Archive for the Road Trip Category

1999 2.3CL Acquisition, Utah Trip, JCCS, and Legend Meet

Posted in CL, Legend, Road Trip on October 20, 2020 by tysonhugie

Chris from Baltimore gets upset with me when I don’t start a blog post with a proper odometer reading.  “COVID changed everything,” he said.  Well Chris, I’m here to set the record straight and not only deliver a single odometer reading, but I’m going to give you ten of them.

I’ve sorted them in descending order.  Now, here’s the game: In the comment section, I need you to tell me which car aligns with which reading.  I’ll check your answers and see how you did.

Odometer Total:  2,226,058

Odometer Average:  222,605

I have to catch you up on a few things.  I stepped away from the computer for a few weeks and somehow another car landed at the house.  These things happen when you least expect it.  

The important thing about this latest arrival is that it completes this puzzle:

While a full photoshoot is still pending – and unfortunately I don’t have all the cars in a single color – the lineup is all accounted for, and I’m excited to introduce the latest member of the family:  My Milano Red 1999 2.3CL Premium.  This car arrived in Phoenix last week from San Diego, California where it had spent its entire life.

With just 138,000 miles on the odometer, it comes in at one of the lower mileage cars in my collection.  Its condition and color/5-speed trans configuration made it too perfect to pass up.  Milano Red was a one-year-only color for the final year of the first-generation 1997-99 CL.  

The CL is also only the second Acura I’ve owned (out of 22 total now) that was built in the United States.  It was an important model at the time because it was both designed and manufactured in America.  According to the VIN sticker on the driver door jam it came off the assembly line in Ohio in August 1999.

While maintenance records on this car were few (read: completely absent) I do know that the clutch is new since the selling dealership delayed me a few days while inquiring about the car since it was not yet ready to show/drive.  I also see that drive belts look relatively new, but the car will definitely need a few items of preventative maintenance for good measure and peace of mind.  

Here’s a video showcasing the delivery and first impressions for my YouTube audience.

The first week of October, I took an 1,800-mile road trip to visit family and friends in Utah.  My chariot of choice was the 1994 Legend LS, which had been begging to roll the 575k-mile mark for some time.  It performed well, and I enjoyed the chance to connect with family members who I hadn’t seen since May/June during my PMC Edition road trip.  

The fall colors were in full bloom in Providence Canyon in Cache Valley of northern Utah.  My dad & stepmom and I took a 5-mile hike to soak it all in.  The running joke is that here in Phoenix, we don’t get changing colors of leaves.  Instead, we get changing colors of license plates as all the snowbirds from Michigan and Minnesota come in for the winter season.

The highlight of the trip was definitely picking up my 90-year-old grandma and taking her about 25 miles north to the Idaho state line.  We cashed in some lottery tickets and came home $74 richer.  

While the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) was cancelled much like so many other events in 2020, we did still get a group together of locals for a very informal drive to the Superstition Mountains in northeast Mesa a couple of Saturdays ago.  Here’s a video and a few photos.

One of my many car show traditions that was modified this year was the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach.  This year, it went to a ‘virtual’ format.  My 1996 2.5TL was featured in a YouTube video.  It’s in here at 6:55.

My mom had a long layover on Sunday and we had enough time for a late lunch, so I borrowed my friend Devan’s six-door, three-row 2000 Lincoln Town Car funeral limo to pick her up.  What a floaty awesome boat.

The ILX got some new wheels thanks to a cheap Craigslist find.  Some of you may recognize these 17″ “waffles” from the 2007-08 TL Type-S.  These ones are chrome, and I don’t really mind it.  The car rides nicely on 235 width tires as opposed to the 215s that it came with.

Coming attractions:  Tomorrow, Acura is putting me into a Fathom Blue 2021 TLX for a seven-day evaluation, and in the coming weeks/months I’m also going to be doing reviews on a fancy Odyssey Elite and a Civic Type R.

Talk to you soon!

Great Escape: 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition 6-State, 3,000-Mile Road Trip

Posted in Road Trip, TLX, Utah, Vehicle Reviews on June 15, 2020 by tysonhugie

TLX Odometer Start 5/29/2020:  2,233

TLX Odometer End 6/12/2020:  5,369

Trip Mileage:  3,136

Acura gave me the key to a 2020 Acura TLX for two weeks, and I used it to deliver pizza & garlic bread.  Before that phrase prevents me from ever getting a demo car from them again, let me explain.

My grandpa’s favorite pizza place, Fredrico’s, is located 400 miles away from his home.  He’s nearly 90 years old and doesn’t get to travel as much as he used to, so his opportunities to taste Fredrico’s food are few and far between these days.  But I crafted an idea of a way I could make it happen as part of a summer road trip.  The strategy involved a to-go order, a cooler, and effective time management to get the meal delivered six hours away.  It worked out perfectly, and here’s the video of my arrival right on time at 5:00 p.m. for dinner in St. George, Utah.

The pizza run was just one of many rewarding aspects of my over-3,000-mile, 6-state, 12-day road trip in a new car that was allocated to me by Acura for press use.  And the experience was exactly the great escape I’d been needing after being cooped up in quarantine for a couple of months.

