Visit to the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction

Posted in Arizona, Car Show on January 26, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,387

550387

Odometer (ILX):  190,802

190802

“You barely put a dent in that.”

esprit

That’s not a comment anyone wants to hear when they’re walking past an $800,000 supercar like music legend Steven Tyler’s Hennessey Venom, or a 1 of 1 Pontiac Kammback Trans Am, or a showroom fresh 47-year-old Chevy pickup with 400 original miles on it.

Fortunately, my friend Chris wasn’t talking about denting a car.  He was talking about putting a dent in this gigantic footlong jalapeño & cheddar sausage I picked up from one of the vendors at Saturday’s 46th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.

sausage

You’ve never quite seen an automotive buffet like the one in Scottsdale, Arizona this past week.  Over an 8-day period, some 1,700 collector cars found new homes in one of the best-known and widely-viewed auctions in the country.  For anyone with a hankering for a slice or two of literature and automobilia, that’s on the menu too.  Since 1989, Scottsdale’s venue for the Barrett-Jackson auction has been Westworld, not far from my home.  My friend Chris flew in from Baltimore to see what all the sights, sounds, and tastes had to offer.  We didn’t go home hungry.

barrett_tent

Chris and I attended the auction on Saturday morning.  Weather in the Phoenix area had finally broken from a 4-day stretch of rain – much to the relief, I’m sure, of the many people who had their prized, gleaming garage queens out in Westworld’s staging areas for display prior to being auctioned.  The ILX got stashed several miles away in the offsite parking lot and we caught a shuttle bus to the epicenter of activity.

tyson_chris_barrett

It was a star-studded afternoon:  Justin Bieber (Ferrari 458), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Chevelle), and Burt Reynolds (Trans Am) each took the mic at different times during the day to hawk their rides.  Chris and I made the rounds in both the interior and exterior staging areas.  High-dollar “Salon” cars had premium parking in the enclosed areas nearest the auction block.  Other cars – not quite as elite but still well out of my price range – resided in the external grounds shaded by tents.

nova

There didn’t seem to be much rhyme nor reason as to how the parking was arranged.  It wasn’t uncommon to see a Volkswagen Beetle parked next to a Hummer, parked next to a 1962 Chrysler.  But that’s what kept it interesting.  There was something for everyone.  And new this year, there was a live video stream on B-J’s website so that the “auction action” could be viewed by car enthusiasts both near and far.  In all, the week+ long festivities wrapped up with $102 million in sales, with the auction being attended by 320,000 people in person.

desoto

Now the automotive buffet got even more interesting.  My friend Jonathan Klinger from Hagerty called and offered a couple of tickets to skybox #11 in the auction hall – an exclusive opportunity to rub shoulders with the cast & crew from Velocity TV channel.  Not to mention, snacks and drinks were on the house, and the view from high above the show floor couldn’t have been better.  I’ve now been spoiled with skybox access twice, since last year I attended in Acura’s skybox when the 2017 NSX VIN 001 was auctioned off for $1.2 million.

barrett_view

Barrett-Jackson truly was a feast for all the senses.  Now if only I could have brought home some take-out.  In the form of a shiny new toy, of course.  Many thanks to the organizers of Barrett-Jackson for admitting me with a media credential this year!

Here’s a short video I captured of Bieber’s Ferrari on stage with a few of his comments at the end.

Bus ride from the “offsite purple lot” where we’d parked the ILX, several miles away.

bus_ride

Media creds!

barrett_media

This NSX used to be Berlina Black.  It’s a custom build by Clarion car audio.

clarion_nsx

The “Salon” area, including Justin Bieber’s matte-blue-wrapped Ferrari in the foreground.

salon

This 1958 Chevy Corvette was named “Eye Candy.”

eye_candy

30-year-old Buick GNX with only 1,524 miles on it.

gnx

I always think of Skittles candy when I see a color like this McLaren was wearing.

mclaren

“Breathing New Life Into a Legend”

bronco

Loved this “barn find” Shelby Cobra GT 350.  They didn’t even run it through the coin-op wash!

barn_find_shelby

shelby_barrett

The “tri-five” (55, 56, 57) Chevy Bel Airs are always a hit.

interior

I loved the design on the dashboard of this 1962 Chrysler Imperial.

