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…

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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Drive to Northern Arizona Part II: Horseshoe Bend

Let’s soldier on with the fun in Northern Arizona. Continuing where we left off at the Utah state line, we headed to enjoy the sunset 4 miles southwest of Page to a place called, “Horseshoe Bend.”

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This geological masterpiece is a sharp 180-degree Colorado River meander. Access to this is an easy turn off Hwy 89 to an access road, then a 3/4 mile hike to the overlook. Even the views on the hike were grand.

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Arrived! That’s a good 1,000ft drop right there!

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Picture of Tyson, Alec, and Stephen.

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Picture of Alec who was very excited to venture off on his own and take in the sights.

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Selfie

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Photo of Peter on the ledge.

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Jouhl taking it all in.

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Back at the trailhead, it was time for some puddle pictures! Thanks to Peter for his mean photo skills here.

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Quite possibly the best photo I have to date of the Mazda. None of these have been edited…that’s how perfect the lighting was.

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Tyson’s ILX was especially ad-worthy.

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Next was dinner in Page at Strombolli’s Italian restaurant. It certainly hit the spot.

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Since we all were iPhone users, we decided to stack them on the table for kicks. Peter calculated that this stack came close to $5k retail!

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Thanks to a suggestion from Tyson, we played a game…a painful game. He suggested,  “Let’s challenge ourselves to leave these phones here for the entire meal and not touch them.” We did and it was harder than it sounds. However, we all had a good old fashioned dinner where we could do the unthinkable…talk to each other. Amazing!

That night we all were exhausted, but very satisfied from the day. We crashed out in the plush Comfort Inn beds. The next morning, Jouhl, Jennifer, Alec and I decided to depart early for hopes of not getting back to Las Cruces too late. It was going to be a long haul. After we grabbed breakfast, packaged, said our good-byes to Tyson, Stephen, Peter and Chris, we came out to this. That’s one frozen Mazda!

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Page was a nice crisp 30˚F.

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I made sure to pack throughly for this trip. I had tools, jumper cables, first aide kit, flashlights, rags, extra quart of oil, blankets, kitty litter in case we get stuck in snow. Ice scraper? Oops! Forgot that. So, I put my Bank of America card to work again.

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Back on the road, and you could see Flagstaff’s San Francisco peaks in the distance.

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Pitt stop

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Since our route home took us east on I-40, we zipped by the Petrified Forest National Park. Jennifer and Alec had never been.

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Hike down to the badlands!

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Quick stop for a cheesy pic at a tourist trap off I-40.

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We got back to Las Cruces around 11:00PM. Not too bad considering the overall drive was 9.5hrs of just driving. That concludes another grand adventure!

In other news, I’m still in contact with Justin, the new owner of the TL. He has made some personal touches to it which include color matching the front grille and rear trim pieces, adding some OEM aluminum pedals and debadging the rear. He also did a full paint correction and it shows! Keep up the great work, Justin!

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Those aluminum pedals look sharp! Something I should have done a long time ago.

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That’s all for now, thank you all for coming along!

Will it Zoom-Zoom again?

Let’s see what’s going to happen to the 6. I took a trip down to the tow yard the next day to survey the damage and get a few belongings out of the trunk.

First off, if you’re wondering about the upcoming photos here, I swapped out the sport grille for the “chrome mustache grille” a few weeks prior to the accident. I’ve always preferred this to the sport one. I’ll elaborate on that in the near future.

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Sure doesn’t look right sitting here.

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All of the cars in this row were tows from recent wrecks and they were awaiting insurance adjusters or for the owners to decide what to do.

Some were minor like mine, some not so lucky. This GMC Suburban had joined the lot just two days before mine (12/12/14). The dates are written on the windshield.

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This poor Lincoln Town Car had been sitting since the first week of December.

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This 2nd generation Mazda 3 looks like it lost a battle with a larger vehicle.

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I do wish all the owners well. I went about looking at the damage on the 6. The passenger rear wheel is definitely not sitting right. Suspension work will definitely be in order.

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Ouch!

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Luckily, I didn’t see any issues with the front of the car. I remember slamming over the curb and going into landscaping, but it was dark and I could have missed something.

