Easter Weekend 2018 in Utah; Integra Sedan Update Video; IMSA Race Event Invitation

Posted in Integra, Legend, Milestones, Road Trip, Utah on April 7, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  560,138

Odometer (ILX):  204,370 – Slowly still creeping!

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,545

Trip Distance:  832 Miles

I’m exhausted.  I drove over 4,800 miles over the last 4 weekends in 4 different 24+ year old cars with > 100,000 miles on them – not counting any of the weekday miles that I accumulated on Mondays through Thursdays.  It’s time for a break, for me and for my cars.  The good news is that all of those miles were achieved with little or no drama.  And the other good news is that I’m actually recovering and taking it easy today.

For the Easter holiday weekend, I took the Legend coupe to southern Utah.  On Saturday I had a reservation at the best breakfast restaurant in town:  Grandma’s House.  The menu consisted of crepes with fruit toppings and whipped cream, with a side of sausage and a glass of milk to wash it all down.  It hit the spot.

I attended an annual car show in the city of Hurricane (pronounced hurri-cun if you’re a local) and spent a couple of hours decorating eggs with the nieces and nephews.  A grand ol’ time indeed.  My brother Payton took me for a spin in his customized 2002 Lexus IS300 — a car that I’ve featured here before but that seems to get more and more extreme each time I see it.  Currently its motor produces in excess of 700 horsepower.  Here’s a quick video.

I’ve been progressing little by little with the 1992 Integra LS.  Hon-Man and his talented repair crew dug in wholeheartedly this week and started tackling some of the car’s key needs.  First and foremost, they attended to some of the routine maintenance needs (fluids, primarily).  Without having any records on the car, I’m really just driving blindly here – and because of that, I wanted a careful eye to inspect the key mechanical components to make sure it’s roadworthy.

New (aftermarket) floor mats make the interior a little more cozy.

The electrical issues appear like they could be related at least in part to a faulty fuse box, and for that we’ve sourced a part which will arrive next week.  Everything else is taken care of:  We replaced a few hoses in the engine bay that were extremely soft and old, replaced both axles, and got some of the bulbs working again.  Marker lights, license plate lights, cruise control, and power antenna are all now working again, which is awesome.  The two front tires were directionally facing backwards, so those are fixed now too.  It’s all about those little details.

Yesterday, I took the car to the Arizona emissions station to have the exhaust gases evaluated.  The car passed, and then I went ahead and got registration taken care of, including special “Historic Vehicle” tags (made available to any vehicle > 25 years old).  Finally.  It’s been a long road getting that car purchased, transported, maintained, and formally relocated to its new home.  In the coming weeks we’ll finish up the mechanicals and probably have windows tinted & some dings removed.

Blog buddy Jason Pawela of Driven for Drives came out to Phoenix to visit this weekend and we took the Integra siblings out for a little drive this morning to Dreamy Draw Park off Northern Avenue.

Here is an 8-minute video capturing some of the latest happenings in the progress with the Integra LS, followed by some other photos of recent events and sightings.  Scroll to the bottom for one more feature – an invitation and offer for some free race tickets!  Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

I’ve always liked these Lexus SC coupes.  This 1999 SC300 was in my mom’s neighborhood.

Scenery in Washington, Utah

My friend Ryan who has the Jurassic Park Explorer (see Radwood 2017) will appreciate this.

Sunday morning quick photo at Pioneer Park on the Red Hill in St. George

Two 2013 models:  Dad’s MDX and my ILX

Easter egg hunting with nephew Locke.  That egg was easy to find.

Milestone on the way home to Phoenix on Sunday!

For reals:  Look at the size comparo between a Dodge Challenger and a G1 NSX.

Beauty shots of the siblings this morning at Dreamy Draw Park

Special Feature Opportunity:  Invitation to IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) Races.

OH, NY, CA, GA Acura owners:  I’m posting this invitation from Acura Motorsports that I received. Free race tickets and the chance to show your car:

Acura owners are invited to attend a weekend at the racetrack with Acura Motorsports. At four IMSA race weekends this year, Acura will be hosting an Acura Car Corral, where owners and enthusiasts can display their ride and enjoy the on-track action. Acura will be providing complimentary parking passes for the corral along with weekend passes to the race for the owner and a guest. Space is limited, so passes will be distributed by RSVP date. Acura Car Corral will be present at these four IMSA races:

1. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Showdown; May 5-6, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2. Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, June 30-July 1, Watkins Glen
3. Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, September 8-9, Monterey
4. Motul Petit Le Mans, October 12-13, Road Atlanta

To RSVP for one of these events, e-mail Kyle Ginty at kginty@chargegf.com with the following information:

– Name and name of guest
– Event you wish to attend
– Vehicle model/year
– Mailing Address
– Phone Number

 

Legend Coupe 15-Year Ownership Anniversary Video, News from NYIAS

Posted in Legend on March 29, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  559,218

Looky here.  Someone’s creeping up on a 560,000-mile milestone, and it will happen this weekend on an upcoming trip to Utah for the Easter holiday weekend.

This past Monday 3/26/2018 was the 15th anniversary of the day I flew from Las Vegas, Nevada to San Jose, California to buy the Legend coupe.  I was 21 years old, studying for my Associates Degree at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah and working part time at SkyWest Airlines.  Those were simpler times.  It’s hard to believe a decade and a half have passed.