The year 2020 has taken each one of us for a pretty unpredictable ride.  What started out as an anticipated year of celebrations for me – car meet-ups, a high school reunion, and family festivities – started cascading like a row of dominoes as every event cancelled in sequence.  And two months into what became a worldwide health crisis, I learned that the future and stability of my own career was in jeopardy.  A mandatory unpaid furlough added to the drama, but I engineered a way to turn that downtime into some serious up-time.  Enter the Acura TLX.

I’ve followed the limited-production TLX “PMC Edition” since it was first introduced in a press release on April 11th, 2019.  In fact, I knew about it a day prior, because Andrew from Acura Public Relations clued me in privately via email a day in advance.  His email stated, “I think you’re going to like this one.”  Indeed, I did.

Even before that, I’d followed the evolution and launch of the first-generation TLX for a long time.  I was present in January 2014 when it debuted in concept form at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.  I met Jarad Hall, its lead designer.

The TLX production model was unveiled 3 months later in New York.  I first drove one that August, and in February of the following year I secured one for a thorough road test via some Arizona scenic byways.  It’s now been 5 years since I really had much of a chance to spend time with one.  Until now.

I flew from Phoenix, Arizona to southern California on Friday morning, May 29th with as many precautions as I could possibly put into place.  The entire travel experience was somehow new for me, despite being such a seasoned traveler:  Mask regulations, distancing practices, in-flight announcement changes, sanitization measures, new signage, and modified boarding procedures.  It was a unique opportunity.  Andrew picked me up in the PMC Edition #027/360 with 2,233 miles on the odometer, and the adventure started from there.  I had lunch with a fellow Acura enthusiast who brought out his 1988 Integra Special Edition.  Aren’t those white wheels so 1980s?

My first order of business was getting back home to Phoenix to load up the car with luggage since I’d flown to California with only a backpack.  While there, I tried the TLX on “for size” by introducing it to the heritage Acura vehicles in my garage.

The trip route was intentionally designed to minimize ever having to re-use the same stretch of road.  And aside from a few small areas, I succeeded in that.  For 3,136 miles, I made my way through California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada.  I reconnected (at a safe distance whenever possible) with family & friends, mapped out some roads I’d never seen before, and saw some of Mother Nature’s finest landscapes in the Rocky Mountains.

No interstate adventure would be complete without saying hi to some of my fellow Acura enthusiast brothers and sisters, so I made a special point to arrange a meet-up in Salt Lake City with friends including Sunny, Trevor, and Shaun who brought out their TSX, TL, and RDX respectively.

The trip’s capstone was a 3-day weekend in a small town nestled at the base of the Grand Teton mountain range called Jackson Hole.  As home to about 10,000 people, Jackson acts as a hub of recreation for that region.  In the wintertime, skiers swarm the town for the opportunity to hit the 3 ski areas, and in the summertime, there are dozens of hikes and activities to entertain people in the great outdoors.

My dad & stepmom joined for that leg of the trip.  We took an 8-mile early-morning hike at Bear Paw Lake in Grand Teton National Park, where we had the place nearly entirely to ourselves aside from a few mosquitoes and other forms of wildlife.  Bear sightings, for better or for worse, were zero that day.  We had some fun capturing ourselves on the Town Square live webcam stream from multiple angles, as shown in the trip recap video below.

Climbing out of Jackson on Highway 22 to the west, the ascent sharply climbs from about 6,000 feet to about 8,500 feet with 10% grades and avalanche slide paths via the Teton Pass.  I chose this route because it provided the most direct access to eastern Idaho where I stayed at my uncle Jeff’s cabin for a night.  With temperatures in the low 30s that day, there was a likelihood I’d run into snow and I was optimistic I’d get to put the TLX “Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive” to a test, but aside from wet roads and heavy fog, I had plenty of traction to get where I needed to go.

I added a few hundred extra miles to my trip in Idaho because I wanted to reconnect with a couple of friends there.  After passing through small towns like Arco (“first city in the world lighted by atomic power”) and seeing what there was to explore at Craters of the Moon National Monument (basically, an abundance of lava caves), I dropped into the city of Twin Falls along the Snake River.

My friends Josh and Pete met up with me there for the best all-you-can-eat sushi in the state.  Josh also presented me with a custom, hand-built Hot Wheels display board that I’ll post photos & videos of in the coming weeks.  The Idaho hospitality was definitely very much appreciated!

My return to Phoenix included a few more stops to see people as well as the aforementioned Fredrico’s Pizza delivery run.  I made the most of each and every checkpoint along the drive home, even popping in to say hello to my friend Casey who works at the Shell gas station in small Mona, Utah off Interstate 15.  My entire handwritten fuel log – or at least the 13 fuel stops since starting out in Phoenix – was left in the glove compartment for posterity.

It’s hard to believe six years have passed since I first laid eyes on a TLX – the design is modern and the car drew compliments everywhere I took it.  I hadn’t even made it out of Orange County California without a fellow driver rolling down the window in his Mazda and waving to get my attention to ask, “How much is the A-Spec?”  And the coolest part of my drive experience was the fact that this particular TLX wasn’t just any A-Spec, it was one of only 360 total cars hand-assembled and hand-painted at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.

I reluctantly gave the key back to my Valencia Red ride, but will forever enjoy the memories that were created on this trip.  The TLX PMC Edition was the perfect travel companion, delivering 28 miles per gallon thanks to an eco-minded 9-speed transmission that revs low at freeway speed.

