Fountain Hills “Concours in the Hills,” Eric’s Visit, & SLX/GS-R Updates

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Integra, SLX on February 13, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,470

My friend Eric sent me a photo of himself (with his Acura TL in the background) under a blanket of snow on the morning of his departure for a visit to Phoenix from Lexington, Kentucky last Friday.  Needless to say, he was ready and anxious to get some AZ sunshine.

Eric’s arrival was timely because we were able to check out some great events taking place in & around town.  One of them was the “Concours in the Hills,” an 1,000+ car show at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills.

The fountain there was the tallest in the world from 1970 through 1980, at 560 feet in height.  We took the opportunity to stroll through the automotive merchandise (“Look but don’t touch!”) and the scenery did not disappoint.  Among the cars on display was an unbelievably rare McLaren F1.  There were a total of only 106 of those built between 1992 and 1998 and they’re going for $20 million or more each.  I’ll take two.  But perhaps my favorite car was this DMC DeLorean in appropriate BTTF garb.

… and complete with a ‘Mr. Fusion’ fuel tank.  I didn’t have any banana peels to deposit at the time.

The Concours has accelerated quickly in growth over its seven years, and for good reason:  It’s one of the premier automotive events in the southwest and it promotes good causes.  This year, proceeds from the event raised over $250,000 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The level of organization and planning that went into the staging was impressive:  Cars were grouped according to make & model.  There was a strong turnout of NSX owners, including my friend Greg with his lovely Formula Red 1995 with fewer than 10,000 original miles.

I also introduced Eric to a portion of our scenic drive that will take place as part of the 2020 NALM event.  It’s a nice 90-mile round trip loop that introduces visitors to the Tonto National Forest and Saguaro lake, capped off with a lakeside lunch at Shiprock Restaurant.

Our host hotel will be the Best Western Chandler Inn, pictured below.  When registration goes live on March 1, it will include a hyperlink for booking at the contracted group rate for October’s event.

On Sunday, my friend Vlad brought his 2000 model year Phoenix Yellow Integra Type R over to the house.  It only has 31,000 miles on it, and the engine bay looks absolutely brand new.

Joining for the pictures was my 1999 Integra which recently had some work done.  After about two and a half weeks at Hon-Man in Tempe, it was ready to retrieve once again.  The good news is that the erratic idle miss/stumble has been resolved with just an adjustment of the valves.  The bad news is that the inspection revealed some prior collision damage to the left rear corner, and a few other issues to resolve in future service visits.  Check out my upcoming YouTube uploads for info on that.

Here’s the video update:

The SLX hasn’t left town since SoCal “RADwood” in December, but it did go in for a visit to one of my local body shops to have some fog lights installed.  The skilled technicians at USA Collision in Phoenix took care of it in a matter of just 3 days.  And the work was not very easy – it required some custom work to get the brackets to properly mount since the corroded original hardware was basically crumbling away.

Eric’s too SLXY for his shirt, but not for his University of Kentucky sweater.  But those fog lights!

Capping off the weekend was a visit to the local U Pull & Pay junkyard on Buckeye Road in Phoenix.  The treasure of the day there was a 1993 Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan, more lovingly referred to as a “Dustbuster” thanks to its iconic wedge styling.  The icing on the cake was the fact that I found an actual Dustbuster in another van a couple of rows away.  This picture begged to be taken.

It was nice having a friend in town, and I always look forward to my guests!

Have a great rest of the week.

NALM 2020 Location Announcement, Visitors, and Integra/RL Updates

Posted in Blog, Integra, Maintenance, NALM, RL on February 7, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,466

Hear ye, hear ye.  This just in:

After 15 years of driving all around the country for the National Acura Legend Meet, to 13 different states, my trip to the 2020 annual event will require me driving…  guess how far?  Just 25 miles from my house to the host hotel!  That’s because NALM is finally coming to my own backyard, and I’ll be co-hosting the event here in Phoenix, Arizona along with a few other volunteers.

The dates will be October 7-11, and without getting into too many details – I’ll save those announcements for some future blog posts – there will be some great venues and some great times for all to enjoy.  Here is the announcement post on the forums.

