On Feb. 10, 1989, executives from Honda and a newly founded division known as Acura piled into a conference room in Chicago's historic Drake Hotel to rehearse the unveiling of an unbelievable new car—a Technicolor vision for the future, something never before built by Honda or any Japanese automaker.
As the public relations department went over its lines, Tadashi Kume, then-president of Honda and an instrumental figure in Honda's Formula One efforts, presided. The people from Honda America were acutely aware that the Big Boss from Japan, Kume, rarely made a stateside appearance unless it was for something serious. Next door, Ford was in the middle of a full-on press conference. Honda kept its rehearsal respectfully quiet.
While the executives busied themselves with the presentation, Kume sauntered over to the red-and-black prototype on the stage. He climbed in.
Either the keys were already in the car, for one reason or another, or he put them in.
He cranked the ignition.
The engine sparked to life, then it roared as Kume proceeded to rev to redline—right in the middle of the Ford conference. Everyone was shocked. "Mr. Kume, stop it!" yelled Kurt Antonius, Honda's spokesman emeritus, gesticulating wildly. "They're gonna hear this!"
Autoweek Magazine — The Acura NSX at 25
Somewhere outside Flagstaff, Ariz., inside the world's slowest-moving Audi, photographer extraordinaire Mike Juergens and I had endured an entire day of headwinds, uphills, range anxiety, careening trucks, desert-induced ennui, furious cops, the ignominy of being passed by four Toyota Priuses in a row, and the malodorous toxicity of each other's sweat—which had achieved the consistency of olive oil—when we finally said, "screw it," and did something we had been explicitly told not to do: we turned on the air conditioning.
The windows were rolled down about a finger's width; outside, the temperature read 89 degrees. Inside, it felt like a Finnish sauna. When the cold air hit my face, I felt a song rise from my heartstrings.
Four hundred miles later, still trundling along at 40 mph, we watched our hard-earned average mileage plummet. The end, San Diego, the calming ocean, seemed impossible. We felt like the first settlers of America, waged in a war to win the West, heading towards the salvation by any means necessary…
The idea seemed at once simple and ludicrous: drive an Audi A3 TDI from Albuquerque, N.M., to San Diego, Calif., on one tank of diesel. Since the drive was sponsored by Audi, we figured it’d be easy. They must've gamed the system
Then, co-pilot Juergens dropped a bombshell: "We need to do 62 mpg to finish this thing." The Audi A3 TDI is rated at 43 mpg highway, holding 13.2 gallons of diesel, with a range of 567.6 miles. We'd touch the California border with 266 more miles to go.
If we followed Audi's insane advice, we would have a fool's chance in making it. The route had been tested by range-stretching experts, who trotted forth quixotic phrases like ridge riding, long glide, stale greens, maintenance lane dive, reverse pass, and hard deck, which didn't mean what we thought it meant. We were encouraged to trash talk our competitors. And we were told to "embrace the weirdness of the Southwest."
Autoweek Magazine — See America Right: Albuquerque to San Diego on one tank of diesel
Riding a motorcycle around the Monterey Peninsula on Pebble Beach week is like having a VIP pass at all times. You can blow through the gate at 17 Mile Drive with nothing more than a hand wave. You can roll up to LouLou's Griddle in the Middle and stash your bike right on the dock—"Unless the boats have to go out," explained the owner, who came out to check out the Moto Guzzi, "Then you gotta move away from the crane." Traffic will no longer be a problem: I lane-split across Carmel Valley Road for 15 minutes straight, past grumbling 911s and frustrated Aston Martins, following a t-shirted sportbike rider with whom we traded understanding nods. Parking no longer becomes an expense that requires a flurry of banknotes. Never again will you have to pay, or wait, for a valet to fumble with your keys while you sweat about how much to tip. "You can park that anywhere," said the valets at the BMW Villa when I arrived just in time for dinner—bloodshot, delirious, smelling like a Boy Scout camping backpack—"and that thing's sweet, man!"
He was right: you can park anywhere. I rode to Legends of the Autobahn and parked on the lawn. On Concours day, I passed the shuttle buses and parked it across from the Lodge, right next to the media tent. At 1833 Restaurant I parked next to a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso that the valets didn't dare touch, then saw Seinfeld climbing out of his 918 Spyder at the curb. He had parked askew. I went to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and rode straight to the Corkscrew. A security guard came over: was he going to yell at me? Did I need Official Vehicle Status, bright orange placards, forms signed in triplicate, blood and DNA samples? Instead, he walked over, pointed, and said, "You should put that thing here…the ground's much harder, and we've had problems with bikes falling over."