I found the TLX’s 290 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 more than ample to crest the mountain passes (and overtake slower traffic) with ease, and I was spoiled by the car’s awesome stereo system and driver-assist technology.  Even the most vigilant driver can benefit from the occasional nudge of the steering wheel when beginning to veer from a travel lane, and even though I disliked that feature initially, I found it helpful as time went on.

And maybe I’m getting old (would you believe 40 is coming up next year?  Yikes!), but I fully enjoyed having an automatic transmission as a change of pace so I could more freely focus on other enjoyable attributes of the driving experience.

Now, who needs a pizza delivered and what toppings can I get you?

12 days in 12 minutes:

Flanked by 1994 Legends

Marble Canyon along Highway 89A, Northern Arizona

Entering Hildale, Utah

Mom representing with her Acura hat

…. And with her Crystal Black pearl 2016 RLX

Salt Lake City meet-up with my friend Eric and his 1989 L coupe

Another enthusiast meet up with Daniel of @redlabelspec (check out his awesome cars on Instagram)

Another state crossed off the list!

Bridge on Highway 89 in Logan Canyon, Northern Utah

Wyoming State Line

Teton Village, near Jackson Wyoming, with dad & stepmom

Throwback photo series – our family has a tradition of taking photos by this elk statue in Jackson.  Here we are in about 1992.

And in 1997.

In 2000.

In 2014, from my prior Jackson trip.

And finally in 2020.  The trees have changed, haven’t they?

Entering Grand Teton National Park

The highest peaks there are over 13,000 feet in elevation.

Visiting Uncle Jeff in Driggs, Idaho (check out that Chevy II Nova)

Arco, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

More from Craters of the Moon

Josh’s RDX and the TLX PMC Edition

Some glamour shots my brother Payton got of the TLX

Thanks for coming along!

Rev-Machine: My New “Super Sonic Blue” 1999 Acura Integra GS-R 5-Speed

Posted in California, Integra, Road Trip on December 27, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (1992 Integra GS-R 3-Door):  251,401

Odometer (1992 Integra GS Sedan):  73,376

Odometer (1999 Integra GS-R 3-Door):  136,246

Life’s too short to drive boring cars, right?

I think this is one of my favorite car commercials of all time.  And it doesn’t even show the vehicle!

Needless to say, the Integra GS-R is all about having fun.  And fun it is.

On June 8, 1999, a businessman in the motion picture industry bought an Integra GS-R with 6 miles on it for his 18-year-old son.  The car had been special-ordered through Santa Monica Acura in Southern California in a rare, two-year-only color called Super Sonic Blue Pearl.  Not only was the car equipped in the highest-available trim level short of the track-ready “Type R,” it was outfitted with an accessory underbody kit and fog lamps.  The MSRP was $22,555.

The showroom probably looked something like this at the time (see Super Sonic Blue Integra at top right).

The Integra stayed with that original owner for over 10 years before being passed along to its next owner.  Time went on, and Santa Monica Acura closed in 2015.  Meanwhile the Integra continued roaming around Orange County and ultimately ended up serving as a daily driver for a resident of Burbank who commuted every weekday to Frazier Park in the Tejon Pass, about a 120-mile round-trip each weekday.  Snowy weather is common there in the winter.

Well, now it’s 2019, it’s the holidays, and it’s my birthday tomorrow, so I’m as excited as that 18-year-old was.  I just bought that car.  And to me, it’s one of the most widely acclaimed sports coupes of the neo-classic era.  It’s time to diversify and evolve the collection of cars in my garage, and while some will not be going anywhere, I’ve decided it’s time to move the 1992 Integra sedan to its next owner so that gives me a space to fill with something a little more fun and a little more modern.  Introducing my latest ride:

I flew from Phoenix to Burbank on Christmas Eve to collect my latest toy.  My flight got in a little after 3:00 p.m. and I was scooped up at the airport curb in a blue Jeep Wrangler by the seller and his girlfriend.  We took care of business a few miles away at their home, and I was off on my way to enjoy the 8,200-RPM redline and the open road.  I got home just a few minutes after midnight on Christmas Day.

As for the plan with this Integra:  It will play a key role in a new YouTube series of restoration videos, much like the 8-episode playlist I’ve already put together on my 1996 SLX.  Feel free to tune in for updates from time to time.  The car looks decent in pictures and video, but I promise you this:  I made a list of 30+ things it needs, and that’s just the beginning.  First order of business was getting it registered and AZ legal which I completed on 12/26.

Things will move at a slow pace here until the 1992 sells and I have a little more financial wiggle room, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in that car, let me know!  Here’s the first in my series of videos on this latest ride.

Initial odometer reading

After a quick clean up of the wheels & tires

“Grand Prix engine,” it was pronounced.  It is really a rev-happy machine.

“The Second Most Fun Car on the Road.”  The photo speaks for itself.

GS-Rs separated by 7 model years.

My friend Ken had a funny comment about my Christmas gift to myself.

Rare sighting of a 1995 Legend SE at my local grocery store.  I left a note!

Other news – thanks to loyal reader Karna for hooking me up with a burlwood shift knob for the RL!

And check out my new garage art.  This one’s for you, Josh.  (See: Fantastic Fives)

And I finally got some of my RADwood posters on the wall.  That room is about done!

