Archive for the Legend Category

NALM 2019 Registration is Live! Legend Anniversary, HPJ Visit, & Tucson NSX Event

Posted in Legend, NALM, NSX, Road Trip on March 31, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  565,337

Odometer (Legend sedan):  160,602

The time has come!  The National Acura Legend Meet, otherwise known as NALM, is accepting participant registration for its 15th annual event.  Launched in 2005 in Dallas, Texas, NALM has been held in 14 cities around the country and this October will have its first event in Florida.  Here is a blog what shows photos and videos from each year / location.

Hosting this year’s event will be Alan Jackson, Alex Alperovich, Chris Miller, Thomas Stinson, and myself.  The festivities will kick off on Wednesday, October 9 in Ormond Beach along the Atlantic coastline, with a full roster of activities concluding on Saturday evening with a dinner and awards ceremony.  For me it’ll be a 5,000+ mile road trip, but I’m up to the challenge and excited to drive Interstate 10 end-to-end across the country.

Here is the registration link on Google Forms.  The cost is $85 through the end of August, and the fee includes a T-shirt, NALM-sponsored food events, access to all activities, lanyard with name badge, sticker, and awards/prizes.  Keep an eye on the forums for more information about schedule and other announcements.

Special thanks to Jason of Pawela’s Garage for some awesome graphic design including the above logo & below announcement!

There are all sorts of anniversaries taking place.  I’ve now had my Legend coupe for 16 years and put around 470,000 miles on it.  I decided to drive it to work on the anniversary date, March 26, and snapped a photo before heading to the office.

Current odometer:

I was pleased to share the anniversary date with Patricia, the original owner of the car, who reported that she was enjoying her time in South America and wished me another happy “sweet 16.”

I also heard from Acura General Manager, Jon Ikeda, who wrote a very nice and meaningful email about how proud he is of the vehicles themselves as well as the people who manufacture them.  This guy knows what’s up!

Mom even made cupcakes for the occasion.  Thanks, mom!

The Arizona region was happy to have a special guest in our presence earlier in the week:  Jason “HondaPro” Richmond of Chicago was passing through the area and joined a Taco Tuesday meet up at Dos Gringos in Tempe.  I stopped by to greet everyone briefly.

Over the last 7 years, Jason has been a traveling “brand advocate” for Honda – meeting with dealerships, training their staff, and building a massive social following / community for brand awareness.  Here he was chatting with Chris Sadowski, who recently completed a right-hand-drive conversion on his 2G Integra.

Jason’s Civic Type-R is the only one in the country painted yellow.

Yesterday morning, I made the 2-hour drive to Tucson bright and early in my NSX for an event hosted by Chapman Acura.  The dealership provided hospitality and refreshments for about 20-25 cars including a surprisingly high volume of second-generation (2017+ NSX models).  When the group split a little after 10:00 a.m. to make a Mount Lemmon run, I headed back to Phoenix.

Halfway to Tucson at ‘Picacho Peak.’

Thermal Orange Pearl 2019 model front & center.

Both of these ones were rebadged as Hondas.

Love the aero treatment & wheels on Adrian’s Formula Red car here.

The SLX is chugging along and occasionally even gets freeway use.  I dared take that top-heavy box to 75 miles per hour the other day.  Haha.

Also, I am continuing to make enhancements to the house / showroom.  I recently added $14 worth of LED strip lighting to the glass showcase.  Fun little upgrade!

Surfin’ USA: The Wave Cave Hike in Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Hikes, Legend, RLX on March 11, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,210

Trip Distance:  100 Miles

Mom was a victim of her first cactus attack this weekend.  The cholla, or “jumping,” cactus is famous for its ability to seemingly jump out and cling to passersby.  Worse, it’s tough to pull out and only wants to latch on to anything (or anyone) that attempts to remove it.  The solution?  Just ask Chris, the seasoned hiker who joined us for this excursion.  He whipped out a hair comb which was able to extract the needles safely without putting anyone at risk.  Clever survival tips for the desert southwest.

All of this came about from our decision to hike to one of the Superstition mountain range’s most unique geologic features:  A sandstone rock in the shape of a large wave.  See me surfing up there?  The cave’s remoteness and difficulty have kept some hikers away, but we tackled the 4-miler with confidence and enjoyed basking in some of Arizona’s prime spring weather for a few hours on Saturday morning.

