Skyline Matsuri 2019 trailer released!

My pictures from last weekends Skyline Matsuri was used in this video! If you’re a fan of epic movie trailers, then watch this video now!

Special thanks to Todd Lappin of Telstar Logistics!


The Vector WX-3 is the most 90’s car to ever exist

The Vector WX-3 prototype. I would do unholy things to drive that car…Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

The Vector has always had my imagination…

There’s something about the pseudo-vaporware All-American Supercar that just stays with you. Is it the wild carbon-kevlar body? The movable aerodynamic surfaces? The three-across seating arrangement? Maybe it was the use of aeronautical technologies, like the aerospace-grade bolts? Or, maybe it has more to do with the massive 7.0L Twin Turbo V8, making somewhere between 600-1200 horsepower? The Vector WX-3 is all and none of these things; alongside the WX-3 Roadster, the WX-3 ended up being a footnote in American automotive history thanks to a hostile takeover by Indonesian automotive firm Megatech in the 90’s. But for a time, it seemed that WX-3 was ready to take the supercar market by storm and put America at it’s forefront. And yet, it was largely forgotten as Vector simply phased out of the public eye and occupied that space where broken promises and failed dreams go. You know; like most things in the 90’s. It seems sort of ill-fitting then, that such a machine is being auctioned off for Lexus LFA money.

Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s recently listed the Vector Avtech WX3 and WX3 Roadster on their website, and now, I’m suddenly reliving my early childhood playing Gran Turismo 2 and racing in Red Rock Valley with my trusty red Vector W8 Twin Turbo. It was one of my favorite cars in the game thanks to its futuristic (to me) looks and massive horsepower (in game, you could upgrade the turbos to put out 800+ horsepower), and high top speed (240+ miles per hour). As far as I know, the last time you could drive a Vector in a video game was in Gran Turismo 2; unless you count the modded cars you could add to Need For Speed High Stakes. That being said the last time Vector was ever mentioned again was in 2007, when Vector announced the development of a new car; the WX-8. In fact, the WX-3 prototypes are being sold partly to fund development of the new Vector supercar.

Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

First offered for $3.5 million for both prototypes, RM Sotheby’s have listed the lot for $450,000-$550,000. One has to wonder if this is because the name “Vector” is pretty much synonymous with “vaporware”; a conceptual product that’s always being advertised, but never available to buy. In fact, that last time the new Vector WX-8 was even mentioned was several years ago, with no road going versions sold yet (that we know of).

Even so, the WX-3 and 3R are absolutely bonkers. Finished in the famous Jazz-pattern Solo Cup colors of Teal and Fuchsia, both cars are an insane amalgamation of styling cues; from the influence of other wedge-shaped sports cars from the 70’s (the original Vector W2 was heavily based on the Alfa Romero Carabo Concept Car from 1968), to the organic shapes and styling cues that defined the 90’s. But, styling is nothing compared to the unique combination of automotive and aerospace technologies present in the WX-3

Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

What made Vector’s cars famous was their use of aerospace materials and technologies, including aerospace-grade bolts to hold the aluminum honeycomb monocoque together, and the use of carbon-Kevlar composite for the body. However, nothing was more in-your-face then the inclusion of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon’s Multi-Function Display Unit, modified to give you information readouts from the cars numerous sensors, and featuring a graphical representation of the car! And if that wasn’t enough, the WX-3 and 3R also used a unique, left-handed shifter arrangement meant to emulate the throttle on a jet-powered aircraft. Granted, the shifter was linked to an ancient Oldsmobile TH-425 Three-Speed transaxle, but still. And of course, you could entertain your wife, and your girlfriend with the three-across bench seat, and Sony 6 Disc CD Changer; assuming they can get past just how massive that windshield actually is (Vector once held the record for largest production windshield ever made)!

Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

The WX-3 prototype first debuted with the same 6.0L Rodeck Twin Garrett Turbocharged V8 that was first used in the Vector W8 Twin Turbo, but when the WX-3 was reintroduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1993, Vector had managed to squeeze in their 7.0L Rodeck V8, twin-turbocharged to 1000 hp! Despite being mated to a sluggish three speed transaxle, the car’s projected top speed was around 250 miles per hour; 12 years before Bugatti debuted the legendary Veyron.

With this combination of aerospace technology, insane looks, and massive horsepower, The Vector WX-3 is essentially the optimism of the 1990’s distilled into a single, high-speed form. It really is a shame that this car never got the chance to go into production, as Megatech locked company founder Gerald Wiegert out of his own building during the hostile takeover, and Wiegert countersued to prevent Megatech from building the WX-3 twins. Instead, we got a rebodied Lamboghini Diablo in the form of the Vector M12. In the end, Megatech also failed with their approach, as the slow sales of the M12 failed to keep the lights on, but not before Megatech tried to rectify the situation with a modified GM LT1 V8-powered version of the M12 dubbed the SRV8.

