Category Archives: Ramblings

Enjoying 2017 and A 2nd Year Anniversary

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Happy Easter! After a nearly 8 month hiatus, I wanted to check in. Apologies my blog efforts have slowly died down the past year. Things have been good with life, though. Career in full swing, on track and home renovations still coming along. These have been consuming most of my time and therefore I have not put any priority to this blog. I’ve missed sharing many milestones and adventures with you. I certainly needed a holiday weekend like this to keep me away from work, traveling or hammering dry wall so I could sit down and shoot out a much needed post. I’ll get right to it:

Recently, (rather, November 7th, 2016) the 6’s second year anniversary passed by. That means, it’s now the car that I’ve owned for the longest since my 2002 RSX Type-S. Here’s how things have been holding up with the 6 since the last anniversary:

  • Total miles covered in 2016: 37,458 miles
  • Miles on the ODO on the anniversary date: 214,057
  • Total states driven in: 11
  • Provences visited: 3
  • 8 oil changes
  • 0 Breakdowns (in 2016)
  • Longest road trip: Las Cruces, NM to Arctic Circle, AK (~8,900 miles)
  • Maintenance cost: ~1,000

The 6 is running great, but there are a few issues I will be addressing in the coming months. The suspension is feeling a little tired, and the passenger lower control arm is occasionally making some obnoxious moaning noises when cold. Now that it’s getting warmer, I might be able to avoid any pricey repairs until this Fall. My DIY headliner fix didn’t hold that well, and the fabric is starting to sag again. That will need a professional job. During my home renovating escapades, I managed to break one of the back seat fold-down handles while loading stuff and a careless bump with a 2×4 broke a chunk off of my tail light. Also, a careless motorist lightly scuffed my driver’s door after the New Year, but that will be addressed soon with a good exterior detail…which is due this Spring. Currently, the 6 is sitting at 225,804 miles and continues to be my daily driver.

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I don’t plan to retire this car anytime soon. Despite being MIA for so long here, I’ve still been on the open road racking up the miles. Here are a few adventures to share:

Ouray, Colorado trip with Dad:

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Wilcox, AZ with Tyson and James. We had a blast sliding around the Wilcox Playa (Dry Lake Bed)!

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Yup, I’m the idiot who decided to tryout a “figure eight” with the window open. I’m still cleaning sand out!

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Another trip with Dad to California. We captured the “terrific twos” along the way!

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Serious Dad with the hands at “10 and 2”

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Kingston, CA

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Grand Canyon, AZ:

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Occasionally, I will have an urge to go explore around the Organ Mountains Monument here in Las Cruces after work. It’s a good place to clear the mind.

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I replaced the passenger headlight for the THIRD time. Bouncing around the roads to Alaska last summer did a number on the internal wiring harness. I hope this third time ends up being the charm.

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Sadly, in February this year, the 6 left me stranded for the first time due to a failed alternator. About a week in the shop for parts and $1,000 later, the OEM replacement got me back on the road. It didn’t take me long to learn Mazda OEM parts are quite expensive and take a while to get here in New Mexico. For this particular job, and the labor (which was the majority of the final bill) involved removing part of the front suspension to access the dang alternator.

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That pretty much catches you all up! I don’t have any solid plans for this summer yet, but don’t worry, I will be sharing the journey’s with you. Thanks for stopping by!

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What’s New…

“Oh, you’re still alive?” I’m pretty sure that’s what a lot of you are thinking while reading this. Yes, things are well, and I have been slacking again on the blog updates. I have had a few drafts lined up, but never got the time to finish.

While summer is winding down for a lot of folks, it seems like it’s just kicking into high gear for me. That means, lots of home improvement projects and also many summer projects at work. Sadly, that’s where the majority of my energy and attention has been since Alaska. Even so, here’s a few little photos to keep us going…

Still piling on the miles from bouncing between New Mexico cities.

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Weekend drive to Cloudcroft with James Zamora to escape the summer heat.

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Oh, and the dogs got to ride along too.

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Amazing that Cloudcroft, NM (just 70 miles from Las Cruces) is about 30 degrees cooler!

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Home improvement projects galore.

