Dust off your keys, not your car, and take a drive this summer

Dust off your keys, not your car, and take a drive this summer

Classic car road rallies are an integral part of car culture

Sure, there are car collectors who choose to enjoy their rides by looking at them in the garage, occasionally dusting them off  and keeping them perpetually tethered to power outlets with battery tenders. To those folks, a car is a museum artifact or an investment. 

To others, getting behind the wheel and actually putting miles on a vehicle is the best and most fulfilling way to participate in this hobby.

This sentiment has lead to many events, including the Hot Rod Power Tour that now boasts has as many as 6,000 participants. But smaller, similar movements are also taking hold. Some newly inducted classic car realms — think 1980s and 1990s import cars that, until just recently, were regarded only as economy commuters unworthy of preservation — are starting traditions of their own. 

One such case is a club of devout Acura Legend owners who, for 14 years, have reunited in a different city across the country for a national meet each summer. It’s been dubbed the National Acura Legend Meet or NALM. The Legend was Acura’s flagship car from 1986 through 1995, offered in both coupe and sedan form. This year, on the 23rd anniversary of the Legend model’s discontinuation, the host city was Colorado Springs, Colorado.

While certainly not on par with attendance numbers for the Power Tour, NALM started in 2005 has attracted numbers ranging anywhere from 15 to 50 cars each year, depending on the location. The event has spanned various parts of the country, with its easternmost event held in Morristown, New Jersey in 2011 and the westernmost in Los Angeles, California in 2014.

Ten NALM attendees, with a combined 2.4 million miles on their Legends, not only made this year’s trip to Colorado, but subjected their classics to a the famed and strenuous 19 miles of the Pikes Peak Highway hill climb. Not for the faint of heart, it’s an unforgiving road of switchbacks, hairpin curves, and cliffside drop-offs void of any guardrail. Drivers have gained a vertical mile in altitude by the time they reach the summit.

The Acura Legend owners ascended their way to the 14,115-foot summit, eyes alternating between their temperature gauges and the cliffside. Periodic mile markers denoted progress as they made their way up the mountain as they passed 11,000, 12,000 and 13,000 feet in elevation. As they rose above the tree line, temperatures dipped and panoramic views opened up of the valleys below, blanketed in smoke from this year’s fire season. 

If there ever were a place to demand a reliable vehicle, this would be one. And just like in any classic car outing, some drama was to be expected. Alex, who’d driven from Florida in his 1994 Legend LS coupe, experienced a transmission failure around Mile 7. The rest of the group shared high-fives, hot cocoa and donuts at the summit house in celebration when their classics arrived in safety. 

As summer’s road trip opportunities present themselves, follow the lead of the NALM group by putting away the car duster and taking a drive. It doesn’t have to be a cross-country drive to a 14,115-foot Rocky Mountain peak. Even just a spirited trip down a local country road provides rejuvenation for the classic car enthusiasm that drives us all.

Tyson Hugie
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