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Here’s what’s been going on:

On December 17th, I got a call from my insurance claims adjuster and she informed me that due to the damage that I had described and the mileage and age of the 6, they would have to declare it a total loss. They hadn’t been out to inspect it yet, but that was pretty much a sure thing according to her. She asked for my permission to have them move it to their salvage yard for the final inspection. Being fairly new at this and not knowing the full process, I then asked if I could have a shop of my choice take a look and run their estimate for the repairs. She said that the paperwork had already begun for the move to their own salvage lot. I had a firm belief that the damage couldn’t be much over $1,000 and I voiced this concern to her. She told me that because my car was 10 years old and had close to 200,000 miles that the value wasn’t going to match. Say, what now? 200,000 miles!? I only have 146,900 to date! Turns out, the insurance company had been obtaining info on my Grandpa’s 2004 Mazda 6, not MY 2004 Mazda 6. I share a policy with him and it’s been a fun battle getting the two cars separated on record. The last four of the VIN numbers are even similar! No matter how many times I read back the correct VIN number, I end up getting put on as the primary driver on his 6. Nice “LOL” on this. In the end, they couldn’t find my car in their system and I’d have to wait yet another day for all the paperwork to be corrected. Not even my local agent could confirm, even though they sent me the insurance cards a week after I bought it. *sigh*

Fast forward a few days, and several phone calls back and fourth, they finally had all the info straight on MY 2004 Mazda 6. Long story short, the 6 is going to be fully rehabilitated and back on the road soon enough. It’s in the shop awaiting a new rear upper control arm, a possible new wheel and a fresh alignment. More repairs might be needed as the process moves along, but the total bill thus far is going to be well under $600. I’m hoping by the first of the year, I’ll be back in the driver’s seat.

Once everything was cleared up, I was able to have AAA tow the 6 to my body shop of choice, Borman Autoplex Body. Here she is getting the tow.

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Once the 6 was on the bed of the truck, I looked it over once more.

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The Saturn that hit me was wearing a front plastic dealer plate. There were still pieces of it jammed into the lug nuts!

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Hard to see here, but there are plenty of scuffs in the rear quarter panel and bumper area. The bumper is also slightly misaligned. Easily (I hope) buffed out and adjusted when I do a full paint correction on my own. I’m not having the body shop touch this as I’m afraid they’d resort to doing a respray. That’s a big NO for me.

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Rising from the dead, she’s off to the shop. It’s only a matter of time now before I’ll be back on the road. Thanks for following and stay tuned for more updates. Stay safe out there, friends. 🙂

BAM! Who’s the moron of the year?

Over the 2 years I’ve had this blog, I’ve compiled nearly 90,000 miles in two separate vehicles (my Accord and TL). I’ve driven in all kinds of weather conditions, cities, countrysides, twisty back roads and I can’t pinpoint one close call. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve covered close to 350,000 miles and managed to participate in only one accident. I was 16 then. It was only a matter of time though before I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That was around 6:30 on December 14th, 2014 where my little Mazda took a blow that it didn’t deserve. And that’s not the worst of it…it was my fault. Yup, the moron is me.

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I was in Las Cruces doing random errands, and I made a left turn on a green light feeling sure there was sufficient distance between me and the oncoming motorists. I nearly cleared the intersection and BAM! A silver Saturn VUE clips my right rear at 30MPH and sends me into a nice 360° spin. Weee! I frantically shuffled the wheel in an attempt to keep the 6’s nose from plowing into a nearby electrical box and pole. Luckily, I landed safely in some landscaping just after slamming over the curb. Adrenaline pumping, disoriented and shook up pretty bad, I scrambled my way out of the driver’s seat and ran over to check on Saturn. The driver and intoxicated passengers were all fine. (The driver was sober)

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Damage:

Doesn’t look like much, but the right rear wheel and a little of the fender took the hit. From a glance, I know I will have a bent or broken upper control arm at minimum. The wheel was tucked in so far it was rubbing on the strut. Looked cool (slammed status), but wasn’t ideal for going out on the road again. Also, the front end going over the curb probably wasn’t the best treatment either. I’m currently waiting to hear back from my insurance adjuster and see what they tell me the damage is. I’m keeping my fingers crossed she’s not totaled. In the end, they towed the 6 away and all I was able to come home with was a $150 citation for failure to yield. Rightfully so.

No worries. All is well with me and the show isn’t stopping here. I hope my next post will be the start of the 6’s rehabilitation. As updates come, I’ll be sharing. Stay safe out there, friends!

When it All Started (3rd Edition)

This isn’t exactly how I had it planned — I originally intended for only one case where I’d have to tell you about, “when it all started.” Things change though, and here we are. I’d like to introduce the next car that will be featured here on Driven for Drives…my new/old 2004 Mazda 6 S V6 5-speed. Say that fast five times…I challenge you!

