Press Preview: 2016 McLaren 570S

Posted in PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on May 22, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,595

533595

Odometer (ILX):  125,855

125855

570s1

It’s fun to dream.  Most of us will never own a vehicle with a six-figure pricetag, but that doesn’t stop us from obsessing over them by doing things like making them our smartphone wallpaper backgrounds.  I was invited as a PAPA member to get a sneak-peek of the new McLaren 570S model at a dealership last Friday evening at a VIP event for automotive media.  The 570S Coupe has a base price of $184,000 and it was unveiled to the world at last month’s New York International Auto Show (photo credit to Autoblog for the above & below).  That pricetag makes the 570S the company’s least expensive car sold in the United States.

570s

McLaren’s dealership on Raintree Drive in Scottsdale, Arizona is very simple and unassuming from the exterior.  As a matter of fact, I’d driven by in the past and didn’t even realize it was there.  Unlike other car dealerships, they don’t need balloons, bright signs, or fanfare to attract people.  When you’re spending $200k on a car, it’s a little different purchase experience than tire-kicking at CarMax.

mclaren_dealership

When I arrived, there were hors d’oeuvres and cocktails being distributed by a fancily-dressed waitstaff.  The 570S was under a white sheet until 7:45 p.m. when a countdown on the flatscreen TV went from 29 to zero and the cover was pulled off dramatically.  We then heard from some McLaren employees including an engineer named Chris Goodwin who played a key role in its development and who told us he’d personally logged “thousands” of miles in the 570S as a means of testing and evaluation.  He’d flown in from the U.K.

570s_covered

Like other McLaren models, the new 570S has a mid-engine setup, rear-wheel-drive layout and carbon fiber construction (for strength and light weight).  The performance stats on this “baby” McLaren are impressive:  Zero-to-60 happens in a flash at just 3.1 seconds.  Product representatives told us the car can accelerate to 124 miles per hour in 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of 204 miles per hour.  Got a need for speed?  Here’s your car.  Now, if only it didn’t cost as much as I owe on my home mortgage.  You’ll need a $10,000 deposit to secure your spot in line for the car when it becomes available.  The dealership doesn’t yet know how many cars they’ll be allocated, and there will be a 4-month wait from the time of order until delivery.

570s

The representative joked, “McLaren has no intention of building an SUV.  We are a sports car company.  Mid engined, rear-wheel-drive is what we do.”  He also went on to emphasize the fact that the brand is not going for high-volume sales and considers itself in a special niche. I was surprised to learn that despite McLaren’s longstanding reputation in automotive racing, the company has only been in the business of making “road” cars for about the last four years.  The McLaren name has been around in racing since the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix.  Today, the McLaren Formula One team is actually called McLaren Honda.  Why?  Honda builds the engines!  No wonder they’re so successful!

Here are some nitty-gritty specs on the new 570S supercar:

  • 3.8 liter V8 twin-turbo motor
  • 562 horsepower; 443 lb-ft of torque
  • 7-speed dual clutch transmission
  • Double-wishbone independent suspension
  • 19 inch wheels (285 width rear tires!)
  • 17 available exterior colors

Starting with just one roadgoing model, the MP4, the McLaren lineup of cars now consists of a wide range of cars, from this “entry level” 570S to the $1.15 million “P1″ model.   The 570S will go head-to-head in the same general price class as the not-yet-on-sale 2016 Acura NSX.  Now that’s a drag race I’d pay money to see.  Below are the rest of the pics from my visit to the preview event.  Thanks for reading!

Bunch of McLarens in the service bay

tyson_in_mclaren_garage

This one in the showroom is the 650S model

tyson_with_650s

Want it?  That’ll be $390,286, please.

650s_pricetag

Here’s the interior.

mclaren_650s_interior

A few more pics of the 570S on display

rear

Lots of carbon fiber

door_open

Are they still called “Lambo doors” when they’re not on a Lambo?

570s_interior

Interior

mclaren_brakes

Beefy brakes!

tsx_ilx

And a couple of ‘twinning’ silver 6-speed Acura sedans last weekend for good measure.

What’s up for the weekend here in Arizona?  Well, James from Six Speed Blog and I have a couple of 2015 model year pickup trucks at our disposal.  And we’re getting them dirty :).  More on that next week.

canyon_tacoma

Happy holiday weekend to all.

Hiking Shaw Butte to Abandoned “Cloud 9″ Restaurant in Phoenix

Posted in Hikes, Legend on May 18, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,559

533559

Odometer (ILX):  125,623

125623

Remember that classic 1985 movie, Goonies?  It’s one of my all-time faves.  I can’t believe it’s 30 years old.

goonies_cover

So, there’s a scene in the movie where some kids go hiking around in an abandoned restaurant in search of buried treasure after finding a map in someone’s attic.  Sounds like my kind of adventure, and that’s why I love the movie.

goonies_restaurant

Oh, and I also loved it because of some sweet off-racing scenes with a Jeep Cherokee 4×4.

goonies_jeep

I get a kick out of “urban exploration.”  One of my most memorable road trips ever was when I hiked around the ghost town of Modena, Utah.  I’ll never forget the feeling of uneasiness as I climbed rickety wooden staircases and wondered if they’d crumble under my weight.  The thrill of discovery, adventure — and sometimes, of getting caught in a place where you shouldn’t be — is fun for me.

