Archive for the Road Trip Category

2 Dayz Exploring AZ: 300-Mile Road Rally to Sedona & Flagstaff

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Road Trip, Vigor on March 25, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  113,079

Odometer (Integra GS-R):  251,087

Trip Distance:  316 Miles

Sometimes you just need to get away on a road trip to clear your head on an open interstate.  And sometimes that relaxing road trip morphs instead into an energetic hodge-podge of friends & vehicles, romping through the hills, braving tourist traffic, and occasionally getting a breath of fresh air.  I joined about 20 friends this weekend on a 300-mile excursion that became just that type of experience.

This group outing was born as a creation of my friend Saifonh, who emerged as a planning leader for what started as an overnight rally to view the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The route was later modified, the pit stops solidified, and the invites distributed.  Unlike most of the travel adventures I write about on this blog, this one wasn’t just for a specific make, model, or era of car.  This was open to anyone and everything – from a 415-horsepower Chevy SS muscle sedan 6-speed to a people-hauler Toyota Sienna XLE.  And that’s what made it fun.

We joked over the walkie talkies during a particularly technical section of Highway 89A that the Sienna, owned by my friend Ben, was doing a great job at hustling through the curves while keeping all of its juice boxes safely contained in cupholders.  And to be fair, the Sienna was likely the most comfortable ride of the entire bunch.  Between it and Corey’s LX450, there was room to pick up a few hitchhikers (or a soccer team) but the need never came up.  Maybe next time.

The drive route itself started on Saturday morning at my home in Central Phoenix, which happily opens its doors for friends and visitors as long as they agree to sign my (now 36-page) guest book.  I added a few line items to it as friends poured in and sampled pastries and orange juice before saddling up for the drive.

My friend Ryan made the trip from Utah to be a part of this adventure, so it seemed only fair that I’d provide his rental car.  Of the 7 available vehicles for the picking (my SLX is in for a transmission service), his weapon of choice was the Vigor.  I decided to take the Integra GS-R.  Joining our Acura family for the trip was Brandon in a TL Type-S.

We made our ascent on Interstate 17 and moved toward Prescott Valley, where the first checkpoint of our rally would have us meet up with Dane from Las Vegas in a red hot 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T.  Dane followed in line as we moved on through Highway 89’s twisties to the old mining town of Jerome which was bustling with tour buses & rental cars.

Knowing that a group of our size was unlikely to find a place for lunch there, we pressed on to Sedona just 28 more miles away.  Our lunch spot couldn’t have been prettier:  We were perched atop the mesa adjacent to the Sedona airport – luckily “Mesa Grill” was able to accommodate us on the patio.  Even Chepe the pup was welcome.

The last piece of road we got to experience on Saturday was my favorite of the day:  Oak Creek Canyon.  It winds through hairpin two-lane curves through the wooded forests and past dramatic red rock formations.  Though certainly best experienced in a sports car in fast motion, poor road conditions and heavier traffic forced us to take a leisurely pace, but I actually didn’t mind.  I had my moonroof open and a buzzy little 1.7-liter go-kart at my command and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our evening was spent at Southside Tavern on San Francisco Street, which graciously opened its entire back room for our party.  The group had a chance to relax and unwind after a hectic day on the road, and the mac & cheese bites offered a tasty snack.  By the time I got to Econo Lodge on Milton Road, I was ready to call it a night.

Ryan and I made a move pretty early the next morning and fueled up the vehicles (frosty from the night’s cool temps) before heading southbound for the 140-ish mile trip home to Phoenix on Interstate 17.  Thanks to our walkie talkie communication mechanism, we were able to banter back and forth for a couple of hours and it made the time fly by.

In fact, I think in the entire 300-mile loop and nearly 6 hours in the car, I never even turned on my radio.  Not that the AM/FM cassette would have given me much entertainment anyway.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!

Here in alphabetical order was the list of 15 participating vehicles.

  • Acura Integra
  • Acura TL
  • Acura Vigor
  • Chevrolet SS
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Stealth
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Lexus IS350
  • Lexus LX450
  • Mercedes-Benz ML430
  • Mercedes-Benz SL500
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Porsche Cayman
  • Toyota Sienna

Pre-departure breakfast

Kevin’s Accord Sport – loved this car!

Driver meeting hosted by Sai

Sai and George

That’s an experience – getting passed by my own car.  I enjoyed the view.

