Best weekend yet

Lucky, fortunate, blessed…these are a few of the words people use when they are #winning at life. Whether it is a sporting event, winning the lottery, or an awards show people tend to lead their acceptance speech with one of these words. Well I didn’t win the big lottery this week, not from a lack of trying, it just wasn’t my turn. But I, well Perks Garage, had a winning weekend!

On Saturday, I had a great time hitting the Silverado Canyon fire access road for a review of the 2018 Chevy Colorado ZR 2 Off-Road pick-up truck with a few great guys that I’m happy to call friends.

That was a great experience for all of us, although I think we all might have peed our pants just a little during a few of those jumps.  A full write up is in the works as soon as I can edit the hundred or so pics and video I took.  Also took some video of me trailing behind Jon’s Civic Type R.  I finally got to see it in action as he devoured the road chasing down a Nismo Z.

The weekend fun didn’t end there as I made arrangements to attend Car Classic 2018 Iconic Design: 70 years of ArtCenter Influence, a celebration at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena for automotive design. The event was a collection of alumni and sponsors gathering to discuss and showcase automotive designs past, present, and future.  There were many cars on display, including several sought after concept cars from Tesla, Fisker, Hyundai, and the one generating a lot of buzz at the moment, Genesis.

Perks Garage was in attendance for an interview with Chief Designer for Global Advanced Design at Genesis – Sasha Selipanov.

Sasha is known for designing a few very low-key cars you may or may not have heard of: the Ferrari 612 GTO III, the Lamborghini Huracan, and the Bugatti Chiron.  Nothing too special (truly I jest).  Sasha is an amazingly down to earth, humble guy that represents his talents and the brand extremely well.  His latest design, the Genessis Essentia, is once again garnering major automotive concept car attention.  The Essentia is making it’s rounds globally and through a very coincidental work relationship with his mother-in-law, I landed here with Sasha and his latest design.

My article is being penned this week and needs to be approved before I can bring it to all of you.

The show brought out designers from some of the major manufacturers for panel discussions and one panel session was concluded by a surprise guest.  The legend himself, Mr Jay Leno was on sight!  He was a part of a birthday celebration for one of the designers but also showcased one of his many automobiles – a long V12 powered WW2 two-seater vehicle.

Not only was he there on stage, but being the approachable guy he is, he roamed around shaking hands and taking pics with fans.  Now, I’ve met celebrities in the past, but Leno is on a whole ‘nother level for my fanboyism.  I was able to meet, shake hands, and take a picture with him. Not only that, but he also took a picture with my wife, who was gushing as well.  Especially after he asked, “Who’s that, your dad?” #thisguy #onceaconedian #comedianperson

Here is the video of him driving away from the event.  If you watch the video you will hear Jay doing his signature double honk as he exits.

So you see, Perks Garage is making moves and I am lucky, fortunate, blessed and #winning all at once.  Above all I am thankful and very humble for the opportunities granted yesterday, today and tomorrow.


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Ford Focus Recall has been issues

My wife sent me a text today with a screenshot that read “Ford has issued a recall for nearly 1.5 million Ford Focus vehicles.” An hour or so later I received a text from one of my buddies regarding this as well. Once I had the chance to look up the info I found that Ford is issuing a recall for 2012-18 Ford Focus vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter GDI & GTDI engines made in the U.S. Not all Focus vehicles are affected, so RS owners you are safe…at least from this recall. We all know they have had their fair share of recalls for the 2016 – 2017 model years.

The recall pertains to the canister purge valve (CPV) causing stalling and gas tank deformaty. Apparently the valve has been known to get stuck open on vehicles low on fuel. With the valve stuck in the open position, cars have been experiencing false fuel gauge readings, sputtering and stalling. In severe cases the gas deforms causing the tank to basically collapse on itself. All of this poses a great safety risk.

I have been plugged in to many Focus ST forums since purchasing my car and have read many posts of owners replacing their purge valves on their own due to finding a malfunction code during a troubleshooting scan. Apparently it is an inexpensive part and a simple fix, but without running a diagnosis and finding the error code you may not know if the valve needs replacing.