MODENA

A few friends, family members and I (hi, mom!) are planning a 20+ mile Grand Canyon “rim to rim” hike a week from this Friday.  We’re insane, yes.  But, as part of the training for that, I’ve started seeking out local Phoenix-area hikes a couple of times a week in preparation.  My friends Rustin and Wade told me about a 3-miler with a nice 900-or-so foot elevation gain near 7th Avenue & Peoria in north-central Phoenix.  We met up at the trailhead last Wednesday after work and set out with Wade’s dogs, Abi & Jackson, leading the way.  The path was called Shaw Butte:  Trail #306 in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

trail_306_marker

According to the “Health” app on my iPhone, we climbed the equivalent of 68 flights of stairs.  I was panting more than the dogs were by the time we reached the summit.  The hike was just what I needed to get my heart rate up, and the views were awesome.

flight

The icing on the cake, though, was getting to wander around the remains of an old restaurant that’s been gone for over 50 years now.  Cloud 9 opened in the early 1960s as a luxury restaurant for the Phoenix elite.  According to one video account, the facility was small and could only accommodate about 30-40 people.  In all my googling, I wasn’t able to find a picture of the building from when it was open for business.  On November 8, 1964, the building burned down.  There are suspicions that the demise of the building may have been related to gang or mob activity, but nobody really knows for sure.

Even when the restaurant was in operation, the road was too rough to be traversed by passenger cars so people were shuttled to the summit by four-wheel-drive vehicles.  Today, the location is part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve System and it’s not likely it would ever be built up again as a commercial business.

cloud 9 sign

The round-trip hike took us about an hour and a half.  Here we are getting ready at the trailhead.

north_mountain_parking

Wade takes the lead

wade_hiking

Now it’s Jackson’s turn.  This is the crumbly road that once led to the restaurant.

road_to_cloud9

Staircase and some old kitchen equipment

cloud9b

This concrete pad is where the tables once would have been.  There were glass windows along the edge.

cloud9a

Abi, Rustin, and Wade as silhouettes on the Cloud 9 patio

cloud9

It would have been a great view from the restaurant – especially at night.

phx_view

Taking a break with the pups

tyson_jackson_abi

Sign along the roadway

sign

Photo op.  Color coordinated – unintentionally (I promise)

group

Best thing about the Acura ILX?  Huge cupholders that can accommodate gallons of diet soda after a hike.

cupholder

Now that we’ve worked up an appetite, I’ll do a quick share about a local restaurant that I checked out for the first time over the weekend. This one’s for you, Dave in Seattle!  I know my friend Dave is a BBQ fan so I thought he’d appreciate this.  It’s Honey Bear’s BBQ – family owned and operated since 1986.

coupe_at_honey_bears

I was one of only 5 people in the restaurant at about noon on a Saturday.  Had my share of parking spot choices, and I took an end space as usual.  There wasn’t much traffic on Central Avenue.

coupe_on_central

Inside view – pretty quiet.

honey_bears_interior

Those are some soft drinks you don’t see very often:  RC Cola, Sunkist, and Hires Root Beer.

sodas

“You don’t need no teeth to eat our meat.”  How’s that for a motto?

honey_bears_menu

And here’s that pulled pork sandwich.  Delicious, I’d say.  The only issue was that the meat was so juicy, it soaked through the bun and I ended up having to eat everything with a fork.

bbq_sandwich

And we’re off to cruise down Central on a full belly.

central_avenue

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Reader’s Ride: Tim’s Honda Accord Coupe

Posted in Reader's Ride on May 15, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (NSX):  100,449

100449

Odometer (ILX):  125,273

125273

Today, I’m going to hand the mic over to a friend who wants to share his own automotive story.  Since this blog launched in early 2011, I’ve been contacted by so many cool people and I love it when they share road trip stories, mileage achievements, or anything else with me.  My friend Tim first contacted me three years ago, in April 2012, when he had recently surpassed the 150,000-mile mark in this 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe:

tim_original_accord

Since then, Tim and I have kept in touch – including for a window of time when he departed the Honda family for a stint with Subaru:

tim_subaru

Now, he’s gone full circle and re-joined the Accord ownership community.  Here’s his own write-up, along with a few pictures:

____________________

I watched an interview with Irv Gordon a few months ago, and he said that when he bought his now-famous Volvo, his first weekend was spent just driving his new car, and he put about 1500 miles on it between Friday and Monday. I did not really understand what he was saying until this past weekend. Now, I totally get it.

I owned a Subaru Impreza, and truthfully, I had been tiring of it for some time. The Subaru is a lot of fun in the snow. Unfortunately, it’s not as much fun any other time. It is light and boxy, so it doesn’t handle crosswinds well. You feel the road surface too much, and I have to spend a lot of time correcting the steering as I drive. The alignment is fine and the wheels are balanced, but it’s just a small car that does not do long distances well. I’d arrive at my destinations exhausted. I frequently take trips to Boston, and I’d be a wreck by the time I got there. I knew I wanted something different.