First checkpoint – Prescott Valley, Arizona

Corey’s LX at 270,000+ miles was the high-mileage king!

Onward we go.  I was behind the Cayman.  Far behind at times, haha.

Green machines atop the hill in Sedona.

Mesa Grill – our lunch spot near the airport.

And dinner spot – every good road trip revolves around the food, right?

Corey and Sai

Crisp Sunday morning in Flagstaff.  It got down to about 30 degrees.

I’m used to seeing all of this in my Integra.  Check engine, ABS, and 4,000+ RPM.  It’s fine.

Dropping off Ryan at the airport later that afternoon.

Couple last bits of news:  Check out this cool article written by my friend Nyko de Peyer about his recent inside look at the Acura Design Studio in California.

And get over to Bring a Trailer right this instant so you can view (and maybe bid on) my friend Dave Ekiss’ 1999 Integra in Supersonic Blue.  You need this car.  I need this car.  Some lucky person is going to buy this car.

Have a great week!

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!

“Radwood” 1980s-1990s Car Show in Los Angeles at the Petersen Museum

Posted in California, Car Show, Integra, Road Trip on December 3, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  73,102

Trip Distance:  762 Miles

Some things just get better with time.  And other things, even though not “good” by many definitions, still deserve a chance for recognition and appreciation.  Like this one:

Matt Farah, a notorious automotive journalist known for his podcast “The Smoking Tire,” made the comment during the closing awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Radwood show on Sunday afternoon, “To the guy with the Pontiac Bonneville SSEi, this is your show.  You’ve waited your whole life for this.” And he’s right – what other car show anywhere in the world welcomes a car like an Oldsmobile Ninety Eight or a Chrysler Town & Country wood-paneled convertible?

It’s those “malaise” era cars from the 1980s and 1990s that some of us grew up behind the wheel of, I’m happy to report that my third “Radwood” car show and celebration of culture from that two-decade era was a total success.  Here are write-ups from prior Radwood shows.

This time around, I took the opportunity to debut my new (to me) 1992 Integra GS sedan that I picked up in May in Southern Utah.  Of the couple hundred cars on display, I had 1 of only 2 second-generation Integras, and mine was the only 4-door “DB1” sedan version.  Dominating the playing field were German cars, especially BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche.  I was glad to have a little exclusivity, and at least I was able to park by some fellow Honda-heads, including David in his 1994 Legend and Mike in his 1989 Prelude.

My drive to Los Angeles was filled with traffic, rain, and traffic because of rain.  All of that contributed to making my normally-six-hour-drive take about eight and a half hours.  I spent a couple of days in West Hollywood part of town, including a meet-up with my friend Wyatt who has a 1997 Acura SLX that I got to drive.  What a ride!  It was a little clunky, top-heavy, and the transmission slipped, but it solidified my need to own one in the next year or two.

Radwood this time took place at the world-renowned Petersen Museum at the intersection of Fairfax & Wilshire just a couple of miles south of where I’d been staying in WeHo.  The lineup of cars headed into the venue quickly confirmed that I’d found the right place, and the 1983 Dodge van ahead of me got me high on exhaust fumes while we idled our way to the check-in staff and were directed to parking spaces. on the upper levels of the structure.  It took just a few minutes to get the car dusted off; my little Integra has only about 73,000 miles on it and has been extremely well preserved.

Throughout the day, I bounced around the parking structure interacting with friends I’ve made through the crazy automotive enthusiast network over the years.  For me these events are even more about the people who attend them than about the vehicles themselves.  Best of all, the 1980s and 1990s culture was well represented in forms other than the cars we’d driven:  Blasting on the loudspeaker were hits from Madonna, fanny packs and bright colors were the apparel of choice, and we were surrounded for just a few hours by the carefree, big-hair, analog lifestyle of the 1980s.  The chicken tenders and tater tots from the food truck weren’t bad, either.

Representing as sponsor for this event was Acura corporate, which surprised me, but I was happy to see it.  Andrew Quillin from the company’s Public Relations area had brought out a red 1991 NSX, a yellow Integra Type-R, an Integra from the RealTime race campaign, and the 1995 CL-X concept car which had to be transported via mechanical means other than its own, since it doesn’t have a drivetrain.  The booth drew a good amount of foot traffic throughout the day and I got the chance to briefly rub shoulders with people like Jon Ikeda who is the brand’s General Manager.

