I’ll be getting when I ditch those hubcaps.

That spoiler!  Shot from the accessories brochure.

Picking up Kazuu in Torrance on Sunday morning

My friend Ryu at cars & coffee (and a Honda Beat in the background)

With Kazuu and Fred

Kazuu’s car, back home in Japan

Raul, Rob, Kazuu, Tyson, Jay, Brett, after breakfast

Headed back home to AZ

My roommate had a Toyota C-HR on test last week.  Aztec Green anyone?

And my friend Sunny visited – was great to see him!

Come back soon for the adventure that getting the car home involved!

Desert Valley Auto Parts Junkyard Trip, a Video Collaboration with Chris, & a Visit from Jay

Posted in Arizona, Blog, Integra, NSX on February 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  156,369

Odometer (Integra):  246,561

I clearly don’t watch enough TV, because somehow I missed the fact that a local Phoenix area junkyard was the set of a Discovery Channel TV show back in 2011.  The series, called Desert Car Kings, was filmed at Desert Valley Auto Parts (DVAP) near 7th Street & Deer Valley Road on the north end of town.  I haven’t been able to find any episodes online but there are a handful of short clips on YouTube and it looked like a pretty cool series.

The desert is indeed a great place to look for vintage cars and parts.  While interiors, dashboards, and rubber/vinyl trim pieces age and crack terribly, usually the fundamental body parts – frames, panels, and engine components – stay remarkably rust-free and preserved. I frequently visit the local junkyards for that reason, but the ones I’ve been to have a lot newer cars in them and sometimes aren’t very well organized.  DVAP was laid out in a very orderly fashion by make.

Desert Car Kings lasted for just 1 season and 10 episodes, but one of the things they did during the show was restore cars from the junkyard.  That’s always sort of been a fantasy of mine:  Plucking a car from the path of imminent destruction (the crusher), giving it new life, and putting it on the road.

My friend Dane who you met on the recent MDX trip to Nevada introduced me to DVAP.  He is quite the connoisseur of vintage and collectible cars, with the following in his collection currently, from oldest to newest:

  • 1959 Imperial Crown
  • 1964 Dodge 440
  • 1966 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 1969 Imperial LeBaron
  • 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo
  • 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4
  • 2010 Lincoln MKZ

Can you sense some Mopar loving there?  Dane and I visited DVAP on a Saturday morning and got more than our $2 admission worth wandering around and checking out the inventory.  In the end, we didn’t make any purchases.  Here are 8 minutes of random video I recorded.

Check out this lineup of a couple of the year 1992’s best performance sport coupes.

This weekend, my friend Chris came over to grab lunch with me.  I met him a couple of years ago through the local Integra club (“AZ Second Gens” – about 50 members strong) and have followed his car adventures on his YouTube channel ever since.  Here’s the link so you can take a look and subscribe for yourselves.  We did a car-key swap and headed to lunch at a burger place a few miles away.  Here are a few minutes of video of the meet-up.  It was great to link up.

Here’s the video Chris put together.  27 minutes worth!  Get your popcorn ready or order a pizza first.

While you’re on YouTube, I have some other gems for you.  Check out this next video if you get 30 seconds to spare.  It’s an Acura commercial from around 1993.

What caught my eye right away – without even having to do rewind and replay – was the bridge crossing of an NSX and a Legend at about 8 seconds in.  “Navajo Bridge!” I screamed in my head.  I’ve driven over it dozens of times.  What’s odd, though, is that the video was shot just 2 years before a new bypass bridge west of the original 1929 bridge was completed.  The deck that the Legend & NSX were being driven on is now only open to pedestrian traffic.  Even so, how can I possibly resist re-creating this with my own cars in the newer bridge that runs parallel to it?

Notice in the freeze-frame above, the distinct pattern of criss-cross metal railing along the side.  Below, I’m standing on the same bridge (but along its west side, instead of east) and you can see the newer bridge in the background.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined some friends for brunch at 5th Avenue Cafe in central Phoenix.  Roger showed up in his 1965 Dodge station wagon, and I took the NSX.  There was a little bit of ‘something for everyone.’