62_chrysler_dash

Only 246 miles on this Pontiac!  Talk about fresh.

246_miles

Quick meet-up with RealTime racing legend Peter Cunningham.

peter_tyson

This pair of 1970 Chevy pickups came from a barn in Alberta, Canada.  Each one has fewer than 1,000 miles on it.

pickups

What’s not to love about a bright red 1990 Lotus Esprit?

lotus

Outside tent area with vendors and more cars

barrett_outside

Sing it with me.  “Apple bottom jeans….”

boots_with_the_fur

Custom car builder Dave Kindig in the background at the Velocity TV skybox.

dave_kindig

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on stage talking about his Chevelle.

earnhardt

“Chasing Classic Cars” host Wayne Carini.

tyson_wayne

Thanks for coming along!

Rock & Roll Marathon Weekend – Future Classics Car Show – & Special Visitors

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Running on January 22, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,387

550387

Odometer (ILX):  190,476

It’s been a full house at Hotel Hugie this week.  I’ve had company cycling in and out for the past week or so and I’m happy to play host!  Visiting from Palm Springs, California was my friend Scott who came to town on business AND to market his bright yellow 1977 Honda Civic which went up for sale at a collector car auction later in the week.  It brought $14,000!

77_civic

Last Sunday, I ran the 14th annual Rock & Roll Half-Marathon in Phoenix with my mother who had driven down from Utah.  Race day weather couldn’t have been better:  even though the forecast had called for a 30%+ chance of rain, things stayed dry and the overcast skies kept it from getting too warm.  In the end, I somehow pulled off a 2 hour, 22 minute finish time with mom sneaking past the finish line at 1:58.

tia_tyson_after

Darn it mom, I’ll beat you someday.

race_stats

On Monday evening I attended the second-annual “Future Classics Car Show,” sponsored in part by ClassicCars.com, Hagerty, as well as other names in the collector car industry.  It was open to all years, makes, and models, but I opted to take my 1994 Legend GS sedan since it hadn’t seen the light of day in a few weeks.  The car didn’t exactly fit in — most vehicles in the show were more of a ‘tuner’ variety, with big wings, decals, and racing wheels.  But I was happy to represent the all-stock Japanese luxo-sedan.  Parked next to me was my friend Kyle in his 2005 Pontiac GTO, which incidentally ended up winning a trophy in its class.  Congrats, Kyle!

lineup2

On Wednesday, I made a trip to the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to pick up my good friend Chris who’d just flown in 5 hours from Baltimore to spend a few days with me.  Chris and I have been ‘car friends’ since the late 1990s when we were both dabbling in Honda Prelude circles.  This week, he became the first of my friends who has driven all 6 of my cars.  There you go Chris, the proof is in writing!  You win the grand prize!

tyson_chris

It was an action-packed few days complete with highs and lows.  Mother Nature dished out lots of rain which put a damper on Chris’ travel plans, but it didn’t keep him from taking a trip to Sedona in the Legend sedan and hiking 7 miles in the mud to Devil’s Bridge.  Getting there was an adventure in itself.  He’d intended to take the NSX but only made it 15 miles north of town when the car left him stranded thanks to a faulty ignition switch.  A $195 tow and $101 (parts & labor) repair later, the car was back on the road the next day thanks to Science of Speed in Chandler.  First time that one has seen a tow truck in the five years I’ve owned it!

nsx_tow

On Friday, I telecommuted and supervised Chris while he did some ILX maintenance for me, including replacement of rear brake pads, the engine air filter, and the serpentine belt.

chris_brakes

I introduced him to my favorite Mexican place, “Lose Dos Molinos,” on Camelback Road later that evening to compensate him in part for his labor efforts.  A couple of other special guests made their debut at my home including Mark McCourt and Jeff Koch from Hemmings, then Jonathan Klinger from Hagerty.  Talk about friends in high places.  I was honored to have such automotive elites checking out my home and garage.  I thank them for helping keep the car collecting community alive.

tyson_mark

Speaking of car collecting, you’ll soon read more about my trip to the 46th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction which was our source of entertainment all day Saturday.  Watch for an upcoming post on that.