And I missed Honda. I had owned Hondas for almost twenty years, and my uncle had bought my previous car, a 2003 Accord coupe. Whenever I would see him, I’d ask if I could drive my old car. I missed the responsiveness of the Honda V6. I missed the smooth ride that could also handle the twisty stuff. I missed the H on the wheel (no, seriously). So I looked online at the used inventory at my local Honda dealer, Burns Honda in Marlton, NJ. I’ve always had good customer service experiences there. I bought two cars from them over the years, and also had them do all my servicing. I spotted a listing for a white Accord V6 coupe, 2010, with 50,000 miles, so Monday I went to check it out after work. To my surprise, it was already sold. The salesman showed me a red 4-cylinder Accord coupe (2012, I think) that I test drove. It was nice, but it was not what I wanted. I also test drove a 2013 Honda Sport, which disappointed me (see below). I really did not find anything that I wanted on the lot.

So I was standing in the dealer’s lot, trying to convince myself to keep an open mind and perhaps consider the red coupe when the white Accord I wanted drove past, a big “SOLD” sign hanging from the rear view mirror. It was being taken to the service bay for final prep before delivery to its new owner. I watched it go past, longingly. The salesman saw my expression and said,”Hey, listen, we get these in from time to time. If you want, I’ll call you when we get another V6 Accord coupe on the lot.” I left, disappointed.

That was Monday. Wednesday night I got a call from my salesman. They had a gray Accord V6 coupe which had been traded in that earlier that night. Might I want to come up on Thursday and look at it? I’m pretty sure I didn’t even let him finish the question before I said,”Yes, and don’t show it to anyone else!”

I work for a university as an administrator. Thursday I had an all-day meeting on campus. It was a really productive meeting, but honestly, my brain was focused on checking out the Accord. As soon as the meeting was over, I got in my Impreza and drove as fast as I legally could down the NJ Turnpike to get to the dealer. I checked in with the salesman, and he walked me over to an absolutely filthy gray Accord coupe. I mean, forget parking under a tree. This car looked like it had been parked in a forest and left there. “We can clean that! You’ll see! It will look like a different car!” the salesman exclaimed, reading my facial expression.

I looked under the dirt, leaves, sap, and everything else, and I saw that there were no major dents (a few dings here and there, but that happens), the paint was intact, and the carpets and upholstery were in great shape. I took it for a test drive…. two years with an Impreza and its dinky little flat-four engine, I had forgotten the joys of VTEC and the Honda V6. Wow. Just wow. I loved the test drive and knew that, barring any major problems with the deal, this would be my next car.

tim_accord_3

We went back to the salesman’s desk and hammered out a deal within fifteen minutes. I got what I felt was a fair price on the car and a fair price for my trade-in. I had done research on what both of those figures should be, and the dealership’s initial offer was actually pretty close to what I wanted. It just took a few minutes of talking to finalize a deal that satisfied me.

The only problem was that because it was after five o’clock, and the car needed significant preparation, I wouldn’t be able to pick it up until Friday. I left the dealership at 7:00 pm, with a plan to pick the car up at 3:30 pm the next day. Talk about an agonizing 18.5 hours! I barely slept Thursday night (I was really excited, what can I say). It didn’t help that the dealership gave me a loaner Honda CR-V. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the loaner car, but a CR-V will never ever be confused with a sports car. Anyway, at work on Friday, I told my co-workers the news, and they were excited for me. I had them all laughing when I showed them the timer I had set on my iPhone. It was counting down until 3:30 pm. Every so often, someone would pop their head into my office to ask how much time until I got the car, and I would eagerly respond: “Four hours, thirteen minutes!” “Three hours, twenty-eight minutes!” “Two hours, seven minutes!” Finally, at 3:00 pm, I set out from work to go get my next car.

tim_accord_2

Did you ever see the video for “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry? Katy Perry’s character starts out as a socially awkward nerd, gets a makeover from her friend, and turns into a gorgeous girl who is the life of the party? That’s EXACTLY what it was like seeing my car, all cleaned up. It came out beautifully. They also did about $1200 worth of work to prepare it, including new brakes, a new tire, oil and transmission fluid changes, some repairs to the exhaust system, and some other minor items. After shaking hands with the salesman and getting the keys, I departed for the Jersey Shore. My family has a house near the town of Cape May, and we had a small gathering there Friday night.

tim_accord_1

I think I giggled the entire drive to the shore. It’s about an hour and a half ride, and I spent the whole time driving with a big grin on my face. The power from the engine, the responsiveness of the chassis, the comfort of the ride… the car is content to be a long-distance cruiser, and then can instantly turn into a willing dance partner when I want to drive with some enthusiasm. Honestly, I started feeling like Ayrton Senna in the McLaren-Honda MP-4/4 on the streets of Monaco or the back straight of Hockenheim.