Have a great weekend!

Too SLXY for My Shirt: RADwood 2019 Car Show in Los Angeles

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, SLX on December 9, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX): 116,405

Odometer (SLX): 140,616

Odometer (ILX):  221,578

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  572,261

Trip Distance:  353 Miles

“Hmm,” Chris said from the passenger seat as he shrugged his shoulders.  “Sounds kinda scary.”

I was pretty deflated.  I had just proudly pinned the accelerator to the floor in my red brick of an SLX and it did the best it could to get up to highway speed.  Moments later, he gestured the making of a cross against his chest as we both collectively said our prayers that the old SUV would get us safely to Phoenix, still about 250 miles away, across the barren desert at nighttime with intermittent rain showers.

We made it.  A bit of wind turbulence and poor visibility (one of my headlights is so dim it barely works at all) were about the only problems we had.  We got home to Phoenix at midnight local time after an exhausting day of celebrating the totally tubular 1980s and 1990s in cars & culture.  This was the third time I’ve attended the ‘RADwood’ show in Los Angeles.  In 2017, I took the Legend, and in 2018, I took the Integra sedan.  I always have a riot when being surrounded by such awesome people & cars.

And this time – in a perfectly orchestrated inconvenience – the event was held up a canyon with zero cell signal.  So, from about 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., I spent the day doing what we all did during the 1980s and 1990s:  Actually making real-life conversation with people.  It was pretty freakin’ awesome.

My trip to RADwood was by way of two very special collector cars:  a 1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby (Greg’s) and a 1998 Ford Contour SVT (Jason’s) – both with 3-pedal transmissions.  Unfortunately for us, and for all other show-goers on Saturday, Mother Nature felt like giving us a few rain showers.  While the downpours held out aside from a little trickle here and there, the mud left me wishing I’d brought my galoshes.  It was so slippery, in fact, that I fell down while helping push a Honda CRX with a dead battery into its parking space.  Good thing I had a spare pair of pants on-hand.

At least the 1986 Preludes owned by my friends Chris Hoffman and Chris Green looked spectacular.

The star of the show – at least for me – was a special project vehicle that I had a small role in bringing to life.  It’s right here, pictured with none other than RADwood royalty Bradley Brownell himself, and my friend & automotive journalist Steve Ewing.

You’ll probably remember my old “Fir Green” 1997 Acura SLX that I picked up a year ago from a friend.  It ran & drove okay, but the transmission slipped in third gear and the seats were thrashed.  I enjoyed it for a few months around town as a Home Depot cruiser.  Its life was about to change, however, when Andrew Quillin from Acura Public Relations asked me in late Spring if I had a lead on any SLXs for sale.  I didn’t know of anything decent offhand, so I said, “You can have mine.”

And so it happened.  On June 18, Acura’s fleet management representative drove away in the green beast from my house in Phoenix and I wasn’t sure if or when I’d ever see it again.  Not only did I see it again, but, it had been transformed into a completely different vehicle.  Over the course of the next several months, the SLX spent its summer in Marysville, Ohio, at Honda’s Research & Development facility, getting a cosmetic facelift and a full mechanical transplant.  Behold:

Engineers James Robinson and Jordan Guitar led a team of people who swapped the tired, 178,000-mile 3.2 V6 with a race-tuned 2-liter turbo out of the Pikes Peak RDX racecar.  But they didn’t stop there.  The transmission was replaced with a push-button 10-speed automatic and the vehicle was equipped with Acura’s signature Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), plus a fully independent rear suspension.  The only subtle hint that this SLX is something a little different is the hue of Performance Red paint and the side exit exhaust forward to the left rear tire.

While official drag-race numbers have not yet been captured, I’m fairly certain the SH-AWD SLX would smoke my stock example in any performance event.  I haven’t yet driven it.  I only took a brief ride during a mid-November film shoot in the San Diego area.  The result of that film shoot is here, brought to life with the creative mind of Acura’s Zach Vlasuk.

As RADwood pressed on, I connected with friends and colleagues from near & far.  I also got to be the eyewitness (or even acting clergy?) for the official sale transaction of a white 1988 Legend coupe that changed hands from one owner to another during the course of the show.  The Acura representation across the show field was in fact pretty impressive:  Even the award-winning second-gen Legend sedan driven by Rob Pia was in attendance, and it won a well-deserved trophy at the conclusion of the show.

Congrats, new Legend owner Daniel!

I made it through the afternoon without any further mud-slides, and I had a great time rubbing shoulders with the leaders & engineers who brought the SLX project to life.  I even had about a dozen of them sign my dashboard with a silver Sharpie, including Executive Creative Director Dave Marek who drew me a picture!

As for the project SLX SH-AWD, it’s gone on to achieve all sorts of fame by way of automotive media outlets in every corner of the country and even internationally.  Here’s an example of one piece by Jalopnik.  And no, I’m not getting the vehicle back, but maybe I can sweet-talk Acura into a test drive.  After some race training, of course :).

Here’s my 5-minute video on this year’s RADwood, and a few photos follow.

Westbound in the SVT Contour

Barrett-Jackson is one of many sponsors & participants in the growing RADwood movement.  Pictured here is Matt Ferguson from Public Relations.

If I were to cheat on Acura, it might be for one of these.  Love it.