Here’s an 8-minute video I put together, celebrating in the only way I could on a Monday morning:  driving the car to work.  After the workday to-and-fro commute, I sorted through a few pieces of old paperwork to reminisce a little.  Enjoy!

The red Integra is on day 2 at the mechanic and the jury is still out on what kind of maintenance it will be getting.  Meanwhile, I tried placing an order for some remanufactured alloy wheels to replace the current hubcaps & steelies, only to have the vendor cancel my transaction because “They’re on back order.”  Just like everything else with these 20+ year old cars, everything is out of stock or discontinued.  It’s a long road ahead.

I missed out on “most” of this week’s New York International Auto Show festivities, but I was able to tune in on Wednesday morning for a live feed from the Acura press conference.   Article on CNET here.  And, it looks like my friends were having fun without me.  HondaPro Jason and my friend Conor sent me this pic from the show floor.

Senior Vice President Henio Arcangeli took the stage to announce the debut of the MDX “A-Spec” model, as well as the all-new-for-2019 RDX (which itself will be available with an A-Spec variant).  Adding to the aggressive nature are a pair of nice chrome-finished exhaust outlets at the rear.  The panoramic sunroof looks like a nice touch too.

The MDX and RDX are two very important vehicles for the brand from a sales perspective, and it appears these updates will keep them at the front of the pack in their respective segments.  Just to give context to the volume of people who are buying these SUVs:  In February 2018, the MDX sold 3,337 units and the RDX sold 3,766.  Do you know how many the RLX sedan sold?  151.  It’s no wonder there is so much focus on the SUV lineup.

I’ll forever hope for another sports coupe (at least something sub-NSX-pricing) in the lineup, but for now I am glad to see the direction to a more performance-minded culture with all this A-Spec talk.  It takes us back to the Precision Crafted Performance days of yesteryear, where the brand got its start over 30 years ago.

Have a great holiday weekend.

Best Hits of the 80s & 90s – Round 2: “Radwood” Car Show in Sonoma, California

Posted in California, Car Show, Legend, Road Trip, Vigor on March 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  110,907

Trip Distance:  1,542 Miles

The front desk clerk at the Motel 6 in Sylmar, California raised his eyebrow and gave me a perplexed look.  “So it has no plate?” he asked as he was reading the paper I’d filled out to get a parking permit.  “No – that is the plate.  Five-C-Y-L.”  “Oh,” he said.  “And it’s an Acura Rigor?”  I had to correct him.  “No, it’s a Vigor.  They stopped making them in 1994.”  “Ahh,” he said, “I used to have a 1994 Civic.”  In my mind I rolled my eyes and felt like saying, “just give me the room key.”

I got another dose of the magnificent 1980s and 1990s this past weekend on my trip to a car show that suits precisely those model years.  This was thus the third time I’ve driven between Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay Area in 3 weeks.  I’m getting to know that Interstate 5 corridor like the back of my hand!  This time, the purpose of the trip was not to buy or transport a purchased car, but rather to meet up with some friends at a celebration of all things “rad,” at Radwood 2018.

Sonoma Raceway has been around for 50 years and is nestled in the southern Sonoma Mountains at a landform called Sears Point.  It has a 2.5 mile long course and capacity for 47,000 spectators.  This weekend, the facility played host to a wide array of cars from the decades of yesteryear – complete with the wardrobe and music that go along with that era.   Here’s a link to my post about the prior Radwood show, held in Anaheim last December.

This marked the longest trip I’ve taken in my Vigor in the nearly three years I’ve owned it, save the initial drive home to Phoenix from Denver when I bought it in July 2015.  I’m happy to report that the car did remarkably well.  I departed Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and had rainy weather throughout the westward trek to the Los Angeles area.  Then I headed north on Interstate 5 to the 580, the 680, the 780, and on to my final destination for the evening in Vallejo, only about 15 miles east of the Sonoma racetrack.

My drive took me across the Benicia – Martinez toll bridge across the Carquinez Strait.  There are a lot of waterways in the area — something I’m not very accustomed to since I live in the desert.

In Vallejo, I met up with my friend Jay who’d flown in from San Diego for the occasion.  He rented a 2005 Honda S2000 on Turo which we took to dinner along the waterfront at an Italian restaurant.  I did a quick parking-lot wipe-down of the Vigor before bed and it ended up getting rained on again overnight anyway.

Saturday morning, Jay brought over some thrift store apparel finds:  A vivid multi-color Wrangler button-down and a “California Lovin” blue hoodie.  If you’re going to attend a vintage car show, you have to look the part.  He also loaned me some pretty tubular Ray Ban sunglasses.  My friend Jason took his wardrobe to a whole new level, complete with a copper wig.

We timed our arrival at Sonoma just right in order to roll in with my friend Chris from San Francisco who brought his black 1994 Legend GS 6-speed.  The car show was broken up into a few different parking areas, with “Radwood Royalty” being a paved lot and everyone else staged on a grassy hill next to it.  Things were a little muddy thanks to the prior night’s rain but luckily the clouds held out and things stayed dry all day.  The wind, however, got chilly and I was extremely grateful to Jay for giving me that hoodie.

As was to be expected, there was a very vast array of automobiles from two to three decades ago.  I would say the German brands dominated the field, with a lot of very clean “E30” 3-series BMWs including my friend Aaron’s exceedingly rare “IX” all-wheel-drive model.  I saw a car called a Bitter for the first time, and I kind of chuckled that it had the same interior color as my Vigor – and even called it the same thing (“Cognac”).  My preferred picks of course were some of the Honda products, including two very clean third-generation Preludes (this one showing off its four-wheel-steering feature).