Prior event locations are here:

Year City State
2005 Dallas Texas
2006 Tulsa Oklahoma
2007 Las Vegas Nevada
2008 Chattanooga Tennessee
2009 Branson Missouri
2010 Salt Lake City Utah
2011 Morristown New Jersey
2012 Milwaukee Wisconsin
2013 Asheville North Carolina
2014 Los Angeles California
2015 Houston Texas
2016 Atlanta Georgia
2017 Sacramento California
2018 Colorado Springs Colorado
2019 Daytona Beach Florida

I’ve created a NALM account on Instagram called @nationalacuralegendmeet where you can follow along for regular updates as we unveil some of the exciting aspects of the itinerary.  Maybe I’ll bring out a different car from the garage for each NALM day.  And one of the events – of course – is a behind the scenes visit at my house.  I might be crazy for opening my doors to an anticipated 25 cars and 50 people, but I’ve said it before:  These people are like family to me and I look forward to hosting them as best I can.

Speaking of hosting:  Occupancy rates at the house have been running high so far in 2020.  Ever since the festivities for Barrett-Jackson, I’ve had company every weekend and enjoyed playing host.  My friends Derek, Jay, Nick, and Chris all stopped by.  Here they are in that order.

Derek, before I took him to his brother’s place.

Jay, passing through town with his gorgeous new Sherwood Green Legend LS 6-speed.

Nick, at right, here from Key West for a weekend in the desert.

And Chris, visiting from CA and about to take the NSX for a spin with his buddy Tony.

I also managed to squeeze in a few automotive updates in video form, so if you get time, tune in for the recent videos on my YouTube channel.  The 1999 Integra is at Hon-Man in Tempe for a laundry list of issues, but I’ve replaced the front emblem, shift knob, license plate bumper plugs, and owner’s manual.  I also got those nasty exhaust tips shined up thanks to a product from Mother’s called Mag & Aluminum Polish.

Check that before & after!

And another before & after!  All about the details.

The RL received some paintless dent removal, new tint, a new windshield, and some touch-up paint.

I finally got my library of car maintenance binders in order, thanks to some new cabinets my dad and stepmom installed in my laundry room recently.

The two biggest blue binders are BOTH for the Legend coupe.  Volumes 1 & 2.

We also installed a flat screen TV in the garage that is looping 148 Acura commercials from 1986 through 1999.  It’s 1 hour 47 minutes of runtime.  Seriously.  I turn it on when guests are visiting.

I’m writing weekly now for ClassicCars.com in the “Pick of the Day” section.  Basically, every Thursday I have an article about a vehicle of my choosing that is selected from the 40,000+ listed for sale on the site.  The write-ups are short and sweet, but maybe you’ll be interested in taking a look to see if any of the cars I spotlight interest you.

Some of my recent articles are these:

Thanks for coming along!

49 Years & Counting: 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Breaks Records

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Milestones on January 27, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  572,435

Meet Craig Jackson:

Craig is kind of a big deal.  He’s currently in the driver’s seat of one of the world’s largest collector car auctions – launched in 1971 by his father, Russ.  Russ first partnered with fellow enthusiast Tom Barrett to sell a handful of automobiles in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Tom eventually retired and Russ passed away, leaving the reins to Craig 25 years ago in 1995.

Craig has since taken the auction to new heights, building it into a mecca that attracts 325,000 automobile enthusiasts annually to its signature and largest event held in Arizona each January.  Jackson has also expanded into other cities around the nation, keeping his team busy throughout the year and facilitating the sale of thousands of vehicles.

Craig is the true definition of a ‘car guy,’ and he wholeheartedly enjoys being part of the industry.  “I like three-pedal cars,” he said at a media event I attended in the days leading up to this year’s program in Scottsdale.  Craig commented on the ever-present questions like, “What should people buy now that will be collectible in X years?”

And the answer to that, of course, is anyone’s best guess, but he suggested that modern internal combustion-powered automobiles as we know them – and especially those equipped with clutch pedals – are positioned well for future appreciation because their days are numbered.  He’s stockpiled a few of his own in his elaborate personal collection.  And speaking of collections, there were a few noteworthy celeb-owned cars up on the docket, including some BMWs formerly owned by Paul Walker.

This year’s auction was the event’s 49th.  I attended in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.  And while I haven’t yet made a four-wheeled purchase, I’ve come away with a lot of souvenirs, memories, and friendships that have been 100% worth the price of admission.  My mom and I made the trek to the “Westworld” venue on Saturday, January 18th and feasted our eyes on the nearly 2,000 vehicles that were up for auction this year.

