Took a short vacation, but now I’m back!

I took a vacation to Las Vegas to visit family, and I visited the Grand Canyon again.
A shot of part of the Grand Canyon. Shot with the Spiratone 20mm F2.8.

Sorry about the irregular posts! I took a short vacation from home to Las Vegas to spend time with some visiting family, but now I’m back!

I’m going to be spending some time going through all of the photos from my trips to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to my usual rhythm!

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It’s finally Friday!

It's finally Friday!
It’s finally Friday! I took My Shinsen Miata “Voodoo” for a high-speed drive to one of my secret locations for a photo!

It’s finally Friday! You know what that means: Time to play hooky from work and go for a drive!

The $100 Dollar Game

Craigslist postings selling for $100 or less.
One man’s junk is another’s treasure.

What is The $100 Dollar Game?

Every once in a while, I open a new tab and go to Craigslist. I’m not looking for anything in particular. I’m usually just killing time between deleting emails, blogging, and looking for gigs. But when I’m on Craigslist, I like to challenge myself with a little game: What’s the coolest thing I can find for $100?

The rules of the $100 Dollar Game are pretty simple. You just search for anything and everything in your area listed on Craigslist, priced $100 or below. It often helps to filter results based on images, and I usually sort by “Owner” instead of “Dealer” to get more relevant results. Lastly, I set the minimum price to $50 because I hate it when you find something listed for $0, only to find out that the posting is asking for a lot more than $100. You could even narrow down your results further by focusing on your area of interest

Because I live in Silicon Valley, I usually find some pretty interesting things. The quality of junk here is a lot better than most places:

A pair of 1:18 Scale Audi R10 Race Cars!
A pair of 1:18 Scale Audi R10 Race Cars!
A Sony DSLR kit for $80! This is a great starter kit if you're just getting into photography!
A Sony DSLR kit for $80! This is a great starter kit if you’re just getting into photography!
I'm a sucker for Lego, but I still wouldn't pay $100 for a kit.
I’m a sucker for Lego, but I still wouldn’t pay $100 for a kit.
A Saturn Die-Cast 1:18 Scale Model? They made those?
A Saturn Die-Cast 1:18 Scale Model? They made those?
A Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance Dash Plaque!?
A Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance Dash Plaque!?

This is just a small amount of the interesting things I’ve found. There’s at least 15 more pages of this stuff on Craigslist, but It’ll take me all day to sort through and post everything here.

So, what kind of cool things can you find on Craigslist for under $100?

A slow car driven fast

Michael's Miata parked at a scenic overlook on California Route 9
Michael’s Miata parked at a scenic overlook on California Route 9.

“A slow car driven fast is much more fun than a fast car driven fast. You feel much more; the car is more alive.”

Michael J.

Like any other car enthusiast, Michael places his 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata on a pedestal, and for good reason. The “NA” is the go-to car for any enthusiast born after 1990, simply because it has that rare combination of fun and affordability. You can usually find them on Craigslist for as low $2,000, and its production numbers and abundance of parts means that the NA will be cherished by enthusiasts for a long time.

There is another quality about the NA that makes it memorable: it’s lack of speed, and how it copes with it. Michael said it best; it’s not a fast car. It has a 1.6-liter inline-four, which on a good day makes about a hundred horsepower and some change. But its five-speed transmission with short gearing and low body weight makes the car feel faster than it actually is. Even with bald tires, the car was happily gripping the pavement along the s-curves and hairpins on CA Route 9. This is where we see the NA shine. This car was designed for feeling the curves. A slow car driven fast was indeed fun.

Take the interior for example. There’s nothing in it to distract the driver. Everything is simple and straightforward. Even opening the convertible top isn’t a spectacle like on modern cars. The convertible top is just a means to an end in the quest to make a car focused on the feeling of driving. In this regard, the NA positively eccentric.

Michael is also an eccentric, in that he cares more about how the car feels to drive rather than if it can sync with this phone’s music library. Michael also believes that the simpler and lighter the car is, the better it is overall. Colin Chapman certainly would agree. However, a simple and light car does not necessarily make a car fun to drive. There’s much more to it than that. It has to feel good to drive. Michael’s other car, a Hyundai Veloster Turbo Rally Edition manages to achieve this despite its abundance of “distractions” as Michael liked to put it.

In a way, the NA flies in the face of what car companies today believe a millennial would want to drive. There are no gadgets or mood lighting; no backup cameras or parking sensors. There are barely any cup holders. It’s just you, the car, and the open road. As far as cars go, it’s the equivalent of an old pocket knife versus a really nice German multi-tool.