Which brings us to the final chapter of Chris’ visit, in which we took a 250-ish mile round trip to Tucson & back in the Legend coupe to tour the Pima Air & Space Museum, a collection of hundreds of retired aircraft.  My favorite was getting to see the Douglas VC-118A that served as Air Force One for Presidents Kennedy & Johnson during the early 1960s (pictured below). On the way back, I introduced Chris to In-N-Out Burger, a favorite fast food chain in this region.  He said the shake wasn’t half bad.

air_force_one

presidential_aircraft

That puts a wrap on what you’ve missed during the last couple of weeks.  Now, make the most of the few minutes of the weekend that remain!  I know I will!  Until next time.

Interior of Scott’s 1977 Civic.

77_civ_gauges

Some literature my friend Richard sent me.  Love this old stuff!

brochures_from_rich

Scott gave me a huge “A” for my garage.  It used to adorn an auto show display booth.

big_a

Also had a visit from my friend Ryan and 3 of his 4 kiddos.  The guest book is filling up nicely!

ryan_tyson

Not to mention this crowd of troublemakers I hosted for pasta dinner the night before the half-marathon.

group

Another shot from the Future Classics Car Show

lineup

Grabbing a bite with Sam and Kyle

sam_kyle_tyson

Headed to pick up Chris from the airport and my friend Lance happened to be right behind me!  He snapped this shot!

coupe_airport

Chris’ arrival.  He’s come out at least 3 times now from Baltimore to visit.

chris

Shots Chris took with the Legend sedan on the Red Rock Scenic Byway in Sedona, Arizona.

red_rock_scenic_byway

gs_sedona

Maintenance underway!

chris_filter

Mark from Hemmings gave me these awesome VHS promotional tapes from the 1990s!  I can’t wait to put them to use!

vhs_tapes

This postcard was inside one of them.  “The question isn’t whether to lease an Acura, but rather which Acura to lease.  We understand what a difficult decision it is, and we recommend you seek professional help.  From your professionally helpful Acura dealer.”  Love that!  I’ll take one of each!

legend_vigor_lease

Visit from Hagerty’s main man in Traverse City, Jonathan Klinger.

tyson_jonathan

Hitting up a mecca for airplane geeks

pima_air_space_museum

The SR-71 Blackbird, this example from 1964, maxes out at over 2,100 miles per hour and flies at 85,000 feet.  This is a serious aircraft.

sr71

Double-double, animal style!  If you know what that is, you’ve been to In-N-Out Burger.

chris_in_n_out

2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan

Posted in Car Show on January 11, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  190,267

190267

Aloha from 35,000 feet.  As I generate these thoughts, I’m midway through Delta’s 4-hour flight #2021 with service from Detroit to Phoenix, and luckily a sweet old woman swapped me into her window seat way back here in row 31 so I can at least enjoy the scenery a little.

wing

The North American International Otto Show.  Wait – Otto?   Yes.  Did you know that the Detroit Auto Show was originally named for Otto Shaw, a German Immigrant who opened Detroit’s first used car dealership on Woodward Avenue?  The show was named the Detroit Auto Show until 1989 when it finally took on the “international” flavor when organizers decided it was only fair to recognize the fact that more than just the United States produced cars.  This factoid comes from “autoblopnik” with tongue in cheek, but one fact holds true with definite certainty:  This show is the country’s most extravagant display of automaker fanfare related to new model releases each year.

naias_badge

This year marked the 5th anniversary of my first trip to the show, back in January 2012.  At that time, I was attending the Media Days as a guest of Acura along with a group of a half-dozen or so automotive bloggers.  The main event of interest for me was the unveil of two cars that year: The ILX Concept and the NSX Concept.  Oddly enough it has taken Acura almost these entire last 5 years to fully bring the NSX to market (it sold between 60 and 70 units in December 2016) but the ILX is already in its 5th model year and has had a light refresh as of two years ago.  Heck, by the time the fully-redesigned second-gen ILX comes around (maybe for the 2018 model year?) I’ll probably have 200,000 miles on mine.