It’s a beautiful car, too. Every time I come out to my car, I feel like I want to pinch myself,”Wait, that’s MY car?” Really, I’ve never had this visceral of a reaction to a car before. I’ve liked all my previous cars (even my Subaru). But this is love. This is a car I could easily keep for years and years, and not outgrow or lose my interest. And, as I said in my initial email to you, at the risk of sounding sappy, I feel like I came back home. At the time that I switched to Subaru, Tyson, I shared with you that I felt like Honda had lost some of its mojo. And I still think that there is a problem: Honda had a vibe in the 90’s and early 00’s that I do not feel like they have fully recovered. The Prelude, the S2000, the CL, the NSX, the Integra… all those cars are in the past. But this Accord coupe surprised me. It manages to channel a lot of that Honda-ness that I thought the company had lost. It’s sporty. The engine is a gem. It’s comfortable. Good fuel economy. It comes alive when it’s pushed. The Honda Accord Sport sedan I test drove was everything that is wrong with Honda- too big, too slow, too complicated. This Accord coupe, though, is everything that is right, and reminds me of the Hondas that I owned in the past. Just better.

Anyway, thanks for reading my story.

And it’s good to be home.

__________________

Thanks again, Tim, for sharing this with us!  And nice job on proper parking with that new Accord.

Tim_parking

Have a great weekend, all!

Road Trip to Lake Havasu City, Arizona: Driving the London Bridge

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Road Trip on May 11, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,499

533499

Odometer (ILX):  125,027

125027

Trip Distance:  412 Miles

scottsdale_lhc

Before we get started with today’s drive, I need to get a nursery rhyme stuck in your head:

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down, falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady.

tyson_with_bridge

There now.  Let’s get in the car and check out a fun Saturday road trip destination about 3.5 hours west of Phoenix.

In 1958, there was not much to see in the Mojave Desert at the Arizona-California state line.  From a barren wasteland, a man named Robert P. McCulloch had a vision:  He wanted to build a city.  He purchased 3,300 acres of land on the east side of Lake Havasu on the Colorado River and planned it out for 4 years.  Later, he picked up another 13,000 acres.  Lake Havasu City was established in 1963, incorporated in 1978, and continued to develop in the ensuing decades.  Today, LHC is home to about 52,000 people.  It’s a popular destination for spring breakers, water recreationalists (I just made that word up), and snowbirds who escape the winters up north and park their fifth-wheel trailers for a few months in Arizona every year.

welcome

One of the city’s biggest attractions is a 930-foot-long stone & concrete bridge that was once a critical piece of infrastructure way across the Atlantic, in England.  From 1831 until 1967, this bridge spanned the River Thames in London.  But Robert McCulloch wanted so badly to bring a “centerpiece” to his newly-founded community that he purchased the entire bridge from the city of London and had it transported, piece by piece (they were numbered to keep them in order), to western Arizona.  It took three years to re-build the bridge in its new location, and it opened for traffic in 1971.  It connects a small island in the Colorado River with the rest of Lake Havasu City.  The area surrounding the bridge is understandably themed as that of an English village.

english_village

James from Six Speed Blog and I headed out in our luxo-rides around 9:30 in the morning.  This week, his test car was a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 sedan.  I took my tried & true 2013 Acura ILX.  Most of our drive was on hum-drum Interstate 10 which is always plagued with way too many 18-wheelers clogging up the fast lane, but a couple hours into it, we entered the back roads and things got a lot more interesting.

c400_i10

For about the next 90 minutes, Highway 95 ran parallel to the bright turquoise Colorado River.  There were homes lining the river for most of the way, and we spotted a few boaters out enjoying the beautiful Saturday weather. It wasn’t long until we closed in on Lake Havasu City.

havasu_view

The name of the road which passes over London Bridge is (not surprisingly) McCulloch Drive, named for the man who purchased & reconstructed the bridge back in the 1960s.  The first thing James and I wanted to do when we arrived in town was get some lunch, so I picked a top-rated (well, 4.3 out of 5-star) spot for us to check out, called Barley Bros.  From our booth, we had a sweet view of the bridge outside.  I went with a chicken club sandwich and James went for a “lobster burger,” but the thing we both raved the most about was the garlic cheese bread we got as an appetizer.  The bread was so soft it almost melted in your mouth!

restaurant_view

There are shops, food trucks, and other vendors along the water underneath the bridge, so we hiked down a couple flights of stairs and wandered around a little to check out the area.  James spotted a jet ski rental place so we decided to try something spontaneous and check out the pricing.  Champion Rentals offered pontoon boots and watercraft for rental by the hour. Jet skiing is something I hadn’t done for probably a decade and a half, but back in the day, my family spent a ton of time at the lake.  Here’s a picture of me in summer 1997 at Lake Powell in southeastern Utah.

tyson_at_powell

And another shot of me (left) and my dad (right) following the boat.

tyson_craig

James had a little experience with personal watercraft too, and we both kind of wanted to have some fun.  For $75 each, we plunked down our credit cards and booked ourselves on a couple of black & white Yamaha WaveRunners.  I was surprised at how “little” training the owner gave – basically a few instructions on operation of the machines and a how-to on buckling the life vests, and we were off!

