Planes, Trains, and Acuras: Four Days in Arizona

While motorsports often occupy our weekends, there’s something to be said for getting out of town and enjoying seat time in a notable street car or six. And last weekend, I did just that. Thursday morning saw me employ a Metro train and two planes with the ultimate destination of Tyson Hugie’s home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tyson and I have been both “internet friends” and actual friends for a few years after we connected over his 500,000 mile Acura Legend coupe online. Somehow I decided that the end of June was just the best time to visit Phoenix (spoiler: it was a bit warm). Nonetheless, it was a nice change of pace to get out of town and see some friends – with the bonus of seeing a few family members.

Thursday

Cars driven: 2017 VW Jetta GLI

Tyson picked me up from Sky Harbor around 5 PM and we headed just minutes away to his newly-purchased home. Well, more like newly-purchased garage space that happens to have a few bedrooms. He hit the jackpot when moving last year, and managed to find a conventional three-bedroom house in Phoenix with two garages. There can be a total of seven cars under cover in the garage space, with driveway room for roughly five more. Just insane.

After Tyson’s roommate James came home, the three of us took his press car to dinner at a great, local Mexican spot called Los Dos Molinos. We ran out to Bar1 for drinks with a few of their friends, then headed back to the house as two of the three of us had work in the morning.

Friday

Cars driven: 2007 Acura TL Type-S, 1992 Acura NSX, 1949 Ford coupe, 2000 Jeep Wrangler, 1992 Acura Integra GS-R

Tyson and James had to spend their Fridays at work, so after a quick Starbucks run in Tyson’s newly-purchased TL-S, I split off for most of the day. Two of my uncles live in Arizona, and I planned to see both of them while visiting. First up was breakfast with my uncle George. He’s a car guy through and through, and enjoyed checking out the ’92 NSX that I appropriated from Tyson’s garage. It sat too low for him to comfortably get in or out of, so we took his 1949 Ford coupe to breakfast at Snooze.

After some delicious carnitas benedict, I hopped back in to the NSX and pointed it north toward Flagstaff, with my uncle Sam’s home in Dewey, AZ plugged into Google Maps. About 90 minutes later, I was taking a tour of the home he and my aunt Nancy purchased about two years ago. Sadly, we lost Nancy to cancer last year, but seeing what Sam called her “dream house” was very special.

Sam wanted to take me to a bar about 45 minutes away called the “Yacht Club,” but said the NSX wouldn’t make it. He recently acquired a TJ Jeep Wrangler on big BF Goodrich K02’s, and we fired that up instead. After a few minutes on surface streets, he turned off to a “Primitive Road” (the sign’s words, not mine) and thus began about 30 minutes of rutted, washboard mountain road. Our end point was indeed the Yacht Club, a small bar in the abandoned mine town of Mayer, Arizona. Now occupied by “some hippies who took over the homes,” per Sam, the town has a rough population of seven. We enjoyed a surprisingly-refreshing Coors Light and I piloted us back to civilization in the Jeep.

Now approaching late afternoon, I said my goodbyes to Sam and set the GPS for Tyson’s house. With its airbox situated behind the driver’s head, the NSX’s mid-mounted V6 sounds incredible as you crest the pointy end of the tach on I-17’s steeper grades. Such a fun car, and big thank you’s to Tyson for letting me put a couple hundred miles on it!

As I got back to the house, Tyson informed me of a final driving mission for the day – get his Vigor back from Hon-Man, about 25 miles away. He had left the Vigor earlier in the day, so he could pick up his Legend sedan that was being serviced and thus needed paying for before 5 PM. We took his 240k-mile, 90s-teal Integra GS-R out to get the Vigor, and I took the Integra home.

I’m not sure I’ve been so enamored with how an older Honda drives as I was with that GS-R. I don’t know Honda engine codes, but the ABCD24KADE under the hood was peppy, revvy, and so fun to wring out. Some guy in a silver… Genesis coupe(?) gave me a run for my money down the highway on-ramp, and although I didn’t have any chance in getting ahead, it was fun to give chase knowing the car would encourage redline in the first three gears and barely be cresting the speed limit.

Friday night was capped off with dinner at a local burger place and drinks around some of the popular Phoenix gay bars with a few of Tyson and James’ friends. Our Lyft rides were also in Hondas, naturally. (Notable moment: climbing in the Odyssey and James exclaiming “oh my god, is this an Elite?!”)

Saturday

Cars driven: 1994 Acura Vigor, 2003 Acura CL Type-S, 2007 Acura TL Type-S, 1994 Acura Legend sedan

My morning Starbucks run (Tyson: “I like coffee but I don’t make it at home!”) was this time completed in a five-speed Vigor from “the collection.” I’ve driven it before and it doesn’t do much for me. That said, the five-cylinder is unique to that car and has a neat growl to it. Tyson’s friend Matt met us at the house around 11 AM and the three of us, plus James, departed for lunch.