acura_booth

Redline Reviews, hopefully by now one of your favorite YouTube car review channel subscriptions, invited me to be part of the team.  I worked with Editor-in-Chief Sofyan Bey, along with his support staff members Peace and Rob, who together produce some of the most thorough and timely video segments in the industry on automotive reviews, new vehicle reveals, and other industry news.  We stayed at a ruggedly industrial repurposed bottling plant from the 1930s on Fort Street, just a mile away from Cobo Center which is the convention hall that becomes the epicenter of all NAIAS activity for the week.

redline_team

On Monday, January 9th, we staked out our spot in the Media Center by 6:30 a.m. (remember, that’s 4:30 in the morning for this Arizona guy!) and hit the show floor running by the time the first press conference, Chevy’s, kicked off at 7:30.  In all, the day involved walking some 14,000 steps totaling out to over 8 miles.  Each automaker’s booth more impressive than the last, many of which offering up food and beverages in attempt to woo the journalists.  It worked for me.  I’ve never met a finger food I didn’t like.

odyssey

A productive day it was.  In all, Sofyan and crew – myself included – captured footage for 10 videos.  Noteworthy subject matter included the new Subaru WRX, Chevy Traverse, GMC Terrain, Honda Odyssey, Ford F-150, Kia Stinger, Lexus LS500, and Toyota Camry – all of which are either brand new or very substantially revised models for the 2018 model years and beyond.

tyson_sofyan_terrain

The crazy thing is just how far the bar continues to be raised.  Almost every press conference transcript includes the words “safer, stronger, more fuel efficient, faster.”  Every year we seem to be creeping ever-closer to automotive perfection.  Where a few years ago it was revolutionary for an automaker to have a 7 or 8 speed automatic transmission, some (Odyssey, F-150) are now getting 10 speeds.

ls500

Going by the wayside are large displacement V8 engines.  Even the 2018 Lexus LS series (above), which debuted 28 years ago in 1989 as the company’s flagship sedan, for the first time will now only be offered with a twin-turbo V6 motor.  That’s not to say it’s taking a step back in power, since the V6 still pushes out over 400 horsepower.  And the “electrification” of the automobile industry expands with each year.  Honda announced that half of its new models in the next 3 years will be “electrified” in some way.  Gas pumps are inevitably being replaced by power plugs.

steve_tyson_brian

A full day of work by me and the rest of the Redline team was followed by an evening at the charming home of Motor Trend Editor, Frank Markus, and his husband Michael in the suburb of Royal Oak about 25 minutes north of downtown.  I picked up a friend from the airport and we headed to the festivities.  There, I was able to rub shoulders with the automotive elite like auto reviewer Jason Cammisa who hosts Motor Trend’s “Ignition” segment and garners tens of thousands of views, as well as Steve Siler and Brian Gurney, pictured above.

sonic

Detroit got its fair share of overnight snow on Monday – so much, in fact, that my rental Chevy Sonic LTZ was nearly stuck a few times while I navigated my way around town.  I’m a noob when it comes to snow driving.  I’ll remind you, it’s been 11 years since I moved to Phoenix.  I made a few visits to local friends and made my way back to the McNamara terminal at Detroit’s international airport.  And with that concluded an action-packed 48 hours in Motor City.  It was worth every second, and every air-mile.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s a 13-minute video of some ramblings Sofyan and I shared after the first day of the show.

Dollar rent-a-car gave me the choice of any compact in this lineup.  I just picked the Sonic at the far end.

dollar_rental_choices

Press conference lineup for Monday morning, January 9th.   Each automaker gets 25 minutes to wow and impress us.

press_schedule_naias

Visiting my friend Waseem who just recently bought a place in Grosse Pointe, about 10 mi north of downtown.

waseem_house

Waseem’s 1990 Legend LS tucked away.

waseem_legend

Dinner with other local friends Hass and his lovely wife.

hass

This was an amazing fish taco from a place called Batch Brewery.

batch_brewing_food

Our AirBNB accommodations in downtown Detroit.

detroit_airbnb

The crowd goes wild over the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.

traverse

Still one of my favorite designs ever:  The Genesis G80 rear.