It was great to reconnect with friends again and catch up over taco truck food and classic music.  There were a lot of accolades for the Vigor and its quirky powertrain combination.  I made sure to display the window sticker and sales brochure, and I popped the hood to showcase that 176-horsepower, 5-cylinder powerplant proudly.

Coming locally from the SF Bay area was my buddy Shervin, in his 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD.  It had 205,000 miles on the odometer and a massive binder full of receipts.  Shervin dressed the part of a successful 1980s professional in a business suit, and he accessorized his car with some period-correct items like cassette tapes and some Avery business card templates.  He sure knows how to show up to a board meeting in style.

Radwood was the only car show I’ve ever attended that had giveaways allocated by way of thumb wars and rock-paper-scissors.  The “Best Japanese” award ended up going to a very clean Nissan Pulsar Sportbak.

I sadly gave back the borrowed Ray Bans and hit the highway southbound, going as far as Buttonwillow, California that evening (only about 4 hours away).  The Vigor proved itself as a pretty good road tripper with comfortable revs and a surprisingly quiet cabin considering it has frameless door windows.

I checked in at the Motel 6 around 9:00 p.m. – my third night in my third M6 of the trip.  If there were such a thing as a Diamond Platinum Preferred Motel 6 member, I’d be top dawg.  But when’s the last time you saw a window-mounted climate control unit that looked like this?  I guess the motel was last remodeled about when Radwood-era cars were new.

The final stretch to Phoenix was on Sunday, with just one more stop in Palm Desert for a bean & cheese burrito and an energy drink to fuel me up.  It was a whirlwind trip, but what Drive to Five adventure isn’t?  Thanks for coming along and enjoying some of the great 80s and 90s with me!

Traditional stop in Desert Center.  I go there with all my cars!

Fueling up in Palm Desert at Chevron.

Taco Bell for lunch in Buttonwillow.  Does it look familiar?

It should.  Because I was just there with the Integra sedan six days prior.

Northbound on Interstate 5 at the split with I-580.  I took this same route last year when I went to Sacramento for NALM 2017.

Westbound on I-580 toward Dublin.

Met up with my friend Brian at his office.

Jay’s rental S2000 that we took to dinner.  It was a fun little ride for 13 years and 133,000 miles old!

Waterfront view from dinner.

Having some fettuccine alfredo with Jay.

Arrival at Sonoma with Chris and his friend Alfred in my sideview mirror.

Pretty good shine on these old rides.

Remember the Mitsubishi 3000 GT Spyder?

And better yet, remember the 1980s Chevy Nova?  Someone actually restored one of these and I love it!

View overlooking the venue.

My friend Chris who flew up from LA for the occasion.

Driving home through some misty fog on I-5 southbound.

The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 3: Detail Day, Photos, & Some Brochure Materials

Posted in Detailing, Integra on March 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Vigor):  110,000

The final chapter (for now!):  After two whirlwind trips from Phoenix to the San Francisco Bay Area — one to bid on the Integra, and another to pick it up, I finally had the car back home at my garage.  Of all the cars in the collection, it needs probably the most work – both mechanically and cosmetically.  The long list of to-do items will be addressed in due time – a long time – as the Integra will probably only be driven occasionally.

I wasted no time in heading over to the self-service car wash and getting the undercarriage and wheel wells all shined up.  I spent time that same day on the door jambs, the interior, wheel covers & tires, and trunk.  I’ll leave a complete engine bay detail for a later date – that task can take up to an entire day in itself.

The results achieved after just a simple one-step cleaner/wax with Meguiar’s are pretty remarkable, so I’m happy about that.  I’m waiting for my California title to arrive in the next couple of weeks so meanwhile I’m rolling around on the existing tags until I get it registered in Arizona.

Here’s a list of things I’d like to have addressed on the car:

  • Bring maintenance up to date
  • Register with historic plates
  • Engine detail
  • Paintless dent removal
  • Source factory stainless steel exhaust tips
  • Add GS trim wheels
  • Tint windows
  • Source front bumper license plate plugs

Meanwhile I’m thrilled with the little project for the time being and it fits well in the garage.  Color coordination was not 100% intentional, but I did end up with 2 greens, 2 reds, and 2 tans.  Here’s a 13-minute video on how my detail day went.

Just for fun:  I thought this would be kind of a cool time to share some scans and verbiage from my vast collection of Acura literature.  Below are a few things I pulled out.

You’re not likely to find two cars more dissimilar than the Acura NSX and the Legend.  One looks like it could break the sound barrier standing still.  The other looks like it was built for royalty.  You’re also not likely to find two cars so dissimilar built by the same carmaker.  We’re not sure why, but it probably has something to do with “tradition” and a certain inflexible thinking about how things “should be done.”

summary

Some automakers, even those claiming a hundred years of experience, feel there’s safety in doing the expected.  Even fairly new arrivals in the luxury car market don’t deviate much from fairly rigid boundaries.  At Acura, we operate under a different set of rules.  Actually, there are only three rules.  Build the best.  Be at the leading edge, and pour all your passion into it.  Apparently, it works.  The Acura NSX has been called “the best driving experience available from anywhere in the world.”  It’s amazing what a car company can accomplish when it refuses to follow the same old ruts in the road.