Earlier in the week, I got to go to lunch in a 1962 Porsche owned by my friend Bob.

It had an incredible amount of interior space for a vehicle of that size!

I had company from San Diego this past weekend:  My friend Jay rolled into town on Thursday evening in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550 drop-top.  What a stunning ride in Storm Red.

He and I cruised down to Tucson on Saturday morning to meet up with some friends for brunch at Cup Cafe inside the historic Hotel Congress.

Perfect day for a patio chat.

Baked egg something-or-other.  Those potatoes were my fave, though!

Jonathan making his attempt at a group shot, selfie style.

Jonathan and his roommate Corey’s garage.  I approved.

And a quick clip of me driving Jay’s Benz.  It’s 100+ more horsepower than I’m used to handling.

Thanks, Jay, for the visit!

I think you’re all caught up now!  Have a great week!

Sunday Brunch at the 1929 Wrigley Mansion, More Visitors in Phoenix

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Misc Travel on January 30, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  558,659

Odometer (Integra):  246,106

Imagine being wealthy enough in the late 1920s to own several mansions across the United States:  Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities — the smallest of which, in Phoenix, at 16,000 square feet.

William Wrigley Jr. was an entrepreneur from a young age, starting his own business selling soap and baking powder at age 29.  At that time, he would give his customers 2 packages of chewing gum as an incentive with each can of baking powder they purchased.  Wrigley’s chewing gum soon became more popular than any of his other products, and the rest was history.  Wrigley went on to hold a controlling interest in several other companies, own the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, and build 5 residences.  Next time you’re chomping on a stick of Big Red, think of him.

Wrigley’s mansion in Phoenix (photo above from 1949), is set atop a 100-foot-tall knoll with views of the Biltmore and the community below.  Construction was completed in 1931, only a year before Wrigley died at age 70.  The mansion went on to be owned by another big wig in the food industry: Geordie Hormel, known for creating Spam (he also claimed to have invented the corn dog).  Hormel bought the Wrigley mansion as a $2.6 million 50th wedding anniversary for his wife, and restored it to his former glory.   He passed away in 2006 but the facility lives on as a private club for Sunday brunch, fancy weddings, and other special events.

On Sunday, January 28th, 86 years and 2 days after William Wrigley passed away, I rolled up the steep driveway from Telawa Trail Road with my dad & stepmom and valet parked my Legend sedan for a brunch reservation I’d made online about 6 weeks prior.  The view of the city was spectacular and the weather couldn’t have been better.

We had about 15 minutes to wander around the facility before being seated at our table, so we went upstairs to see a few of the 24 bedrooms and 2 of the 12 bathrooms.  All of the finishes, materials, and fixtures retain their original appearance but have been well preserved or restored.

Hearty buffet provisions were available in 3 separate rooms:  The first, with fruits, bagels, and salad items for lighter fare.  The second had the main brunch courses:  beef, prime rib, shrimp, lobster, potatoes, and an omelet station.  And the last was up a few stairs in what appeared to be a library, stocked with all sorts of cupcakes and other sugary goodness.  Each time one of us would get up from our seat to make another pass at the buffet, the servers would come around while we were gone and roll up our napkins again.  There was a lot of fine attention to detail.

For $59 a plate, the Wrigley champagne brunch is definitely not a McDonald’s McMuffin value menu, but for a rare treat with special guests, I thought it was well worth it for a way to spend a classy Sunday and get a panoramic view of the city skyline on a crystal blue January day.  We returned to the valeted Legend feeling full and satisfied.  “You’re going to have to roll me to the car,” Tanya said.  No wonder we weren’t hungry again until much later that evening.