genesis_g80

Nissan is bringing out a Rogue Sport model that looks pretty snazzy.

rogue_sport

A run-in with none other than the famous “HondaPro” Jason Richmond, who has built a career out of being a Honda brand advocate.  You go Jason!

jason_tyson

Toyota’s new 2018 Camry is trying pretty hard to look sporty.  This “XSE” version even includes quad exhaust tips.

camry

Big in the news is Kia’s latest offering, the “Stinger” GT.  Complete with Brembo brakes and the whole 9!

kia_stinger_back

kia_stinger

Sweet car in Motor Trend Editor Frank’s garage.  1985 Town & Country!

frank_wagon

Snowy Tuesday morning in downtown Detroit.  I got to use the ice scraper on my Sonic.

morning_snow

BONUS MATERIAL!  My friend Scott is storing a 1977 Honda Civic CVCC in my garage for about a week until it gets auctioned off.

ilx_civic

civic_interior

And my roommate James is testing a 2017 Honda Ridgeline this week.  That means there are a lot of Hondas around this house right now!

ridgeline

Finally, my long-time friend Chris stopped by this evening to show me his latest ride:  a 1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT SL 5-speed.  It only has 97,000 miles on it.  I’ve loved these cars since they first came out.

3kgt_back

Those seats were in remarkable shape for being 18 years old.  Congrats, Chris!

3kgt_interior

Birthday #35 and New Year 2017 Celebrations

Posted in Blog, ILX, Maintenance on January 7, 2017 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,089

Trip Distance:  232 Miles

phx_tus

Welcome back to the start of a new year and a few more miles to be driven!

Here’s how my last few years have gone.

  • 2014:  128 blog posts, 115,740 views and 41,008 visitors
  • 2015:  95 blog posts, 113,438 views and 39,165 visitors
  • 2016:  84 blog posts, 107,955 views and 40,495 visitors

Clearly I’m posting less frequently and it looks like that also translates into fewer views overall, though somehow “visitors” remains steady.  Today’s post is just a quickie as I’m out the door (and in the air) at 7:05 a.m. tomorrow morning for my annual trip to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan.

Here was a fun 2016 annual mileage summary that I put together a few days ago with some notes at the bottom if you’d like to geek out with me.

car_nerdery

We need to have a moment of silence for a newly-departed 2001 MDX that reader “Russell” emailed me about.  After 15 reliable years of service, his MDX succumbed to a rusty frame and had to be retired at 525,609 miles on the odometer.

Russell’s email stated:

Tyson, the harsh chemicals used to treat Connecticut roads took out my car today. The part of the body that bolts to rear axle was destroyed by the salts. Done at 525k. Picked up a certified RDX today w 55k.

img_1303

Best of luck with your RDX, my friend!

Winter’s weather wrath is something we don’t really have to deal with here in the Grand Canyon State.  My backyard, in fact, is still green and I had to mow it the other day – even if only to pick up a few fallen leaves from the tree back there.

backyard

I celebrated a milestone of my own last week by hitting 35 years on my odometer a couple of weeks ago.

35

It was a memorable occasion for many reasons.  One of them was a visit from my friend Paul who’s based in Honolulu but happened to be passing through town with his mother and his girlfriend.

tyson_paul

Later that evening, some of my friends took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants.

bday_group

I pulled the Integra out on the grass for a couple of evening photographs.

teg_backyard_2

teg_backyard

One of the buildings in Tempe has windows that can be used to spell things out.  When the Super Bowl was in town a couple of years ago, it said XLIX.  Last week it simply said “2017.”

first_solar

Speaking of XLIX, and ILX, I had a 190,000-mile oil change (they call it a “B1” service) and tire rotation last week.  The technician noted a few maintenance items that may need to be addressed in the near future.  Among them:

  • Rear brake pad replacement
  • Leaking rear shock replacement
  • Air and cabin filter replacement
  • Serpentine belt replacement
  • Brake fluid flush
  • Clutch fluid flush

Guess it’s time to blow the dust off the old wallet (I learned that phrase from Josh) the next time I go in for service.

ilx_notes

190k

My friends and I took a drive to Tucson, Arizona for our New Year festivities.