Acura tailored each of its vehicles at that time to cater to a certain attribute or goal.

acura_attributes

NSX:  It takes just one word to express the unique philosophy that inspires every Acura automobile:  NSX.  Conceived as the ultimate exotic sports car, the NSX was designed to achieve the razor-sharp response, breathtaking performance, and delicate balance of a Formula One race car, but with the poise, reliability, and ergonomic excellence of a world-class grand-touring automobile.  The result is one of the most acclaimed exotic sports cars ever offered to the public.

nsx_billboard

1992

nsx

1993

nsx3

1994

nsx2

Legend Sedan:  In designing the second-generation Legend sedan, we made a courageous decision, especially in light of the stunning success of the original Legend sedan.  We started over.  After five years of intensive research and engineering, the completely new Legend sedan emerged, a combination of the best in automotive design.  It is graced with precise, sure-footed handling, developed from lessons learned designing the scalpel-sharp NSX.  Exhilarating acceleration, motivated by an aluminum V-6 with an impressive Grand Prix pedigree.  An elegant interior environment of intelligent design and painstakingly developed ergonomics.  And the high levels of sophistication, dependability, and safety for which Acura has become justifiably famous.

legend_sedan_billboard

1992

legend_sedan

1993

legend_sedan3

1994

legend_sedan2

Legend Coupe:  One look at the sculpted shape of the Legend coupe tells you what this automobile is designed to do:  knife through the wind with speed, poise, and grace, leaving only a murmur in the air to signal its passage.  In Europe the Legend coupe will be called upon to cruise at speeds over 130 miles an hour, a level of performance that magnifies the significance of even the most subtle advance in aerodynamics.  From its steeply-raked windshield and backlight to its flush-mounted windows and low-profile grille, the Legend coupe is much more than beautiful – it is the product of countless hours of wind-tunnel testing.

legend_coupe_billboard

1992

legend_coupe

1994

legend_coupe2

Vigor:  The design goal for the 1992 Vigor was a supremely challenging one:  to combine the best of automotive technology, creating a uniquely satisfying personal performance sports sedan.  Start with the confidence-inspiring dynamic balance of the NSX.  Add the distinctive style and interior ambience of a sophisticated touring coupe.  Factor in the responsiveness and agility of a lightweight sports sedan.  Incorporate the security and elegant practicality of a four-door luxury automobile.  And bring together these qualities in an aggressive, yet eminently usable, personal sports sedan – delivering the excitement and performance of a world-class sports coupe, but with the universal appeal of a four-door road car.

vigor_billboard

1992

vigor

1993

vigor3

1994

vigor2

Integra:  Since their introduction, the Integra 3-door and 4-door sports sedans have earned a reputation for stirring performance, exhilarating agility, extraordinarily refined road matters and intelligent ergonomics.  Many automakers would be reluctant to change such an impressive automobile, one labeled “… a superb car” by no less an authority than Car and Driver magazine.  But not Acura.  The 1992 Integra has been substantially improved, with significant advances in engine power, driveline smoothness, interior detailing, and aerodynamics.

gsr_billboard

1992

integra

1993

integra3

Every Acura automobile has been meticulously inspected and tested to ensure the high levels of reliability and durability which the Acura name has come to signify.  Many car companies claim to build satisfying cars, but the Acura Division has an impressive record of top rankings in both short-term and long-term customer satisfaction surveys to back it up.  Most recently, Acura has ranked best in the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Performance Index (VPI), a survey that measures the operating performance and overall comfort of a vehicle after three full years of ownership.

The interesting thing was to consider the demographics of Acura’s customers at the time.  This is a chart found within a massive, boxed “Dealer Kit” I got my hands on many years ago.  The average NSX owner was 44 years old with a $230,000 household income.  That’s $396,000 today.  Big money.

1992_acura_demographics

1994 was the change-over to the “bug eye” Integra in the full-line photo below so that’s why my collection is better described as 1991 through 1993 era, even though the Legends and Vigor are 1994.

1994_full_line

Thanks for reading!

The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 2: Getting My New 1992 Integra Home

Posted in Arizona, California, Integra, Road Trip on March 22, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,325

Few people probably get excited about 25 year old Acuras like I do.  But anyone who follows my blog knows how anxious I must have been after completing the purchase of my latest acquisition to get it home and in my garage.  The only problem was, it was located about 800 miles away in another state.

Before I left Auction City in Redwood City, California on the Saturday that I bid and “won” the car, I had arranged for transport via a broker called Montway.  The rate came in at $570 door-to-door to Phoenix and because of the frequently traveled cities between which the car would be transported, I was assured by a representative that dispatch would likely happen within 48 hours and the car would get picked up early the next week.

If only.  48 hours came and went.  72 hours came and went, and not a word from the shipper, who’d told me I’d be receiving an email as soon as it was assigned.  So three days in and it still hadn’t even been assigned to trucker.  I called and emailed them.  On day 4, I was told, “We are working to find a carrier.  I’ll call around personally.”  On day 5, “Your order is now in priority status,” whatever that means.

Each time I inquired as to the status, I was getting the runaround, and my patience was wearing thin.  The Integra was parked at an auction facility that needed it gone – and I didn’t want people messing with it (knowing there would be another swarm of potential bidders coming in soon and not wanting them to touch it).

