One Man And His Obsession
One Special 66′ Mustang
For me, my car obsession started when I was about three years old. This was when my dad started to restore a 1966 convertible Mustang, with a small block 289 and 4 on the floor, that my mom drove for a bit in high school. I remember a few things from that young age but seeing the engine on a stand getting torn down is burned into my memory. I remember a lot more of the car once it was finished as we had it until I was around the age of 10. Fortunately we sold the car to my aunt and uncle and I’ve been able to drive it whenever we get a chance to visit!
A 1993 Volkswagan Corrado. Probably the only special car my Father has owned besides the Mustang. I was probably 12 when my dad bought the car after we moved to North Carolina and I immediately fell in love with my first European car. I loved everything about the Carrodo SLC. The brilliant little VR6 motor, the factory tan leather Recaro seats, how it handled, how quick it felt and of course how could I forget the rear spoiler that elevated at 45mph! I learned to drive a manual transmission in the Corrado when I was 15, as soon as I got my learners permit. Once I learned how to drive it I wanted to get in it every chance I could. Whenever my parents would be gone on errands I would jump in and rip through the gears down the street. Only going the speed limit of course….. By the time I got my actual drivers license I only drove the car for about a month before my dad decided it was time to get rid of it. I was not a very happy 16 year old boy.
My first car had to be something special, fun and naturally sport a manual transmission. My short list of cars included a VW GTI, Toyota MR2, B5 Audi A4, Subaru 2.5RS and Z32 Nissan 300zx just to name a few. After a few months my dad ended up finding me a really clean 1991 300zx and I fell in love. It was my first RWD car I had spent any amount of time in. I don’t believe I made it much more than a mile from the house with my brother before I did my first clutch dump resulting in the biggest smile in my life. I was hooked, especially when the tires weren’t. I loved the car for a little over a year before deciding I wanted to have more than two seats. I love to drive and enjoying taking a bunch of my friends with me so the car was no longer a perfect fit. After selling the car I drove my sisters first car for about a year before finding my next love. But this automatic 1995 Honda Accord is worth mentioning, even though it was far from anything special. I must have redlined that car everywhere I went and ripped the ebrake around hundreds of corners whenever it was wet. Even though it is labeled as a boring family compact I had a ton of fun with it. It never broke down on me and I never washed the outside of the poor thing the entire time I had it. My most memorable experience with the Accord was probably the biggest burnout I’ve ever done in my life, even after almost 10 years of burnouts later. All that was needed was some spare tires, a bunch of tire shine on the tread and a couple friends to sit on the trunk! I couldn’t see my hand when it was stuck out the window. It was absolutely brilliant, even though the car smelled like rubber whenever the air was turned on about two weeks after the tire slaying! Tray drifting and a run in with the cops (no tickets) with four of your closest friends is something I will never forget! After the Honda I moved on to a 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX. It was love all over again. Even though it only had 5 more hp than the 300zx it was certainly a decent bit faster. This was my first turbo car and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was addicted to the boost. I dove the car everywhere! Trips to the mountains numerous times proved to be the most fun. It wasn’t long until the car had a full 3″ catless exhaust and piggy back ecu, giving the car around 220AWHP. It also wasn’t long after that when I received my first speeding ticket. Unfortunately another ticket a short 3 months after the first one prompted me to sell the car after a short year of ownership. I was mad at myself but eventually looked at it as a lesson and an opportunity to get into another enthusiast car with a massive cult following, the BMW e30!