lions_den

My friend James let us stay overnight in his historic 1914 home near the University of Arizona.

group_pic

On my drive home, I received a picture of myself from another friend who wasn’t traveling with us but who happened to come up behind me on Interstate 10 westbound just outside Phoenix.  The world is too small.

letsom_text

This morning I cruised down to Chandler, Arizona for an annual New Year Meet at Science of Speed, an NSX & S2000 specialty shop that I use for some of my maintenance needs.  There was a really nice turnout – probably 30 to 40 cars.  One of them was this unassuming 1992 Formula Red that looks a lot like mine.

nsx_high_mi

Until you peek at the odometer:  347,216.  Wow!  The owner said he’d owned it for 14 years and the car is still on its original engine and transmission.

nsx_gauges

Have a great rest of your weekend!  I’ll be freezing my buns off in Michigan but seeing some hot cars (hopefully) at the auto show.

The Legend Rolls 550,000 Miles on a Christmas Trip to Utah

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Utah on December 26, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  550,085

550085

It took me 5 years to go from 500,000 to 550,000, but I finally got there last night.  I made a Christmas 800-mile round-trip to southern Utah this weekend and celebrated the milestone on my way home, along Highway 93 just north of Wickenburg, Arizona.

wikieup

Mechanically, it was smooth sailing aside from adding a little power steering fluid and getting a check-engine light.  As a matter of fact, somehow I achieved 29.7 miles per gallon on the way up Friday night.  I guess that’s partly thanks to the fact that my speeds were usually between 65 and 70 miles per hour.  They still haven’t paved an interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas so it’s mostly back roads for that 4.5-hour stretch.

550000

Fittingly, my return trip took me through “Santa Claus, Arizona” – a now-abandoned tourist trap that in the 1930s was a gas station, gift shop, and restaurant.  Vandals have destroyed what’s left of it, but the map still clearly confirms its existence and I stopped for a few pictures at Saint Nick’s run-down residence.

santa_claus_map

The place can be yours, if the price is right!

santa_sign

Snow-capped peaks in the background – it was chilly out there, for Arizona standards anyway.

santa

Here’s the roll-over video and a few scenes from Santa Claus.

A few other photos from recent events.  Allie from Acura mailed me a “Nouvelle Blue Pearl” 2017 NSX model car.  I told her it’ll go nicely in my garage!

blue_nsx

Fueling up in Wickenburg on Friday afternoon

wickenburg_fuel

Sunset when rolling through Las Vegas, Nevada

vegas

Visiting mom, and also a visit from our friend Jack

tyson_mom_jack

Re-creation of a 20-year old photo (top) taken in 1997 with mom’s Legend.

1997_2017

My brother’s 1993 Legend LS 6-speed (139,000 mi) next to mine.

payt_legend

The ILX getting snowed on in Holden, Utah.  Jack – from a few pics above – borrowed the car this weekend and put it to good use.

ilx_snow

My uncle Dande picked up a 2013 ILX too.  “Polished Metal Metallic” automatic.

dande_ilx

Family photo of mom’s side of the family.

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A few other videos for your viewing pleasure today.

ILX in snow – thanks Jack for the clip:

Link to Xtreme Coupe YouTube channel – my brother’s page.  Watch his Lexus IS300 project updates:

Link to interesting video on the evolution of automotive design:

Link to Hagerty Engine Rebuild Video of a Chrysler motor.  Pretty fascinating stuff:

Have a great week!

Dirt Playground: “Willcox Playa” in Southeast Arizona

Posted in Arizona, ILX, NSX, Road Trip on December 18, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend coupe):  549,086

549086

Odometer (Legend sedan):  150,755

150755

Odometer (Integra):  238,331

238331

Odometer (Vigor):  106,387

106387

Odometer (ILX):  188,457

188457

Odometer (NSX):  106,412

106412

Trip Distance:  390 Miles

willcox_map

My maturity level took a deep dive on Saturday when I sat in my driver’s seat and looked out upon a gigantic expanse of perfectly flat land in all directions.  I was unsupervised.  I had a slick-shifting 6-speed transmission at my fingertips.  And my sense of adventure begged me to go have some fun.  So, I hit the Traction Control button to deactivate any kind of traction aid, gripped the steering wheel, and let ‘er rip.  Result?  I haven’t had that much fun driving a car since my autocross adventure in 2009.  Talk about a riot.