Finally I received a break on the afternoon of day 5 (Thursday) when Montway called.  “We’ve found a carrier,” they told me.  “He can pick up the car on Monday and his rate is $770.”  I was floored for a couple of reasons.  #1 – Monday would have been 9 days after I placed the order for immediate pick-up.  #2 – The quoted rate was over $200 more than I was already told the transport would cost.  I told the representative, absolutely not.  Cancel my order.

And right in the middle of trying to host my brother, his wife, and 3 kids at my house for the weekend, I was forced to book a last minute flight from Phoenix to San Jose so I could go pick up the car and drive it home myself.  It seemed more than a little crazy:  Flying out alone, trusting a 26 year old car that had been driven only 20 miles in the last 2 years (according to Carfax records), and attempting a 12-hour, 800-mile drive home.  But I’m not right in the head.

I boarded my Southwest flight on Friday night around 9:30 and was in my motel in Sunnyvale, California by a little after 11:00 p.m.  I didn’t sleep well that night in anticipation of the following morning’s events.  It’s worth mentioning here, this was the third time I’ve flown into San Jose airport to drive a new car home:  The first was the Legend coupe on March 26, 2003.  The second was the NSX on December 17, 2011.  That must be a good area to buy cars from.

Another Uber bright and early on Saturday morning took me to Auction City in Redwood City where I shook hands with Edward Lauber, the owner, who said, “I hear you collect Acuras.”  My car was pulled around to the front and I was sent on my way at 8:30 in the morning.  I only had 1/8th of a tank of gas, so my first stop was a Chevron on Marsh Road before hitting Highway 101 southbound.

Here’s where things got interesting.  I accelerated onto the onramp and got settled in.  I pulled out the cigarette lighter to insert my phone charger and the entire assembly was a little bit loose.  I jiggled it around a little and could sometimes get the phone to take a charge for a second, but it would not stay charging.  My battery life was at 22%.  Great.  I advised a few people that I would likely be unavailable by phone for most of the day after it died.

I was pleased at how the Integra handled at freeway speed, with revs < 4,000 RPM at 75 miles per hour, unlike its counterpart the GS-R.  Road and wind noise were not bad, the engine sounded healthy.  Then I made an attempt at the cruise control.  No dice.  The light on the “master” switch illuminated, but the system would not engage.  Shoot – I had 12 hours ahead of me and my right leg was not happy about it.

Over the course of the next 730 miles, I made a list of 13 weird electrical things going on with the car.  Some were quite puzzling.  My favorite was this:  When you activated the left turn signal, after it flashes 5 times, it started flashing the “Door” light in the instrument cluster, the clock, and the rear window defrost button.  How are those things even related?

At this point I was fairly confident there is something wrong with the entire system.  And the longer I stared at the dash, the more I noticed things about it.  Nooks and crannies all had water spots in them, white in color.  It’s almost like someone sneezed milk over the entire dashboard at some point.  Was a water-related incident to blame for the fact that all the electronics were on the fritz?  Likely.

But the good news is that I sailed along in comfort and style on Highway 101, Highway 152 toward Los Banos, and then I-5 southbound without any mechanical issues whatsoever.  The clutch, brakes, and gearbox were perfect.  The A/C blew cold.  The windows, locks, and headlights all worked.  So for that I was extremely grateful.  Here is my list of other things I noticed:

  • Radio antenna would not go up.  It went up during the auction, I remember noticing it.  So did something get disconnected or broken in the week the car sat there afterward?
  • The radio itself is a quirky thing.  Sometimes it doesn’t work at all; other times I get sound from just 1 speaker.
  • The Intermittent wiper speed does not work.
  • The clock reset itself to 1:00 twice during fuel stops.
  • Once I heard the “open door” chime when no doors were open.
  • Sometimes the clock is “fuzzy” / fizzing in and out.
  • The dome light doesn’t turn on.
  • Marker lights and license plate lights don’t work.

I think we have a real project on our hands – and I’m not even sure that I care to address most of those, as long as the car runs & drives well.  And it sure does.  It survived extended highway miles, a steep grade up the Grapevine north of the LA area, and 3 different segments of gridlocked traffic all with constant A/C running.  Meanwhile my right leg got accustomed to being permanently set on the throttle.  I took Highway 210 to Highway 57 to Interstate 10.  Then I could finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

By now, it was around 4:30 p.m. so I figured it was time to go find a way to turn my dead phone on so I could check messages and let people know that I was doing okay.  I stopped at a Starbucks in Palm Desert, California for that.  I was able to use my laptop battery to send a charge to my phone and get it back up to about 20% life remaining before I headed out again.  Dusk came around 6:30 and I was crossing into the Arizona state line, and by 8:30 I was pulling into my driveway in Phoenix – exactly 12 hours after leaving Auction City earlier in the morning.

It was a relief to be home.  The known issues with the Integra were the least of my concerns.  I got home safe and sound, and that was all that mattered to me.  My brother and his family were still at my house so I enjoyed the evening with them and relaxed.  A little later on, I pulled the car in so it could be parked with the rest of the collection.  It fit in nicely.  And of course, I had to wear my “Just one more car.  I promise” T-shirt for the occasion.

Now what?  Come back for my next post as I begin to address some of the car’s issues – both cosmetic and mechanical.  On the to-do list will be a few visual enhancements:  OEM floor mats, rear mud guards, dent removal, factory exhaust tips, etc.  And I plan on putting historic license plates on this one for sure.  It has earned them!  Here is a video capturing 13 minutes of the adventure.