Resto-mod SLX sporting custom floor mats, wood trim, reupholstered leather, and a push-button transmission.  But – don’t worry – the tape deck stuck around!

My co-pilots Jason and Chris

Acura senior executive Jon Ikeda was out enjoying the party, too.

Even the former owner of the green SLX, Wyatt, popped in to say hello.

And now – if you are interested – here are a few shots from the filming of the reveal video, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the effort it took to produce.

Three SLXs in one place!  That never happens.

That engine is more than meets the eye!  And you should hear it!

Setting up a camera mount on my Radiant Red

“For sale by owner” – come and get it!

Actress Amy McRoberts

Andrew from Acura – one of the main brains behind the operation.

Old and new in a San Diego garage

And lastly, since I’m too lazy to put these in their own blog entry, I wanted to thank and recognize a few people who have visited my house in the last few weeks including automotive journalists Clint Simone from Motor1 and Sofyan Bey from Redline Reviews.

I also hosted some fellow Acura friends including my friend Leon who was in town from Los Angeles.

I hope all my readers had a nice Thanksgiving.  I spent it in southern Utah with my RDX-driving friend Shaun and with many of my family members.

Grandma

Mom (and her 2016 RLX)

And the newest member – 1-year-old Ava Mae, inside her Escalade.

Have a great week!

Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge in Yuma; San Diego & LA Quick Trip

Posted in Arizona, California, ILX, Road Trip on November 23, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  220,586

Trip Distance:  866 Miles

Sometimes it’s when you least expect it that interesting roadside attractions pop up and call your name.  I was about halfway from Phoenix to San Diego on Wednesday afternoon when I spotted a neat looking bridge off to the right side of Interstate 8 in Yuma, crossing the Colorado River.  I’d been making good time on my 6-hour trip and had a few minutes of daylight left, so I figured I’d take the next exit and give it another look.  As it turns out, the detour was totally worth the effort because I got to learn about a 104-year-old historic landmark.

This was also the second time I’ve found a noteworthy bridge in Yuma.  The other one was the abandoned Bridge to Nowhere that I blogged about five years ago.  Who would have thought that you could find such cool water crossings in a city that’s smack dab in the middle of the middle of the desert?

This bridge ended up being the “Ocean to Ocean” bridge, constructed in 1915, which crosses the Colorado River at the Arizona-California state line.  It’s a narrow roadway that over time became both structurally at risk and also functionally obsolete, since it was bypassed in 1956 by a newer roadway nearby on 4th Avenue, and then again by Interstate 8 in the 1970s.  Today it serves as a one-laner and carries a road called Penitentiary, named after the historic Territorial Prison State Park nearby.  A railroad trestle bridge runs parallel to it.

From 1988 through 2001, the Ocean to Ocean Bridge was closed to automobile traffic because of structural deficiencies, but a $3 million restoration project allowed it to be made safe once again for automobiles.  And even though my visit was short, it was fun to get to experience it.

The rest of my CA trip was action-packed with a night in San Diego and then a night in Hollywood.  The LA Auto Show’s press/media days concluded Thursday and I made it to the area in time to participate in an after-party at a place called Doheny Room on Santa Monica Boulevard.  The gathering was an annual reunion of about 40 auto-journalist friends of mine.  It was great to see old friends and make a few new ones.

That’s a picture of me with Sofyan Bey of Redline Reviews and Aaron Bragman of Cars.com.

I stayed at the InterContinental Hotel that evening in downtown Los Angeles which, at 73 stories, is the tallest building west of the Mississippi and has 889 guest rooms.  My friend Brian and I were on the 58th floor and the view was stunning.  My ears popped a few times from the pressure change when going up and down the elevator.  Cleverly, the lobby is actually not even on the floor/ground level.  It’s on floor 70.  So as a guest, you have to first go all the way upstairs to appreciate the view before you can proceed to your hotel room.  I thought it was pretty cool.

In typical LA fashion, traffic on Friday was hectic and it took me 45 minutes to Uber the 8 miles to retrieve my ILX in West Hollywood.  Parking the car at InterContinental would have been valet-only, and it would have cost me $46.  So I opted to ditch it in a residential area for the night.  Once I finally got behind the wheel again, it was a pretty straight shot to find Interstate 10 and take that all the way home to Phoenix.  My only pit stop was for a brief lunch stint in Palm Springs at a terrific taco place on Palm Canyon Drive.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Oh, and here are the fuel stats for the trip.  The ILX rolled 220,000 miles and achieved about 31 mpg overall.

San Diego night stay with my friend Ryan who has a 6-speed Accord 2.0

Working my way home on Friday afternoon

National Acura Legend Meet 2019 Recap & Videos: 5,600 Miles Round-Trip to Florida

Posted in Legend, NALM, Road Trip on October 24, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,169

Trip Distance:  5,600 Miles

It’s about time.  I’ve been home for over a week from the longest trip I’d taken since 2016, but I’ve been trying to play catch-up.  Below is some event coverage I’ve put together already that you may wish to peruse.

If if you’re more a watcher than a reader, you can fast-forward all the way to the bottom of this post because there are 4 YouTube episodes there for your viewing pleasure a total of about 40 minutes’ worth of runtime.  How about that?  You get to experience a 13-day road trip in a fraction of the time.  You’re welcome.  Haha.