ilx_willcox

My friends Jason and James were there to witness it — encouraging it, even.  The Willcox Playa – some 3.7 square miles of dirt flatlands – is a dry lake bed in Arizona’s Cochise County in the southeast corner of the state.  But for me, it was a playground where I could pretend I was a professional rally driver.  I can only imagine how much more fun the experience might have been in a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle.  Time to plan another trip back.

willcox_dry_lake

This weekend trip started out as an excuse to meet up with one of my road trip partners in crime, Jason Pawela of Driven for Drives.  Jason was crazy enough to join me on the 8,000-mile Alaska trip earlier this year and I hadn’t seen him for about 6 months since.  We decided to plan a lunch meet-up at the exact geographic midpoint between us:  Willcox, Arizona.  The town of 3,700 people lies 194 miles from Phoenix and 195 miles from Las Cruces.  It was absolutely perfect from a logistical perspective.

willcox_entry

Joining for this one was another seasoned road-tripper, James Lee of Six Speed Blog, who typically joins our group drives in whatever “flavor of the week” he’s road testing at the time.  This week, it happens to be a saucy red 2017 Toyota Corolla with a host of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) goodies.  Yes, I just used the words “Corolla” and “racing” in the same sentence.  I was surprised, too.  Jason’s car of course was the 2004 Mazda 6, now with 217,000 miles and still as robust as ever, and I was in my 2013 ILX.

haskell_lineup

It took us about 3 hours to get to Willcox, and we met up with Jason spot-on at our 1:00 predetermined time.  Dining options in a town of 3,000 people are sparse, and I’d already eaten at 2 of the 3 top-rated spots on Trip Advisor.  (See:  Chiricahua National Monument road trip).  Next on the list?  “Grandma D’s Cafe.”  It sounded safe.  And it ended up being one of the most hospitable places I’ve ever dined.

gma_sign

haskell_maley

Housed in the historic part of Willcox at the northwest corner of Haskell Avenue and Maley Street, the place appeared to have been there forever.  Luckily we had enough time to eat before the 2:00 p.m. closure (grandma cooks breakfast & lunch only!).  I went with the Cochise Burger, adorned with green chiles, avocado, and an over-easy egg for a little extra protein.

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Grandma was nice enough to get a photo with us and I jotted down our blog websites on a notepad for her.  If you’re reading this, thanks for the hospitality and the great food!  Hope to see you again, Gma!

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At this point, we did a car-key-swap and I got to drive Jason’s Mazda the few miles toward Willcox Playa.  To get there, we headed west on I-10 about 4 miles, then south on Highway 191 to a dirt road turnoff that we’d scouted out thanks to Google Earth.  The entrance to our playground was right where we thought it would be.  Luckily for us, the dirt was hard packed for the most part — I’m sure if it had rained recently, we wouldn’t have gotten past the gate.  And also luckily for us, we didn’t venture into any dangerous parts of the Playa.  It wasn’t until after our visit that I read online that the U.S. Military uses portions of the area as a bombing range.  Yikes!

It was a memorable journey for us and I hope you enjoyed being a part of it!  Some additional photos and a short video are below.  Don’t mind the circus music 🙂

Fueling up at Picacho Peak, midway between Phoenix and Tucson

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Entering Grandma D’s in Willcox

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The Cochise Burger at Grandma D’s

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Lined up outside the restaurant:  James’ Corolla, Jason’s 6, and my ILX

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Park near the railroad tracks

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Arriving at the Willcox Playa

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Clearly James was having a good time!

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Where’d those skid marks come from?

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Getting down and dirty.

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Wide open spaces, just like that Dixie Chicks song.

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It was colder than it looks.  Definitely a breeze in the air!