Text from my friend calling me out on buying another car

Firing up the Integra and getting ready to roll out

Lunch stop at Taco Bell in Buttonwillow, California

Starting to see the final stretch through the desert

Good thing I didn’t need any fuel from these pumps in Desert Center

Dusk as I roll into Arizona

Kid-approved!  I arrived home to my brother’s family who was still there visiting.

Come back soon for my next write-up and a video on getting the car cleaned up!

End note: Do I have any Gen 1 Prelude fans in the audience?  This 1982 model belongs to my trusty mechanic, Tait at Hon-Man Auto Care.  It has only around 100,000 miles on it and is going up for sale.  Let me know if you’re interested!

The Last Puzzle Piece, Part 1: Purchasing My 1992 Acura Integra LS Sedan 5-Speed

Posted in Integra, Legend, NSX, Vigor on March 20, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  559,191

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  157,914

Odometer (NSX):  109,834

Odometer (Vigor):  109,341

Odometer (Integra Hatchback):  247,112

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  117,318

Trip Distance:  1,514 Miles

If you put on your fancy pin-striped suit and walked into your local Acura dealership about 25 years ago in 1993, you might hear “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40 played over the radio in the showroom.  If you had the means at that time, you could say to a salesperson, “I’ll take one of everything,” and then you’d proceed to drop about $210,000 MSRP ($365,000 equivalent in 2018) on the six different models that Acura sold at the time.

acura_dealer

Today, cars of that era are cheap.  So cheap, in fact, that two of mine were bought on credit cards.  Just like that.  As if you’re picking up a candy bar at the local CVS Pharmacy, but instead you just bought yourself an entire automobile.

A lot of people have collections.  A friend of mine collects Pyrex cookware.  My sister-in-law collects vintage luggage.  And I just happen to collect Acuras.  This past weekend I successfully closed the loop on a matching “set” that I’d been striving 20 years for, since about age 16.  Do I deserve a recognition award or rehab therapy?  I’ll let you decide.  Jalopnik thinks I’m a little nuts, but that’s okay.

Here’s how the timing worked out and where I got each of my six now-classic Acuras from:

  • 2003:  1994 Legend LS coupe 6-speed in San Jose, California
  • 2008:  1994 Legend GS sedan 6-speed in Logan, Utah
  • 2011:  1992 NSX 5-speed in San Jose, California
  • 2015:  1994 Vigor GS 5-speed in Denver, Colorado
  • 2016:  1992 Integra GS-R 5-speed in Seattle, Washington

And now #6:  The newest adoptee into my family of early 1990s Acuras is a “Torino Red Metallic” 1992 Integra LS sedan.  Here are the many reasons why I had to have it:

  • All original paint and interior (Flint Black was my first choice, but Torino Red was second)
  • Completely rust-free body and undercarriage
  • Unmodified / stock configuration in every way
  • Low miles, 116,562 as of the sale date (that’s 4,400 per year)
  • Only two owners, the second having owned it since 1996 and then donating it to charity
  • Functional everything (A/C, electronics, clutch / brakes / engine / trans)
  • 5-speed manual transmission (I would not even consider an automatic)
  • 1992-93 model year “refresh” design styling to front and rear, super rare to find on the Integra sedan “DB1” chassis
  • Clean title
  • Recent timing belt maintenance history
  • LS trim deletes the ABS (anti-lock braking system) which is often times problematic (as is the case on my 1992 GS-R model)
  • Accessory OEM wing spoiler with LED brake lamp
  • My family’s first Acura was a red, second-generation Integra sedan in 1996.  It’s like going back to my roots.

This was not an easy car to find.  Oh no, not by any means.  I’d been on the hunt for literally years, scouring SearchTempest to collect craigslist postings from nationwide on a nearly daily basis.  I had at least a half-dozen friends on high alert, too.  I almost settled a few times.  One car that surfaced in Salt Lake City was everything I wanted but with extreme rust and a fraction of the price.  I was willing to make concessions but that wasn’t one that I wanted to deal with.  It seemed that for every 10 second generation Integra hatchbacks, there was only 1 sedan.  Rare, rare, rare.

Then Friday, March 9th came along.  In my typical fashion, I revved up my Internet browser in between meetings at work and did my customary “1992 Integra” keyword title search on the craigslist aggregation site.  I saw a posting 3 lines down in SF Bay.  “1992 Acura Integra – for auction – $700.”  Without knowing any of the other details, I clicked the ad and my eyes got as big as those hearts on the heart-eye emoji.  Sedan, check.  Manual, check.  Original, check.  It was too good to be true though, because it was 12 hours away and available via live auction only.  A phone call to the selling dealer was disappointing, as they would not deal with any offers remotely.  “You have to be here to bid,” the representative told me.  Damn.

The wheels in my head got spinning.  A last-minute flight from PHX to SFO would run me $360 and put me on the ground a little after midnight, so I’d need a hotel.  And then what if the car was junk and I didn’t buy it?  I’d be spending that same amount to fly right back home.  Could I risk dropping $800+ just for the chance to buy?

Then a crazy thought came to mind.  I was already planning on going to Los Angeles the following day to meet up with friends for a cars & coffee event.  What if I drove out earlier, took a massive side trip north to Redwood City, attended the auction, and then back-tracked to LA for my scheduled events?  Could I?