NALM – the National Acura Legend Meet – has led me to various parts over the country over the course of its now-15-year run.  From New Jersey in 2011 to Sacramento in 2017 and Milwaukee in 2012 to Houston in 2015.  Which reminds me, I need to rummage through my closet and see how many prior-year NALM T-shirts I still have.

This year’s voyage was unlike any other.  As time goes on, long-distance road trips get more challenging:  I’m older, the car’s older, parts are tougher to come by, and it’s more and more difficult to break away from work for such an extended period of time.  But the reward – or the juice, as my boss likes to say – is totally worth the squeeze.  In other words, if it’s NALM, I’ll be there.  Plan it in Tierra del Fuego if you want to.  I’ll probably drive there.

I stayed with a variety of friends throughout the trip, which took me through 7 states as I stayed on (or close to) Interstate 10 the entire way.  One night was spent in the luxurious garage of Jason from Pawela’s Garage.  A couple of days later, I got to drive the Guinness World Records “Longest Continuous Bridge Over Water” (that’s a lot of qualifiers) which runs 23 miles over Lake Ponchartrain in the New Orleans area.  I’m a sucker for “world’s largest” anything, and most of you know that about me by now.  And I got to meet a long-time blog reader and friend named Carlos in Miami who proudly showed me his stack of records on his 2005 TSX.  Thanks, Carlos!

Key West, Florida is a destination that had been on my Excel “road trip bucket list” for some time now.  It felt like something I should probably cross off since I’d already be in the same state, so my trip was lengthened by 2 days in order to allow me to visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States.  And that side-trip was 100% amazing.  Coincidentally, I had a couple of Arizona friends in the area who invited me on a catamaran for a sunset ‘dinner cruise’.  Thanks again for that, Hy and Linda!

I checked in for the NALM festivities during dinner on day two of the event, while everyone was chowing down on tacos at Jimmy Hula’s in Ormond Beach.  My favorite part of the program happened the next day, when our Legends swarmed Daytona Beach – on the beach itself.  Daytona is one of the few oceanfront areas in the country where you can still drive your personal vehicles on the sand.  I guess when you consider I had my Legend in Los Angeles earlier this year, it pretty much drove from the west coast to the east coast this calendar year.

And perhaps as a reward for that achievement, my car was one of five Legends allowed to park inside the showroom at AutoNation Acura North Orlando, where General Manager Rob Breedlove was gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for our entire pack of Legend fans.  He staffed the BBQ grill outside while our group was addressed by Honda Brand Culture Champion Charles Schnieber about the history of Acura and some fascinating trivia.  Thanks Rob!

All too soon, it was time to conclude our festivities with a beachside pizza party & awards ceremony.  I was awarded a certificate for having the cleanest floor mats in the group, which admittedly was a little unfair because the mats I had in the car are only used for shows and I don’t actually daily drive with them!

My last stop before making the marathon trek westward was to visit an Acura enthusiast in Jacksonville named Andrew, who I can only describe as “me, but on the east coast.”  Andrew has a significant collection of cool cars, including a Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, an Acura Legend, two Acura CLs, and an Acura NSX.  He and his wife rolled out the hospitality in a big way and I felt right at home.

On my way home, I stayed another night with Jason in New Mexico – this time, celebrating a milestone with him.  (We’re kind of making this a habit).  This time, the achievement happened in his now-100,000 mile 2014 Lexus IS350.  I was happy to be able to celebrate with him.

You’re all asking:  How’d the car do?   Well, it delivered 27 mpg and performed pretty flawlessly for its age and miles.  The only maintenance items worth mentioning were a bottle of power steering fluid used up, a pair of new tires installed for precaution (they’d been a worn before I even left Arizona), an oil change, and replacement of a taillight bulb.  My comprehensive fuel log is posted below – totaling about $640 in fuel expense.

And in Excel form for the nerds in the house.

When it comes to adventures, this was definitely one of the most memorable I’ve had.  And I thank you for coming along on the journey with me!

Jason’s garage

“Prada Marfa” – a worthwhile offbeat destination in rural Texas:  It’s a fake Prada store in the middle of nowhere.

This sure felt like a marathon.

Checking out my friend Michael’s TSX Sport Wagon in San Antonio

Dinner group at Flying Saucer in San Antonio

Rolling 567,890.1 on the coupe with 234.5 on the trip meter

Tire replacement needed in Tallahassee – Discount Tire had my size & brand in stock!

Carlos’ TSX and DJ’s MDX in Miami

Headed out on the “Overseas Highway” to Key West – remarkable scenery

My two-night stay in Key West – highly recommended

Southernmost Point!

Unreal sunsets on our dinner cruise

I stopped by Acura of Pembroke Pines on my way back through the Miami area, and one of the individuals I met was Jon in his gorgeous Monte Carlo Blue NSX

Sean stopped by too – he’s a NALM veteran, as he and I attended the first event in 2005 together!

Sunrise view from host hotel, Coral Sands Inn, in Ormond Beach

Daytona Beach scenes

Chris and his 1994 Legend GS 6-speed.  He authored the last post on this blog.

“World’s Most Famous Beach”

No car club event is complete without plenty of good grub.

Dealer day photos

Presentation from Charles, with my Legend in the foreground

Houston meet-up with Josh and Mark

Home at last!