Speaking of star-studded encounters, I got to shake hands with a couple of YouTube celebrities including Ethan Tufts of Hello Road and Tyler Hoover of Hoovie’s Garage.  Tyler’s channel recently hit a half-million subscribers so I congratulated him on that well-deserved accomplishment.

All too soon, it was time to wrap up the festivities at the Petersen, and Radwood’s Bradley Brownell distributed 7 awards – not just for cars, but some were for wardrobe and wheels.  I rolled out of the parking garage a little before 4:00 p.m. and set my sights eastward for my 400-mile return trip.  With 1990s music on the playlist, of course.  Thanks for coming along!

Entering California

Traditional photo-stop in Desert Center, right off Interstate 10

Evening meet-up with Sofyan Bey of Redline Reviews

Saturday morning visit to Honda’s original headquarters at 4077 Pico Boulevard (circa 1959).

The SLX and the Integra

Spotted from the parking garage by Motor1’s Steve Ewing on the way into Radwood

My friend Rob’s Legend sedan looking fantastic

I loved the gear shift lever in this Oldsmobile.  It spells out “Reverse, Neutral, Overdrive,” and so on.

Does this car make you think of the movie Planes, Trains, & Automobiles?

So 80’s!

My friend Leon’s Mercedes S-Class “Grand Edition,” one of only 600 cars in that package for the year, in stunning Obsidian Black and complete with a cellular telephone.  Leon was taking care of important business when I captured this photo.

Here’s Ethan from Hello Road.

My friend Serge’s 4Runner was full of period-correct swag, including a Blockbuster rental video.  Be Kind, Please Rewind.

Pre-departure from the deck of the parking structure with Joseph and his amazing 1991 Integra GS.

My friend Brandon’s new 2007 TL Type-S manual.

Day Trip: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, National Parks, Road Trip on November 11, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  209,416

Trip Distance:  260 Miles

“Where should we meet up on Saturday?”

“Why?”

“Just so I can do a little mapping on times and distances.”

“So Why?”

That’s how a planning conversation about this trip could have gone.  Because, of all the places our group could have picked to rendezvous before venturing into the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, we picked the town of Why, Arizona.  And the term “town” is used very loosely, since it’s home to only about 100 people.  And, as we discovered, its only restaurant (Granny Mac’s Kitchen) is closed on Saturday – the one day of the week that we’d be visiting.  Guess we’ll have to sample Granny’s culinary creations on a future trip.

I’ve visited Why before – about 5 years ago, actually, and discussed a little about how its name came to be.  The intersection of State Routes 85 and 86 originally created a Y shape, but for safety reasons were later transformed to meet at a T.  It was here in Why, at the Why Not Travel Store where James Lee of Six Speed Blog and I awaited arrival of Jason from Driven for Drives.  In addition to snacks and drinks (though I was disappointed the nacho cheese machine was out of cheese), the Why Not store also sells Mexican automobile insurance policies for travelers who are on their way south of the border.  A liability-only policy runs $35 per day and “full coverage” rates vary.

We didn’t stick around long, because we had turf to cover a little south of Why.  Tucked into the far southern reaches of Arizona – literally, touching the international border with Mexico, is a special place that is remote in geography and picturesque in landscape.  Even now, when Arizona’s weather is at its prime and tourism should be at its peak, we had the park largely to ourselves.  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established 81 years ago in 1937 and sees just over 1/4 million visitors per year.  By comparison, another of Arizona’s parks, the Grand Canyon, sees about 7 million visitors per year.  I much prefer visiting the lesser-traveled park units.

Now with 3 cars in tandem – my ILX, James’ tester Corolla hatchback, and Jason’s Mazda 6, we visited the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.  It was named for a 29-year-old border patrol agent who was killed in the line of duty in 2002 by a Mexican drug smuggler.  The dangers of being so close to the border are very real, and even today, visitors are encouraged to travel in groups and only visit during the day.

A 15-minute overview film taught a little about the terrain and its history.  I noticed that a pair of hikers inquired with the park ranger about getting a token for completing one of the hikes, and later learned that any visitor who hikes 5 or more miles in the monument is eligible.  We also saw a 7 or 8-year-old take a “ranger oath” with his right arm extended.  Traditions like that make visits to the parks memorable.