Ford says they will start sending out letters to owners around the 10th of December. In the meantime they advise all owners to keep their tanks above the half mark to prevent further incidents of stalling. During the recall owners will drop off their vehicle at their local dealership to be diagnosed. Each car will undergo new computer programming to help the purge valve operate correctly. The vehicles fuel system will also be checked and after the evaluation, any defective components will be replaced free of charge. The parts include: the purge valve, charcoal canister, fuel delivery module, and even the gas tank. For reference the recall number is 18S32.

Here are a few screenshots from my Ford Pass app regarding the recall.

Here’s to hoping that the recall goes smoother than the head gasket recall did for the RS. That was a nightmare for some owners.

Thanks for reading and be safe.

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Moving on up

Well guess who’s working their way into the realm of automotive journalism…this guy. A week ago I submitted two automotive review articles to Topspeed with the hopes of getting published. I am happy to report that I received the great news yesterday (Tuesday) that they chose one of my reviews to publish.

The review can be found here: 2019 Acura MDX

If my articles generate enough traffic (as they welcome more from me), this will open up lots of doors and many opportunities for Perks Garage. These opportunities will help me to bring you more content on a larger scale.

So take a look at my article, a little different than my usual writing style but it is also a different platform.

Thanks for your support.

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OC Auto Show extras

Scrolling thru my phone I came across these and figured I would share. These are a couple of my favorite phone pics from the OC Auto Show.

That interior

Rutledge Wood inspired Camry looks pretty good. Check out the carbon fiber and that rear diffuser.


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2019 Acura MDX Tech Package

Over the weekend a friend bought a very sleek looking black on black 2019 Acura MDX with the Tech Package. He and his wife were looking for a vehicle that is large enough to haul around their growing family and still have room for the in-laws on road trips. He and his wife went down the checklist before making their purchase. Is it spacious? Check. Does it have good power? Check. Is it well-built with quality materials? Check. Does it handle well? Check. Is it reliable? Check. All the boxes were checked. Oh, wait forgot one. Is it a luxury brand? In that typical yet upscale Hondaesque feel… Check. Just subtle enough to let you know that you are in Honda’s premium brand. Justification for the price tag, I assume.

Prior to purchasing the vehicle, I ran down the list of all the SUVs that I could find with his checklist in mind and he shot all of them down because the manufacturer was not a luxury brand. Typical brand snobbery as he is used to driving BMWs and Infiniti’s. It is always easier to make recommendations without regard to “Brand name” from the outside but at the end of the day, it is the buyers choice. And they landed on the MDX.

The SUV is surprisingly nice and does have a more premium feel over Honda. The first thing that I noticed is that the seats are comfy, softer than past Hondas and Acura’s that I have owned or driven. For 2019 they decided to use natural wood inserts throughout the cabin rather than the painted plastic pieces of days past. The cabin is very welcoming and surprisingly subdued in contrast to let’s say a Benz clad with various aluminum materials and buttons everywhere. Acura has done a great job blending in the day to day instruments by finishing them in black. This provides a monochrome look to not be too distracting for the driver. Speaking of drivers, I had the opportunity to take it for a test spin. To be honest, I was not expecting much from a full-size SUV now that I am into smaller performance-oriented cars. I’ve owned a 2003 Ford Expedition, 2005 Acura TL and 2013 Honda Crosstour V6 and we currently have a 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec, so using these as a benchmark help to give me perspective.

Acura found a way to make a vehicle of this size feel small to some degree. There is great visibility and the interior space is airy, but it drives like a crossover. It’s no slouch on the road, I mean it scoots and turns when you direct it to do so. Riding on 20-inch wheels and with a 290hp and 267tq V-6 pushing a light-ish 4054lbs (FWD) body, the MDX actually gets off the starting line with a sense of urgency.

The Tech Package includes your standard safety features: Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and cross traffic sensors, but the tech is turned up a notch by including Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Brake Assist (Collision Mitigation Braking System) that will stop you in your tracks. You can set a distance between you and the vehicle you are behind along with a max speed and feel the vehicle slow down and speed up. If traffic slows to a stop the MDX will nestle down for you and resume following the car ahead once everyone starts moving again. Basically, with the Lane Keep Assist keeping you centered, the Adaptive Cruise Control taking care or the vehicles speed and the Brake Assist protecting you from a rear end collision – the car can almost drive itself. Of course, you will want to keep your hands and feet ready to take over at a moment’s notice, but nice to see the advancements in technology.