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My sister and brother-in-law recently drove from Las Cruces to Tuscon, AZ to pick up their very first Acura…a super clean 2nd owner 2006 TSX. Big thanks to Tyson (drivetofive) for helping us find this gem!

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Check out that minty fresh interior. With 128,000 miles on the ODO, it was sure treated very gently.

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And it wasn’t long before I had to call upon it to save the 6 from a dead battery.

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Who needs a truck for those trips to the hardware store? 10ft boards fit just fine!

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As do 12ft ladders…with a little duct tape to secure the trunk lid.

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Boring update, I know. I hope to bring some good content soon. See you around!

Post Alaska

I never thought I’d be saying this, but it’s been nice the past few days not being on the road. Who would have thought? Things are back to normal around here. Back to work and daily routines. Las Cruces summer temperatures are here, and consistently over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m still catching up around the house from the trip. Lawn is well over a few inches high, house cooling system still needs tweaking, small leak under the kitchen sink, and other various needed improvements are nagging at me. Despite all of this, it’s nice to be home for a bit.

I gave the 6 some much needed TLC after the wild drive Tyson and I just completed. My 8,360 mile journey sure took a toll on my paint. I spent a good two hours giving it a good wash, and although visually it looks better, closer inspection reveals that it will need a full detail soon. I started by giving it a good pressure wash at a nearby car wash. This is conveniently located a few blocks from my house. 27268305830_c7ae5bdd30_z

Even though it’s just a rinse, I took a good 5-10 minutes going over everything to get the big chunks off.

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Now back at the house for the actual wash. I only use my own soap and equipment when rubbing the paint. Doesn’t look much better, does it? Looks like I’m a slob and went without a wash for a few years.

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Two-bucket method with cheap buckets and my foamer.

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I gave a few good foam baths to loosen up as much grime as possible before introducing the sponge. After that, I went for it and cleaned until dusk.

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The end result. There’s a lot of grit attached to the paint as it feels like sandpaper when running your hand over it. That will need a clay bar. Also, the paint sealer I applied in March seems to be completely gone. No water is beading, and the paint just feels “dry.” I definitely will have to set aside some time to give it a good recovery. The 6 still drives wonderfully, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on another trip worth multiple thousands of miles in desolate country.

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Might take a while though as I don’t work well in the heat. Check out our forecast!

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Despite the wear on the 6’s finish, I would take another trip like Alaska in a heartbeat. Just give me a few months to financially recoup. I thank you all again for coming along with us. See you all on the next drive!

2016 Alaska Drive Planning

Lots in store for a big drive my buddy Tyson and I have been planning for almost a year now. To recap, we will be making a drive this May to Fairbanks, Alaska and back again in a smidge over two weeks. Check out the proposed route…that’s about 138 hrs with my butt in the driver’s seat or nearly 8,200 miles of road time.

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I have had a lot of time to think about what sort of disasters I could prepare for and I bet I have not covered them all. However, here’s what I have done for the 6:

  • New hydraulics for the clutch
  • New Thermostat which already had a slight leak
  • New drive belt
  • New battery (I have no idea how old the current one is, and I’m definitely not going to find out on this drive)
  • A full-sized spare wheel
  • New oil pan gasket which led to a new oil pan
  • A few annoying rattles hunted down and fixed

This week, my odometer rolled over 190,000 miles and I predict I may be at 193,000 by the departure date.

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People quick on math will see that I just might hit 200,000 miles on this trip. That’s the highest mileage car ever within my immediate family.

Tires are good: The Continentals even with 40,000 miles on them seem to have sufficient tread and they are just over a year old. The A/C isn’t the greatest, but I think I’ll just go with it since most of the driving will be highway, and I doubt there will be many scorching heat waves in Alaska.

I’m not going to go crazy with social media on this as this trip is more like a 30th birthday present to myself. However, I will be documenting highlights of the journey on here and on Instagram under hashtag, #mazda6alaska. Keep an eye out for Tyson’s Acura ILX coverage with his #ILXalaska as well!