The revolving door at Hotel Hugie hasn’t had a break yet — the month of January I ran at nearly 100% occupancy and loved it.  Last week, Dad & Tanya drove 1,421 miles in fewer than 48 hours from Seattle to Phoenix for a trade show called Oasis.  Each January, it draws more than 3,000 buyers to the Phoenix convention center to see and order knick-knacks and souvenirs for their gift shops and visitor centers.  Dad and Tanya hand-craft wooden items like antler-adorned walking sticks, keychains, magnets, and money clips for their company, Yellowstone River Trading.

It was an action-packed few days with the family visiting, with lots of things to do outside the 9-5 trade show grind.  We dined at some new restaurants, visited an escape room, and took care of a few home improvement projects.  I also spent a bit of time at the local junkyard, harvesting a piece of a quarter panel to repair some damage to the left rear corner of my Legend sedan.  It was my first time using a heavy-duty angle grinder and I am pleased with the results!  Thanks to my friend Mirel for the tools and the expertise.

New and old pieces of quarter panel.  Updates to come!

Below are a few more photos from recent events.  I received a visit from Redline Reviews’ Editor-in-Chief, Sofyan Bey.

Here’s a 5-minute video filmed just before dropping Sofyan off at the Sky Harbor airport.

Earlier in the week, I dropped off Kevin from Duluth, GA.  I’ve been to the airport a lot lately!

Kevin recently sold his 1994 Legend L sedan.  He had owned the car for 18 years, 11 months, and 26 days.  Fortunately, he still has a 1994 LS coupe, his “Polar Bear.”

I got my front bumper plugs installed on the Vigor – paint matched & all!

Integra parked streetside just west of Chase Field, where the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team plays.

Visiting the Oasis gift convention.

Dinner at ‘Camp Social’ restaurant on 7th Street in Phoenix – we ate in a little trailer like that!

Pretty cool old-school Ace Hardware sign.

Dinner on the patio at Hula’s Modern Tiki, with special guest Jake the poodle.

Home Depot on a Saturday in the coupe.

Junkyard find:  1989 Honda Accord LX 5-speed

It had 349,271 miles on it!

Escape room group in Tempe, Arizona

Legend sedan parked at Wrigley’s valet area

Upstairs hallway at Wrigley Mansion

View from our dining table

Buffet room #1

I spotted my car valet parked below

Tanya & dad

Headed back to real civilization after a few minutes living the high life.

Organizing my new Kobalt tool chest!

Fits right in in the garage.

Have a great week!

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!

Road Trippage: Silver City, New Mexico & Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Posted in Hikes, Integra, National Parks, New Mexico, Road Trip on November 19, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra):  242,335

Trip Distance:  716 Miles

Imagine how simple life must have been 700 years ago.  Yesterday, I walked in the literal footsteps of the Mogollon (pronounced moga-yon) people – a band of indigenous tribes who lived off the land through subsistence farming during that era, and who left behind a glimpse of what their lives consisted of.  Being without cell signal for 5 hours gave me but a very small taste of what it would have been like to be more in tune with nature.  And I liked it.

The southwestern United States is home to some of the best-preserved historic ruins thanks to predictable weather patterns and remote geography.  Almost exactly 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside about 530 acres in southwestern New Mexico as part of a national monument that today resides about 40 miles north of the town of Silver City.  For us Arizonans, that makes it a pretty accessible overnight road trip destination.  And this weekend, per suggestion of (and in partnership with) Driven for Drives‘ Jason Pawela, I checked it off my list.

I broke free from the Phoenix urban grid a little after 3:00 p.m. on Friday to make my eastward trip toward the New Mexico state line.  As was to be expected, I had to fight my way out on I-10 in commuter traffic but eventually was able to set the cruise on my Integra at 75 miles per hour.  I made just one stop, at Love’s in Benson, for fuel and a stretch of the legs.  The final 50 or so miles from I-10 at Lordsburg into Silver City were lonely and even a little creepy.  My ‘Christmas tree’ of dash lights (ABS, check engine, high beams, and cruise) were the only lights I saw aside from vivid constellations under the night sky – highly visible thanks to the area’s lack of light pollution.