Reaching the Peralta Trailhead took us about an hour from Central Phoenix and while I would have been perfectly fine subjecting my ILX, or the SLX, to a few miles dirt, we decided to takes Chris’ Jeep Cherokee.  Our first stop was the drive-thru at Starbucks.  You can’t go out into the wilderness unprepared, after all.  Frappaccinos in hand, we were ready to conquer nature.

The trail itself seemed to intensify in difficulty as we worked our way up the 800 or so feet in elevation.  Though the cave itself was visible from the trailhead, it required scrambling up a few stretches of jagged rocks flanked by prickly cacti – definitely the type of environment where adequate and stable footing is a necessity.  I took a spill just once and scraped up my right hand thanks to loose gravel.

The view was worth it.  From the interior of the cave itself, we were able to gaze across the landscape for many miles in the distance.  With temperatures in the high 60s and a light breeze, conditions were optimal to hang out and enjoy the scenery before beginning our descent.  Round-trip travel time was about 3 hours, and we rewarded ourselves for a job well done by having lunch at Costa Vida.

Here are a few more pics before I get into this week’s round of automotive news & updates here in Acura Land.

We pulled my low-miler out of the garage for commute duty during mom’s visit.

I also received a drop-in from my friend Mike from San Diego, who was riding in style in his friend’s Challenger.

My buddy Mirel scored a new car:  Check out his white 1994 LS 6-speed coupe.

On Saturday, we were ‘seeing red’ with all these reds (called Milano, Formula, and Torino) while my friend Sunny was in town from Salt Lake City in his TSX Special Edition.

Another fun Acura-sition took place over the weekend, and I was able to help make it happen.  My friend Jason “re” purchased a 1991 LS sedan that he owned a couple of years ago.  It only has 48,000 miles on the odometer thanks to spending its first 10 years tucked away in hiding.  You see, this car was stolen when it was brand new on the dealership floor and recovered much, much later.

I helped out by having a couple of maintenance items done before Jason & his dad flew down to pick it up.

My friend Jimmy stopped by the dealership while I was there.

Jason & his dad were happy campers when they arrived to take delivery.

Jason sent these pics while passing through my mom’s city where she met up with the new RLX.

It’s interesting to see how these vehicles, 25 model years apart, are different in some ways and similar in others.

Speaking of throwbacks, mom lined up the RLX in the same place as her old 2000 3.5 RL which she owned 14 years prior.

Picturesque Snow Canyon, Utah

The last bit of news here relates to a fun project I was able to collaborate on with Acura.  A small film crew flew out last week to spend a day with me doing a sort of documentary on my car collection and some favorite road trip stories.  After shuttling all 8 cars to a nearby parking lot, we took 3 of them out on an 80-mile scenic loop through the Bush Highway past Saguaro Lake.

I’ll post a blog entry once the film debuts in the coming months, but it will be a short 5-8 minute YouTube feature on Honda’s YouTube channel.  Brand Culture Champion Charles Schnieber posted a few photos of our day on Instagram under his handle @kokoro_honda.

Getting interviewed in the hot seat… in my garage.

The production was facilitated by 3 gracious volunteers who assisted with driving – thanks to Chris, A.D., and Woody!

Closing out the night with a fantastic sunset in the Superstition Mountains.

Thanks for reading!  And have a great week!

February News: NALM 2019 Announcement, ILX M/T Stats, & More Guests

Posted in ILX, Legend, Maintenance, NALM, NSXPO, SLX on February 18, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  565,101

A friend sent me a snapshot of an article with a “then and now” comparison.  It talked about how the average cost of a car in 1982 was $5,967.  His comment was, “You still pay that price.”  He’s not wrong!  Haha.  I love my garage full of $5k oldies.

I recently got my hands on some pretty sweet data recently regarding the breakout of ILX automatics to manuals.  My fellow Acura geeks won’t need this history lesson, but for the benefit of everyone else:  The ILX entry level Acura sedan launched in mid-2012 as a 2013 model, slotted below the TSX in the hierarchy.  There were three available drivetrains:  a 2-liter automatic, a 1.5-liter hybrid with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), and a 2.4 liter with a 6-speed manual transmission.  I ordered my ILX as a manual and took delivery on June 12, 2012 with 16 miles on the odometer.  It was #00082 on the production line.  The rest is history.