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Headed back to Phoenix near Picacho Peak (at left) on Interstate 10

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I’m going to put in a plug here for my friend Darren of “IDrewYourCar.com.”  Darren contacted me after my recent Jalopnik feature offering to do some digital artwork for my garage.  I am thrilled with what he put together for me!  Each of my five “old” Acuras has been drawn up in exact detail and printed in 13×19 size.  Even the colors are spot-on.

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A perfect addition to the garage!  Thanks Darren!

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Finally, I’m a nerd about anniversaries and last night just happened to be my 5th anniversary with my 1992 Acura NSX.  It was December 17, 2011 when I flew to San Jose, California and picked up the car.  Last night, James and I went over to Tempe Town Lake for a couple of celebratory photos with the Mill Avenue Bridge in the background.

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Of course I wore a T-shirt to match the car.  Duh!

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It’s been a fun 5 years and 26,000 miles with that one.  Have a great rest of your weekend!

Quick Northern Utah Trip & A Few Links for Light Reading

Posted in Utah on December 16, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  187,981

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It’s uncommon for me to ever have to navigate a vehicle on snowy roads these days.  I love to joke with my friends in snowy regions about how much of a chore it is to shovel the sunshine off my driveway each winter here in Phoenix.  But for a couple of my college years in northern Utah, I did get a hefty dose of “Slick Road 101” and the Legend and I both survived it.  Here are some photos from January 2005.

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The Legend had 150,000 miles on it at the time.  I’d barely gotten my journey started.

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Sometimes, even I opt for a flight over a drive.  In this past weekend’s case, the choices were a 12-hour drive (that could easily turn into many more in inclement weather) or a 90-minute flight.  Given the short timeline, it made the most sense to hop on Southwest and let my pilot do the driving.  The ILX got left at Phoenix “Sky Harbor” airport.

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My rental car at Salt Lake City International Airport was a “gutless wonder” (I think my dad coined that phrase) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta with 48,000 miles on it.  It took a lot of coaxing to get it to freeway speeds, but comfort was OK and it got incredible MPGs.  My dad and stepmom live in a community called Providence, nestled on the east bench of Cache Valley at the tip-top northern end of Utah.  It’s a college community, home to my alma mater Utah State University, and I usually make it up there about twice a year.  The valley is a beautiful place, as seen from my dad’s backyard.

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After an overnight stay at a friend’s house in South Jordan (SLC suburb), I made the northbound drive about 100 miles to Providence.  My 87-year-old grandmother is recently widowed and needed a lift to run a couple of errands in town.  We also met up with some other family members for lunch at one of my favorite pizza joints near the USU campus called Fredrico’s Pizza.  The garlic bread is always dripping in delicious butter.

jetta

Cache Valley got a dusting of snow on Saturday night and I got the chance to use that unfamiliar object called an ice scraper that Advantage Rent-A-Car had conveniently left in the passenger seat of my Jetta.  I paid a visit to my uncle Jeff in Taylorsville, south of Salt Lake, who’s been building and racing hot rods for as long as I remember.  His current projects are a Chevy Corvair and a 1965 Chevy II Nova.  I captured a short video of the Corvair.  I’m quite confident its growl woke up everyone in Jeff’s neighborhood from their Sunday naps.  Here’s a very short video I took:

Arrival at Salt Lake City International Airport.

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Incidentally, this airport was the one featured in the classic 1994 film “Dumb & Dumber,” though the movie was supposed to have been set in Rhode Island.

Northbound to Logan on snowy roads

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Morning in Cache Valley

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My workplace has become ultra festive.  Here’s a collage of photos taken the other night.

Had a couple of nice visits this past week from friends, including Chase and Michael who are both from Texas.

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And Matt who’s local and who drive a 2001 CL.

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Special thanks to my friend Kevin for sending me some classic Acura ads.

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And here are few more decade-old pictures from my time at Utah State in the wintertime.

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snowing

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Lastly:  Check out a few cool links on articles that you might find interesting:

  • My friend Brendan Saur’s article about a 1995 Legend L coupe on Curbside Classic
  • My friend Ben Hsu’s article about Ryu Asada, Hot Wheels designer, on Japanese Nostalgic Car.
  • My article about a guest speaker at the upcoming Arizona Concours d’Elegance on ClassicCars.com

Have a great weekend!