We played musical cars, and Matt handed me the keys to his six-speed CL-S first. The drive took us out to Cave Creek, about 40 minutes away. Favorite part of the CL: VTEC kicks in (yo) at 5,000 rpm, and shifting right at redline keeps it engaged gear after gear.

I took the TL-S keys after lunch. It’s no secret that while I’m a total BMW nerd at heart, I have a weird love for the third-gen TL. Matt had a collection of DVD Audio discs, which I got to enjoy on the ELS sound system. DVD Audio never caught on, but the system and sound stage were incredible for car audio. We all sat in the TL in a Crate & Barrel parking lot listening to Dire Straits for a minute, it was that good.

After some couch time to recharge, Tyson and I grabbed the Legend sedan (a six-speed twin to his six-speed coupe, same color and trim) and ran up to Surprise to check out a used car for sale, that his friends were interested in buying. On the way, we took a brief detour to Sun City West. My grandparents built a home in Sun City West when I was young, and I have tons of fond memories in that house over the years. They are both gone now, and I hadn’t been back to the house since I was in my early college years. Somehow, I remembered the address. It was tremendously cool to see the golf courses, street names, and home I remember from my childhood. The owners weren’t home, but I peeked behind the fence to see if the “water feature” Grandma and Grandpa were so excited about installing was still intact. It was.

Back in the Legend, we drove to Surprise to check out this car. It was GM’s finest effort from 1982… a 30k-mile Chevy Citation! The car was very clean, otherwise unremarkable, and had a coolant leak. It really makes you appreciate how far entry-level cars have come in 30 years.

All of the driving had us worn out, so we enjoyed dinner at a local favorite, Fez, and after a beer at nearby Bliss, we all said “no more.”

Sunday

Cars driven: 1994 Acura Legend sedan, 1994 Acura Legend coupe

Starbucks: sedan.

Tyson took me to a great breakfast at a newer spot around the corner. We killed some time exploring a record store – sadly, no DVD-A discs were to be found for the TL – and then I piloted the 554k-mile Legend coupe to Sky Harbor for my departure.

The flight home was uneventful, as was (mercifully) my Metro ride from the airport to my apartment.

Tyson and James deserve huge thank-yous for the hospitality all weekend – the time away was tons of fun, very relaxing, and being able to see both uncles as well as my grandparents’ old home was all incredibly special. Thanks, guys!

While we don’t often see tons of old Acuras in motorsport (save for Integras in Honda Challenge), all of Tyson’s cars are impeccably clean, engaging to drive, and importantly – have miles on them. It’s a nice reminder that even if you’re not hitting up a competitive event, car people are good people, and fun cars are fun no matter where they’re driven.

 

8 comments

  1. This is a more thorough summary of our weekend’s activities than I could have done even if I’d been taking notes the entire time! You crack me up. Sure enjoyed having you out here. Here’s a little edu-ma-cation: The motor in the GS-R is a “B17.” And I might be crazy, but I swear (at least from my awkward rearview mirror perspective) the car harassing us on the McClintock-to-Loop-202 onramp was a silver Eclipse. Haha. Either way, his driving skills left much to be desired. I lol’d about the James “Is this an Elite?” thing. Only a car gay would ever bring such a thing up. Truth be told (and this won’t surprise anyone) I usually try and see how many miles every Uber car I ever get into has on it. Haha. Hey, by the way, I found that DVD-A Dire Straits album on Ebay with Matt’s help. It wasn’t cheap – $60 w/ free shipping – but hey, I’d pay about the same for a concert ticket, and this is the concert that keeps on performing as many times as I want to! Thanks again for coming out, Jake. Let’s meet up again soon!

    1. B17! I knew it would sound familiar as soon as I heard which engine code that GS-R had. Glad you found the Dire Straits album, definitely worth it to build up a small collection of those discs as you come across ’em. I’ll check out my calendar and we’ll be in touch soon about getting you out to this coast!

  2. Excellent write up Jake!

    Tyson – kudos for keeping all that Acura royalty on the road. Love the collection.

    2nd gen Legends are….no….I won’t do it….. I imprinted on 1st gen Legends after my dad and grandpa had a matching set back in the early nineties. Each car had well over 250k and held together better than American sedans with less than 60k. Acura had it nailed for quite a long time.

    1. Jeff – 2G or GTFO 😛 I like the styling far more. Never driven a first-gen. All of them certainly hold up well to age and mileage.

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