In the years following the ILX launch, “take rate” on the 6-speed manuals was never very good.  Some surmised that it might be as low as 3-5% of overall sales.  To nobody’s surprise (but much to my own disappointment), the manual option was dropped when the car was first refreshed for the 2016 model year.  Newly-released information from Acura indicates that over the 2013 + 2014 + 2015 model years, only 2,786 cars were sold with a manual transmission.  That works out to about 4% of the overall volume, which was right in line with predictions.

What does it all mean?  Nothing, really, other than the fact that I can feel sort of exclusive in driving a “rare” model.  The vast majority of car buyers today don’t want to be troubled with a third pedal.  Chew on that data for a little while.

I had a couple of action-packed recent weeks, with my dad being here in Phoenix for a trade show, travels to southern Utah for a birthday party, and some out-of-town guests.  Keeping you up to speed on current & upcoming events:

Registration is now open for the 3rd annual “NSX WestFest” event in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It will be held April 11-14 and promises to be one of the best NSX events of the year aside from the annual NSXPO.  This year’s NSXPO is slated for October in Washington D.C.  More to come on whether I’ll be able to make that cross-country drive / flight / teleportation.

It’s also been announced that this year’s 15th annual National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) will be held in October as well and headquartered in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida.  Here’s the official posting from the AcuraLegend.org forums with the latest information.  Lodging and registration details will be posted on March 1.  I’m looking forward to the journey – I haven’t missed a NALM since the event started in 2005.  This will be one of the longest trips in the history of my 1994 LS coupe, at roughly 4,500 miles round trip.  I’m even thinking of starting the drive from San Diego, California so I can make it a true “Pacific to Atlantic” adventure.

It would be the car’s longest trip since Alaska in 2006.

Daytona looks beautiful!

Here are some assorted pics from over the last few weeks.  This is my friend Mitch from Indiana.  He is a long-time fellow Honda & Acura enthusiast who was recently featured last month in an article by Hagerty about his restoration process of a rare Zanardi NSX.

I had dad’s MDX in town for a couple of weeks.  Tech has come a long way since the 1997 SLX!

Sedan out to dinner.

And a couple other random beauty shots on my way to work.

Legend sighting at the parking structure of the Phoenix Convention Center.  Name that color!

I finally sourced some “bumper plugs” for my 1992 Integra sedan.  Here in Arizona, we don’t have front license plates, so I needed something to cover up the unsightly holes where the bracket would attach in other states.

Helping dad set up his booth at the convention center – before.

And after.

Went and saw the latest LEGO movie, courtesy of Chevrolet, with James and Abigail.  Go check it out!

Legend coupe in for an oil change.

And a fairly clean bill of health – just leaks noted for the power steering & oil.  I already knew about those.

Check out my “safari sunroof.”

Got Branson’s Legend out for a little spin.

Road trip back to Utah in dad’s MDX.

Visiting niece Ava Mae.  Beckam had blue hair that day.

And celebrating grandpa’s 88th birthday.

Late night meet-up with my friend James who has a Moroccan Red 2007 TL-S 6-speed.

Little bit of EGR carbon clean-out in the Legend, courtesy of my friend Shaun who paid me a visit from SLC.

Shaun at the wheel of the GS.

And doing a little junkyarding.  We pulled the center console vent trim out of this 1991 LS.

Donald stopped by to join the party in his Vortex Blue 2009 TSX.

My 1990 Honda Accord EX, recently sold on Bring a Trailer, (finally) goes away tonight and is headed to Dallas, Texas tomorrow!

More to come on that soon!

December Updates: Cabin Weekend, Christmas, & Coming Attractions

Posted in Blog, Brochures, Car Show, ILX, Legend, NSX, Road Trip, Utah on December 27, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  212,097

Odometer (Something New):  178,351

Trip Distance:  210 Miles

Time once again to play catch-up on current events.  I’m turning 37 years old in 3.5 hours, so if I don’t wake up tomorrow morning due to old age, I at least want the Drive to Five community to know how I spent my final weeks, right?  Oh and the odometer teaser above – more to come on that.  I might have bought myself a 4,615-pound birthday gift.