It took us 10 minutes to idle our way out of the “No Wake Zone” in Thompson Bay but immediately afterward we hit the throttles and had a drag race.  My WaveRunner somehow was a good deal quicker than James’ so I left him in my dust.  Or, in my wake, rather.  We had a lot of fun tooling around and got plenty wet in our everyday apparel – including shoes & socks which ended up being squishy and wet.

james_tyson_at_lake

After our hour of fun, we turned our watercraft back in and went back to the cars.  We fueled up at a station called “Terrible’s” (not sure why anyone would name a business such a thing) and started our return drive to the Phoenix area.  This time, I took the extremely posh Benz.  Coming from a high-revving 4 cylinder to the Mercedes 3.0 V6, I was immediately blown away at just how refined the car felt at 70 miles per hour.  It effortlessly floated along with zero wind noise.

At one point I needed to pass two slow-moving semi trucks on Highway 95 and I discovered just how quickly the car can scoot!  Its 329 horses are readily available to gallop.  The head-up display made a handy way to tell current speed and direction at all times without taking eyes off the road.  I had to chuckle when James pulled up behind me at a stop light and his iPhone bluetooth paired with the Mercedes’ radio and started playing his music.  As soon as I pulled away at the green light, the music cut back out again.

hwy_95_3

For the return trip, we opted for a little different routing.  Instead of taking Highway 95 down through Quartzsite and getting on Interstate 10 from there, we headed southeast on Highway 72 through some rinky-dink towns like Hope and Salome.  There really wasn’t much to see, but the seclusion and feeling of remoteness made it fun and the road had a bunch of whoop-de-doos.  One 30-mile stretch between Salome and I-10 had at least 40 or 50 warnings painted on the pavement in giant block letters: “WATCH FOR CATTLE.”  Since it’s open range out there, I’m guessing they have a high incidence rate of car-to-cow contact.  I didn’t see a single cow in the whole stretch, however.  We did make a quick stop at a teeny chapel.  This one was just a tad larger than the one I saw in Yuma back in September.

salome_church

The day concluded with a memorable 125,000-mile milestone in the ILX.  Next month, on June 12, I’ll celebrate my 3-year anniversary with that car.  Hard to believe how quickly the years (and miles) have flown.  Thanks for being a part of today’s drive and I look forward to having you along for many more in the future.  Below are the rest of the pictures and a short video.

125000

Exiting Interstate 10 and heading north on Highway 95

95_sign

Hey!  I think I found out where I need to build a home!

tyson_drive_quartzsite

Arrow-straight Highway 95 heading north toward Parker, Arizona from Quartzsite

hwy_95_2

In Parker, a junction with Highway 62 which leads toward California

parker_junction

Onward toward LHC

hwy_95

Getting closer!

distances

Welcome to Lake Havasu City!  “Play Like You Mean It.”  Ha!  It’s no wonder Havasu is such a hot-spot for spring-breakers.

havasu_welcome

The ILX with the London Bridge in the background

ilx_with_bridge

Driving across the London Bridge.  I wonder if even those light fixtures are original?

crossing_bridge_2

Peeking out toward the mighty Colorado River.

crossing_bridge

Lake Havasu City is a true oasis.  It’s nothing but barren Mojave Desert in every direction.

lake_havasu

A good look at the bridge from the south side.

bridge

We saw this guy doing acrobatic tricks on some crazy looking “water jet shoes” of some sort.

guy_with_water_rocket_shoes

James cruising along on his WaveRunner

james

Getting a little wet in the middle of the lake

james_tyson_2

Pre-departure fuel stop.

fuel_stop

“Suds your Duds” Laundromat near Bouse, Arizona.

suds_your_duds

Couple hours from home.

salome_sign

Picture from inside the tiny chapel on Salome Road

church_inside

We did sign the guest register!

church_guest_book

Car swap again off Interstate 10

c400

Carfax Reports and Smog Checks

Posted in Blog, ILX, Legend, Maintenance on May 7, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  533,379

533379

Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,786

146786

Odometer (ILX):  124,503

124503

Some people buy a vehicle as a disposable appliance – a sheer means of transportation to get from A to B.  Others hold their vehicles so near and dear that they’ll rebuild them – twice – after catastrophic collisions.  Where do you fall within that range of car owners?

One of my favorite things to do on rare weekends when I stay in town is to visit the local Ecology “pick & pull” auto junkyard, plunk down $2 for my entry fee, and simply wander around through the aisles of parted-out cars.  I like to eyeball the interiors and look specifically at the gauge clusters to see just how many miles each one traveled before being put to rest in the graveyard.  Occasionally I’ll come across something with fewer than 100,000 miles on it.  Most of the time the odometers are between 200,000 and 300,000.  And every once in awhile, I’ve seen them beyond that – but never anything in the 400’s or 500’s.

g2gold

The thing that I wonder about, though, is what kind of story each car would tell if it could talk.  How many of those vehicles have ever had “Just Married” painted on them?  How many were driven by a zealous 16-year-old as his or her first car?  How many ever took a cross-country trip from one coast to the other?  How many of them were ever stolen?  Or, a more somber thought, how many of them became witness to their driver’s death in a collision?