On 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, I departed from my friend Kyle’s birthday party in central Phoenix behind the wheel of my garage queen 1994 Legend GS 6-speed sedan – a car that had only been driven about 1,000 miles in the prior 9 months.  I’ve owned it for a decade and I know that it’s up to date on maintenance, but most people would still agree it was a little gutsy to get into a 24-year-old car with 156,000 miles on it and plan to drive nearly 800 miles, alone, in the middle of the night.

The I-10 corridor is no unfamiliar place for me.  In the dozen years I’ve lived in Phoenix, I’ve driven the interstate to LA probably a hundred times.  So I set the cruise control, fueled up on a Monster “Mean Bean” energy drinks, and watched the miles go by while listening to some hits on my 80-gig iPod classic with a cassette tape adapter (for that true period-correct experience, of course).

By midnight local time, I was near Palm Springs.  Around 1:00 a.m, I was in LA.  And by 3:00 a.m., I was already northbound on Interstate 5 with my sights set on the San Francisco Bay.  The Legend hummed onward in 6th gear with little effort, delivering a remarkable 27 miles per gallon on one of my fillups.

Daylight started peeking out over the eastern horizon a little after 6:00 a.m., and by that time, I could already see the finish line.  I was northbound on Highway 101 crossing through San Jose – oddly enough, the same place where I’d purchased my NSX and my Legend coupe years ago.  Clearly it’s a good place to find quality cars.  I arrived at the auction house in Redwood City well before it opened, so I had a $15 omelet at Squeeze In about 3 miles away and collected my composure for a busy day ahead.  I think I had 3 bites of food.  My stomach was in absolute knots.  But I liked the sound of this omelet for obvious reasons.

I’ve been to plenty of auctions before.  Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale has been an annual tradition for me lately.  But I’ve never bid or even been serious about buying before.  And for that reason, my anxiety was through the roof.  Because the minute I walked into the warehouse and saw the Integra, I got this feeling like I knew I would be buying it.  Parked between a Ford utility truck and a Volkswagen Golf, it was the oldest of the 21 different vehicles up for charity auction that day.

Auction City allows prospective buyers to check out the inventory before the bidding starts at 10:30 a.m.  So, I did just that.  I cranked up the car, checked the electronics, and gave the clutch a few kicks.  The engine bay looked remarkably clean, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw a yellow sticker:  The timing belt change record.  April 2012 at 111,000 miles.  Score.

At this point it was “game on.”  I found myself getting protective every time someone else got in or around the car to take a look at it, slam the hood, lean up against it, or rev the motor.  I tried not to get my hopes too far up, and I also tried to keep my head on straight.  The combination of racing thoughts and complete lack of sleep left me feeling lightheaded a couple of times.

An old man next to me leaned over and commented on the Integra, “Needs a lot of work,” he said.  “I ran the Carfax and the timing belt hasn’t been done yet.”  I knew he was wrong, but I didn’t say it.  Keep your bids off my car, man.  A sheet of paper on the dashboard said “Suggested Retail $1,925.”  What would it go for?

At registration, I had been given bidder #37 so I got my card ready as soon as I saw the Integra was almost up.  I stood near the car and tried to understand the mumbo-jumbo coming out of the auctioneer’s mouth in the echoey building.  Luckily the numbers were understandable if nothing else was.

I raised my hand repeatedly like the nerd in the front row of the class who knows the answer to every stupid question.  I had a max bid amount in mind, and I was going to keep my hand in the air as long as I could until that number was reached.  At least 3 other people were fighting me for that car.

Two minutes later, it was SOLD for $2,700, the auctioneer exclaimed.  I won it.  Giddy.  Amazed.  How the heck did that just happen?  I was on cloud 9.

Immediately I started looking into logistics.  Within 30 minutes, I had pre-paid for a Montway transport truck so the logistics were taken care of (or so I thought – more on that later).  After all 21 vehicles in the hall had been sold, I met with a representative to handle payment & paperwork (he of course asked why I’d felt compelled to bid to the point that I did).  By the way, the Integra was the only car of the 21 to sell for a price point above its posted “Retail” price.  Yeah, so what.  I was prepared to go even higher.

With that, I knew the deal was sealed and my nerves calmed back down.  But my weekend adventure wasn’t over yet.  For the next 6 hours, I fought heavy rain almost all the way back to the Los Angeles area, including a horrendous construction zone on the north end of the city with poorly marked lane lines and heavy traffic.  By the time I rolled into my Super 8 in Torrance, I’d white-knuckled so long my hands were permanently gripping the Legend’s steering wheel.

For the first time since Thursday, I finally settled in and took a minute to breathe.  The next day came early, as I picked up a long-time friend named Kazuhiro from his hotel nearby and we went to Cars & Coffee South Bay in Gardena.  Kazuhiro was on vacation from Japan for a week.  Back home, he has a 1995 Legend GS sedan that looks exactly like mine.  It was great to finally meet him, as well as reconnect with other friends from southern California despite the drizzly weather.

I headed back home to Phoenix at the conclusion of lunch at Eatalian Deli and enjoyed the next 6 hours of solitude and success after having achieved all of my trip’s goals.  After unpacking the car, I made the most long awaited reunion of all:  My flannel pillow.  What a weekend.  Now I just had to figure out a way to get the car home.  Come back to the next post to see how that went!

So that’s the story of how after a 20-year quest, I ended up with a fleet of every vehicle configuration that Acura sold in the early 1990s.  And I only paid about $53,000 for all six, so I guess you could say I got 75% off.  And that’s a bargain deal I can live with.  Check out the 19-minute video including scenes from the auction itself.

