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Confessions of a Car Junkie

As a feature editor of DrivingLine, I think it’s important to know a little bit about the guy behind the words. I’m not exactly sure when my passion for cars started, I’ve seen young pictures of myself in front of birthday cakes with race cars and pics of me standing in front of cars in front the driveway, but I can’t think of a particular time when I knew that cars would be such a big part of my life…and that I’d end up with 18 different cars in the next 22 years. As most kids, at 16 – cars became a BIG part of my life. Freedom, the ability to leave the house and go wherever you want, this was what life revolved around at that age. I was fortunate enough to be given a car when I turned 16, mostly because I think my parents were tired of having to drive me around. Getting your license is a right of passage and for me; it’s when things got serious car-wise. Where It All Started

1. 1992 Honda Civic CX (EG Chassis)

civic This was my first car. You may notice, I’ve had to scan in the picture –no digital cameras at that time kiddos. In fact, a lot of these pics will be scans or smaller size due to low res digital cameras at the time! My Dad actually had to drive this car back from the dealer, since I didn’t know how to drive stick nor did I have my license that day. I could write a book about this particular car, with the trials and tribulations, we’ll call them “experiences” – but for the purposes of this feature (and to save some embarrassment) I’ll just note a few standouts.
  • The car stayed stock for an entire 3 months
  • The “aftermarket” didn’t exist at this time, companies like HKS and Mugen existed only via a catalog in a smoke filled shop in the San Gabriel Valley
  • I learned about “Street Racing“ and frequented the Long Beach Street races in this bucket
  • When my Dad asked if I had lowered it, I said that the tires just needed air
  • It was held together with a combination of shoe goo (google that) and zip ties…before zip ties were cool
  • Coilovers didn’t exist, to get that Indonesian slammed look we had to cut springs and bumpstops
  • I learned all about lighting and electrical, again – no aftermarket, so we made things called “Street Lights” (Daytime running lights now) Side Markers and “Ambers” – which were a sign that you were a “racer”
  • I had 8 different stereos in this car, from “Pull outs” to “Face offs”. Old schoolers will know what those are.
  The Next Step

2. 1992 Acura GS-R

gsr_neo VTEC was cutting edge technology at the time and the GS-R was the holy grail of Honda/Acura (short of the NSX). I had learned a lot of rights and wrongs with my EG hatchback and “experimented” less with this car. I never got those evasive one-piece JDM headlights for this car since they were SUPER hard to find at the time, but this one had some decent parts on it. Noteables:
  • Mugen rear spoiler – Unicorn parts for us Honda guys
  • SSR EXC-Neo rims, Racing Hart Type-C rims
  • RS Akimioto Intake/HKS Exhaust
  • ST Springs and Koni shocks (Springs were cut of course LOL)
  • KG engineering throttle body, JG Engineering “aggressive cams”
I actually kept the Mugen oil cap off this car and vowed to put it on my future NSX one day…it still sits in my home office.   My first Turbo & RWD

3. 1993 Toyota MR-2 Turbo

mr2_turbo Oversteer. It’s a term and feeling I wasn’t used to since I had been driving FF (Front wheel Drive, Front wheel steering) cars for the first few years of my driving life. Torque steer was prominent in the Honda/Acura crowd, but this was my first encounter with oversteer. To be exact, my first experience was coming off of a freeway exit at speed, passing a semi truck and then hitting full boost right as I turned onto the street…I slammed the throttle as I turned (something you can get away with in FF) the rear broke loose, caught traction as we were sideways and attempted to throw us off of the freeway overpass. I was lucky enough to counter steer (sheer luck) and shoot us between 2 cars. I’m sure it looked awesome…my passenger peed his pants. Noteables:
  • The HKS library pretty much - HKS EVC, FCD, Super Power Flow, Sequential Blow off valve and twin exit exhaust
  • ST Springs and Koni shocks (You’d think I was sponsored by these guys)
  • OEM JDM Toyota clear front signals (Super hard to find)
  • 94+ Taillight Conversion
  • Racing Heart Evolution, SSR Decolte’s and Work RS-Beta rims
  The European Invasion

4. 2000 BMW E46 323Ci

323_hamann bmw_323 My first foray into the European scene, this would be the start of the whole tUNINGwERKS project. Traditionally, European cars were more expensive to modify, not to mention their steep entry point – parts were scarce as well similar to the start of the Honda/Acura aftermarket movement. I opted to use all Hamann parts for this build – a relatively small European parts company at the time.
  • Full Hamann Add-On Bodykit
  • First set of Hamann PG3 19x10 setup in the US
  • Hamann Exhaust
  • First Carbon Fiber hood for BMW E46
  • H&R custom coilover setup
  • Brembo Lotus brake upgrade
  The Next Level European Step

5. 2002 BMW E46 ///M3

m3_e46 gruppeM   This was the platform which brought a lot of first contributions to the European aftermarket community as the E46 M3 was fresh to the market at the time. Most notably:
  • First GruppeM carbon Kevlar intake in the US
  • First to utilize low offset custom fitment aka deep-dish wheel configurations, in particular the Work Wheels Rezax II
  • First installation of an MVR front chin spoiler
  First SUV

