Archive for the NSX Category

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!

Video Release: “Fabulous Fives” 555,555 Milestone; Visits with Joseph & Michael

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, NSX on February 5, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  558,967

Odometer (Vigor):  109,340

It’s no mystery that my friend Josh Clymer and I are Mileage Masters.  We thrive on seeing that odometer turn just one more digit…. again, again, and again.  About 5 years ago, Josh launched a blog called TSX Travels, and he began documenting his journeys in his 2005 TSX, just like I started with this blog in Spring 2011.

Josh and I have collaborated on drives and milestones in the past, despite the fact that we live 926 miles apart.  In fact, we got together for a “Dueling Acuras” video production in February 2016.  Somewhere along the road, we got the crazy idea that we should coordinate our all-fives roll-over for the same time and place.

Well, here’s the grand finale!  Josh drove from Boise, Idaho, I drove from Phoenix, Arizona, and we met in the middle – St. George, Utah – for a monumental milestone celebrated together last October 7th, 2017.

It was a busy and fun weekend here, with a friend visiting from southern California and a trip to a new destination in Arizona to see another friend’s car collection.  Years ago when Honda was first getting into the transportation industry, its first mobility tools were scooters and motorcycles that were sometimes sold under the advertising tagline “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda.”

I think the same general motto holds true today for Honda and its other other brands, because my friends Joseph and Michael are two of the most quality individuals I’ve ever met.  Joseph is the proud owner of a 1992 Acura Vigor and I first met up with him at last year’s Japanese Classic Car Show.  He rolled into Phoenix on Friday afternoon in a newly-acquired 2003 Acura CL in stunning Aegean Blue Pearl with only about 60,800 miles on the odometer.

We enjoyed a night out in Old Town Scottsdale with friends, including sampling the dessert menu at Sugar Bowl, a landmark for the last 60 years since it opened in 1958.  The hot fudge sundae was (as my mom says it) “T-D-F.”  Or, in other words, to die for.

Saturday morning, Joseph and I took a road trip in the NSX about 35 miles away to the west end of the Valley near the base of the White Tank Mountain range.  There, a small community has sprung up in recent years called Verrado.  Though it falls within the broader Buckeye, Arizona city limits, Verrado is very much a self-contained and unified little town.  Its cozy Main Street had a variety of restaurants, and we chose Tempo Urban Bistro for our meet-up with another Acura-owning friend, Michael.  He drives a 2014 ILX 2.0.

Michael’s latest acquisition – which he shared as a surprise after brunch – was a 1988 Acura Legend L sedan Florence Blue Metallic.  From the moment I opened the driver door and took a whiff of the interior, it took me back to some of my prior cars.  That classic “Old Honda” smell is something so unmistakable.  We took the Legend for a spin and it drove smoothly and solidly – a testament to its build quality for being nearly 30 years old.  Can’t wait to see what Michael’s plans are for it.

Speaking of blue cars, I took the opportunity to do a little test-driving this weekend too.  One of my local dealerships, in Tempe, Arizona, now has a 2018 Accord Sport 6-speed manual in stock.  It’s finished in “Still Night Pearl” – a striking color shared with the TLX A-Spec.  The driving experience left me overall pretty impressed.

The Accord’s motor is small:  a 2-liter turbo, but it’s able to crank out over 250 horsepower.  That made ample “oomph” to get up to highway speed on the I-10 onramp at Warner Road with ease.  The clutch was soft and the car felt “big” to me – perhaps because I’m used to daily-driving my little Integra.  I think it’s awesome that the Accord is still offered with a stick shift for those of us who prefer to row our own gears.  For $31,200, it’s a lot of car for the money.

Here’s a video from the day trip to Verrado and some scenes with Joseph’s CL, too.

Group out at Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale

Saturday morning NSX cruise

1988, 1992, and 2014

The Accord that I test drove had a few miles on it, at 133

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!

VIP HondaJet & NSX Event in Scottsdale, Arizona – November 11, 2017

Posted in Arizona, NSX on November 12, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  556,317

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  156,015

Odometer (NSX):  109,174

Got a cool $4.5 mill burning a hole in your pocket?  You might just want to look at the latest solution in business travel mobility:  A jet aircraft manufactured by Honda.  Restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, and wealthy businesspeople around the country now have the opportunity to travel in style and comfort.  The increased work-life balance, improved productivity, and reduced stress thanks to avoiding delays, layovers, security lines, loud passengers, and seat assignments are big motivators that Honda hopes will drive customers to pick up its HA-420 aircraft.