Saturday morning brought us crisp 45 degree temperatures and blue skies.  I met up with Jason, James L, and James Z for a hearty Comfort Inn breakfast (complete with green chili on the side – total New Mexico thing!) and then we rallied our participants for this weekend’s drive:  2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2004 Mazda 6, and 1992 Acura Integra.  It took only a few minutes to lose cell service as we headed north on twisty Highway 15.  For only a 2-liter motor, the Alfa’s 280-horsepower 4-cylinder motor develops oodles of power and James was right on my tail.  I swapped keys with Jason for a few miles and was impressed at how smoothly his (‘new‘) Mazda 6 handles given its 180k+ miles.

It’s a good thing I was a driver, because I wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes as a passenger with these curves.  For about half that stretch, the road was narrow, with blind corners and no painted center line.  NM DOT basically says “Good luck!” and to allow for plenty of travel time (they said 2 hours) between Silver City and the ruins.

After a brief intro at the Visitor Center which probably looks today about the same as it did in the 1960s, we headed to a parking lot & trailhead 2 miles up the road.  The dwellings in the area were believed to have been occupied around the year 1275 and are still remarkably well preserved.  The Gila River running nearby was the Mogollon peoples’ source of life.  By 1874 when explorer Henry Weatherbee Henshaw discovered and wrote about the ruins, some parts of them had been damaged.  But ever since President Roosevelt’s decision to make it a national monument, the preservation has been vigilant – we weren’t even allowed to take liquids other than water on the hike, and we were asked not to touch any of the walls with our hands.

To access them, we had to hike a one mile loop which crosses several footbridges.  There was a small brook running underneath them and the sound of waterfalls made it a therapeutic experience.  A steep incline further down the trail took us up the cliffside and then we walked through a series of 5 different “rooms,” each one laid out with a unique floor plan. What struck me was the savvy use of space and the distinct feeling of temperature and brightness in each room.  The south-facing openings were optimal because they would allow some summer sunshine to enter and heat up the rooms in the winter time, but kept them shaded during the summer when the sun was higher in the sky.

Much of the Mogollon peoples’ lives remains a mystery, and part of our tour consisted of a Q&A session with ranger Connie.  Connie took the time to point out a few key features and asked us what we thought they were.  They included a grinding stone, pictograph images painted on the walls, and architectural features of the caves.  Today, there are wooden step ladders leaning to the various rooms but some of the original infrastructure – including rooftops over some of the rooms – are now gone.  It took us about an hour to hike the circle.

The return trip to Silver City was once again ‘spirited’ in nature, and we made good time thanks to being a little familiar with the terrain by now.  Lunch was at Nancy’s Silver Cafe right in historic downtown, where the 3-taco plate was just what the doctor ordered to satisfy those hunger cravings.  We parted ways by mid afternoon and I sailed off into the sunset – literally, squinting at it the whole way – returning to Phoenix.  I did make just one stop along the way, in a town called Dragoon, perhaps in hopes I’d see a fire-breathing dragon.  But I did not.  I just saw a sign about some rattlesnakes and some run-down buildings.

Here are the rest of my pics from this trip, as well as a short video.  Thanks for coming along!

Getting ready to roll on out.

Welcome to the Trail of the Mountain Scenic Byway

Whoever picked purple for the lettering on this sign probably made the wrong choice.

We missed fall colors by just a few weeks…

… but in a few areas they are still very vivid.  New Mexico does get 3-4 inches of snow per winter at this elevation, according to Ranger Connie.

Visitor Center.  Entry fee is $5 per person for the hike to the ruins.

Making our way toward the dwellings.

The round hole here is where a wooden pole (supporting a roof) once would have been.

Climbing down the ladder from the largest room.

Some of the blackened ceilings in the caves are due to fires / smoke.

There’s lunch, for you foodies!

Headed home with a stop in Dragoon.