First of all, I ended up being featured on Hello Road‘s YouTube channel with a quick feature from the Radwood show a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles.  Check out this video at about 6:42 on the clock.  Huge thanks to Ethan Tufts for the feature!

A couple weekends ago, I joined 6 friends and headed for the hills northeast of Phoenix.

Our destination was a cabin in Pine, Arizona.  Pine is only a little over 100 miles from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it has a woodsy culture, far cooler temperatures, and lots of wildlife.  I took the ILX for this trip which made light work of the grades rising out of town on Highway 87.  The climb goes from about 1,000 feet above elevation to a little over 5,000, making it a popular way to climb out of the boiling hot valley in summertime.

2012 road tripping:

2018 road tripping:

Among our destinations were the Early Bird Cafe above – which I’d visited six years prior – for a hearty and delicious breakfast.  Unfortunately, employee Katie (pictured in the 2012 pic in orange) no longer works there.  After that, we checked out Tonto Natural Bridge, the “world’s largest natural travertine arch.”  Most of the trails within the park were closed for construction this time, but we were able to hike down toward the riverbed and see some of the mossy waterfalls.

Sam, Adam C, Kenny, Adam S (back), and Tyson, Riley, Chandler (front)

I was delighted to have my friend Brandon from Las Vegas visiting for several days, and then today had another visitor – this time it was my buddy Alaeldeen from all the way in Edmonton, Alberta.  Fun fact:  He owned the Clarion Legend coupe for about two years.

Here’s Brandon:

The gang at brunch:

Here’s Alaeldeen:

I’m also playing caretaker for my friend Branson’s Legend coupe which will spend a few months at my house whilst his home in the Salt Lake City area is getting some garage upgrades.  It’s a sweet ride.  My backyard looks like a bit of a parking lot (or junkyard?) as I’m awaiting the cure of an epoxy sealant on the garage floor.  That story will get its own blog post in the coming weeks.

This past weekend, the ILX ‘front-wheel-drive sleigh’ took me to Christmas festivities in southern Utah, where I got to meet my youngest niece who is named Ava Mae.  She’s a real cutie.  I also reconnected with a few friends including my friend Shaun who recently picked up a 1997 Acura 3.0 CL that drives like a real peach for having 206,000 miles on it.

Cute baby up above, cute babies right here too:

Following I’ll share a hodge-podge of the rest of the pictures from these recent adventures.

NSX roller shot by my friend Michael

And the coupe at the same time

Checking out my buddy Travis’ new-to-him 1995 LS automatic – it needs work, but it’s a start!

Michael’s new 1993 Integra LS at right.

Out at the Pavilions car show and an RSX-S joined me.

Couple more shots of Branson’s coupe:

Literature swag update:  Special thanks to my buddy “on the inside” at American Honda (you know who you are!) who hooked me up with these amazing items.  This first one is an actual binder dated 2001 which shows approved paint & interior finishes for dealerships.  Like actual dealership showroom carpet samples!

Couple pics of the ever-evolving showcase:

New 2008 TL spiral booklet added, too.

Finally – My brother has just as many toys as I have, and here’s his latest.  This 1954 Ford truck is powered by a supercharged GM “LT4” V8 engine with around 650 horsepower.  I know, a Chevy engine in a Ford.  He’s going to tune it for another 75-100 ponies.  Watch out.

Have a great weekend and New Year celebration if I don’t post here before!

Travel News Bits: St. George, Prescott, Canyon Lake, & Upcoming Monterey

Posted in Accord, Integra, Legend, Milestones, Misc Travel, Road Trip, Vigor on August 20, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  563,514

Odometer (Vigor):  111,707

Hours (Boat):  4,000

Trip Distance:  225 Miles

Let’s get up to speed on some of the last few weeks’ activities as summer winds down here in Arizona.  In late July, some friends and I traveled to southern Utah for a few days at my brother’s newly-remodeled home. The pool was pretty inviting!

Headed northbound in Kyle’s 2008 Pontiac G8 GXP 6-speed.

James drove up in his tester of the week, the 2018 Accord.

We also took a quick jaunt to the mountains of Payson, Arizona a couple of weeks ago with 8 attendees and 6 cars, including 3 Acuras, a Mazda, a Pontiac, and an Infiniti.  Leading the pack in power and presence was Vlad’s 2017 NSX, recently customized with performance exhaust downpipes from Science of Speed.  I was happy to bring up the tail – my 1994 Vigor is a fun and nimble machine, but its tired suspension, old Michelins, and 176-horsepower motor were no match for the others in this group.