Plus, and here’s something I just learned, there are 398 airports in the United States with commercial airline service, but 3,052 airports that allow aircraft like the HondaJet to utilize.  So it truly does open the door to being in multiple places in a shorter amount of time.  “Welcome to your new corner office,” is the tagline for Honda’s foray into air travel which debuted in early 2016.

Just check out that cockpit!  Technology for days.  But does it have lane keeping assist, cruise control, or VTEC?

While such a lofty purchase won’t be making its way into my humble fleet any time soon, it’s fun to dream.  I had the opportunity at an event on Saturday night to get up close and personal with the HondaJet.  Its fine leather and high tech almost made me wonder, “How come this thing isn’t called an AcuraJet instead?”  It’s powered by the HF120 Turbofan motors, rated at 2,000-pound thrust-class with air start up to 25,000 feet, a 4.5 thrust/weight ratio, and 5,000 hours between overhaul.  That’s all a foreign language to me, but it’s said to result in best-in-class durability and reduced operating costs, something we can all surely appreciate.

Also on display in the private hangar were the ScienceofSpeed-built, stunning Nouvelle Blue Pearl 2017 Acura NSX customized for this year’s SEMA trade show in Las Vegas by Chris Willson and his team from Chandler, Arizona.  Ride-and-drive opportunities were made available on a first-come, first-served basis for attendees who wanted to take a lap around the block in Scottsdale’s Kierland area in a stock NSX.  The event was a collaborative effort by Phoenix’s 3 area Acura dealerships (Peoria, Scottsdale, and Tempe).

My friend Rob and I enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and beverages while having a look at the cars and chatting with other attendees.  And the test-drive later that evening in a “Curva Red” 2017 NSX did not disappoint.  The car drives, handles, and performs like nothing else I’ve ever driven.  If I play my cards right, I’d like to get my hands on one for a full 7-day evaluation someday.  I’ll be sure to bring you all along for the ride.

Premium parking for local NSX Club of America members was made available right in front.  I drove my 1992 NSX, of course, and was one of several “Formula Red” owners in attendance at the program.

Nice sunset overlooking the Scottsdale airport.

Ice sculpture!

Some of the night’s testers.

TLX A-Spec on display as well.

I had my Legend GS sedan out and about yesterday to clean out some cobwebs.  The car has a tendency to lose its battery charge over a few weeks’ time if not regularly started and driven, but purrs like a kitten once fired up.  I drove over to the Tempe area for a snapshot at the Mill Avenue bridge.  Temperatures were in the mid-80’s.

I celebrated a milestone on the way home.  The sedan has almost exactly 400,000 fewer miles on it than the coupe.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

NSXPO 2017 – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Posted in NSX, NSXPO on September 11, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  554,713

Odometer (NSX):  108,654

Trip Distance:

  • 2,912 Miles (Southwest Airlines)
  • 120 Miles (Chevy Spark Rental)

I had a family reunion this past weekend.  My “car club” family, that is.  For the third year in a row, I attended the annual gathering of Acura NSX owners & fans called NSXPO.  In 2015, the event was in Palm Springs.  In 2016, it was in Orlando.  And this year, it was in the Milwaukee area.  While I would have loved to have driven my car the 1,800 or so miles from Phoenix, I opted rather to take a redeye flight and rent a powder blue Chevy Spark for a few days.  It got the job done.

Hosting this year’s event was a team led by RealTime Racing’s Peter Cunningham, a seasoned and highly awarded race driver and the newly-appointed President of the NSX Club of America (NSXCA).   RealTime’s operations have always been based out of Wisconsin, which is convenient since one of the nation’s premier racetracks is located about an hour north of Milwaukee.  It’s called Road America and goes by the title “America’s National Park of Speed.”  Now after 60 years, the 4-mile course is home to over 400 performance driving events annually.

It seems that with each year, the size and scope of NSXPO expand.  Now covering 4 full days and two half-days, the event drew participants from across the United States as well as internationally.  Many drove great distances to attend.  Schedule wise, I missed out on the Road America events on Wednesday & Thursday, but made it to some special tours on Friday and the Concours d’ Elegance on Saturday.  Best of all, I reconnected with over 40 friends, all while enjoying great weather & food.

Thanks to a late evening dust storm at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, my delayed flight to MKE caused me to arrive at the large Osthoff Resort at a pretty crazy hour:  4:04 in the morning.  I found the suite I was sharing with my friend Jhae and crashed out for a few hours.  Venues for Friday’s activities were laid out in a logistically favorable order – working our way south with our first stop at RealTime Racing in Saukville.