The Ajo Mountain Trail was the main attraction for us, and despite the fact that it was rugged and unpaved for most of the 21-mile loop, we knew we had to check it out.  Per-car admission was $20 but to me it was worth it to be able to say I’ve “been there, done that.”  I led the way and kicked up a pretty good cloud of dust for my followers while we stayed in touch by walkie-talkies.  The trail extends eastward to the foothills and curves up to a panoramic lookout over the terrain.  The Sonoran Desert, we had learned earlier in the film at the visitor center, is notoriously one of the most “green” types of deserts, and even in summer displays a wide variety of plant life.  One of those plants, the Organ Pipe Cactus for which the monument was named, is native to the area and highly prevalent.

Since amenities immediately near the visitor center were few, we decided to back-track to the town of Ajo for a bite to eat at Agave Grill before splitting ways for the evening.  James gave his hamburger a little more pizzazz by adding avocado, bacon, and a fried egg.  Jason and I couldn’t help but play copy-cat and order the same thing.  The owner of the restaurant later came out to let us know how much the kitchen staff had enjoyed putting together our custom-ordered burger creations.

But the next time I visit, it’ll be on a non-Saturday so I can see if Granny Mac’s food compares.

Signage indicating proximity to Mexico.  Here’s where we headed south from Gila Bend on Highway 85.

Cab of an old pickup truck made into a fountain – with music playing from inside it!

Coyotes on the loose!

Your one-stop shop:

Jason received this text on his phone as we neared the border (though we didn’t cross it!)

Need a place to store your car?  Or your gun?  While in Mexico…

From the Why Not Travel Store:  “If you need a penny, take one.  If you need two, get a job!”

Interior of the OPCNM Visitor Center

Jason making some purchases

Headed out on the Ajo Mountain Road

Not a great place to have low clearance and low-pro tires!

Quick break near a summit on the trail.

Check the size of that saguaro cactus.

“Double arch”

Dinner spot at Agave Grill in Ajo, Arizona

The burger that wasn’t even on the menu.  We’ll call it, “James’ Juicy Creation.”

Hope you enjoyed coming along!

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

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

Odometer (NSX):  113,388

Trip Distance:  1,600 Miles

(Photo Credit:  Eric Iwasaki)

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

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

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

Here are links to my prior NSXPO Write-Ups:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

Top level of the Hyatt in SF, full of NSXs

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

Rolling out

With friend and fellow automotive journalist Jason Cammisa who stopped by

Group parked at Presidio

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

Lunch time

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

…. with only 8,300 original miles!

My car with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

A visit from Dom and his Fathom Blue ILX 6MT

Bay Bridge

Gas station at Alice’s in Woodside

Group on the dinner cruise

View of the AT&T baseball field from our cruise

Perfect name for a road!

Curves all to myself

Having some fun near Skyline Drive

Very amazingly preserved 1991 Berlina Black NSX with Ivory interio

Jhae and his famous NSX

Lots of colorful cars out there at Canepa in Scotts Valley

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

Check out that yellow interior!

Driving home through some severe dust storms on the horizon

Retro Rides: 2018 Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) in Long Beach, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Road Trip, Vigor on September 17, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  112,562

Trip Distance:  760 Miles

“How do you keep it smelling like that?” asked an attendee at last Saturday’s Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California, after poking his head into my 1994 Acura Vigor.  “What do you mean?” I asked.  “It smells just like an old Honda.  It reminds me of one I used to have,” he said.

As it turns out, the “old Honda” smell conversation came up more than once – enough to make the wheels in my mind start spinning.  Does the Car Freshner scent tree company need to develop a new scent, called Old Car?  I call dibs on royalties for anyone who takes the idea and runs with it.

This weekend, I joined 423 other participants at the largest show dedicated specifically to Japanese classics, in the southwest region and perhaps in the country.  Now in its 14th year, the show – dubbed ‘JCCS’ by long-time attendees or supporters, is now enhanced with expanded eligibility criteria.  Historically, showing a 1990s car required special consideration & approval because the cutoff for allowed model years ended at 1985.  Now, just about anything Japanese that’s up to & including model year 1995 is eligible.  The change comes at a time when so many venues – including Radwood shows, and the recent Japanese Automotive Invitational, are starting to devote special recognition to the “Neo Classic” 80s & 90s era.  Totally awesome.