I admit, I am impressed. It has a similar feel to my TLX, not as stylish as the A Spec Package, but very nice overall and great value. I was concerned that the “Sport” mode and paddles wouldn’t really do anything but they wake up this unassuming family hauler. Once the Dynamic Mode button is pushed and “Sport” is highlighted on the dashboard, there is a noticeable growl from the V6. Accelerate and you will see that the revs hang to redline and the paddles shift the transmission rather quickly. Just like in the TLX when decelerating in “Sport” you can feel the transmission downshift like a manual car. A feature that I quite like, but then again, my daily driver is a manual hot hatch. Again, I am impressed. And although I prefer the styling of the its A Spec variant, the MDX with Tech Package is a respectable choice overall.

During my time with the MDX my friend brought up an old commercial by Lexus and I was wondering where he was going with this conversation, but then it clicked. Remember the Lexus commercial where they show a marble rolling down the exterior lines of the body gaps on the vehicle. This was done to show the precise fitment and quality of final assembly for the premium brand. Well, he noticed a few things about the MDX after spending a few days with his new vehicle and pointed them out to me. The body gaps of the exterior are not perfectly even. If you run you finger along the gaps, you will notice that one side may have a slightly larger spacing than the other. This was very noticeable on the hood. The gas door does not sit completely flush when closed, it has a little play. And the slightest of interior item fitment issues can be seen from different angles, but those are nothing worth mentioning to a dealer. American assembly issues? That is one of the big complaints about Ford vehicles. With those few imperfections, would you still consider this a Luxury Japanese brand or does Acura get bumped down from its moniker as Hondas premium brand? Not sure, but I will give it a thumbs-up for changing my perception of SUVs being heavy and sluggish and devoid of life.

In the end, although I personally prefer the styling of the A-Spec variant, you cannot go wrong with the Technology Package trim level. Good choice and enjoy your new purchase.

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OC Auto Show

If you can’t tell by the inconsistency of the post, blogging for Perks Garage is not my full time occupation. It is a passion of mine and delivering content is my goal. Staying relevant by trying to post something, even if it is just a photo that I took while out and about. Add a filter, crop, enhance, then post. I want to deliver more content, more stories and more photos so that means that I need to hit the streets more often and engage with the public. Enough with the disclaimer, lets get to the meat of this post.

Over the years I have been working on creating content with the goal to be a credible source of automotive content. I see Perks Garage eventually being mentioned in conversation with the likes of the veterans like Lieberman, Harris, Farah, or Lago, so I push forward as I work on sharpening my skills. I have gone to car shows, car meets, drive events and captured my handy work when I have a repair or modification. Solicited myself in the efforts of being recognized in the industry as a journalist and “amateur” photographer. For the last couple of years I have reached out to the promotional media group that puts on the Orange County International Auto Show to request media credentials. Provided my website and blog post samples as my “resume” for validity and they would add me to the list providing me access to the annual show. I am very thankful to be granted the access prior to the shows official opening to the public. This year, I have been busy with life and the 2018 show was rolling around again. I was afraid that I would not be able to submit my request in time and miss out. The day I found a moment to finally open up my email and prepare my template to send out, I noticed that I had an email from the same promotional media group that I usually send my request to. This time they actually reached out to me and extended an invite. WHAT??? I have made it to the official list and they are offering me the opportunity that I am usually seeking. Looks like I am moving up a little bit 🙂

This year, I have been looking at the direction I wanted to take the blog and dabbled in a few promotional T-Shirts, an official Perks Garage email address, and over the past week created and had some business cards printed. they came out pretty nice thanks to the help of my wife. It was time to get official, and just in time. I quickly RSVP’d for the event with joy in my heart. After requested a vacay day from the 9-5 , I geared up with my Canon Eos, GoPro, and my trusty Note 5, which takes amazing photos by the way. The day of the show, I made sure all the batteries were charged, my Perks Garage t-shirt was laid out, and my lunch was packed. With a half of tank of gas in the Focus ST, I headed to the OC to make some magic happen.

I arrived at the gate of the convention center and the attendant welcomed me to the show and said that will be $16 for parking. I paused for a moment and told her I was here as media and she quickly apologized and said “Welcome, pull right in and enjoy the show. Have a great time.” Awww, the power of a press pass lol. I won’t let this go to my head.