Many people today buy a car without ever having thought of its prior ownership history.  For me, such history is a hugely important part of how “good”  a used car is.  I go crazy for a clean car for sale by its original owner, with a stack of detailed maintenance paperwork, a clean title, and some original floor mats.  Mmmm.  It’s scary to think of buying something without any kind of record.  There are, however, ways to at least know something about where any car’s been.

carf

Carfax and Autocheck are companies in business to provide that kind of reporting.  Carfax has been around since 1986.  The company has access to 10 billion records from 86,000 sources (motor vehicle departments, auctions, insurance companies, repair facilities, etc).  With just a VIN or a license plate (and a credit card), regular consumers can pull vehicle history reports from those billions of records.  Carfax is certainly not a complete record, and it should only be considered for a used car purchase in combination with other research.

IMG_5706

As I’ve been casually in the market for a 1992-94 Acura Vigor, I grabbed a $45 Carfax account and started running reports on a few prospective cars, including the above pictured beauty (sarcasm).  My account gives me access to UNLIMITED reports by license plate / state, or 5 reports by 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  I had some fun with this.

One Vigor showed record of a whopping 13 owners in its lifetime.  I ran some of my friends’ cars for the heck of it, too.  I also checked out some of my “old” cars to see where they ended up. I was intrigued by the report on my first car:  the 1986 Chevy Celebrity that was my pride and joy from 1997-98.  I laughed the other day when I saw this picture on Instagram because the keys shown there are exactly what the keys to my Celeb looked like (square for the ignition, round for the door & trunk locks – I think).

gm_keys

I know my parents bought the car new in 1986 from Axtell Chevrolet in Logan, Utah.  But the first record on Carfax wasn’t until March 1994 with an odometer reading of 555 miles.  Say what?  Yes.  The odometer on that Celebrity only had 5 digits.  So, by the time the car was only 8 years old, it had already turned over to 00,000 and made any future readings erroneous.  Utah noted that fact on the Celebrity’s report.  The car’s title was branded with “Exceeds Mechanical Limits.”  Can you imagine if my ILX only had a 5-digit odometer?  It would have rolled over once already and it’s a 2-year-old car.

eml_title

By the time I got the Celebrity, it had around 194,000 miles on it.  But of course, the odometer read only 94,000.

celebrity_gauges

That Celebrity dropped off Carfax reporting a decade ago, since the last record was a purchase reported in March 2005.  I’m sure the car has long since been crushed and turned into scrap metal.

celeb_last_records

I thought it would be interesting to go ahead and share the detailed Carfax reports for my Legend and for my ILX.  The Legend’s history is tainted so it’s a little unnerving to post it here, but it’s all in the interest of a good history lesson.  Some of you may know that I hit two deer with the Legend in summer 2007.

It took almost six years — until early 2013 — before that insurance claim started showing up on the Carfax report!  My car’s title today is clear.  There are a whopping 77 service records, and oddly enough, Carfax thinks my Legend is actually worth about $2,600 MORE than retail book value!  That means I could price it at about $4,700 since “excellent” condition value is $2,173.

coupe_value

It took me 11 screen captures to get the full Legend Carfax report.  Here you go!

Page 1

1

Page 2

2

Page 3

3

Page 4

4

Page 5

5

Page 6

6

Page 7

7

Page 8

8

Page 9

9

Page 10

10

Page 11

11

Then there’s the ILX.  Clockwork maintenance from Acura of Tempe, and not much else.

Page 1

ilx_1

Page 2

ilx_2

Page 3

ilx_3

There’s one more Legend record that’ll be showing up soon.  I got a $41.23 oil change on Wednesday with 5W30 synthetic blend oil at Acura of Tempe.  It had been over 6 months since my last service, but only 1,703 miles.  I really hadn’t driven the car much since last fall!  Here’s the latest snapshot from my Excel maintenance record showing service and repair costs since about 512,000 miles.

coupe_maint

The technician did note a number of leaks, including the differential, transmission, driver side inner CV boot, and rear main seal.  This all does come as a bit of a surprise though since my garage floor is squeaky clean and I’ve never noticed a drop in any fluid levels.

Today during lunch, I took my Legend GS sedan for its emissions (“smog”) testing.  The test is required once every two years and it evaluates the levels of pollutants in the exhaust output.  The wait was only about 20 minutes.

emissions_line

Here are the numbers:

  • Hydrocarbons in grams/mile:  .49 (applicable standard = .80)
  • Carbon monoxide in grams/mile:  7.65 (applicable standard = 12)
  • Oxides of nitrogen in grams/mile:  .66 (applicable standard = 2)

It passed, I was issued my certificate for a $20 fee, and I went on my way.  My 2-year renewal registration with the State of Arizona was only $95, and $50 of that was because I have a personalized tag.  It really is a cheap car to hang onto.  I gave the car a bath before putting it back into storage.

right_rear

side

Oops, should have pulled out the vacuum.

sedan_interior

sedan_1

sedan_rear

grille

Happy Friday!