JCCS took a thorough and organized approach to its execution – starting and ending on time, and even orchestrating roll-in and staging in an orderly fashion.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, as the Japanese (thus the reason why I drive Japan-built automobiles) are masters of precision.  Volunteers guided incoming vehicles to their respective assigned areas, but the traffic jam at the gate (and on the grounds) was definitely more than the Marina Green park is probably used to seeing on a Saturday morning at 7:00.

Model Citizen‘s Patrick Strong acted as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the day, spotlighting key exhibitors, rattling off raffle ticket numbers for prize winnings, and conducting the awards presentation at the conclusion.  Meanwhile, the lawn filled up with hundreds of Japan’s best creations:  in all, about 150 Nissan / Datsun vehicles, 87 Toyotas, about the same number of Hondas, some Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and a lonely Isuzu in the mix.  Some were stock, while others were highly modified.

As the day pressed on, I enjoyed bumping into some of the many people who make the automotive hobby such a rewarding pastime – friends from the Honda community poured in and it became a bit of a reunion for me.  I partnered with my friend Mike, who drives a 1989 Prelude Si, on content for our YouTube channels and caught up with colleagues from the Legend, NSX, and Integra clubs.  When the time came to grab lunch, I opted for the food truck on “vendor row” with the shortest line, which ended up being a crepe vendor.  It’s the first time I can say I’ve ever eaten a crepe with bacon and avocado in it – those were two key ingredients from the “California Sunrise.”

I was, of course, wearing my “Alive With Five” T-shirt commemorating my Vigor’s 5-cylinder motor.

Car shows aren’t always about coming home with “hardware,” but it’s rewarding when the judges recognize the vehicles that stand out in exceptional ways.  Winning honors in the Neo Honda & Acura category were my friend Rob Pia with his 1994 Legend LS sedan and Leon Palassanian with his 2001 Integra Type-R.  While Leon’s Integra technically falls beyond the 1995 model year cutoff, because the car’s generation started in 1994, it was eligible.  And at only 30,000 original miles on the odometer, it was a show-stopper and a crowd-pleaser.  It was one of two Type-R models on the show field – the other was a white Canadian-spec model.

I wrapped up my trip by chauffeuring a friend to Palm Springs and having a bite to eat there, before pressing on to Phoenix.  The late night drive was made better with Paula Abdul on the stereo – via cassette tape adapter, of course – with “Straight Up.”  It only seems fitting that a 1988 song accompany me home from what was an incredible day embracing an iconic era for automobiles.

Here is a 7-minute video capturing some of my trip as well as the show itself.  As always, pardon the amateur camera and editing quality!

And while you’re here, stop by ImportArchive.com.  My friend Darren (same who prepared the digital drawings of the cars in my garage) has spent 15 years collecting and scanning brochures of Japanese automakers.  I’ve contributed a few materials to his archive and I’m excited to see it grow.  Downloads are made available once he gets the items digitized (over 50,000 scans are completed to date).

Spectating attendees Steve & Zac making the rounds

This is the display I made up for the Vigor – including a quote from the original sales brochure

Friends stopping by to visit.

Nice 1987 Legend on show at the Honda (sponsor) booth

David drove down from the Bay Area in his 1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed

These folks must have been smelling that Vigor interior!

This is the 1993 Legend LS currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer website.  It is stunning, and can be yours if the Price is Right!

Let’s throw some non-Hondas into the mix – I can’t only show my fave brand!

Armando’s beautiful 1974 Mazda RX-4.

Lexus SC rear ends.

Look at that Land Cruiser!

Right-hand-drive was the name of the game.

Gorgeous Honda S roadster.

My friend Chris’ 1979 Accord

My friend Hyram’s 1990 Legend

Second-generation Integra lineup

Stopping in Palm Springs on the way home to see a Legendary friend, David.

 

Spy shot of me thanks to James of Six Speed Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I had this little newspaper clipping from 2008 framed to hang in the house.

Junkyard sightings from last weekend:  Vigor, Legend, Prelude 4WS.

Anyone catch the updates to the ILX for model year 2019?  Fancy front & rear!

And finally, I was thumbing through a 30-year-old Acura brand magazine.  There was an area where they highlight interesting news or reader submissions.  Check out this paragraph about / by none other than Estelle Getty who played “Sophia” on Golden Girls.

Now you know!  Have a great week!

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.