According to a post on Craig’s Instagram (below), a single gavel was used over the course of the 9-day event, but auctioneers went through six sound blocks.  The 2020 auction became the highest-grossing auction in Barrett-Jackson history, with over $141 million in no-reserve sales.  The intensity and energy in the venue is electrifying, with a vehicle being sold on average every two minutes.

The long-awaited mid-engine 2020 Chevy Corvette with VIN #001 brought $3 million for charity.  Other amazing cars that I enjoyed checking out were the 1963 Modena Spyder California from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as a replica Ford LTD station wagon as seen as the “family truckster” in the Chevy Chase movie “Vacation.”

Lexus auctioned a special edition LC500 convertible, the first of its kind for model year 2021.  It brought $2 million.

Mom and I were a little disappointed after searching the show grounds for Tent 7.  We were hunting for the “Shaggin’ Wagon,” a converted 2003 Ford Econoline van modified to look like the “MUTT CUTTS” vehicle from Dumb & Dumber.  It wasn’t parked where it was supposed to be, so we asked some of the nearby security personnel.  Evidently the van had been vandalized earlier in the week.  “Someone broke the nose off it,” we were told.  Shame!

And now begins Barrett-Jackson’s “Road to 50,” as Craig and his team will spend the next 12 months building up to the 2021 event as its 50th anniversary.  You can bet I’ll be there once again to soak it all in!

Below are a few more photos from my experience at Barrett-Jackson & overall weekend.

Red-carpet arrival at the house for mom’s visit

Brunch date in downtown Phoenix, in the red brick SUV.

Chris (visiting from Maryland) and I rolled around in the same vehicle.  Chris’ claim to fame, in fact, is that he’s driven every one of my vehicles, including the 1992 Integra sedan which sold just 2 days after he left town.

Bueller?  Bueller?  You might recognize this car from a certain movie.

Visitors from Utah feasting their eyes on the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the auction.

A celebrity to me – none other than Mr. Peter Cunningham, current President of the NSX Club of America.

And special thanks to my friend Jonathan Klinger who is a VP at Hagerty, who gave me these awesome socks.

They say:  Driving is good for the sole.

And also thanks to Aaron Cook from Barrett-Jackson’s public relations agency, TimePiece.

Mom and I didn’t score any purchases at the auction, but we each came home with a chunk of metal from the following morning’s rock & roll half-marathon in Tempe.

Finally, join me in congratulating my friend Matt on his 200,000th mile in his 2002 Nissan!  I captured the occasion on video from his back seat.

Thanks for reading & watching, as always!

Future Collector Car Show 2020 & 1992 Integra GS Sale

Posted in Arizona, Car Show, Integra on January 25, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra sedan):  75,604

Trip Distance:  2,155 Miles

I sold my 28-year-old Integra sedan on Tuesday, and the buyer drove it as many miles in his 3-day trip home to Tampa, Florida, as I drove the car over my nearly 2 years of ownership.  Needless to say, he’s enjoying it more than I did!  More in a little bit about who the lucky new owner is and how the exchange played out.

I was walking down High Street in north Phoenix a couple of weeks ago at a car show, glad to be wearing a fleece jacket because it was downright chilly (by Arizona standards) in the shade.

“I like your jacket,” a guy said as I passed by him.  I paused for a second and looked down because I couldn’t even remember what I was wearing.  I realized it was my Nissan GT-R jacket.  The guy then pulled up his shorts a little to show a brightly-colored GT-R tattoo on his thigh.  I said, “Awesome; I wish I had the car but I just have the sweater!”  I guess Nissan people are just as passionate about their cars as Honda people are.

The occasion for the day was the 5th annual Future Collector Car Show (FCCS), an event that started in 2016 as a small production sponsored by ClassicCars.com to recognize and embrace the movement of the ‘new’ definition of classic.  The show has grown and evolved over the years, attracting 150 vehicles for the 2020 program that were selected via an online application process that kicked off last fall.

I had the lone representing Integra, while there were a couple of RSXs on the roster.  Here are some links to prior years’ coverage of this event.  (I’ve been to all five!)