Lunch at Prescott Brewing Company.

Fueling up at the Mobil in Wickenburg.

After 3 years of ownership, I finally had the Vigor’s upholstery worked on.  The driver seat “Cognac” leather was torn along the side bolster, so I had Naro from TrimFit in Phoenix clean it up for $250 last week.  He succeeded masterfully.

I also got around to having a lot of small dings removed from the 1992 Integra GS.  Jorden of Anytime Dent had the car for about 4 days and cleaned up every panel.  It came out looking perfectly.  I snagged a pic while at Starbucks parked next to a 1989 Legend.

This past Saturday, we took Kyle’s new (well, 1993 model year) boat out to Canyon Lake which is about an hour away from my place.  Contrary to popular belief, Arizona does have its fair share of lakes and waterways.  This one is a reservoir formed by the Salt River which is Phoenix’s primary water supply.  The spot is noted by the red marker at top right here.

I tried my hand at riding the tube.  Two days later, I realize I must have been clutching to it pretty aggressively because my arms are realllllly sore.

And yesterday, I took the Legend GS to church and it rolled 160,000 miles.

My Integra GS-R is getting ready for a trip to the California Coast.  It will be featured as one of about 40 cars in Pebble Beach at the inaugural “Japanese Automotive Invitational” show this Saturday 8/25 and Sunday 8/26.  The space belongs to Infiniti, who has partnered with Motor Trend to bring everything together.  Participating vehicles are being brought in from across the nation, including an exceptionally clean 1990 Legend LS coupe from Florida with only 54,000 miles on it.  Pick up is anticipated for sometime this week!

I’ll be attending part of the ‘car week’ activities as well, as I’m scheduled to attend an Acura private reception this Thursday at the Carmel Valley Lodge.  I’ll be flying in and out of San Jose.  I’ll bring you a full report next week.

That’s a wrap on recent news for now!

Check out this plexiglass magazine display that I picked up!  Soon to be fastened to a wall inside my house or in the garage.

Looks like a car-party at my house.

Beautiful Payson, AZ summer afternoon.

Evening meet-up with Michael (ILX) and a few other folks at Tempe Town Lake Marina.

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 3: Dealer Day, Banquet/Awards, & Return Trip

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 25, 2018 by tysonhugie

As Cher said in 1989, “If I could turn back time….”

If you could turn back time, to what year would you set your destination?  For me, it might be sometime in the early-to-mid 1990s.  I was a fresh teenager at the Woodward Sixth Grade Center, reading Dirt Wheels Magazine and studying up on ATVs, putting miles on my Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike (pictured below in 1996), and playing games like Myst on our Packard Bell home computer.  Life was good.

It was around that time, some of Acura’s best sellers were gracing its showroom floors.  For just one day, Pikes Peak Acura in Colorado Springs chose to re-create such an occasion.  On Saturday, July 21, Manager Joel Archuleta swung open his facility’s doors for six Acura Legends to take over the spots previously occupied by ILX, TLX, RDX, and MDX models.  And the commotion drew quite a bit of attention from both staff members and customers alike.  Adding to the already-nostalgic feeling within the showroom, I requested that the satellite radio channel be changed to 1990s music, and it was.  Perfect.

On display in front, we had the two “twin” Legend GS sedans, my VIN 21413 and Chris’ 21268, configured in identical equipment, and within a few miles of each other in odometer readings.  More on that car in a future article.  Here’s our photo with Joel.

Behind the receptionist desk, we had two generation 2 LS coupes:  Mirel’s black-on-black 1994 LS 6-speed and Ben’s white-on-black 1992 LS automatic.  Capping off the ends of the showroom were Leon’s 1995 LS coupe and James’ 1988 base model sedan.  James’ car drew a great deal of attention as it was the most highly modified vehicle in the spotlight, with eye-catching custom paint, suspension, and other upgrades.  It was also the only first-generation car in attendance.

One of the highlights of having our “dealer day” was seeing a few random local owners come out of the woodwork, including Jesus in a black G2 coupe and Seth in a Desert Mist 1994 Vigor GS.  We welcomed both of them like family and invited them to join us upstairs for our catered lunch.  Dealership personnel cast votes on their favorite car, and the award was granted to Chris for his Legend GS.  Our time in the limelight was short-lived, and by noon we were rolling back out the doors and returning to home base in Woodland Park.