After parking and making my way to the registration booth, they checked my name off the list, handed me my lanyard and I walked right in and started capturing the layout and the cars on display. My plan was to video the entire floor, then walk back through taking shots with my Canon and Note 5. I had looked up some photography tips prior to the show to prepare myself to get some good shots with the Canon. With the media day access you can take as many photos as you need with no one is interrupting or rushing you along. No kids jumping in the front seat of the car you are trying to capture hollering “that’s my car!” Or parents dropping their off their unaccompanied minors at a random car so they can go get up close and personal with the car they are looking to buy. Believe me, it’s great. The only downside to the early media access is that not all of the active displays are not up and running. For example, Jeep has a very nice off-road course they take riders on to get a feel for the capabilities of the brand.

I could have come back when the show opened to the public to get those shots, but I was on a tight schedule, so pictures of the parked vehicles will have to to for today.

If I think about it, this may have been the first time I ever sat inside of a Jeep Wrangler. I have always liked them with the removable doors and roof. Very cool vehicles, although a bit on the expensive side.




During my day I took well over 500 photos and have edited some and still have some editing to do. You can see most of them in this post but there are more on the Perks Garage Facebook page.

Having a media pass allows you access to the show and a majority of the vehicles. There are still some exotics that are off limits and prohibited from access. Whether it be trying to open the locked doors of a 488 Italia




or trying to rub up on the carbon fiber goodness of the Koenigsegg Agera RS Draken, I still tried, but held back by that ultra exclusive velvet rope that is reserved only for VIP’s.



Even though I am not quite there yet, I did ask and was quickly denied by the guy from duPont Registry to go behind the Pagani he had on display to take some photos. Next time! He did reluctantly agree to use my phone to take a pic of the exhaust.

Here is the photo the rep took of the Pagani for me.


A photographer he is not so I had to doctor it up a bit. As you can see it came out pretty blurry.

The show was really nice and I was able to take some good photos. I love these shows because I can sit inside a few of my wishlist cars…Acura NSX, Audi R8 Spyder V10, Audi RS5 Sportback, Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio, BMW M6 GrandCoupe and Corvette ZR1!!!

I showed my wife some of the photos I took and I have apparently been given the thumbs up on buying this 450hp Biturbo Sonoma Metallic Green Audi RS5! #audigoals





Here are more of the pics that I took and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed capturing them.
















Now this is the type of open arms welcome I could get used to.




This is why Audi steals my heart. As if the interior of the R8 isn’t enough, look at the layout of the 2019 Audi A7.




2019 Audi S4




Audi’s all electric E-Tron 55 Quattro SUV. Amazing!





How a stable should look. Colorful and full of Motor Trends best drivers cars.


The all-new Lexus UX250 Hybrid modified to appeal to the tuner crowd.





ZR1 goodness!





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Guess who’s back? The Chevy Blazer has finally returned for 2019. There is a beefier V6 RS packaged version as well.












Rutledge Wood inspired Camry











The Ram section was next to the Jeep off-road adventure and they also had a driving course set-up for attendants of the car show.



2019 RDX A-Apec



Turbo Honda K24 swap in this Sprite















2019 MDX A-Spec








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Jaguar’s I-PACE is ready for delivery and it is definitely a looker and worthy of a test drive. I am more and more impressed with the styling of Jag and this new I-PACE is very attractive inside and out.





I found myself singing Rick Ross’s #astonmartinmusic as I walked through this display.












I ended the day with a couple of test drives with Mazda. As they were the only manufacturer available to fall prey to my abuse behind the wheel. I started with the Mazda MX5 RF and was very impressed with the comfort and roominess over my first gen Miata. The interior of the 5-door hatchback Mazda 3 Touring was very nice for a sub $30k car.





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Both cars are very nice and it is great to see that the Mazda 3 Touring has a heads-up display. A feature generally reserved for higher end cars choosing double the price of this car. I tried to get a good feel for the vehicles and felt that they drove very well on my very pedestrian 5 minutes scoots on the public streets around the convention center, I did wish that they were manual transmissions, but we would probably have an unscheduled drift session with me behind the wheel of the RF, so I’ll take what I can get.

A great day and thanks to Spin Communications for inviting me out.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned.


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