  • 2016 – Legend coupe
  • 2017 – Legend sedan
  • 2018 – Integra GS-R
  • 2019 – Integra GS-R (again)

Over the course of the day, I got the chance to reconnect with a lot of great friends and I enjoyed lunch at Mellow Mushroom while taking a break from the social scene.  The variety of vehicles on display was wide, and while most were modified, there were a few super clean ‘preserved’ original cars like this sweet 1980 Prelude.

One of my faves was this older Lexus SC sitting on new IS wheels.

Three “Bullitt” Mustangs in a row!  One had the license plate “CHSECAR” (chase car)

Wandering High Street

And bumping into friends

Meanwhile, my 1992 Integra sedan was on display, and I’d left a For Sale sign sitting on the dash in case anyone had interest in sending me a message to inquire.

At the end of the day, I received just 1 text message.  It was from a high-school-age kid who came to test-drive the car 2 days later.  Except, he couldn’t drive a stick.  So I drove him around.  He didn’t end up making an offer.  I actually discovered how frustrating it can be to deal with car buyers.  A few of the things I observed or heard:

  • “What’s the lowest you’ll take?”
  • “Does the car need anything now or in the future?”  <Hello, it’s nearly 30 years old, the answer is YES>
  • “Will you take $XX plus 10 monthly payments of $XX?”
  • “If only you were in X location.”
  • “Can I trade you my XX vehicle?”
  • “Why are you asking so little?”  <This one surprised me>
  • “You know Blue Book on this car is only XXX.”  <Facepalm.  I hate ‘Blue Book’ when it comes to vintage cars>
  • “You’ll regret selling it.”
  • “I wish I had the money, but I have XX kids.”
  • “I like the 2 door better.”

I survived all of that, and a legitimate offer did come, however, from a nice gentleman named David in Tampa, Florida who is a dedicated Honda-fan who’s restoring a 1989 Prelude “S” model.  We corresponded a little by email and then text, and arranged his visit for Tuesday January 21st.

Below are a few photos from the transaction as well as photos he sent me from his drive home.

Gift I made up for David of his digital car rending from Darren at I Drew Your Car.

About to leave the garage for the last time.

Key handoff on a rainy Phoenix morning.

Arrival in Florida – that sign looks familiar.  I was just there in October.

Final odometer reading after a successful journey to the other side of the country.

Congrats, David!  Here’s a 1-minute video memorializing the occasion.

PS – If you haven’t already done so, check out the YT Channel “Out Motorsports.” My friend Jake and his crew of skilled journalists are going to publish regular updates on car reviews, performance/track events, and more.

Happy 2020 – Blog Stats, Mileage Updates, & Visitors

Posted in Blog, Milestones on January 9, 2020 by tysonhugie

Let’s get this year started off right with some proper automotive updates!

Some data on the blog you’re reading:  Launched in spring 2011, Drive to Five saw its all-time highest traffic in 2014, presumably because I put a lot more effort into it back then than I do today.  I was also on a crusade to get max miles out of my then-new Acura ILX as I accumulated miles in a variety of weekend excursions to share with my readers.  I posted 128 blog entries that year.

This blog saw 60,957 views in 2019 from 26,535 unique visitors.  I posted 52 times, so on average once every week.  There are 78 of you who receive an email every time I publish a new post.  You must be out of your minds.

Sometimes I wonder if “reading” is a forgotten pastime.  Consider the fact that my YouTube channel over the last few months has seen unprecedented subscriber traffic.  A video that I uploaded about my new-to-me 1999 Acura Integra surpassed 50,000 views and 600 comments in its first 12 days.  In those 12 days, the same video made me $250 in ad revenue.  That’s gas money if nothing else (but I won’t quit my day job any time soon).

This blog nets me $3 a month by delivering ads to you all.  That doesn’t even offset what it costs me to pay for the domain name rental and the 3.6 gigabytes of storage it takes to archive the 19,000 images I’ve blogged over about 9 years.  But I’m not into blogging for the money.  I’m a writer.  This is my travel journal, and even if one person reads it, or for that matter, if nobody at all reads it, I’ll still keep publishing with some sort of regularity.

A lot more people are interested in just clicking a “Play” button on their YouTube browser than actually reading a blog, but if you’re still reading this, then to you I say, “Thanks!”  Your loyalty means a lot.