6. 2003 BMW X5

x5 My first SUV, this project was taking place as I was moving to my first condo. The extra utility came in handy and also gave me an opportunity to work on car multimedia, which I hadn’t done in sometime. I added X5 4.6 aero along with 21” BBS RX II multi-piece wheels.   A Few In Between…

7. 1991 Honda CRX Si

crx_si I wish I still had this car. I picked it up on a whim while I had the X5 since I didn’t have anything sporty. My high school dream car, it was bone stock and unmolested, difficult to find by 2003. Surprisingly I left it stock since it was so perfectly OEM. I ended up selling it to get …  

8. 2004 Scion xB (Concurrent with #9)

scion_xb I needed this car as a daily because I had just purchased a 2002 Porsche 911 C2S. It didn’t make sense to have 2, 2-seater cars so I went after the ultimate car built for the aftermarket, the Scion xB. This car was basically born thru the aftermarket. I sincerely loved the xB and it even helped move us into a new home (the utility of it was pretty amazing considering its size).   First True SportsCar

9. 2002 Porsche 996C2

porsche_996_c2 996_seats Back into the 2-door life, I came across an opportunity to pickup this Speed Yellow Porsche. I jumped on it. H&R Coilovers, Porsche Tequipment roll cage, GT2 Seats, Aero Kit, Misha rear wing and GruppeM exhaust were added setting this up for an aggressive look and feel. Owning a yellow car is something I wouldn’t do again, as the unwanted attention was a bit much for me.   Sport SUV

10. 2006 Porsche Cayenne S

cayennes Moving over from the 911 to the Cayenne S was not as drastic a difference as you’d think. I ended up mildly modding the Cayenne S to my liking with full carbon fiber interior and Turbo staggered 20” wheels. This is another car, looking back that I wish I would’ve kept, as it was the best of all worlds. Performance, utility, and looks.   Time For A Little Luxury

11. 2007 Mercedes Benz CLS550

cls_550 I used to call this my “grown-up” car, but in reality it was just another opportunity for me to modify a different segment of vehicle. I loved the lines of this car, despite it being a sedan, the silhouette was very sporty to me. I slammed it on lowering links and added a Carlsson front lip and AMG rear spoiler. I opted for 2 different sets of wheels – a custom set of Work VS-XX and then a set of 20” BBS LM’s.   Another Honda…

12. 2008 Honda Fit Sport

fit_09 This car came during a time that everyone was scared about the economy (myself included) – I still modded it (INNO RACK) and I actually put the highest amount of miles on this little guy. Gas happened to be at an all time high as well, so it was a win-win at the time.   Back to BMW

13. 2010 BMW 335is

335is I pretty much purchased this car after seeing it in inventory on the Internet! Spec’d with very little options (Manual, leatherette, etc) it was the perfect BMW to turn into a track car. This idea (and the car) lasted for about 3 months…   Another ///M3

14. 2011 BMW ///M3

m3_sedan You know those deals that are too good to pass up? This was one of them. I located an ///M3 sedan that had been sitting on the lot for over 60 days. On a whim I made an offer and well, they accepted it. Once again I had felt I was in the perfect daily driver / sporty car with an amazing V8.   First Exotic

15. 2009 Audi R8 4.2

audi_r8_2 audi_r8 Another good opportunity allowed me to trade up to the Audi R8. I still have this vehicle and it’s truly been a joy to drive. Of all the cars on this list, this is the one I’ve owned the longest – it’s well modified considering most owners don’t change this car much, and I intend to keep it at least thru next summer (!).   Save The Planet...& Gas

16. 2011 Toyota Prius (Concurrent with R8)

Go figure, I don't have a picture of the actual car LOL - but I'm sure you've all seen a Prius. I ended up with the Prius to use as a daily driver when I first picked up the R8. As an enthusiast, I never would’ve seen myself owning a Prius, but the experience was actually pretty good. It was entertaining to see how much MPG I could get out of the car (hypermiling – google it) and if it wasn’t for the birth of my first child, I would probably still have it… Time To Hit The Trails

17. 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams (Concurrent with R8)

fj_tt fj_tt2 I promised myself I’d always own one of these and when my first kid came along it made “sense”. I wanted something rugged and beefy to protect him (at least that was my excuse) so this was the solution. I actually went off-roading for the first time in this vehicle and it continues to be a great urban tank transporter. Learning How To Drive All Over Again

18. 2013 Scion FR-S 10 Series Edition (Concurrent with R8 and FJ)

frs_10 There sincerely isn’t a better car at this price point if you’re looking for rear wheel drive excitement. I purchased this car to learn how to really drive (read that as “track car”) and am still just breaking it in. 18 cars in 22 years seems like a lot, even considering the fact that I’m a car nut. It actually isn’t that bad when compared to some of my friends, so there is some comfort in that. I truly love all types of cars. My automotive ADD is part of my personality and I’ve been lucky enough to have friends and family that not only look past it, but support it – which is a good thing because I just closed on car #19!
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