 

Nursing the 6 to 200k

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an opportunity to close out 2015 on a good note. 2016 is looking quite good on my end. Big events are scheduled to happen:

  • A 7,500 mile drive from Las Cruces, NM to Fairbanks, AK (Yup! That’s Alaska!)
  • The 6 might hit 200,000 miles
  • I should have a big chunk of bills paid off and ready live in the black
  • My car stable might grow a bit (updates will come)

The biggest event of the year is a drive I have been planning to Alaska in mid-May. A starting point in Las Cruces all the way to Fairbanks should be good for around 7,500 miles. My buddy Tyson (drivetofive) and I had been planning this for some time now. We also have a few other road trippers that might join. (Let’s do this, Josh!) More updates on this will come as we get closer to departure.

My other items listed aren’t quite as exciting, but they are pretty big for me. Finances are projected to get well sorted out (this was the main reason why I said bye-bye to the TL) and I have another car to share with you all. That’s yet to be revealed.

Now, let’s get to some of the news that’s not quite as positive. You may have noticed that I used the word, “might” in my 6 achieving 200,000 miles. I have an issue which I’m trying to sort out that could lead to the demise of the 6 or possibly a rather hefty repair bill. Check out the warming light that greeted me last month:

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Yup, that’s a low oil pressure warning light. No ill symptoms have come from it and it only comes on when I’m idling with the engine good and warm. Blimp the throttle, and it goes away. An oil pressure test revealed that I’m at 10psi at idle and that’s dangerously low. I have not been able to tell if my oil pump is the culprit, clogged up oil pickup tubes, or if my inner rings are just worn.  I have not made any decisions yet.

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As of now, I’m still daily driving it. 180,000 miles and it seems strong. No smoking, good power and no odd noises have developed. As long as the revs are above 1,000, the oil pressure is good. I shall bring updates as time goes on. Despite this, I’m looking forward to the new year and I’m going to do what I can to nurse this car to 200k on the original motor. See you in a bit!

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[Edited]

I also have a quick update on my old Acura TL. It’s still cruising around in Dallas, TX by the third owner, Justin. Currently, the TL has about 68,000 miles on the clock and is being regularly pampered and appreciated. Thanks for the photos, Justin. Hope you keep on enjoying!

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One Year Anniversary with the 2004 Mazda 6

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This past Saturday (November 7, 2015) marked my one year anniversary with the 6. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough, but who can argue with the calendar? It was this day that I drove my 2004 Mazda 6 home from Phoenix, AZ where it had lived for several years. It succeeded my beloved 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD and it has been my daily driver ever since. I still remember discovering the Craigslist ad while on my lunch break at work.2014-10-31 08_26_16-2004 Mazda 6 Manual 5speed -Well Take Care Of3

I posted of my experience of bringing it home last year and since then, I’ve accumulated 34,535 miles. Without hesitancy, I can say I’ve enjoyed every mile. The 6 isn’t the quickest, quietest nor the most luxurious car I’ve owned, but I can confidently say it’s been the most fun. Yes, my RSX and TL were up there in the fun factor (and they got significantly better numbers on the skidpad), but there is just some sort of crazy witchcraft going on in the suspension and steering of the 6 that makes driving this car addictive yet not tiring day to day. Vague enough for you? The struts/shocks remain original as does the clutch and transmission. Let’s see how far they can go!

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Here are a few fun facts:

  • 34,535 miles covered
  • 1 recall (Tekla airbag…not yet addressed)
  • 1 accident (repaired)
  • 3 major wear & tear repairs
  • Total cost of maintenance, repair and modifications: ~$2,300
  • 4 states visited
  • 7 Oil changes with roughly 5K mile intervals
  • Total breakdowns: 0
  • Total unexpected trips to the dealer: 0
  • Longest distance traveled in one day: 750 miles from Page, AZ to Las Cruces, NM.
  • Longest trip: 2,100 miles round trip Bryce Canyon National Park.
  • 1 Major hail storm survived

My future plans for it:

  • Powdercoat OEM wheels
  • HID retrofit
  • Bose Sound System Upgrade

Here’s a photo from November, 2014 when I picked it up in Phoenix. My buddy Tyson Hugie generously stored the car at his place until I could get it.