Lunch was picnic-style in the town of Mequon on the western shores of Lake Michigan, a body of water so large it felt like we were perched along the ocean.

From there, we made our way to the RealTime Collection Hall, established in July 2016 and now extensively stocked in vintage and collectible Honda & Acura automobiles and memorabilia.  My heart of course is partial to the two Acura Legends in the collection, but perhaps my favorite car now is the 1981 Honda Accord Limousine which was stretched 42″ and comes complete with a Betamax video cassette player and two telephones.

Check those amenities!

Capping off the night in style and class, we took over the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown.  The architecturally distinct and ultra modern building made a picturesque backdrop for the 100+ NSXs lined up along the front driveway.  We enjoyed a banquet style feast inside from 5 different food stations while a silent auction was going on.

My rental car didn’t even get moved on Saturday, which was nice.  Our activities centered around the Osthoff Resort.  Catching up on sleep from the prior late night, I didn’t creep out of bed until nearly noon – just in time to grab a burger & brat along the banks of Elkhart Lake and wander out onto the dock.  I ran into Acura President Jon Ikeda and Acura NSX Project Leader Ted Klaus while checking out the cars parked on the lawn for the Concours d’ Elegance (Jon is at right here).

Around 4:00, fellow Arizonan Jhae Pfenning and I helped coordinate a drive around the historic race loop that was once a professional race circuit on public roads before the construction of Road America.  Cocktail hour started at 6:00 p.m. in the Grand Libelle Ballroom, and dinner kicked off an hour later.  I enjoyed sitting among a few Wisconsin locals at my table.  David Hobbs, British race driver and NBC sports commentator, addressed the congregation while we dined.  It was announced that the 2018 NSXPO date and location will be September 27 through October 1, in the San Francisco area.

My departure day was Sunday, but I squeezed in a visit with a few local friends before hitting the airways.  First was my friend Michael who drove his family all the way up from Chicago (about a 2 hr drive) to have lunch with me in Glendale.  It was great to reconnect with him (and his Vortex Blue TSX).  And the next was with Ryan who’s local to Milwaukee and who I’ve known “online” for a couple of years but hadn’t met in person.  He brought his red TL out for the occasion.  Thanks Mike and Ryan!

Mike’s TSX

Ryan’s TL

My 3.5 hour flight home was made shorter by the fact that I was seated next to friend and colleague Chris Willson.  Chris runs a Chandler, Arizona-based NSX & S2000 performance facility called Science of Speed and holds a leadership role as Treasurer with the NSXCA.  We touched down in Phoenix around 8:00 p.m. on Sunday to a brisk 100 degrees.  Home, sweet (hot), home.

My hat goes off to the NSXPO 2017 planning committee for the countless hours of effort invested in pulling off what truly was a “September to remember.”

A 6-minute video and some additional photos follow!

Leaving the Integra at PHX airport East Economy lot (4 days of parking cost me $44 – ouch)

Dashboard of my Chevy Spark LT.  I rolled 26,000 on that thing.  This was my 2:08 a.m. arrival.

I found Waldo!  Waldo, Wisconsin that is (population 503).

Peter addressing the group at RealTime

Such a colorful weekend

Couple of imposters in our midst…

With Craig who drove all the way from California in his 57,000-mile NSX

Complimentary colors

RealTime Collection Hall (RTCH) with TLX-GT

Honda Heaven

Photo with Peter, May Lee, Chris Willson at RTCH

NSX lineup at Milwaukee Art Museum

NSXs for days!

Okay, sure!

Peter C and John Watts, from Acura

Morning view on Saturday from the balcony of my room at the Osthoff

Very special (and rare, 1 of 2) 1998 NSX Zanardi Prototype

Hand-controlled 2017 NSX

Check that stick shift lever!  It actually controls the throttle & brake

Anybody hungry?  Brownies for lunch.

Dock extending into Elkhart Lake

Text from Peter when I dropped him a note thanking him for the hospitality.