For your viewing pleasure!

Episode1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Hello from Key West, Florida

Posted in Legend, Road Trip on October 8, 2019 by tysonhugie

Hello!  Let me blow the cobwebs off this keyboard because I’ve been too busy driving to focus on the blog.

This evening I completed the first portion of a massive cross-country road trip from Phoenix to Florida and back.

As I type this, I covered 2,743 miles over 7 states in the last 5 days.  I reconnected with friends in every stop.  I drove across the Guinness world’s longest continuous bridge over water in Louisiana.  I drove under Mobile Alabama in a tunnel.  I had to buy 2 new tires in Tallahassee.  I got soaked in a thunderstorm in West Palm Beach.  I fought Miami snowbirds in traffic.  And now, I’m at the southernmost point in the United States.  In fact, on a map, it looks like I could damn near throw a football and hit Havana, Cuba.

And don’t worry, I have about 400 photos and video clips of it all happening.  You’ll see some of them in due time.

Now, time for bed.

Ending mileage 569,312

Long Beach Weekend: 2019 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) at Marina Green Park

Posted in California, Car Show, Del Sol, Road Trip on September 26, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (del Sol):  89,349

Trip Distance:  777 Miles

This was a fun way to break up the work week:  My friend Chris invited me to meet up and check out / test drive his very rare model year 2000 Acura Integra Type R.  The car had 48,000 miles on it and handled incredibly.  Like many ‘B-Series’ powered Honda cars, the Type R loves to rev.  Its tachometer goes up to a sky-high 10,000 RPM.  I appreciated the opportunity!

I’m starting to become a ‘regular’ at some of the Southern California car scene activities each year.  The Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS), now in its 15th year, has been a tradition of mine since I started going in 2014.  Back then, none of my cars were eligible because the cutoff for model year eligibility was in the 1980s.  It’s since been modified, and anything up through the mid-1990s is permissible.

The Key Lime del Sol made the trip this time.  This was the first time it’s made an out-of-town voyage since I brought it to Phoenix from Salt Lake City back in May.  I’m happy to report that the car did great.  Here are write-ups from my prior trips to JCCS.  With the momentum behind the event (growing so much that it had to change venues last year) I’m confident it will be a “thing” for many years to come.

I had a special guest at the house last Thursday afternoon:  My friend Ken from Pennsylvania rolled into town in his vintage 1981 Honda Accord.  His dedication to the event was impressive – even in the face of a breakdown somewhere in Wisconsin, he was able to put a spare fuel pump to use the following day and be back on the road without much time lost.  Driving with an old car in adventure to say the least.  It’s best to live by the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared.”

By the time Ken and I made it out of Phoenix during rush hour, then completed our trek across the desert, our arrival in Torrance at the Holiday Inn was a little before midnight.  The next day, we toured the Honda Collection open house (which I’d visited just recently in July).  I enjoyed a night out with a few local friends before tidying up the del Sol and calling it a night.  My wake-up call on the show day itself always comes very early – in this case it was 5:40 a.m. so I could be at a meeting point in Long Beach by 6:45.

(Why they had this sign up for the “14th” annual 2018 event from last year, I’m not sure.)

This was the largest JCCS in the event’s 15-year history.  Over 400 vehicles were displayed in organized fashion at Marina Green along Shoreline Drive.  The Honda section, as in prior years, was headquartered on the west end of the park.  Luckily I rolled in around the same time as some of my closest colleagues so I got to park near them.

A few particularly cool vehicles caught my eye throughout the day.  I enjoyed my friend Chris’ 1988 Dodge Ram 50 pickup truck.  A Dodge at a Japanese car show?  Yes.  That’s because his Dodge was technically just a rebadged Mitsubishi Mighty Max.  Which reminds me, speaking of rebadges, I think the SLX will make a JCCS debut next year.

At the conclusion of the show, some friends and I dined nearby at the Islands Burger restaurant and hydrated after a day in the sun.  The del Sol got me home safe and sound to Phoenix later that evening.  Until next year!

Rolling 88,888 miles at 88 miles per hour.  I pictured Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future:  “When this thing hits 88 miles per hour, you’re going to see some serious shit.”  Well, I didn’t see any of that, but it was still fun to celebrate.

Visit to the American Honda main office

Inside the museum with David and David

Lineup awaiting in staging lanes

Running into friends from all over

My friend Ryan’s 1988 Daihatsu Charade – love it

My buddy Logan

Dave Heath from Honda who works with Auto Shows & Exhibits

The Honda display was nicely laid out

Ever seen a lifted Lexus LS400 on mud tires?

Primary colors?  I think we were just missing blue

Dinner group before my return trip to Phoenix

Last but definitely not least:  The automotive journalist community is pretty small, and is better described as a close-knit family.  Recently, a colleague of mine named Miles Branman in the Southern California region was injured in an accident.

One of the media organizations (similar to PAPA, that we have here in Phoenix) called MPG (Motor Press Guild) has launched a series of auctions in fundraising support of Miles. Among the items up for grabs are some some exclusive collector items donated by Acura.  Check these out:

These are all one-of-a-kind finds, and they’re for a good cause!  The auctions end next Thursday, October 3 at 5:00 Pacific.

Thanks for looking.