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Coming from a line of Honda products, a BMW and a few Nissans, then why on earth would I go to the small, understated brand of Mazda? Mazda runs in my family and it’s given great service. My dad had a 1986 (purchased new) B2000 pickup which he clocked over 180,000 miles with…get this…no maintenance. Rarely even oil changes. It was still running great when he sold it to a guy who turned it into a lowrider. My Grandpa has a 2004 Mazda 6 “i” 4-cyl 5-speed. A little background on that here. He has 189,000 miles to date and only repairs were a thermostat and a loose connection to the turning signal lamp.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I had to let go of the TL to gain some financial freedom. This is another reason for going the Mazda route. Any Honda or German make with my requirement of a v6 with manual would be well into the $7,000-10,000 range in good condition. Thanks to Mazda’s past ho-hum resale value, I was able to get this one optioned up to my liking for under $5,000.

Background: 

When I first started looking at local Craigslist and Autotrader ads, there was only one 6 V6 5-spd around my area. A friend of a friend’s car, in fact. It was a 2004 in Blazing Copper Metallic with black cloth. With only 107,000 miles, it hadn’t been exposed to lengthy travels I tend to subject my cars to.

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I ended up falling in love with this color.

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The headlights and a few other exterior bits were in need of some TLC.

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I ended up not taking this example as there were too many things I saw myself having to repair and restore. Not a good recipe for someone trying to lower debt. So, the search continued until I spotted my Steel Grey 6 on Craigslist in Phoenix, AZ.

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After a little coordination with the seller via text, I asked my buddy Tyson from DriveToFive to check it out in person since he lives very close. Long story short, I bought it sight unseen and Tyson very kindly held my new purchase at his house until I was able to pick it up.

Bringing it Home: 

One week later, Jouhl and I made the trip to Phoenix. We took Jouhl’s 2015 Mazda 6. With a highway MPG of 38MPG, it was a great choice for the trip.

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It was nice to sit back and let someone else handle the driving for a change.

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Several hours later when we arrived at Tyson’s house. This was my first time seeing the 6 in person. Was quite exciting!

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Of course, I had to capture a shot of Tyson’s treasures in the garage — his ’92 NSX and ’94 Legend Coupe LS. There are nothing but third pedals found here. Tyson wasn’t able to be present for my arrival, but he was kind enough to allow me to gain access to his house for the car keys. Thanks, Tyson!

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The ODO reading at the beginning of my ownership:

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Jouhl and I hit the road for home. We ended up stopping in Tuscon, AZ for the night. Here are some rather mediocre photos of the 6’s together.

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Certainly a difference in styling in the last 10 years!

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The next day, we headed straight home. I led the way and Jouhl followed just in case something were to go wrong. The 6 drove flawlessly though, and the only little issue I ran into was the rear antenna which had a broken mount causing it to swing around and smack the rear window repeatedly. More of an annoyance than anything else. At the next gas station, I overpaid for a roll of duct tape and fixed the problem (temporarily).

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There, that’s better.

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Onwards!

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New Mexico State line.

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Arrived at its new home here in Las Cruces.

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Now, I was able to get out and more closely examine my purchase. I have to admit for being 10 years old, this is in great condition despite a few bumps and bruises here and there:

Inner fender lining missing.

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Dent on trunk lid.

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Lower fascia trim broken.

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Headlights oxidized.

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Faded Cowl panel trim loose.

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Window trim weathered.

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The interior is very well kept and the only thing that stands out is a small stain on the driver’s seat. It’s been a while since I’ve owned a car without leather. Although I miss the smell and look of it, it is nice to not have to worry about wrinkles, cracks or scuffs. (Eagle-eyed viewers may spot the TL in the garage which is waiting to be shipped to Justin)

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I’m excited to take on this next project and restore this car as close to showroom condition as possible. These are all easy fixes. After a quick wash of both 6’s, I staged them for a quick photoshoot.

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And that’s how I obtained ownership of the 6. Thanks for coming along and stay tuned as I share more adventures on the road.

The End of Chapter 2 – 2010 Acura TL

First note, consider my 2004 Satin Silver Accord Coupe 6spd as “Chapter 1.”

Well, looks like my blog here is going to change gears again. If you’ve enjoyed any of my ramblings that put a spotlight on the TL, I’m sad to say it’s come to end. As of October 22, 2014, I have listed the TL available for a new owner. Why, you ask? What it boils down to is money. With a recent home purchase and other responsibilities, I just wasn’t comfortable swinging another 4-5 years of car payments. My joys behind the wheel wearing the big “A” were outmatched by the financial burden.