Rolling 240,000 on the Integra on my way home from the airport

Acura NSX “WestFest” 2017 – Las Vegas, Nevada – May 4-7

Posted in Nevada, NSX on May 7, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  552,434

Odometer (NSX):  107,620

I have to give my friend Tony Ciervo some credit.  The Malibu, California native is the original owner of a 1991 Acura NSX in Berlina Black that’s about to roll 70,000 miles.  Now, that’s not a huge mileage achievement by any stretch, but can you imagine buying a car new and keeping it for over 26 years?  That’s commitment.  “What do you do for a living?” I asked him, noting that I pegged him as a bit of a brainiac/nerd from the get-go.  (Maybe it was the socks w/ sandles he was wearing).  “I’m a mathematician,” he said.  “Go figure,” was my response.  He started laughing.  It took me a minute to recognize the pun that I’d just created.  Gotta love someone with a sense of humor.

The NSX Club of America (NSXCA) has a strong regional chapter in the southwestern United States.  And what better way to round up a few crazy car-people than setting up a meet in the city that never stops partying – a city that receives 41 million visitors each and every year.  Cinco de Mayo weekend saw about 60 NSXs overtaking the streets of Las Vegas, Nevada in a 3-day event called “WestFest,” put on by region leader Les Rowe with the help of a handful of other volunteers.

In attendance at the event were people and cars from an assortment of demographics.  There were members who flew in from around the country and even one guy from Japan.  The cars ranged in model year from 1991 through 2005 when the first generation ended, and we even had a few new, second-gen 2017 NSXs in the mix.  One of them was driven up by none other than Acura’s own Kelly Lynch from the Torrance, California-based Public Relations team at headquarters.  We were glad to have her and her sister Jody joining in for the fun and games.

Our host hotel was a long-time Las Vegas landmark since 1986, the Gold Coast casino with its 87,000 square feet of gaming space.  Conveniently located within the lobby is a TGI Friday’s restaurant and a Java Vegas coffee shop, both of which saw plenty of my business over the course of our event.

For me, one definite highlight was reconnecting with my buddy Fred (above), who I’ve known for upwards of 13 years but who I hadn’t seen for about 10.  At that time, we were both driving Acura Legends and crossed paths at various meets.  Oddly enough, we think the last time we saw each other was at NALM 2007 in Las Vegas.  Here, in fact, is a photo of us together at the dinner table during that event (I’m second from left, and he’s at the far back of the table on the right).  Time flies.

So it seems fitting that exactly 10 years later, we’re back doing the same thing but with NSXs instead.  Fred has a “Midnight Purple” 1995 NSX with over 180,000 miles on it that’s wearing Hawaii plates.  It’s been all over the country, and unlike a lot of NSX owners, Fred isn’t afraid to “daily drive” his.  My kind of guy.

My trusty 1992 Formula Red NSX performed flawlessly on the 300-mile trip to Las Vegas, delivering ice cold air conditioning and as much comfort as can be expected from a 25-year-old, two-seater sportscar.  I did take the opportunity to rock out to the Top Gun soundtrack on audiocassette – specifically, “Danger Zone.”  The car rolled over its 107,000th mile somewhere along the way.

On Friday, our group was hosted by a dealership called Findlay Acura about 20 minutes away in the suburb of Henderson.  General Manager Kevin Hicks rolled out lots of red carpet for us, including a taco truck, audio entertainment, and these lovely ladies.  We enjoyed spending a few hours at his facility and we were even able to send a couple of club members to the roof so they could capture an aerial photograph of the parking lot.

There was a go-karting event in the afternoon at Gene Woods Racing Experience but with temperatures pushing triple-digits, I opted out.  I spent the evening hunkered down in air-conditioned environments including a bar called Charlie’s where I met a drag queen named Farrah Moan.  I hadn’t heard of her, but apparently she’s kind of a big deal on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”  Things went smoothly until my friend Tony got his bare foot (he was wearing flip flops) stepped on by her high heel.  That’s what you get, Tony!  Haha.

Despite the fact that most people who visit Vegas don’t stray too far from the Strip, there’s actually plenty to do outside city limits from a recreational perspective.  Club member Chase Heath developed a 200-mile scenic drive route for Saturday’s activity including waypoints at Mount Charleston and Valley of Fire State Park.

I elected to join for just the second half of the drive, so I met up with the group at Aliante Casino for lunch and hopped in with the caravan for the afternoon portion.  But before that, I made a special visit to my friend Jeff’s place.  Jeff has been in my “car family” for well over a decade now.  He went from a 1993 Legend coupe to a 2003 CL and now to a 2008 TL.  It just so happened that my visit fell on his 41st birthday.  He took the NSX for a spin and enjoyed it.

Our caravan of 43 NSXs rolled out for an afternoon in the red rocks of the Valley of Fire.  The scenery feels a bit surreal – curvy roads that cut through vivid sandstone rock formations.  You feel like you’re in a car commercial out there.  We sure enjoyed ourselves and we got plenty of attention in the process.  I just happened to fall in line with 5 other Formula Red NSXs when we got back on Interstate 15 for the trip back to the hotel.