The thing is, that old pocket knife is all you really need.

Michael sits with his Miata at the Route 9 scenic overlook
Michael sits with his Miata at the Route 9 scenic overlook.

Note: I originally wrote a version of this back in early 2017 before I started Corkscrew’d. The essay was the description for one of the first photo sessions I ever shot. It featured my friend Michael and his 1990 Mariner Blue Mazda Miata, named “Bloo”. We took a trip up Route 9 through Felton, California, and ended our excursion on Skyline Boulevard. I saved the short essay because I wanted to revisit it someday. Now that I’m blogging regularly, I feel that now is a good time to post it again.

I’ve edited the essay a bit for more clarity. Also, Michael no longer owns the Veloster, and now drives a 1991 Toyota Celica instead.

-W

Sunday Cup: The Influence of Gran Turismo

A Viper GTS-R blasts through the pack. Photo © 1998 Polyphony Digital, Sony; Retrieved from GTPlanet
A Viper GTS-R blasts through the pack. Gran Turismo © 1998 Polyphony Digital, Sony; Retrieved from GTPlanet

A 2-Player Battle

When I was 10 years old, I visited my grandmother in Florida. We were in the living room with my oldest cousin playing a game on his PlayStation™ while the adults chatted. I remember seeing the graphics of the game and being wowed by how realistic everything looked. I had just gotten into cars, and this was the latest racing game on the PlayStation. Of course I had to play it.

He handed me the controller and told me to pick a car. I go through the carousel looking at cars I’ve never seen before. After a while I come across something familiar: The Dodge Viper GTS. Quickly, I picked my car in red and my cousin picked his: An Acura NSX, in purple. I hadn’t heard of the NSX at that point, so I was sure I would beat my cousin. The Viper had more horsepower, after all. Little did I know.

When the race was over, I was hooked. How could a car with “only” 276 horsepower beat the mighty Viper? Clearly my cousin was much more skilled than I. I swore I would get the game and practice, promising to beat him the next time we met.

That was over 20 years ago. That game was called Gran Turismo.

Hobbies turn into Passions

The Toyota Supra 3.0 GT Turbo Ltd. '93 (Toyota Supra (Turbo) '93) in Gran Turismo 2. Video by NoGoodNames4701. Gran Turismo 2 © 1999 Polyphony Digital, Sony.
The Toyota Supra 3.0 GT Turbo Ltd. ’93 (Toyota Supra (Turbo) ’93) in Gran Turismo 2. Video by NoGoodNames4701. Gran Turismo 2 © 1999 Polyphony Digital, Sony.

I can’t discount how much racing games influenced my love for cars. Gran Turismo sparked my passion for learning about cars, influencing by hobbies and tastes later on. Everyday after school, I would eat a snack, finish my homework, and then play Gran Turismo until dinner time. It was ironic that I didn’t have a memory card when I first started playing. Every time I started that game, it was literally a “new game”. I would see how far I could get until dinnertime, and then hopefully, I’d be able to continue until bedtime!

Until I got my memory card, I was forced to learn which cars were the best to use by comparing stats and prices. Eventually I settled on my weapon-of-choice: A “Red Mica” Supra 3.0GT Limited ’93. It was the feeling of discovering that car and others like it that stayed with me from then on. Gran Turismo sparked a passion in me that still continues to this day; to the point where I can’t help by smile whenever I see a 3rd-generation Toyota Supra pass by.

Completing the Sunday Cup with the Supra. Video by Criken Tearfall. Gran Turismo © 1998 Polyphony Digital, Sony

I can’t stress enough how important video games can be when it comes to creating new car enthusiasts. Thanks to games like Gran Turismo, I learned a massive amount about cars early on, which only fed my passion. I’ve met people that had similar stories too. Some people got into cars playing games like Need for Speed II. Others started with the Ridge Racer series, or Al Unser Jr.’s Arcade Racing. Whether you’re old enough to remember when The Need for Speed was sponsored by Road & Track, or you just started playing the latest Gran Turismo; today’s car enthusiasts are likely born from video games.

Sunday Cup

I eventually did beat the Sunday Cup in Gran Turismo soon after I got my first memory card. The prize car wasn’t nearly as fast as my Supra, so I sold it to finance more parts. Eventually I beat the game with the Supra fully-tuned and still in my garage, alongside a racing version of the Viper GTS, and a race-tuned NSX.

I’m still waiting for that rematch with my cousin though.

The Autumn Ring; an original race track since Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo 6 © 2013 Polyphony Digital, Sony
The Autumn Ring; an original race track since Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo 6 © 2013 Polyphony Digital, Sony