That afternoon, we took the cars to Woodland Park High School and held an informal car show and voting.  There were a few fun categories, like “Least Visor Sag,” and “Cleanest Floor Mats,” but my favorite was one called “Least Idle Smoke.”  In my 14 years attending this car meet, this was the first time I’ve participated in a “smoke-off.”  The concept is straightforward:

  • Park the cars in a lineup
  • Fire up the motors
  • Let the cars idle for about 10 minutes
  • Proceed down the row and have someone rev each car to similar RPM
  • Evaluate which car emits the least blue smoke

It was kind of funny, really.  I mean, these cars are 23 or more years old.  Even the lowest-mileage car in attendance, Leon’s 1995 coupe LS with 145,000 miles on it, let out a puff of smoke.  Oil burning is a common thing.  You’ll see what I mean in the video.

That evening, our NALM concluded with a BBQ banquet, raffle, and awards ceremony at the Country Lodge.  Every attendee received an item, and some received multiple.  Best of Show went to Chris for his Legend build, Longest Distance Traveled went to Alex from Florida, Best Interior went to Leon, and other awards were given.  It was the perfect capstone to an adventure-filled few days in Colorado.

Meanwhile, James L and I prepared for a long return journey ahead to Arizona the following morning.  We hit the road at our anticipated 7:00 departure time and made only a few stops along the way, including a prime photo op along I-25 southbound near the “Highway of Legends.”  Thanks to some walkie-talkie communication, we were able to stay in touch for the entire 850-mile stretch.  Sean, my skydiving friend who I mentioned in Part 2, bought us lunch in Albuquerque at a restaurant called “The Range” off Interstate 40.

Tired but fulfilled, we got back to Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. local time.  Until the next NALM!

It’s 1995 all over again

Me with my GS

Group shot

Looking spiffy

Chris’ car.  Notice how we even swapped out our plates for Pikes Peak ones!

Mirel’s car

Matt and Jesus’ cars

Dinner at Woodland Country Lodge

Home, sweet home, in Arizona on Sunday night

Until next time!

NALM 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Part 2: Pikes Peak Ascent to 14,115 Feet!

Posted in Colorado, Legend, NALM, Road Trip on July 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Day Distance:  56 Miles

Some people love heights.  Take my friend Sean, for example.  He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is an optometrist by day but an avid skydiver on the side.  I had the opportunity to meet up with him for lunch on Sunday while passing through his area.  “So how many dives have you done?” I asked him, expecting to have him say maybe a hundred.  “Over five hundred,” he told me.  Holy smokes.

My interest was piqued, and I continued to interview Sean about what that must be like.  He told me that typical free-fall velocity is around 120 miles per hour, but he’s been known to get up to about 190 before (“The wind noise was deafening,” he said).

Sean is a thrill-seeker, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his cars.  He drives a 2017 Honda Accord and a base model white 1991 Acura Legend that he’s had since he was 16, which was over 19 years ago.  That’s some loyalty and dedication.  I’ve known Sean since the first National Acura Legend Meet in Dallas, Texas in 2005.

Speaking of heights, there have been only a couple of times in my life when I’ve conquered a “14’er.”  That’s Colorado-speak for a mountain with a summit of over 14,000 feet in elevation.  One of them was when I drove Mount Evans back in 2013.

For that trip, my anxiety was pretty mild:  I was driving a 1-year-old car (my 2013 ILX) with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

This latest feat was a little bit of a different story:  I was about to attempt climbing a vertical mile straight up into the air over a 19-mile stretch of road. But this time, I was in a car with 562,000 miles on it, that burns oil, leaks power steering fluid, and has an original engine, transmission, and clutch.  Heaven help me.  If there was ever a time I put faith in my old trusty Legend to get me there safely, it was on Friday morning at the base of the road.  We arrived at 7:00 a.m., a full 30 minutes before the gates opened, and had some time to prepare for what was to come.

Ten of the 11 Legends that started the ascent made it to the top.  Combined, they had 2.4 million miles on them.  The only one that didn’t make it was Alex’s 1994 LS coupe (pictured above) which experienced a transmission problem with its recently installed 6-speed.  Luckily, it happened before we got to the areas with little or no room for pulling over.  The road gets pretty gnarly.