While we’re on a ‘stats’ kick, this grid is a tradition I’ve kept up for 4 years now.

I drove (or my cars drove, rather, because I’ve loaned them out plenty of times) 30,403 miles in 2019.  That was down from 36,053 in 2018.  My most expensive car to maintain last year (shocker) was the rust-bucket SLX which cost me over $2,600 in maintenance.  But I got an Acura video feature out of it, and I still love driving that stupid thing around town just for the reactions.

The ILX saw 10,000 miles and the Legend coupe 7,500.  But remember that 5,600 of those Legend miles were in one single trip:  Driving to southern Florida & back in October for the National Acura Legend Meet.  If NALM stays close to home in 2020 (I’m dropping a major hint here prematurely) it might not see that many this year.

I’ll let the below pics tell the rest of the recent updates.  I’ve had so many cool guests over the last couple of weeks, including a friend named Shaun from all the way in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  We connected via social media – isn’t it crazy how that works?  He’s a “garage” enthusiast.  Check out his Instagram:  @gullys_garage.  I also received visits from my Legend friend Jimmy, from Gearbox Magazine’s Brian Driggs for a Podcast, from author and friend Steve Lynch, and from a California based friend named Dani who just recently moved to Phoenix.

New Year’s Eve 2020 at ‘Flannel Ball’ in downtown Phoenix with friends

A friend sent me a Chilton’s manual for the GS-R

Library is coming along.  (And the GS-R will get a blog update in due time)

I’ve been picking up some cool magazines, including a coupe comparo where the 5th gen Honda Prelude reigned supreme against 6 other cars back in the day.

This was another interesting find.  December 1993.

A full 3 model years before the SLX debuted, Automobile nailed it.  They had an article discussing the potential for Honda to market a Trooper-based SUV.

Jimmy’s visit in his pristine Legend GS 6-speed

Received a 2020 calendar from my friend Pavel in the Czech Republic

Pulled out the Integra sedan for some photos since I’m selling it

Steve from Tucson stopped by.  He spent time working for American Honda back in the early 1990s and was fortunate enough to get the keys to a then-new NSX for a cruise to the hills.  A 4×6 photo from that occasion was given to me for feature in the display case.

Ken from SFO paid me a visit too.  We went out to dinner.

And while I had the sedan out, I commuted in it today.  Nice sunrise.

My sights are on this now.  Looks like you can guess what my next 2 cars are going to be.

Here’s to another year!

SOLD: 1992 Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed with 73,400 Miles

Posted in Integra on January 8, 2020 by tysonhugie

** Update 1/21/2020 **

This car was picked up today and is going to a great home in Florida.  Thanks for all the interest!

Hello friends!  I’ll have more updates in an upcoming post, but this one’s an ad.  It’s time to clear 1 of my 10 cars out.  Do any of my readers have interest?  I had a local offer that fell through so it’s up for grabs.

Detailed info below.

Maintenance snapshot.  I’ve spent $3,000 on maintenance and only driven it 2,000 miles in 2 years.

1992 Acura Integra GS Sedan 5-Speed

Torino Red Pearl on Black Interior

VIN:  JH4DB1562NS001367

  • Factory 1.8 liter 4-cylinder motor with 140 horsepower
  • “DB1” chassis with post-midcycle refresh to front bumper & rear trunklid / taillamps (1992-93 specific only).
  • 73,400 Miles
  • All original WA & UT car (Seattle area until 2000, then southern Utah until 2018

Link to Google Drive with about 80 Photos

4-Minute Video Walkaround:

I am the second owner, purchased May 2018 from original owner named Maxine (Steckler) Cook. She is 74 today.  She was 46 years old when she bought the car.  Maxine lives in Ivins, Utah currently and travels via RV with her husband Jim.  She was so proud of the car that she had pulled it onto the front lawn for photos for her classified ad, and she had a tear in her eye when I drove the car away.

Clean Carfax and title.  No known accidents or paint work.  Passed Arizona emissions.

Maintenance spreadsheet in Excel:   Includes recent timing belt, water pump, tires, fuel pump, radiator, upper and lower hoses, spark plugs, battery, and valve adjustment by Stephen Wade Honda and by Hon-Man Automotive.  New (aftermarket but custom fit) high quality carpeted floor mats.