Welcomed to Redwood City bright & early after an all-night drive

Arrival at Auction City on Saturday morning

That engine bay – clean!

Paperwork showing the “suggested retail” price of $1,925

Left rear quarter.  Those exhaust tips are not OEM!  (But that will change)

Front left quarter.  The car needs some TLC but it’s a strong start.

These were the makes, models, and final prices for all 21 cars auctioned.

These are the 14″ GS trim wheels I’ll be getting when I ditch those hubcaps.

That spoiler!  Shot from the accessories brochure.

Picking up Kazuu in Torrance on Sunday morning

My friend Ryu at cars & coffee (and a Honda Beat in the background)

With Kazuu and Fred

Kazuu’s car, back home in Japan

Raul, Rob, Kazuu, Tyson, Jay, Brett, after breakfast

Headed back home to AZ

My roommate had a Toyota C-HR on test last week.  Aztec Green anyone?

And my friend Sunny visited – was great to see him!

Come back soon for the adventure that getting the car home involved!

Desert Valley Auto Parts Junkyard Trip, a Video Collaboration with Chris, & a Visit from Jay

Posted in Arizona, Blog, Integra, NSX on February 26, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  156,369

Odometer (Integra):  246,561

I clearly don’t watch enough TV, because somehow I missed the fact that a local Phoenix area junkyard was the set of a Discovery Channel TV show back in 2011.  The series, called Desert Car Kings, was filmed at Desert Valley Auto Parts (DVAP) near 7th Avenue & Deer Valley Road on the north end of town.  I haven’t been able to find any episodes online but there are a handful of short clips on YouTube and it looked like a pretty cool series.

The desert is indeed a great place to look for vintage cars and parts.  While interiors, dashboards, and rubber/vinyl trim pieces age and crack terribly, usually the fundamental body parts – frames, panels, and engine components – stay remarkably rust-free and preserved. I frequently visit the local junkyards for that reason, but the ones I’ve been to have a lot newer cars in them and sometimes aren’t very well organized.  DVAP was laid out in a very orderly fashion by make.

Desert Car Kings lasted for just 1 season and 10 episodes, but one of the things they did during the show was restore cars from the junkyard.  That’s always sort of been a fantasy of mine:  Plucking a car from the path of imminent destruction (the crusher), giving it new life, and putting it on the road.

My friend Dane who you met on the recent MDX trip to Nevada introduced me to DVAP.  He is quite the connoisseur of vintage and collectible cars, with the following in his collection currently, from oldest to newest:

  • 1959 Imperial Crown
  • 1964 Dodge 440
  • 1966 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 1969 Imperial LeBaron
  • 1992 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo
  • 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4
  • 2010 Lincoln MKZ

Can you sense some Mopar loving there?  Dane and I visited DVAP on a Saturday morning and got more than our $2 admission worth wandering around and checking out the inventory.  In the end, we didn’t make any purchases.  Here are 8 minutes of random video I recorded.

Check out this lineup of a couple of the year 1992’s best performance sport coupes.

This weekend, my friend Chris came over to grab lunch with me.  I met him a couple of years ago through the local Integra club (“AZ Second Gens” – about 50 members strong) and have followed his car adventures on his YouTube channel ever since.  Here’s the link so you can take a look and subscribe for yourselves.  We did a car-key swap and headed to lunch at a burger place a few miles away.  Here are a few minutes of video of the meet-up.  It was great to link up.

Here’s the video Chris put together.  27 minutes worth!  Get your popcorn ready or order a pizza first.

While you’re on YouTube, I have some other gems for you.  Check out this next video if you get 30 seconds to spare.  It’s an Acura commercial from around 1993.

What caught my eye right away – without even having to do rewind and replay – was the bridge crossing of an NSX and a Legend at about 8 seconds in.  “Navajo Bridge!” I screamed in my head.  I’ve driven over it dozens of times.  What’s odd, though, is that the video was shot just 2 years before a new bypass bridge west of the original 1929 bridge was completed.  The deck that the Legend & NSX were being driven on is now only open to pedestrian traffic.  Even so, how can I possibly resist re-creating this with my own cars in the newer bridge that runs parallel to it?

Notice in the freeze-frame above, the distinct pattern of criss-cross metal railing along the side.  Below, I’m standing on the same bridge (but along its west side, instead of east) and you can see the newer bridge in the background.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined some friends for brunch at 5th Avenue Cafe in central Phoenix.  Roger showed up in his 1965 Dodge station wagon, and I took the NSX.  There was a little bit of ‘something for everyone.’

Earlier in the week, I got to go to lunch in a 1962 Porsche owned by my friend Bob.

It had an incredible amount of interior space for a vehicle of that size!

I had company from San Diego this past weekend:  My friend Jay rolled into town on Thursday evening in his 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL550 drop-top.  What a stunning ride in Storm Red.

He and I cruised down to Tucson on Saturday morning to meet up with some friends for brunch at Cup Cafe inside the historic Hotel Congress.

Perfect day for a patio chat.

Baked egg something-or-other.  Those potatoes were my fave, though!

Jonathan making his attempt at a group shot, selfie style.

Jonathan and his roommate Corey’s garage.  I approved.

And a quick clip of me driving Jay’s Benz.  It’s 100+ more horsepower than I’m used to handling.

Thanks, Jay, for the visit!

I think you’re all caught up now!  Have a great week!