How A Gearhead Was Born: Part 1

How A Gearhead Was Born: Part 1

CategoriesAutomotive · Life

I’m a car guy. When I was young I was mesmerized by loud cars and pretty much anything else with an engine. My dad would take me to see modified trucks at the local tractor pulls or to see thundercars at the local oval track. The local racetrack became my birthday party venue for many years. 

He is a bike guy so naturally he wanted me to be (I would still love to own a cafe racer and get back into bikes). So I got a dirt bike when I was young but eventually grew away from it and gravitated back to cars. I used to be more of muscle car type kid who liked old Chargers and things with rear window louvres, however good luck getting an old Charger as your first car when you’re 16.

Every vehicle has its own story

At this point, 95% of my time not at school was playing video games and Need for Speed was always something I enjoyed playing. I have loved creating things since I was very little so being able to customize my own car was so much fun. Well, Need for Speed back then was only catered towards the import crowd with minimal European cars as well. I got hooked on brands like Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and eventually Subaru.

The time came for my first car so my dad and I went to a local auction house and looked at a few in the lot. I originally was there to look at the two Honda Preludes they had but we checked out a few other cars as well. Somehow we ended up leaving the place with a 1994 BMW 525i. It was clean and very nice looking but wouldn’t shift into third. It was an automatic and the problem could have ranged from a sensor to the whole transmission needing to be changed so we sold it.

chesterAt this point (or maybe it was before the auction) my dad had given up on helping me find a car. I’m picky with my vehicles, to the point where I turned down every one of the local cars for sale. So back on the Prelude and import train I went and printed off several Autotrader ads of cars I wanted to go look at in Toronto. Once we got a look at these Hondas we came to realize the markup on them was ridiculous for the quality of car we were going to get. The trip was almost a bust but we decided to go take a look at one more car. A BMW dealership had it in the back as it was a trade in: A 1995 Nissan 240SX.

suzy I fell in love with the car once I went to look at it even though I was initially confused. The 240SX in the popular Need for Speed Underground game was an S13 (I didn’t know this at the time), a previous generation of 240SX. So when we went to look at this one, I was surprised at first but then like I mentioned, fell in love. This was the car that began my descent into becoming gearhead. I didn’t know what I had picked up. The S14 chassis that I now drove was not very common in Canada. The main reason was our importation laws state that to import a car it needs to be at least 15 years old. The Japanese version of this car (known as the Silvia) wouldn’t be able to be imported into Canada until the millennium.

me2So after driving it and realizing how much I wanted to keep it in good shape I made the decision to buy another car. One solely for the winter.

bonnieCue a $300 ‘97 Bonneville, the only domestic vehicle I’ve owned to date. Every vehicle has its own story, I’ll keep this one short. Drove it into snowbanks, lost the front license plate. Tried a donut in deep snow, got it stuck, so we went tobogganing, then got a local tractor to pull it out after. Painted the hood with an arrow stencil cause I used to carve the ice off that way. Sold it in the spring.

dsc_2005Suzy, my 240SX came back out once the winter was over and got into a bit of trouble. Amateur drifting and one wheel peels ensued. One day on the way to work another car slid in the rain and hit the rear quarter panel. Insurance covered it, but I had the option of writing it off. I actually went back to Toronto and looked at a few right hand drive imported vehicles but everything was very rough and expensive. So I stuck with my S14.

Fall arrived and it was time to realize that winter was coming again. I wanted something I would enjoy driving so I picked up a 1990 Toyota Celica GTS.

 dsc_1903Errmagerred Pop-up lights! This car was fairly fun in the winter, a lot of e-brake butt slides. Then the door locks started to freeze, that was less fun.

olivia2This one stuck around longer than the Bonnie. That was until I decided it was getting to be a pain with insurance switching cars back and forth and decided to find a car I would enjoy all year round. After looking at a few different cars here and there – RX8s, IS300s, etc. – a WRX popped up on Kijiji fairly close to where I went to college. After looking at it, and even before test driving it, I put a deposit down. I don’t know why, but that did happen. I then took it for a spin, and almost pooped a little from excitement. The blow off valve for the turbo was loud. This car snarled, growled, hissed, and pulled like no other car I’ve driven before. I was elated.

32079_405713922892_7409362_nWell I had to pay off the loan somehow so Olivia (Celica) and Suzy had to go. Olivia went first and then in the fall my beloved Suzy and I parted ways. Only car I’ve really regret selling so far. However Chloe, the 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX was a blast, and an addictive one at that.

This was the car that was the nail in my coffin, my final push to full gearhead.
To be continued in part 2…

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After hours you can find Ben enjoying a beer while working in the garage. Or working on another digital project, enjoying a beer. The common denominator is beer.

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