‘Acura Day’ Video, Integra Maintenance, TL Sale, & Infiniti for Sale

Posted in Detailing, Integra, TL on November 5, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  556,317

Odometer (Integra):  241,282

Odometer (I30):  134,609

Hold up!  What’s that Infiniti odometer reading doing in the mileage lineup?  You’ll find out shortly.  Meanwhile, let me bring you up to speed on the latest & greatest in current events.  As my readers already know, on October 13 I was hosted at Honda/Acura headquarters in Torrance, California to participate in a short “enthusiast Q&A” segment with head of Acura Public Relations, Matt Sloustcher.

This was a photo taken with senior leaders of the brand, Jon Ikeda, Jeff Conrad, and Matt (to my left) after the program, with me holding up my custom personalized Acura jersey which I was presented as a gift.  Score!

Matt and his team were kind enough to get ahold of the 8-minute video segment for me, so here it is for your viewing pleasure.  Once again, thanks to the Acura team for letting me crash the party for a day.  I had a great time.

It’s been a busy last few weeks in the garage.  I finally had a few longstanding mechanical needs on the 1992 Integra GS-R addressed by my trusted friend and Honda know-it-all, Tait, also known as “Hon-Man.”  Here were the items I had him work on:

  • Oil and filter with synthetic blend 10W30
  • Manual transmission service
  • Recharge air conditioning
  • Replace hatch struts
  • Adjust window clearances for better wind noise abatement
  • Replace short shift lever with OEM

While the car was in there, it also got a new windshield so things are finally crystal clear from the driver’s seat.  I treated the car to a full (and much needed) detail yesterday, even getting into the nitty gritty details of the engine bay and radiator support with a toothbrush.  I’ll be sure not to put that brush back in the bathroom vanity closet.

Things ended up looking pretty magnificent, if I do say so myself, for having nearly 1/4 million miles on this motor.

I even cleaned up inside the fuel filler door.  Obsessive-compulsive disorder?  Nah!

Finished product tucked away in the garage.

On Friday I bid farewell to a car from my fleet.  While I only owned it for about 6 months and 5,000 miles, my 2007 TL Type-S was an incredibly fun car.  I enjoyed taking it on a road trip this summer to the far reaches of northern Utah and southern Idaho, but in an effort to reprioritize and evaluate financials, I simply couldn’t justify keeping this car – my 7th currently.  I was only driving it on average a couple of times per month, and it had a loan racking up interest.  Time to cut it loose.

So, better to let the TL go to a long-time friend who will enjoy it more than I’m able to.  My friend Dave from the St. Louis area flew in on Friday night and drove it away on Saturday morning.  Dave is no stranger to the Acura collector hobby, as he was one of just a few of to attend the very first National Acura Legend Meet in 2005 in Dallas with me.  His 1995 Legend LS coupe has since been handed down to his daughter.  Dave made it to Amarillo, Texas by Saturday evening.  And by the time he reads this blog entry, he’ll be home sweet home.  Congrats, Dave!

Short video with some clips from taking delivery.

Quick intermission:  I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the now-viral “commercial” for a 1996 Honda Accord EX coupe that was put together by a guy in California trying to help his girlfriend sell her car.  Entertaining stuff if you get the chance!  (And the car is now shockingly in the $100k+ bid range on Ebay, thanks to this clever advertising).

Finally, how about a shift in gears – literally – in a brand besides Honda?  I recently had the opportunity to pick up a very rare and very nice 1999 Infiniti.  On the surface, it’s not much more than a rebadged, upscale 4th generation Nissan Maxima.  But this I30, priced at $31,200 when it was new 18 years ago, is equipped with an ultra-rare 5-speed manual transmission.  Only a handful of Touring models like this one were configured in such a manner.  And today, my hope is that there’s some enthusiast out there who wants to give this one a good home.

To that end, I’ve listed it on an auction site called Bring a Trailer for a 7-day, no-reserve listing.  The highest bid as of this coming Friday afternoon, November 10th will take this beauty home!

Link to Bring a Trailer Auction

Check it out, and let your friends know if they’re in the market for such a ride!