Press Preview: Ford EcoBoost Challenge Event in Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in PAPA, Vehicle Reviews on May 4, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,309

533309

Odometer (ILX):  124,160

124160

westworld

There’s nothing like the smell of burning rubber on a Friday morning to get your day started.  I fully enjoyed ripping through the gears in a couple of the auto industry’s favorite “hot hatch” cars on a closed course last week

Ford rolled out the blue carpet for us at a media-only event on Friday as part of its 17-city “EcoBoost Challenge” tour.  I attended along with about 20 other members of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA).  The venue was WestWorld, on the north end of town in Scottsdale.  It’s the same location where the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction takes place every January.  Some Ford folks kicked off the day with a little background on Ford’s current product lineup and the layout of the event.  Brandt Coultas from the Dearborn, Michigan plant was in attendance.  I’d already met him previously at a Ford F-150 preview event about a year ago.

f150

Since 2009, Ford’s EcoBoost lineup of engines have made a name for themselves for being powerful yet fuel efficient.  They are all characterized by being turbocharged and utilizing direct injection.  More from Wiki:

Engines equipped with EcoBoost technology are designed to deliver power and torque consistent with those of larger engine displacement while achieving approximately 20% better fuel efficiency and 15% reduced green house emissions than these same engines.

As a matter of fact, when Ford’s representative Tania started talking about the available Mustang powertrains, she ranked the 4-cylinder EcoBoost as a higher performance car than the V6 model.  See how the power compares across the three available motors?

  • EcoBoost 4 cylinder:  310 horsepower
  • V6:  300 horsepower
  • V8:  435 horsepower

Ford’s Mustang test drive lap was way too short.  Even after having completed it twice in a row, I still had probably only driven the car 1/2 mile.  The “acceleration straightaway” was barely long enough to get me through first gear and starting into second before I had to mash the brakes for the first left corner.  But, that corner was a lot of fun – and so was the slalom section through a couple of cones.  My yellow EcoBoost Mustang 6-speed handled really well.  I also found the power very impressive for a 4 cylinder.

inside_mustang_2

The next event was a “Reaction Time Challenge” on a separate course, equipped with all “ST” models.  I talked awhile back about my first driving experience in a Fiesta ST, which in that case was in a normal, on-road setting instead of a closed track.  Steve Lynch who I recently paired up with for a scenic mountain drive was my nemesis at the start line.  Each of us were equipped with the same vehicle.  The goal here was not to beat any specific lap time but rather to achieve the best reaction time once the light turned green.

tyson_fiesta_st

We were instructed to rev the tach to 3,000 RPM for take-off, and I followed those instructions to a T.  The Fiesta spun its wheels just momentarily on take-off but got a grip quickly and I was on my way.  Steve and I blasted in parallel through first gear to the red flag at the end of the very short runway, then clamped down on the brakes.  A digital readout displayed our respective reaction times.  My personal best was a .43 and I think Steve was somewhere in the 5’s.  Following that straight section, there was a curvy section lined with orange cones and then another slalom.  The Fiesta is very light on its feet and I had a blast tossing it around.  The surprising part was that the larger Focus ST actually didn’t feel nearly as fun.  Steve and I agreed on that.  Each of us took two laps in each car.

As some of my readers may know, my younger brother Payton is the driver for the H&S Motorsports race team.  I felt so proud of my reaction time that I sent him a text message.  He had to quickly squash my arrogance by telling me he’d achieved a reaction time of .051 in a diesel-powered Ford Lightning pickup truck.  That’s a near-perfect time!  I guess I have some practicing to do before I race against him.

payton_text

(Random video of my brother kicking butt at some drag races)

Being front-wheel-drive, the Fiestas and Focuses (Foci?) handled vastly differently than the RWD Mustang, but I actually preferred them.  I applaud Ford for continuing to cater to customers who demand “fun” in the car that they drive.  I also appreciate that Ford continues offering a stick shift so readily in so much of its lineup.  One of the events at the track day was “Shift Phobia” where first-timers and new drivers could give stick-shifting a try who hadn’t done it before.

It was a great day on the track with Ford, and I definitely gained a greater appreciation for the capability of the EcoBoost lineup of engines.  Ford says that over 4 million EcoBoost-powered vehicles have been sold to date, and that number will certainly continue to grow at a rapid pace.  A remarkable 79% of the new aluminum-bodied F-150 models sold in the Phoenix area have been EcoBoost-equipped (the national average is 60%).  Knowing what I know now, I’m not surprised.  It’s a great formula and the proof is in the performance.