Later that afternoon, I rode it through the gates and parked across from the paddock.
Autoweek Magazine — Conquering Pebble Beach on Two Wheels
When you first hit the car, you don't feel it at all. The hood caving in, the engine falling through its mounts, the front suspension exploding, it's all happening somewhere beneath you with the same presence of force as standing atop Rockefeller Center and watching a guy fall over at the ice skating rink. Then, the Chieftain's nose rose like the log flume at Splash Mountain, and the popping and cracking sounds under the treads resembled a bag of Orville Redenbacher tossed disdainfully into a campfire—crack-piiiing-fwoosh, punctuated by the occasional bang! of, at this point, the entire firewall crumbling into a burrito of faded gray petrochemicals. If the crowd cheered, I couldn't hear it. Every stomp of the diamond-plated throttle produced an addictive truck roar and a plume of white smoke, blanketing a trail behind me like a German smokescreen.
Needless to say, it's all very satisfying.
Autoweek Magazine — Drive A Tank Provides Mud-Slinging, Car-Crushing Adventure for the Masses
We were somewhere around Des Moines, on the edge of the cornfield, when the high fructose corn syrup began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive..." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bugs, all crashing into the car's windshield, which was going about 70 mph with the windows up to Chicago.
And a voice was screaming, “We can't stop here. This is corn country."
The wind reached a fever pitch. We couldn't drive. We couldn't even make it to the cars, lest we be pelted with mouthfuls of sand and grit. Behind the sturdy cinderblock Streets of Willow garage we sat huddled in our cars, trying to gain some shelter as we heard the ping-ding-biddle of rocks pelting the doors. The video crews mistakenly left their cars and found themselves huddled behind the yellow LFA, a pitiful attempt to seek any rudimentary shelter. Paul Walker waited inside his lifted Toyota Tacoma, sunglasses resolvedly on his face. The mountains disappeared behind an ashen curtain of tan.
"They've opened the doors for us," one of the video people mouthed from outside the car before he dashed inside, clumsily. Paul and Rich were huddled behind the building like soldiers dodging a sniper ambush. They pulled their hoodies tight and ran wildly around the corner, whooping wildly, just as the wind sweeps a cloud of dust and sand and rocks around the corner and into our faces. My sunglasses blew off my face and scattered across the gravel for a good 10 or 15 feet.
Ever see a supercar blanketed in dust? The black LFA in particular garnered Rorschach-like streaks and splotches, its aerodynamics shaped exactly where the fine grit of dust goes, and—more importantly—where it's blown off. It's refreshing to catch a glimpse of such a car with an air of insouciance, abused as it was by some Biblical trial by dust. All exotics deserve to be run this hard.
We were inside now; we were safe from the storm, though we could see the porta-potties listing dangerously. Cardboard trash cans blew past us. The windows shook, the wind howled, and the doors banged on their hinges, as evidence that nature transcends supercars and celebrities alike.
"It's fast and furious," quipped Lexus PR manager Bill Kwong, "no pun intended."
Autoweek Magazine — How to Outrun a Dust Storm in a Lexus LFA
My name is Rick Beretta.
This is my partner, Colt Torsen.
We’ve walked this beat for 13 years. He’s the toughest sum-bitch ever to walk these streets. Well, the second toughest. Behind me.
We’re gonna need all the toughness we can muster. Cuz we’re deep undercover in the biggest European drug smuggling operation of the century. Chief says this could be big. Then he took us off the case. But he knows we don’t play by the rules.
Colt requisitioned this 1972 Pontiac from impound. He’s a hotshot motorhead, and he doesn’t play by the rules. I don’t play by the rules, either. I got four ex-wives who also say I don’t play by the rules.
Problem is, Chief wants us to play by the rules.
This is…VICE SQUAD: ‘72.
“Few years ago,” said John Williams, “Nissan contacted my club to see if I was stupid enough to drive out to Glendora to do a photo shoot with my car. So I went up there and they hooked my car up to a trailer, on a Nissan Frontier, and they did a whole professional shoot! They fed me all day, they had a motorhome, there was a guy in there cooking restaurant-quality food—I’m talking filet mignon, shrimp, all day! And in the afternoon he comes out with a case full of Klondike bars! So it’s the end of the day, I’m about to go home and they say, wait, wait, wait, and the guy goes into the motorhome and gives me a check for $600!
“So a few months later I go to my Nissan dealer. And I look in the Frontier brochure—they Photoshopped my car! I couldn’t even recognize it anymore. They made it yellow, put 46 on the hood and doors, the only you can tell it’s mine is from the wheels. I told Nissan, look, if you wanted a race car—I have a race car.”