The Car History!
I suppose I should write a little about the PSI before this blog heads any further away from it’s intended purpose! This is a story all about how….I got into cars and learned how to burn money as fast as (or faster than) I could make it!
Like most gearhead types, I came from a family that raced. My dad raced dirt track cars, and motocross as a kid, and karts, and Baja trucks in the SCORE series, and…and…and….
My mom drove my dad’s chase truck in Baja. So that’s pretty cool too! But like so many people, my parents divorced when I was a kid. My dad moved to Oregon (2 days drive from where I was), so I didn’t get to actually grow up racing personally.
My first car was a family car hand me down — my mom’s recently retired 1995 Ford Explorer. My sister (who obviously drove it after me) named it (her?) Dora. Dora the Explorer. I had some great times in that thing! It’s amazing how much fun just driving around with your friends is when you’re high school. It’s also amazing how a vehicle that should be reasonably reliable can just decide to not run when it felt like it. NO mechanic was able to trace the issue as long as I had it, but that thing would (seemingly make the willing choice to) leave me stranded. Often. Everywhere. On several occasions, I stopped for a Red Bull before work, and wound up sprinting the rest of the way to work (about a mile) with moments to spare.
I had a boyfriend in high school who was hoodlum and took me out to the street races. That’s pretty much where I got hooked. After that, we spent nights at the local 1/8th mile track (RIP Perris), watching pass after pass after pass. I knew I couldn’t afford a race car, but I made it my goal to have drag car in the reasonably near future.
Then I went to college, and bought the old trusty Toyota pickup from a friend for $500. Best $500 I ever spent. I kept the oil changed, after learning how in a friend’s driveway. For the decade I owned that truck, I did the brakes one time, and got new tires after a misadventure left me with a blowout somewhere between Lake Shasta and Davis on I-5, hungover and miserable. I drove that truck to 320,000 miles before literally crying as it drove away after I sold it.
In my junior year of college (because I knew everything) I took out a large amount of extra cash from a student loan lender and bought my favorite car to date. Worst automotive purchase I ever made, but still my favorite. It was a 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra – a Terminator, for those in the know. It came to me with a ported Eaton blower and a smaller blower pulley, and that should’ve been the first sign of disaster. It had a terrible tune, and it’s a miracle it didn’t blow up before I got it home. I was excited for my Cobra, that I completely missed the holes in the floor where a rollcage had been bolted in. I was so excited for my Cobra, that I bought a beat to death, 70,000 mile, supercharged, used to have a cage, third owner, still modded car. Chalk it up to rookie mistakes, but I’m so glad I know what I’m looking for in a fun car now.
That car is responsible for me being at the track where I got my first job in the automotive industry, and where I learned to love drag racing. Irwindale Dragstrip was like a second home while I owned that car. I hotlapped it and beat on it until I knew it would soon have major issues. Then I sold it in the name of a down payment on the first house I bought. Making it also the worst automotive sale I ever made, if you’re keeping track. Someday, I’ll own another one.
After buying the house and living there for about a year, I impulse purchased a MazdaSpeed3. It was market appropriate for the parts I was selling at work at that point, it helped me learn about turbo cars, and it was a super fun car, to boot. By the time I sold it (just about two years ago now) and went back to driving the Toyota, it had an upgraded wastegate, front mount intercooler, upgraded blow off valve, an electronic boost controller, full turboback exhaust, and an e85 tune from a buddy who really knew his way around small displacement turbo cars. Shout out to Snail Performance for that! The car was a blast, sounded good, ran great, and was a comfortable daily. When I went to start my business, I wanted to eliminate the payment, though so I could be more flexible. I sold it to some kid with more money than sense. Paid the loan off, pocketed a little, and watched him struggle to drive away. He’d never driven a stick before, and didn’t want to test drive it himself. One day, he’ll chalk that up to HIS fun car rookie mistake.
Then, I drove the truck again for another year before bought the 2004 Honda Element (we just celebrated our first anniversary last week). The Element is high power torque machine! Just kidding, it’s a terrible on gas, useless all wheel drive, turd of a cardboard box on wheels. I love it anyway. I wanted one when they first came out, and was thrilled to finally lay hands on my own. It’s as aerodynamic as giant plastic box would be, and any wind at all tries to kick it across the road. But it’s also what I made my cross country trek in when I picked up my life and moved from California to Tennessee, and I’ve already got some great memories in it.
The last acquisition I made a super painful process of getting “my” car that was co-owned by ex and I – a 1999 Ford Mustang with a 5.3L LS swap. I don’t really want to glorify that build process in any way, 1. because it’s sort of a hack job, 2. because there’s a ton of drama associated with it. That said, it went from a bare 5.3 block sitting near a barely not running v6 Mustang to running and driving cross-country for Hot Rod Power Tour in the span of about 3 days. It was brutal, but it ran. Then it didn’t, and I spent a TON of time and money negotiating with a terrorist to get a non-running car to me here on this side of the country. That car’s back under the knife, with major developments to follow in the very near future. Really the whole first “The PSI” part of this blog will be focused on making Mustang run, and not suck. So stay tuned for that.
What’s your favorite car you’ve owned?