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Fast forward exactly one month, and I find a buyer from Dallas, TX — Justin. An avid Honda fan, Justin was in the same boat as me last year with a search for a 4th generation TL 6-speed. He flew 600+ miles out to El Paso, TX (nearest international airport to me) and spent a good part of the day closely inspecting the TL to see if it suited his needs. In the end, we officially shook hands in agreement to the sale, and he is now the new owner. He is having it shipped out next week.

It’s been a good run with the TL, and as I write this (while wiping a few tears away), I can’t help but remember what a great traveling companion it has been:

The key hand-off and beginning mileage – Los Angeles, California

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Musical Road – Lancaster, California

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Salton Sea – California

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Canyon De Chelly – Chinle, Arizona

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White Sands National Monument – New Mexico

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Gila National Forest – New Mexico

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Cadillac Ranch – Near Amarillo, Texas

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New York City – New York

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Redline Productions Test Drive the TL – Washington D.C.

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Chesapeake Bay – Virginia

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Caddo Lake (Swamplands) – Texas

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Death Valley – California

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Ouray – Colorado

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Very Large Array – New Mexico

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Large(st?) Rattle Snake – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Odd trails covered: (no pavement here) 

Cibola National Forest – New Mexico

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Doña Ana County – New Mexico

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Somewhere north of Ouray, Colorado

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“20 Mule Team” road in Death Valley – California

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Driving on bedrock at the Malpais – Near Grants, New Mexico

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Driving on a Mesa in the Bisti Wilderness – New Mexico

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Most Challenging Cargo: 

12′ siding for the house. This utilized the trunk “pass through” and extended practically the entire length of the car!

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Lawn mower and weed wacker:

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10′ Ladder with painter’s tape to keep the trunk tied down:

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Accord front lip:

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Ending mileage at the date of sale (November 22, 2014). That’s 35,462 miles covered!

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Amazing only one year has passed, and the TL has taken me to all these fantastic destinations and then some. I do hope it’s able to give Justin the same amount of joy it has given me. Farewell, my friend. Farewell.

Now, the show isn’t over here on Driven for Drives. I’m still going to be on the open road and sharing the big highlights as I go along. For the next chapter here, the car in the spotlight is surprisingly something non-Honda. Can you guess what it is?

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Stay tuned for “When it all Started – Part III”

Fresh Detail for the TL

Happy Thursday! I don’t have any special “throw-back-Thursday” content to share, but I do have some reflections. Literally. It’s amazing how time flies. This January 16th marks the second month of ownership with the TL. With the weather warming up recently and my having some free time, I figured I’d give the exterior a good detail/paint correction. I started with a thorough wash to get the loose dirt and grime off.

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After all was dry, I pulled into the garage to survey the condition of the paint. Looks pretty healthy and clean, right?

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Wrong! I set up my halogen lights and they revealed just how scratched and bruised the paint had become. Causes? Most of the scratches came with the car when I bought it in November of 2013. A few careless wash jobs from Hoy Fox Acura and my recent trip to Fresno Acura added their fair share. This being the Crystal Black Pearl, every single little nick, scratch and clear coat imperfection will easily show up in direct sunlight or in this case, halogen lights.

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The door handles were in a class of their own for extreme need of detail.

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So scuffed and marred that there was virtually no shine to the paint inside the door handle.

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So I settled down for the night and a good majority of the next day performing a full detail. My process to correct this was as follows:

  • Wash with Meguiars Wash & Wax
  • Meguiars Clay Bar
  • Meguiars 85 Compound applied with PC (Porter Cable) Green pad
  • Meguiars 205 Polish applied with PC Black pad
  • Meguiars 7 Glaze applied with another PC Black pad
  • Meguiars Carnauba Wax applied with PC Red pad

Most of the chemicals were applied with my Porter Cable rotary buffer used at various RPMs. Let’s see how it all turned out!

With the first step, I opened up a fresh box of Meguiar’s clay bar kit.

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I also made sure my pads were clean and dry with numerous clean microfiber clothes for buffing. Doesn’t make sense to spend hours correcting the paint and then adding new scratches by polishing with dirty rags, right?

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Here’s the Meguiar’s 85 and 205 products. I’ve been using these for years and the results have been great.

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For the final polishing stage, here’s the Glaze which was applied with a new PC black pad.