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How she stands today.

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Warning: photo overload coming up!
Here are some memorable moments from the past year: 

Tijeras, NM Musical Road

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Antelope Canyon, AZ / UT

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Mogollon, NM

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Mt. Taylor in northern NM

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Acoma (Sky City), NM

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Million Mile Lexus Drive (Chiricahua)

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My favorite modifications: 

Chrome “mustache” grille

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Smoked side markers

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New headlamps

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Leather interior swap and MazdaSpeed 6 aluminum pedal covers

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Heaviest load: 11 bags of 50lb landscape mulch

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And here are some mileage milestones…

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Today, she currently sits at 175,800 miles and is still rolling smooth and strong. That said, this is not a minty showroom example. There are a few known issues that will need sorting out soon. I have an annoying check engine light that likes to come on and go out for no apparent reason, the headliner is in need of reupholstering, and I have a little timing chain cover oil leak that drips on the manifold thus giving off a lovely burning oil aroma. I also suspect I’ll have to get the A/C recharged next season as it just doesn’t quite have that cold kick it should. I want to be brushing icicles off my nose.

Aside from all of that, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive this across the country and back again. So, what’s next? This 6 was originally supposed to be a temporary ride while I got finances in order, but I just got too attached to the dang thing that I guess I’ll keep it for another year or two and see what comes then. 200,000 miles is right around the corner! I’ll see you then…

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Arizona Drive in some Performance Hondas.

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As much as I love to experience different makes of cars, I always somehow find myself back in a Honda (don’t worry, I didn’t buy another car). I’ve owned 3 in my life so far:

  • 2002 Acura RSX Type-S 6-speed
  • 2004 Honda Accord V6 6-speed
  • 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD 6-speed

All of them have been memorable to me. Even though my focus generally is now on Mazda, I welcome any opportunity to get a Honda experience. That’s exactly what I got thanks to Tyson (drivetofive) and his good friend and journalists, Mr. Steve Lynch.

I was invited to be a driver in a convoy of Hondas for an article Steve was putting together.  Despite working for 17 years in finance for Mercedes-Benz, Mr. Lynch has a passion for Honda and has even worked for them prior to MB. His 1997 book Arrogance and Accords covers some of his experiences and thoughts on Honda when he was employed there.  He is semi retired now and currently writes for an automotive blog called The Truth About Cars. This is the cover of his book.

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Photo of Steve and his beautiful 2008 Rio Yellow Honda S2000.

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The drive for this event took place on the Catalina Highway which climbs to the summit of Mt. Lemmon, just north of Tucson. Our group consisted of me, Steve, Tyson, Peter Kulikowski, James Lee from 6speedblog, Beau MacDonnell (photographer), and Kelvin Chang.

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This road to the summit of Mt. Lemmon is full of fun twisties and elevation changes perfectly fitting for the cars to be tested. Here are the contenders:

  • 1992 Acura NSX 5-speed owned by Tyson
  • 1993 Acura NSX 5-speed owned by Kelvin
  • 1994 Acura Legend LS Coupe 6-speed owned by Tyson
  • 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan 6-speed owned by Tyson
  • 2008 Honda S2000 6-speed owned by Steve

Let’s get started! Total travel distance for me was around 1,700 miles. I departed Las Cruces after work to arrive in Phoenix. After the Mt. Lemmon drive, I would head north to Gallup for a family visit and then back home.

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Mazda all washed up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll!

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My drive into the sunset towards the Arizona border. I arrived in Phoenix around 10:30pm.

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The next morning, I took some singles of Tyson’s Acuras (with their corresponding custom plates) we’d be driving. I was in the Legend sedan, Tyson in the Legend coupe and Peter got the NSX.

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Getting the cars out and ready.

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Also in our crowd was a Lexus RC350 press car driven by James. This was our photo/chase car. His full review of the Lexus can be found here.

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Meet and greet before the drive.

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Onwards!

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Pit stop in Picacho, AZ. Is this what Acura lots looked like in the 90s?