RADwood car show participant in December 2018 Los Angeles at the Petersen Museum.

Includes window sticker (car had a $2k markup when new), all available records, owner’s manual w/ radio code, photos, and documentation.  I’ll include the Arizona copper “Historic” plate as well as the original Utah plates the car came with.  I even have screen shots of when I was FaceTiming with a friend who was checking out the car for me before I flew to Utah to purchase it.  The car is all original as Maxine had it, right down to the Utah Sheriff’s Association 1999 sticker in rear window.  I did remove the pinstripe, the Jesus fish from the trunk lid, and the gold license plate frames.

Noted:  Vibration at idle, especially with A/C on.  My 1992 Integra LS sedan had the same.  Defrost turns on by itself randomly sometimes.  There is a small, hard spot on passenger seat like glue that I haven’t tried removing yet. The check engine light came on once during (800-mile) Dec 2018 trip to LA but not since.   There is a small scuff on the left rear bumper.  Windshield wipers don’t work on the middle (intermittent setting).  Everything else is showroom fresh, and works.

Additional Videos:

Red Hot Tamale: 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan HPT 6-Speed Review

Posted in Civic, Vehicle Reviews on January 1, 2020 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Civic):  2,264

Who’s hungry?

Don’t worry; I brought enough to share with the whole class.

This candy is described on its packaging as “Fierce Cinnamon.”  I guess that’s about how I’d also classify the latest iteration of Honda’s Civic Si sedan.  It’s a contemporary compact sedan souped up with the aero treatment, aesthetics, and performance enhancements that tuners love, in a package that’s still as reliable as a Corolla.  The Si evokes a high schooler vibe, especially in the “arrest me” Rallye Red.  It’s no wonder some of the prior journalists who tested this Civic (ahem, I’m looking at you James) got pulled over for seemingly no reason while driving it.

I was lucky to escape the wrath of any highway patrol during my time with the Civic, but I still managed to have a heck of a good time with it.  I found it to be a competent everyday driver that delivers a sense of fun and adventure on even the most boring commute.  Just lay into the throttle in second gear beyond 4,000 RPM and you’ll get it.

This marks the second time I’ve had the chance to review a 10th-generation Civic.  The last one was a 2019 model year 1.5-liter “Touring” sedan back in September.  The primary gripe I had with that car was its Continuously Variable Transmission.  Well, guess what?  This week’s car had an honest-to-goodness stick shift.  And I loved it.  The ‘HPT’ noted in the model name of this one refers to its optional High Performance (Summer) Tires.

Here’s the rundown, in bullet point form as I like to do it.

Good

  • Seating position is absolute perfection for me while resting the elbow on/near the center armrest
  • Stereo & tech is relatively intuitive and rear-view camera clarity is good
  • High-rev performance feels almost magical for an engine only 1.5 liters
  • Headlight enhancements are a sweet modernization and give a premium look
  • Clutch action, shift throws, and round metal shift knob are slick, sheer Honda perfection
  • MPG delivery is great for a car this fun to drive (EPA 26/36)
  • Price point ($26,130 as tested incl. destination) feels like a lot of bang for the buck
  • Thoughtful conveniences like the power port in the passenger front footwell area

Bad

  • Blind spots are relatively large – this is something I observe on almost every new car that I test due to higher belt lines and larger pillars
  • I’m not a fan of an electronic parking brake on a manual car.  I’d feel a lot more comfortable grabbing a lever.
  • As with any turbo motor, torque on the low end is relatively scarce
  • I prefer an analog speedometer (at least to supplement the digital readout)

Ugly 🙂

  • I’m still not a fan of black wheels
  • Can we get LED rear turn signals to keep things uniform front & back?  (I said the same about the Acura ILX A-Spec I recently tested)

Verdict

Go sample a Civic Si.  I’m confident it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth for a value-packed car with some zing to it.  Any shortcomings are far outweighed by the bang for the buck.  It’s a great blend of practicality and performance if you have craving for a Hot Tamale of a car.

Honda compact sports cars separated by 21 years.  And look how big the Civic grew!

The Civic Si’s front end makes the ILX 2.4 look pretty mundane.

It was worth noting, I celebrated 2,222 miles with the Civic at 12:22 at 22 miles per hour.

This, of course, after I just posted about hitting 222,222 on the ILX.  It’s that kind of luck.