In Alex’s absence, I took the lead and set the pace for the group, alternating mostly between 2nd and 3rd gear but sometimes dropping to first on the hairpins.  A/C was off (it wasn’t needed anyway) and my eyes were glued to the temperature gauge.  With each passing mile, a sign marker on the side of the road told us our progress.

By 10,000 feet, we could start to see ourselves approaching the tree line.  The curves continued, and the road narrowed.  Eleven, 12, and 13,000 feet came and went.  By the time we passed 14,000, I gripping the wheel and wishing I’d left my sweatshirt on (windows were down).  The temperature dipped to the mid-40’s – roughly 1/3 of the temperature back home in Phoenix this time of year.  I wasn’t prepared for this!

My eyes were so laser-focused on the road ahead that I paid little attention to the drop-offs alongside me.  Alan, who was right behind me in his 1993 coupe, got on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, get a little closer to that edge!” he said.  “No thanks!” I responded.  Finally we arrived at the summit house which offered a respite from the chilly temps and winds, though being primitive in appearance.  The summit house, in fact, has been largely left in its current state since construction in the early 1960s, and it shows.

Inside, we found ourselves surrounded by typical gift shop garb:  T-shirts, coffee mugs, magnets with names on them.  You know, it’s really rare to find a magnet with the name Tyson on it.  Just saying.  I picked up a hot cocoa for $1.25 and a couple of fresh, hot donuts.  Apparently those donuts are a Pikes Peak famous tradition.  And they did hit the spot.  Our group had about an hour to kill by wandering around the summit.  In the back of the building, the views were spectacular:  Near 360-degree perspective showing the landscape below (albeit, through smoke and haze since the wildfires are really prevalent this year).

Also present is the track for a cog railway, which is currently out of service but slated to reopen around the same time as a new, modern summit house.  Here I am with Ken (New Jersey), Alex (Florida), and Waseem (Michigan).  Oh, and Alex’s dog KA8 (pronounced Kate).

A few people had elevation issues:  I watched as some stumbled or struggled with balance.  The elevation gave me a little sinus pain and you could definitely tell the air was thin because it was easy to get winded or fatigued from even just a little hiking around.  But the cars, thank goodness, all started and ran just as well at 14k feet as they had when we started up the hill at around 7k.  And speaking of the cars, someone from the staff got on an intercom while we were wandering around, “Remember to use your lowest gear when going down the mountain.”  They then went on to give instructions on how to find a “plus/minus” setting on most modern automatic vehicles.  Chris found himself some great underwear to take home as a souvenir.

And then it was time to crawl back down.  I stuck to 2nd gear most of the way, easing off the brakes as much as possible.  We were slowed down considerably a couple of times due to groups of bicyclists taking over the roadway.  At one point, we even pulled over when it was safe to do so and let them get a good head start on us so we could enjoy the road at a more comfortable pace.

At about the halfway point, there was a mandatory brake check (shown above).  A ranger stopped each vehicle and used a temperature gun to find out brake temps.  Any vehicle in excess of 300 degrees Fahrenheit is asked to let them cool down before proceeding.  The record low temp in our group was Waseem in his rented BMW 5-series with 140 degrees.  Second place?  Me, at 154 degrees.  That’s how it’s done!

There was a reservoir just prior to mile 7 that offered a nice backdrop of the Rockies for our photo op, and then it was back to base camp at the Woodland Country Lodge until the next NALM activity!

Oh, and as for Alex with the broken-down coupe, there is a happy ending:  Miraculously, he was able to source a used 5-speed transmission at a junkyard in Denver and swap it in a few days later.  As of this posting, he is back on the road and well on his way home!

Here is a video capturing some of the action!

Reading material distributed at the entrance station.  Our group had a $10/car discounted entry fee.

First pull-out to regroup at Crowe Gulch, with Leon in the background.

Vintage postcard showing Pikes back in the day

Our group at the summit

Taking a break during the descent

Photo ops near mile 7

Stay tuned for more – in the next episode, I’ll take you inside Pikes Peak Acura where the clock was turned back to the 1990s all over again!  Also, check out this video that Skydiver Sean put together from our meet-up in Albuquerque!