Many thanks to Ford for inviting PAPA to participate at the event!

badge

Tania giving us the lay of the land (track)

white_board

My 4-cyl Mustang test car

yellow_stang

Behind the wheel of a Fiesta ST 6-speed

mirror

Having a post-lap recap conversation with Steve

steve_fiesta

Some of the vehicles awaiting punishment on the Reaction Time Challenge

three_cars

Focus ST.  I love this color.

blue_focus

Bonus Material:

On Saturday, I took the NSX on a “Supercar Saturday” drive with about 50 other cars.  We did about 200 miles – looping up to Roosevelt Lake and then into Globe for lunch, before heading back to Phoenix.  Here’s some cool drone footage.  See if you can spot my car.

tyson_jack

may2drive

Readers’ Rides: 3 Dedicated Honda-Fans

Posted in Blog, Reader's Ride on May 1, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  533,300

533300

Odometer (ILX):  124,015

124015

It made my day yesterday to get this instant message from a coworker.  He’d seen that instead of the ILX, my Legend was parked in my “regular” spot at the office.

IM_brian

Let’s talk today about other people who take just as much pride in their cars as I do.  I swear, my friend Josh’s TSX is immortal.  His tried and true road warrior has endured many years of Idaho blizzards, varying road conditions, and now:  Not one, but two “total loss” accidents.  And it’s still running strong at around 450,000 miles on the original engine and transmission.  Well, sort of.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

josh_tsx_front

I first posted a feature on Josh’s then-375,000-mile 2005 TSX back in September 2013.  Josh and I have since gotten together for tandem Acura road trips a couple of times including Shoshone Falls and Lowman, both in his home state of Idaho.

josh_odo

Last July, the car was involved in an accident and sustained damage to the front end.  Over the course of the next several weeks, Josh posted 5-part series of updates called “Rise of the Phoenix” that took his readers through the rebuild process from start to finish.  As a grand finale, the car spent some time inside the dealership showroom of Boise’s “Lyle Pearson Acura.”

All was well until just a couple of weeks ago when the TSX was again met with an unfortunate fate.  Josh ran across a some fallen rock debris – and a deer – on a back road between Salmon and Boise, Idaho.  The result was a tweaked suspension and an obliterated 17″ wheel – among a few other things.  That story was featured here.

josh_tsx

At this time, the verdict is still out on whether Josh will continue his quest for 500,000 miles or let the TSX go.  Pop on over to TSXTravels.com and give him a little encouragement if you get time.

I wanted also also follow up and mention my good Legend-friend Mirel.  I introduced him to you in August 2013 when we talked about his near-mint condition 1993 Legend LS coupe 6-speed that he restored.  Since then, he’s done it again…. and again.  Mirel has a knack for finding “used up” Legends on craigslist and putting them back on the road where they belong.  Here’s a thread on the Legend forums where he detailed the progress on his two most recent project cars.

First off, his Cayman White 1995 Legend, before and after.  It had sustained collision damage to the front left corner and required some suspension work, which Mirel performed himself.  His wife is still driving this car on a daily basis.

white_before

Getting some help from son & wife.  Acura love is a family deal around his house!

white_during

After.  For do-it-yourself body work (and until he has a real shop take care of it), it looks great!

white_after

Mirel’s next project car was a Sherwood Green 1995 Legend that needed a new transmission.  Mirel found a 6-speed transmission at the junkyard and swapped it into this car.

green_before

Backyard rebuild underway.

geen_during

After.  It’s amazing what a detail job will do.

green_after

He later sold this car, but not before taking a few pictures of his Legend collection at the house — and a black Acura RL (n0t seen) in the garage, too.

mirel

Finally, we have a new feature on the blog, and it’s my friend Hy.  He’s been driving Honda cars since the late 1980s when he bought his first 1989 Honda Accord SE-i.  He later went on to buy a brand new 1993 Accord SE which he still has today.  His wife drives a 2000 Accord V6 sedan, and Hy’s daily driver is a 2004 Acura TSX.  Each of the cars is in absolute showroom condition.  I visited his home last night and got a special preview.

tyson_with_hy_cars

This Accord has been lovingly maintained since new, and it shows.  It really looks and drives like a brand new car.

hy_accord

The current odometer reading is a little over 127,000 miles which comes out to only about 5,800 miles per year over the last 22 years.  It’s lived in the Phoenix area its whole life.  Hy told me that when he took delivery, it had just over 100 miles on the odometer.

hy_accord_gauges

The interior is as nice as the rest of the car, with triple-stacked floor mats keeping the carpets immaculate.

hy_accord_interior

Even the engine bay looks clean enough to eat off of.

hy_accord_engine

The other car – and Hy’s first Honda stick-shift product – is this 2004 Acura TSX in White Diamond Pearl.  Hy liked the TSX when it first came out and he had a bit of a wait until the car was available.  This example was built in June 2003.

hy_tsx

The interior is exceptional, as expected.  This one has 60,012 miles on the odometer.

hy_tsx_interior

Hy gave me the chance to drive both cars.  The Accord sails along effortlessly.  The TSX – I only made it about 6 feet before grazing the corner of a brick border around his planter and popping the right rear tire.  Knucklehead of the year?  That’s me.  We installed the donut for now and Hy is getting a new Michelin installed.  Doubt he’ll ever give me the keys again, but if he does, I want to go back over for a longer test drive for sure.  Thanks, Hy, for the showroom tour!

And thanks to all my readers who have shared their Honda and Acura love with me!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 120 other followers