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Sadly, the only wax I had on hand to finish it all off was Meguiar’s Carnauba Wax (red bottle). It’ s decent, but I know there are better waxes out there to give the absolute deepest gloss to the paint.

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I started with spraying with paint with lubricator and rubbing the clay bar.

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Amazing that even though the TL was just washed, grime was still lingering on the surface.

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After the clay, I like to tape off a section to see the results of buffing at various RPMs. It gives a great before and after test.

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Here’s with just the 85 Compound.

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…and now with the polish stage complete.

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It made such a huge difference!

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The hood shows the state of my messy and cluttered garage.

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Almost like a mirror!

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In addition to other little details on the car, I applied some Mother’s Metal Polish to clean up the exhaust tips.

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Here’s a section of the rear bumper…

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No car detail would be complete without a self pic in the paint.

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Day three I took the TL out in the sun to see if I missed any areas.

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I also gave some more business to superbrightleds.com for some LED license plate lights. I think they modernize the area so much. Why Acura insists on using traditional incandescent accessory bulbs on a $40,000+ car is beyond me. Here’s before the install…

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And after. So much brighter with a nice white tint.

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Even shows up on the backup camera.

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To wrap up here, I’ll share a moment when my inner “red-neck” came out. I sold a leftover rear underbody spoiler from the Accord, and I had the challenge to drive it to UPS for shipment. Since Acura doesn’t allow the rear seats to fold down, I just stuffed the box as far in the trunk as it would go, and then taped the trunk down to the box. I then had a rather amusing/white-nuckle drive through town with 4ft of box sticking out with some microfiber rags taped on the edges to warn motorists there’s an idiot transporting something half the length of his car. Hey, it worked!

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The backup camera was temporarily useless…

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One Year Anniversary

Well readers, I’ve been procrastinating lately and not sharing some of the significant milestones the Accord has reached. Laziness? You bet! However, better late than never. Here’s one significant milestone: this past August 20th marked my One Year Anniversary of owning the Accord. The total milage when I first got it was 101,380. At the one year mark, the mileage was at 135,978.

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That’s 34,598 miles I’ve driven in one year and those miles have been very enjoyable. I’ve seen some great parts of the county! Since day one, I’ve kept every receipt for every penny spent on this car. That’s maintenance, modifying costs, and repair.

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Here’s a brief overview of how this past year has treated the Accord:

  • Total cost of maintenance, repair and modifications: $4,430 (includes new paint)
  • 10 states visited including every state touching the pacific coast
  • 7 Oil changes with roughly 5K mile intervals
  • 1 recall
  • Total breakdowns: 0
  • Total unexpected trips to the dealer: 2
  • Longest distance traveled in one day: 689 miles from Moab, UT to Ontario, OR.
  • Longest trip: 4,800 miles round trip meandering from New Mexico to Washington and then back again.

My future plans for it:

  • Updated 06-07 Accord coupe rocker panels
  • Paint and install my HFP rear lip
  • OEM interior trip kit
  • Relocate my iPod/iPhone connector cable
  • HID headlight retrofit from an Acura TSX
  • OEM Fog lights
  • Rear OEM lip spoiler

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It’s been to the highest paved road in North America, Mt. Evans, CO (Photo taken by my friend Tyson)

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It’s also been to one of the lowest points in America — Sunset beach in Oregon where the tires became submerged in the ocean weaves! Major cities it’s been to are Las Vegas NV, Phoenix AZ, Portland OR, Devner CO, San Francisco CA, Salt Lake City UT, and El Paso, TX.

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Its rather cavernous trunk has hauled rocks, bricks, fencing, various tools and car parts, and it’s been stuffed to the seals with random junk.

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It’s also been stuffed full of sappy pine cones from the Sequoia National Forest in California.

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My ownership experience has been great even though I’ve done more maintenance than would be expected of a Honda. A perk from all of that is now it feels like it’s prepared to take on the next 350,000miles! It’s a challenge I’m prepared and excited to go for. The motor, transmission, exhaust, clutch and major suspension components are all still original to the car, and I don’t see myself touching those for a long time. The daily driving experience is relaxing, yet engaging. A rare quality found even in newer vehicles.

In acknowledgment of the anniversary day, I took the Accord back to the dealer I originally bought it from and parked in the same spot where I first took photos of it. You know how I love doing those before and after shots!

Before

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After

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After

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I’m looking forward to continue putting on the miles and experience many more adventures. Hope you continue to come along!IMG_4528