Sedona Weekend Trip, Brochure Re-Creation, & Junkyard Visit to Desert Valley Auto Parts

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Legend, National Parks, NSX, Road Trip, SLX, Vigor on September 16, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  218,802

Trip Distance:  291 Miles

I have a few fun features to share today.  Mom planned a trip down from southern Utah in her new (to her) 2016 Acura RLX.  We met up in one of Arizona’s red-rock gems, the town of Sedona.  It was about a 2 hour drive for me on Saturday morning.  We enjoyed the seclusion and solitude of an Airbnb room about 5 miles up Oak Creek Canyon from the hustle and bustle of the town’s shopping plazas.  Saturday evening, we dined at Javelina Cantina and then enjoyed the sunset from atop the Airport Mesa.

On Saturday, after breakfast at Indian Garden (I highly recommend the “ranchero bowl”), we went to Slide Rock State Park, a recreation area just a few miles up Highway 89A from where we were staying.  The place gets its name from the slippery nature of the Oak Creek’s bed – after years and years of erosion making the surfaces smooth, coupled with mossy deposits, there is some great slipperiness to be enjoyed.  We saw a few people tumble to a very wet riverbed in what looked to be painful experiences!

The rocks were nice and warm, but the water was chilly!

The last stop on our weekend tour of the region was a quick jaunt out Highway 260 toward the small town of Pine, where we were anticipating the arrival of a friend who was running a 100-mile (!) race.  Unfortunately, as the day went on our timelines were crunched and mom had to head back to Utah, and I had to return to Phoenix.  I’m happy to report that our crazy friend did complete his event though.

ILX + RLX at the Airbnb

Shopping at “Tlaquepaque.”  We love saying that one.

I decided to have a little fun bright and early on a Sunday morning and stage my cars in “brochure” fashion like a photo that might have appeared in a 1991 through 1993 full-line pamphlet from Acura, since the 6 cars included there are the full 6 body styles that were available during those years.  Luckily I only had one neighbor drive by at 6:00 a.m. while I was on top of my step ladder looking like a goofball.

1992 Integra GS-R 251,000 Miles

1992 Integra GS Sedan 73,000 Miles

1994 Legend LS Coupe 566,000 Miles

1994 Legend GS Sedan 161,000 Miles

1994 Vigor GS 114,000 Miles

1992 NSX 115,000 Miles

Lastly, I took the chance to pay a visit to “DVAP” – better known as Desert Valley Auto Parts.  It’s a junkyard that was featured as part of a TV series called Desert Car Kings back in 2011.  I visited in 2018 with my friend Dane, and the video that I captured became quite popular, so I decided to go back and give it another whirl.  I filmed 20 minutes’ worth of banter and it received over 10,000 views in its first 10 days online.  A box office hit!

Have you ever heard of a Dodge Seneca?

Nice looking old pickup truck!

Some cool back ends on these next two Chrysler products.

This one looks pretty mean.

And some Chevy Bel Airs for good measure.

Guess what? The SLX got new leather.  Here’s a pic and video as the saga continues.

Thanks for reading, watching, and following, as always!  Have a great week!

Beating the Heat: Mogollon Rim Campout + SLX & RL Updates

Posted in Arizona, ILX, RL, Road Trip, SLX on September 2, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  218,415

Trip Distance:  250 Miles

I’ve left town every weekend for the last 6 weeks.  Exhausted doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.  But when it comes to making the most out of my summer, I live by a motto my mom emphasizes:  Carpe diem!  For this past weekend’s excursion, I ventured to the Sitgreaves National Forest in the mountain ranges about 2.5 hours northeast of Phoenix.  It’s a spot where temperatures typically range about 20 or more degrees cooler than the Phoenix valley.

Four friends and I found a great campsite just off Young Road, a couple of miles down a narrow dirt road that overlooked the Mogollon Rim and offered fantastic views to the south.  We set up camp and stoked the fire, then cooked burgers & brats over the flames.  Nobody had any particularly good ghost stories to tell as dusk fell, but we spent a good chunk of time proposing potential names for my friend Adam’s soon-to-be new dog.  More to come on what he ended up deciding.

We managed to avoid any run-ins with local wildlife, and the overnight low dipped to a pleasant 60 degrees.  Woody whipped up some delicious breakfast burritos with ham, bacon, and green salsa for breakfast the following morning.  All too soon, it was time to pack up the site and head back down to civilization.  The ILX fared well on the dirt road, though high grass in the median occasionally tickled the undercarriage due to ground clearance issues.

Thanks for coming along!

Camp all set up

Evening sunset looking south across the Mogollon Rim

Breakfast is served!

A relaxed Saturday morning

Soaking in the view

Headed out toward Payson, then Phoenix

Turning 218,000 miles

The vehicle I probably should have taken on this trip is the 1996 SLX.  I’m still getting comfortable with it – trying to gain a little more confidence in its roadworthiness.  I actually took a 350-mile road trip with it on Saturday, including a stop in a little mining town called Superior about 70 miles east of Phoenix.  It did great!

I like this old dealership.  Maybe a good investment as a place to store / display cars for someone?

I rolled 140,000 miles on the way home.

I also spent some time this weekend working on the RL.  Here’s an update video I filmed today, illustrating current condition and recent maintenance.  The engine bay got a detailing!

Hope the holiday weekend treated you well!