Things concluded in the ballroom at Gold Coast, with our banquet dinner, awards presentation, and closing remarks.  It was truly a memorable event and gets me excited for NSXPO which will be held in September in Wisconsin

I knew I’d found the right spot when I saw a fellow NSXer on the 2nd floor of the parking garage

Not bad accommodations

All checked in and credentialed

Separated by 16 years

May Lee from the NSXCA leadership, me, Les Rowe (SW Chapter leader), Kelly from Acura

Arrival at Findlay Acura on Friday morning

Group shot!

NSXs for days

Back of T-shirt design.  It’s supposed to be a poker chip.

Nouvelle Blue Pearl really pops in the sunlight.

More from dealer day.

With Fred from San Diego.

Group shot

In the NSX with Jeff

Group drive to Valley of Fire


Caravan of red NSXers on I-15 south

Banquet dinner venue at Gold Coast casino

Hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride!

PAPA Event at European Motor Studio (EMS) in Chandler, Arizona

Posted in NSX, PAPA on March 23, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  151,266

It’s been almost exactly five years since my friend Scott and I got together in a couple of red sportscars for this photoshoot at the Hayden Lakeside parking garage in Tempe, Arizona.

The date was Wednesday, May 23, 2012, and the hue of Scott’s 1979 Porsche 928 was nearly identical to that of my Formula Red 1992 Acura NSX.  Great minds thought alike.

That was toward the beginning of a longstanding friendship with a guy who’s just as nutty about cars as I am, and this story is one about a company he built from the ground up.

One of the many ‘car organizations’ I’m currently a part of is the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA).  The group has been around for 18 years and is comprised of automotive journalists from around Arizona.  Today, active membership is around 40 or 50 individuals and meetings are held about once a month.  PAPA’s latest activity was held on Wednesday evening in Chandler, Arizona at the home base for one of the Phoenix Valley’s premier classic European sportscar restoration shops & dealerships.

European Motor Studio (EMS) in name was born in the summer of 2013, but the business – in a lot simpler sense – had existed since long before that time.  Entrepreneur Scott Utter first started wheeling and dealing in collector cars starting when he was 14 years old.  His first car was a gold 1985 Jaguar XJ6 when he had his learner permit.  He sold it for a $2,500 profit, and the rest is history.

Today, EMS has grown into a full time job for Scott and the 4 employees he’s brought on.  He also employs a part time mechanic who is brave enough to dig into 12-cylinder Italian engines.  “Anything I can help you guys with?” I asked as I was setting up a few materials for our group’s arrival.  “Sure,” they said, “just rebuild that V-12 sitting over there on the ground.”  I replied, “It would be worse off than it is already.”  And that’s the truth.  The level of complexity in some of those cars is uncanny.

Most of Scott’s business is carried out online – and around the world.  He’s recently shipped collector cars to Germany and Australia (freight to Europe, by the way – isn’t too bad.  The car goes to the port at Long Beach, California for $350 and then takes a $1,700 boat ride to Europe, arriving in 3-4 weeks).  Most of the inventory tightly packed into his holding warehouse consists of models I can’t even correctly pronounce, with price tags near the market value of my house.

For example, right now he’s sitting on an orange 1971 Lamborghini Espada 400GT with a buy-it-now of $170,000.  My favorite vehicle in current inventory is the 1991 Porsche 911 964 Turbo for a cool $120k.  Maybe that’s just because of my readily-apparent obsession with cars from the early 1990s.

We extend thanks to Scott and his team for hosting us.  Next time, let’s incorporate some test-drives!  Haha.

Refreshments are served

Our group getting the lowdown on some of the EMS inventory.

Lineup of Lotus Esprits

80’s Mercedes – isn’t that a song?  And a French ‘Citroen SM’ – in itself, a very special car.

PAPA member Sandra Munoz had her sights set on this 1971 Land Rover in pastel green.  It seemed like it would be a fitting vehicle to take on some sort of African safari.

Getting a look at the shop area where restorations take place, with a very rare Lamborghini Islero in the background – produced only between 1968-69 (and only 125 total units).  That blue is a factory color!

That green Lamborghini Espada is a factory color too, believe it or not.

Here’s the posh interior of a 1985 Maserati Quattroporte III Saloon with fewer than 30,000 original miles.

$20k for some luxury like that!