Happy New Year!

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!

K1 Speed Go-Karting Event & Holiday Travels, & Automotive Updates

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Legend, Milestones, PAPA, SLX, Utah on December 22, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  222,222

It seems I’m getting quite a few chances to put the pedal to the metal lately, including a visit to Apex Motor Club earlier this year, and two events at Bondurant a few weeks ago.  This time, I joined some fellow members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association and we scaled back the size of our racecars to engage a little bit of friendly go-karting on a Friday morning.

K1 Speed opened its doors for an early morning race session specifically for our group.  I was proud to finish in the first half of the pack, but I was clearly outclassed by more skilled drivers in our group.  K1’s cars are all-electric, and they’re a lot faster than you’d think!  I put some of the driver training to work and honestly thought I’d rank better in the final standings.  Journalists John Priddy (left) and Wally Cahill (right) still let me at least pretend I was a first-place winner on the podium post-race.

Coming in at first place was newly-appointed Managing Editor for ClassicCars.com, Tom Stahler.

I spent the remainder of last weekend in northern Utah where temperatures dipped to a frigid 15 degrees during my visit.  I was poorly prepared from a wardrobe perspective.  But, I enjoyed the cozy and warm homes of friends & family members.  This was the scene on the campus of Utah State University where I graduated with my undergraduate degree 14 years ago this month.  Go USU Aggies!

Sunny, Jason, and Brady met up for some Mexican grub in Salt Lake City.

And it was of course awesome to see my grandma, who’ll be 90 next month.

Below are some photos of other recent visitors and events, as we near the end of this year (and this decade).  My stepdad and mom were passing through Phoenix on a long layover flight this week, so I met up with them at the airport terminal for a bite to eat.

The cars have kept me busy these last few weeks.  The NSX got an emissions check & new registration tags, the Integra GS-R got a battery, the Legend GS got new Michelin tires, the ILX got an oil change, the RL got a trip to Tucson, and the SLX got a much-needed bath after RADwood.

Here were some visitors from around the state who stopped by to say hello.

I also welcomed an out-of-towner from Austin, TX who’s been a friend of mine for many years.  In fact, he’s the one who sent his 1993 Legend L sedan over to Arizona when it needed to find a new home in 2015.

My friend Karna sent me some sweet promo materials including a leaflet that had an NSX postcard that looks just like the real thing.

My friend Eric sent me some awesome-smelling cologne called Chrome Legend.  I’ll be saving that bottle!

Andrew from Acura PR sent me two signed posters celebrating this year’s “IMSA” race series wins.  I’ll be giving one away to a lucky blog reader.  If you’re interested, let me know!

He also sent me the 11×17 display poster that was used at RADwood.

I like how they adjusted the original MSRP on there to nearly $60k in 2019 dollars.

I scored a few swag items from Ebay on the 1996 Isuzu Trooper because I was curious to see what kind of literature they put out back then, and how it compared to SLX stuff.  As it turns out, some Troopers were better-equipped than SLXs!  Example:  The “Limited” model had headlight wipers.

I had an idea for a Christmas photo with red & green when my roommate James was road-testing a 2020 Toyota 4Runner recently.  He had it nice and caked with mud for this early-morning glamour shot.

Twins!  I’m looking after my friend Jason’s 1992 Integra GS-R right now.  His car is 0718 and mine is 0343 so they’re separated by only 375 vehicles on the production line.  Jason will be picking up his car in a few weeks, but in the meantime it’s enjoying being reunited with a close sibling.

Aztec Green overload.

“Drive your Legend to work” day, as requested by my friend Alex recently.

Yesterday, the ILX celebrated 222,222 miles on the odometer.  I made sure I was driving 2,000 RPM at 22 miles per hour.  And, I was driving with 2 friends on the 202 “South Mountain” freeway which is a brand new 22-mile stretch of interstate, literally opened just minutes prior.  Amazing how the stars can align when you want them to!  (Or when you want them “two.”).

Apple Maps still doesn’t even show the freeway as existing yet.

Before you go, I thought this was pretty cool and wanted to share.  My friend Owen in Washington spent a couple years of his life gutting and restoring an old Bluebird bus into a liveable RV.  Look at the level of detail in the finished product!

Two new episodes on my YouTube as well.

Have a great Christmas!

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!