How A Gearhead Was Born: Part 2
For some reason prior to Chloe, I didn’t modify my vehicles at all really. I got exhausts installed on the last two but other than that I didn’t go much further than a CD deck. Chloe was a different story. Less than a month went by and I already had a carbon fibre hood and was purchasing brand new Enkei Wheels and Nitto Tires.
Soon after I decided to start a local car meet with a friend at Futureshop seeing as we both worked there. First meet, was just the two of us. Second there was three people. Then it grew until it was eventually about nine or so people. Another group got word of it from Barrie and made the trek to Orillia to check it out. So my buddy and I went down to Barrie the next week. After a few of these kinds of parking lot meets you got more invested in looking at cars online, or in magazines or just sitting and staring at yours deciding what to do next. It’s addictive and I don’t think I have had a car stay the same for longer than a month or two at a time now.
Then another buddy from Futureshop got hooked when I kept showing him really unique cars from this one website I was addicted to online. He starting looking for his first car and landed on a Subaru because of how much I talked it up. After he got his first, we decided to hit up Barrie’s subaru meets.
I can’t count how many friends I’ve met through that meet. It was the start of something, a weird dedicated little family. Afterwards my Subaru influenced friend of mine decided to start a website with me as we felt not enough local cars were getting shown the love they deserve. The spiral downward continues and now we are attending all kinds of automotive events we never even knew existed. My facebook probably looks like 86% car friends, 1% best buds, 8% elementary school and highschool and 5% College. I have friends on my list whom I share 140 common friends with. Retarded, but also super handy for needing to get your hands on any automotive information, or used parts, or just staying in this clique of weirdos who would rather spend all their money on a metal object you drive than on furniture, vacations or other nice things.
I continued to modify my WRX and continued to dive deeper into the unknown. I’ve never installed a front mount intercooler on a car that doesn’t even come with one from factory. After ordering the parts of ebay and a trip to my buddy Rob’s shed (in the middle of winter mind you) we decided to cut up my stock bumper and remove my top mount intercooler. Rob had much more knowledge than I, so it was amazing having him there while I attempted doing something I’ve never done before. I like to look at it this way: Everything on a car has a specific purpose and most of it is straightforward. If you look at an entire project from the outside it can seem daunting. However if you look at things piece by piece, as if they are mini projects, it really helps. Besides I played with Lego all the time as a kid and enjoyed dismantling things so this is all the same right?
After the FMIC was installed I got a Subaru stuck in the snow. This was the only time I have ever done it after driving a Subaru in the winter for six years now. The snow was at the door handles and I was going up hill, so I got stuck first run, backed up and made it up the hill second run. AWD FTW.
Modifying the car was super addictive, even just adding a sticker makes you feel some kind of special. Like you’re making this object your own. Sadness started to kick in however when I started to see a bit of rust begin to form on the car. It upset me seeing something I put a lot of money and time into start to deteriorate in front of my eyes.
So I went out and bought a base model GC Subaru Impreza. The plan was to sell my WRX which I still owed money on and pay off some debt as well as fix up the new Impreza dubbed Izzy.
This was going well until I drove Chloe to my grandmother’s house to park it on the grass with a for sale sign. Driving the WRX was way more rewarding than the base model Impreza I had been driving. So I decided to keep Chloe and sell Izzy because I’d be pumping money into the base model to try and make it as good as the WRX. So I only owned that car for three months in total.
Spring came and my website buddy and I got wind of local grassroots drift events in Ontario. After attending a few we got hooked. Met a ton of new friends, and jumped over to the drifting culture hardcore. Our pet project changed its name after a squabble with an American forum and was renamed Overdraft. Keeping with our old roots of spending too much money on your car. This time the name was pushed beyond being broke and into debt. (Something that a lot of car people can relate to.) Somehow or another we kept getting into these large drifting events as media and our little website was proving its worth. The biggest drifting series in North America, Formula Drift was expanding into Canada, and somehow we became media sponsors.
The problem is most of the events are held in Quebec far away from home. Cue multiple road trips, late nights, and new adventures. All of this continued to build our knowledge and connections, as well as altered our automotive aspirations.
A few things broke on Chole from daily driving the WRX everywhere so I took initiative and decided to tackle things on my own. Swapping out a cracked radiator was easy peasy compared to having to remove half my engine to get to a coolant line that rusted out. So modifying Chloe started again but eventually stopped when I was at a point where if I went any further I may decrease the value of my car because of personal preferences. So I picked up a project car that was hiding out in a barn for two years. An 1988 Mazda RX7, with no brakes, barely a muffler, and plenty of other issues. The end goal of this build is to be a badass street vehicle during the week and a weekend drift monster.
So I then sold the WRX in the fall to pay off some debt and buy a new TV (I was a changed man for a month). I ordered parts for my project car named Rebel. (There’s a few reasons for that name but I’d rather not put them down in writing.) So essentially being vehicle-less for a week I finally found another 04 Impreza. This time it was a wagon, and much shittier.
The reason behind this particular purchase was twofold. One: I needed a car I could drive daily since the RX7 was in pieces and two: I’ve have enjoyed slaying winter in a Subaru for over four years now. Plus it didn’t hurt that I had some leftover 04 Impreza parts from Chloe. The wagon proved to be useful as well when picking up parts for the RX7. It could carry a butt-load of tires or two racing seats with ease.
I fixed the brakes and a few other issues with the RX7 and went to get it on the road for the fall. The bitch wouldn’t pass emissions testing. After three tests that fall I gave up and started ripping it apart to work on some other things for the winter.
The wagon was a mess when I bought it and it didn’t get much better. I had my fun with it both in terms of cheap modifications as well as hitting a few snow banks with the butt end. Engine modifications ended at upgraded headers and a loud exhaust. It ended up looking like a car from Mad Max, or a big garbage bag in my opinion. If for some reason this interests you, you can see more on my personal blog here.
Next spring led to a bunch of work getting done on Rebel. Finally she was road worthy. With the help from a friend met through drifting events and the website, we crafted seat brackets to hold the racing buckets in. For awhile I drove solo as the passenger one was tricky. I won’t go into too much detail but I did keep a half-assed build journal on my personal blog.
A year passed and I ended up buying a Nissan SR20DET engine and I’m now in the process of putting it into the Mazda RX7. Yeah, tell that to the kid who only ever modified cars in video games and he wouldn’t believe you. I still really don’t know what I’m doing 100% but I’ve never stopped learning along the way.
To bring this vehicle history to where it is now, Molly the wagon is for sale and I’ve been driving a 2003 Lexus IS300 for a month or so now. (Way back before the WRX I mentioned looking at one of these.) Rebel is still under the knife as my summer adventures have taken up a bunch of weekends and free time. I’d like to push to get it roadworthy with the new heart before winter comes but we shall see what happens, as I’m constantly learning while trying to finish this engine swap.
The friends I have met have been a blessing as multiple people’s history and knowledge can help you out immensely when doing something you have never done before. You don’t get that knowledge by not trying and learning however, so don’t be scared to get your hands dirty here and there. Try something new that interests you even if you are worried you’ll look awkward doing it or feel dumb by asking questions. Everyone has been there at one point and most people probably just look like they know what they are doing anyways. The internet is also full of help. You might just have to dig for awhile. I think it goes without saying but by doing something you enjoy doing, you will push yourself to learn more and build your skills faster. Besides it’ll be fun most of the time.
Have a similar story? I’d love to hear it, what chassis you drive, your reasons behind your choices, etc. Or what are some projects you have been challenging yourself with? Car related or not.