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You may have noticed that we picked up an extra NSX along the way. That belongs to Tyson’s friend, Kelvin. He is an avid NSX enthusiast and certainly didn’t want to miss this drive. Though his NSX is one year newer than Tyson’s (’93) it still looks identical.

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Rolling shot of Tyson’s Legend coupe

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Meeting up in Tucson with Steve.

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Our group of Hondas (and the Lexus).

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This is when I could get close and personal with Steve’s S2000. This is my first encounter with the S2000.

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That cozy cockpit is just as I imagined…very driver focused.

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Throughout the day, we all swapped cars and were able to compare and contrast.

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It was hard to pick a favorite in my books, but the NSX came dang close! I must say, this car was intimidating to me at first but in typical Honda tradition, the car instantly felt familiar and easy to drive. Everything feels raw and mechanical. This is a sensation you just can’t find anymore. The black leather seats with monstrous bolsters hold you securely; all controls are simple and easily at reach—this is a driver’s car. The transmission and steering were an absolute joy. The 3.2L V6’s 290 horsepower rating seems rather ho-hum by today’s standards; however, this car is still dang quick and sends a tumultuous rush through the exhaust pipes. Tingling with excitement, I kept finding myself looking for excuses to downshift just to hear that motor howl. The sensations and noises were so orgasmic, you don’t even care about the powertrain figures. Visibility was excellent, ride was decent, you can shift with one finger…this really is the supercar for everyday.

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Amazingly, the NSX feels and is quite a bit lower than the S2000. They both handle like a dream though.

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Nearly everyone agreed that this was the biggest surprise of the group. I had the privilege of accumulating the most miles (around 300miles) on the Sedan. Before first taking the keys, I was expecting a focused boulevard cruiser with cushy-squishy suspension backed by average handing and obnoxious understeer when pushed into the corners. Pleasantly, I was wrong. First off, cruising down the highway was effortless and smooth. The cockpit was roomy and inviting with pillowy soft, yet supportive seats clad in rich feeling leather. The big greenhouse and low dash made for an excellent view out. When it came time to toss this big boy around some corners, I was amazed how composed and level the body remained. The handling was definitely not sports car precise, but it didn’t leave me fearing for my life. The 230 horsepower Type-IIV6 was an absolute gem and hustled the Legend out of corners effortlessly despite packing nearly 147,000 original miles. Brakes were another bonus. Pedalfeel was firm, inspired confidence and gave little nose dive. The clutch was light and each gear change was smooth with very short throws. I was impressed. Here’s Steven taking the Legend sedan around some corners.

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Love this road!

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Lunch stop at the summit.

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Their juicy green chile bacon cheeseburger sure hit the spot!

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Back to the cars! This time I was able to test out the S2000.

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Yup…I want one!

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With 240 horsepower on tap and a raging VTEC waiting to be awakened by a stab at the throttle, this little roadster won me over and has made it to the top of my charts of “must-have” cars to own. As I snuggled in the cockpit for the first time, the whole environment was just as I expected…everything right at your fingertips and driver-focused. Fit and finish was excellent, and knobs and switches moved with a precise, “snick-snick” action. On our mountain road coarse, this roadster kept me grinning. The tight and rather heavy steering always pointed the nose in the right direction with the confidence and assurance you’d expect from a light rear-drive chassis. Speaking of the chassis, Honda really did themselves well here as the all-control-arm suspension kept the 17” Bridgestones sticking like glue in the corners. Brakes were perhaps my favorite of the group. “Go-kart” comes to mind when trying to describe the personality. Here’s a photo of me and Peter coming around a bend.

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Another stop to swap cars again.

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The gang: Tyson, James, Steve, Beau, me, and Peter. The final article of Steve’s can be found here.

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Back to Phoenix! Here’s a photo of Tyson in the NSX. It rolled over 100,000 just on the outskirts of town. His celebratory post is here.

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The next day, I headed northeast towards Gallup. The sun shining and temperatures in the mid 80’s, it was a nice drive. Though I had driven some pretty special cars the day prior, it was nice to get behind the wheel of the Mazda again. Even though this is completely different in personality, it’s still very good fun to drive.

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Thank you all for stopping by and checking out the Hondas. ‘Til next time!

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