My Longest Relationship
After realizing the potential of the chassis and not being able to talk myself out of the timeless good looks I decided I needed an e30. After a very unsuccessful 2 months of scouring Craigslist around the Charlotte area I was becoming discouraged. I started to broaden my search around the Charlotte area and ended up looking in every listing in Virginia and South Carolina. Nothing. I was starting to look at more regular, non enthusiast cars because I wasn’t having any luck. I even looked into some newer Civics. “What in the hell is wrong with you??” I finally asked myself! So I decided I’d look on Autotrader for shits and giggles and plugged in a distance of 200 miles in hopes of something decent and unmodified. I think it’s best to always start with a clean canvas, free of any previous owners poor decisions. TWO MILES FROM MY HOUSE?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Sure enough, there is what looked to be a pretty clean, less than stock (aftermarket side moulding) e30. The only thing I was concerned with was it was a 318is and I was more interested in having an m20. My opinion here was slightly scewed though because the only e30 I had driven prior was my best friends screaming 105hp m10 in his euro car. That little thing handled awesome once you had a little momentum going but it couldn’t get out of its own way. Coming from 300hp and a few tickets I needed something slower but I didn’t want to hate it! I decided to give the guy a call while I was at my parents for dinner. The guy was only a few years older than myself and he told me as much as he knew and told me how much he loved it. He was driving it home, off the lot, for the last two weeks because he thought it was cool. He must have really loved it as well because it was in June nearing 100 degrees and the car didn’t have A/C. I told him I would be down in the morning to have a look and test drive it. The next day couldn’t come quick enough and I don’t think I was too good at holding in my excitement when I got to the car. I was really hoping not to be disappointed on the test drive by the little m42. Well, I certainly wasn’t! For having an estimated 270k miles the car had quite a bit more pep than the m10 and I couldn’t stop smiling! At that time I forgot about listening for all the tale signs of bad brakes, shot suspension and things not working. I knew I had found my next car.
Lets jump forward to almost exactly four years later and I can explain what the car has been through and transformed into. Currently the car has an OBD2 M52 swap that I completed after buying a whole 328is for the swap (thanks Caleb)! The only part of the swap I did not do myself was the wiring harness, which was completed by Dave Markert from Markert Motor Works in Atlanta, Georgia. Brilliant guy to work with for any of your swap needs. He also did the reflash on my ecu. Other than that I had a custom exhaust done from the headers back to a Supersprint muffler. The more I thought about welding on my back and burning myself many times over, I was happy to pay a shop to do it. I have also completed a 5 lug swap using e36m3 front suspension and e30m3 rear suspension. I have fitted the car with a very nice set of TC Kline SA coilovers for an e36m3 using e30 Ground Control adjustable camber plates and their tall rear shock mounts in order to use the e36 rear shocks. The car also has the steering rack from the swap car, which makes a huge improvement over stock feel. The interior is mostly stock except for the Recaro SRD front seats but everything from the dash to the carpet has been replaced. The current set of wheels for the wide body are an older set of HRE 525s that I have put together sourcing custom lips and barrels. The fronts measure 17×10.5 and run a 275/40/17 Mickey Thompson Street Comp tire. The rears measure a massive 17×12 wrapped with the same tires in a 315/35/17. On to the wide body! My favorite form of racing has been Rally as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the factory cars with the ridiculous wide body kits and have wanted to build my own wide body for quite some time. Once I decided I was going to do it that was it, I just had to make it happen. In January of 2015 I put the car in the garage and took out my angle grinder and started chopping off the rear quarters! The funny thing was I wasn’t nervous about cutting up my clean shell, I was excited! The only problem with the whole thing was the plan itself. I was going to do all of this while finishing my last semester of my undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering Technology. “This was a stupid idea” I thought numerous times to myself as the semester carried out. I was swamped all semester and my poor girl literally sat for 4 months for no reason. It wasn’t until after graduation in early May when I quit my day job to finish my car before setting out on this trip of a lifetime! During the month of May I spent a lot of days in the garage from 8 AM till midnight. It was nothing but that the week before The Vintage in Old Salem in Winston Salem, North Carolina! It was well worth it once I made it there! I was fortunate to meet and talk to a lot of amazing people that weekend and show off my hard work. It may not have been that impressive to professional body guys but I was really proud of what I had accomplished so far. After that great weekend it was back to garage to finish the car!