If you’re ever invited to Tyson Hugie’s home in Phoenix, be sure to bring along your tape measure. If you do, you’ll find that Hugie’s priorities—at least insofar as carfolk are concerned—are all in the right place.
“There’s actually more space here for cars than for people,” Hugie says.
His ranch home is modest, but Hugie’s garage nevertheless boasts enough room to house his six Acuras, packed nose-to-tail in perfect formation. To call this space a “garage,” however, is to understate Hugie’s automotive passion. This room is part museum, part shrine, all of it devoted to celebrating Honda’s luxury brand and Hugie’s lifelong devotion to it.
“My friends and family agree that I have an obsession here,” Hugie says with a smile, “and I guess I don’t doubt that. I never set out to be a collector; it just started with one car and progressed from there.”
The car world is famously filled with brand loyalists: Mopar guys, Porsche guys, families who only buy Fords or who trade up to the newest Chevrolet model every couple years. Some of these devotees even go so far as to put bumper stickers or mud flaps on their vehicles that feature Calvin (of “Calvin and Hobbes”) doing obscene things to rival brands’ logos.
And then there’s Tyson Hugie. He’s an Acura man who has taken brand loyalty to a whole new level—and you won’t need Calvin’s help to understand his allegiances. Over the past quarter century, Hugie has owned some 22 Acuras, including those six which still reside in his garage today. The garage walls that surround these cars are lined with everything from racks of dealer brochures, signage, and even a TV that loops vintage Acura television commercials from years gone by. Step inside a nearby anteroom and you’ll find display cases filled with more Acura memorabilia: diecast cars, promotional Acura-branded wrist watches, a Motor Trend “Car of the Year” trophy, and binders upon binders filled with service records for Hugie’s cars.
“If it has the Acura brand on it, I’m probably interested in having it for my collection,” Hugie says.
So complete is Hugie’s collection, in fact, that employees at Acura headquarters in California occasionally ring him up to ask if he can dig into his archives and help them verify the specs on, say, a 2003 Acura TL.
All of this started back in the mid-1990s when Hugie, then in high school, bought himself a 1989 Honda Prelude Si. Short of an Acura NSX, this was about as much performance as one could get out of the Honda-Acura world at the time—and Hugie was in no position to afford an NSX. This, however, is where long-term goals come into play: Hugie vowed that he would buy an NSX by the time he turned 30, and he set up a dedicated savings account to start chipping away at that goal.
In the meantime, Hugie kept busy by racking up the miles on other Acuras. While in college, he bought a 1994 Acura Legend coupe with a six-speed manual transmission and 95,000 miles on the odometer. This Legend, which still resides in Hugie’s garage today, now boasts 577,000 miles, which Hugie accumulated through the usual daily driving routine as well as through road trips to 37 states, including Alaska. Owing to Hugie’s exacting standards of upkeep (recall those binders full of service records), the Legend still looks immaculate and its engine has never been opened.
“I’d still get in that car and drive it anywhere today,” Hugie says.
Even as he was piling up the miles, Hugie continued to stock away funds in his NSX savings account. Finally, a few weeks shy of his 30th birthday and fresh out of graduate school, he made his dream come true when he bought a red 1992 Acura NSX. The car has been everything he hoped it would be.
“Acura’s original tagline was ‘Precision Crafted Performance,’” Hugie says, “and it really shows in these first-gen NSXs. This car is 30 years old, but it doesn’t have creaks or rattles. Everything is tight, even at 117,000 miles.”
Even more importantly, the NSX begs to do exactly what Hugie loves to do: drive.
“This car is reliable enough to be a daily driver, but it really only comes alive beyond 5000 rpm,” Hugie says, noting that while the 3.0-liter V-6 only produces 270 horsepower (less than some 2021 Toyota Camrys), the balanced chassis and the manner in which the engine delivers the power continues to make the early NSX a true driver’s car.
Like many other car enthusiasts who came of age in the 1990s, Hugie sees that decade as an automotive sweet spot. Automakers had finally managed to work with emissions regulations and were creating reliable, powerful engines paired with fun, nimble chassis. Without the added crumple zones and airbags that have become standard in today’s cars, vehicles in the 1990s sported lower profiles, thinner pillars, and less weight. They also lacked most of the driver’s aids—backup cameras, traction control, and adaptive cruise control, to name a few—that take control away from the driver. Still, certain creature comforts like air conditioning worked reliably. Aside from a lousy stereo system, Hugie’s NSX embodies this era.
“There’s a lot to be said for the technology advances since my NSX was made,” Hugie says, “but driving for me is a form of anti-anxiety medication and I don’t necessarily want all that technology to interfere with my experience in the car.
“Sometimes you just want to walk away from all the computers, put your iPhone on the desk, get in the car, and forget about the modern world. The NSX allows me to do just that.”
Welcome to Tyson Hugie’s world, one of precision crafted priorities.