Still, it’s nice to imagine how the Vector WX-3 could have redefined exotic cars in the 1990’s, and rival other legendary cars like the Jagaur XJ220 and the McLaren F1. And for around $500,000, you could have two!

Do you think the bank would give me a loan?

Photo © Erik Fuller and RM Sotheby’s

Merry Christmas!

Photo © NostraCARmus

Nothing Says “Merry Christmas”…

…more than a red, Italian, wedge-shaped concept car! Santa Claus would be rolling in style with the Lancia Stratos Zero!

Merry Christmas!


Old and New: The Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet

The brand new Dowsetts Comet; British Retro-futurism at it’s finest! Photo ©Autoclassics

Retro done right…

One of the biggest issues I have with car design today is the fact that there is such an emphasis on efficiency and aerodynamics that most new cars are starting to look alike. I’m willing to bet that if you were to take all the popular sedans, de-badge them, and then line them up next to each other, it would be very difficult to tell them apart. In addition to the current design trends, you have the introduction of electric drivetrains, which further serve to drive the emphasis on efficiency. Coupled with the lowering popularity of manual transmissions, cars are starting to become more like appliances than actual objects of desire.

That being said, with the introduction of fully-electric drivetrains, the beginnings of a new trend are started to take hold. Manufacturers like Jaguar are making a bet: now that electric drivetrains are becoming more commonplace, why not revisit the classic designs of yesteryear? Jaguar introduced the E-Type ZERO, a special electric conversion of their famous Series 1 E-Type sports car in order to capture the burgeoning market of classic car design with modern electric technology. And now, a newcomer to this market has made itself known: the Comet.

I count at least 4 different timeless design cues taken for the Dowsetts Comet. Photo ©Carrie Wilson

The brainchild of TV personality and unabashed car enthusiast Ant Anstead, the Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet looks like something that could have easily been a world beating sports car in the 1960’s. With a design that evokes past sports cars from the golden age of car design, like the Aston Martin DB4, the Jaguar E-Types and D-Types, the Alfa Romero TZ2, and even the Maserati Pininfarina A6GCS/53, the Comet is already setting the car design world ablaze with its good looks and modern amenities.

Paired with the all-aluminum (or aluminium for our friends across the pond) 6.2L LS3 small-block V8 from Chevrolet, the Comet can reportedly accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in under four seconds, and look amazing while doing so. It seems a shame that it’s that fast; I’d rather just cruise on by and feel everyone’s gaze turn toward me! However, the rev-happy small block LS3 isn’t the only choice of drivetrain for this masterpiece of retro-futurism. Dowsetts also offers the choice of a fully electric drivetrain.

The Comet, posed next to the Handley-Page Victor V-Bomber. Photo ©Carrie Wilson

With this car, you can have all the looks of a classic golden age sports car, with the technology of today’s efficient electric drivetrains. Details are still pending on the final mechanical design of the car, however. According to, the debut car used a Tremec 5-speed transmission, a limited-slip differential, and a De-Dion-style rear end. This is likely to change with the introduction of the proposed electric drivetrain. Furthermore, the current mechanical setup is also likely to change as the car nears production. You could possibly have your choice of a 5-speed or 6 speed transmission later on, but this has not been confirmed.

The aesthetic mix of classic and modern is carried into the interior a mix of materials and surfaces. Paired with the classic-style wood-rimmed and airbag-less steering wheel, white face gauges, and supple quilted leather, is a mix of polished aluminum surfaces, buttons, and a touchscreen infotainment system. The end result is a fusion of truly retro-futuristic designs inside and out.

The Comet interior. Photo ©

Is the Comet the latest example of a new trend of retro-futuristic car design? Hopefully the answer is yes; I’m starting to get tired of cars that look like soap bars!

More information on the Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet and Comet Barchetta can be found on Dowsetts Twitter and Instagram. The full website will be coming soon.

It’s a cheese-grater…

The 2020 Silverado HD is a staight-up cheese grater….

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty
…a cheese grater

On the bright side, if you hit a deer with that grille you’ll have fresh venison sausage!

Voodoo Magic and Fuzzy Math

Story of my life right here. © The Mincing Mockingbird. I love their illustrations.


Michael stared up at me, cocking his head out of the tiny window of his Mazda Miata; a gorgeous 1990 Mariner Blue NA. His normally stoic gaze was instead incredulous, with his eyebrows propped up in bewilderment. I looked back at the crossover behind me, then at the pink slip.

Yep, I just sold the Rogue. Let’s go look at the Miata!

“The Avatar of Anxiety”

I drove a 2010 Nissan Rogue before I bought my Miata. I took this when I still lived in the Mountains above Watsonville. This is probably the nicest photo I have of it!

At the time, I was working as a sort-of photographer for a company that contracts out photographers to dealerships in order to offer “professional photography services for new products and older inventory”. Basically, I was a lot porter with a camera and an internet connection.

It sucked.

Aside from being underpaid for the amount of work needed to be done (imagine having to drive, photograph, and park 30-40 vehicles a day just to make $100), the hours were long, the commute was ridiculous, and each dealership had a different package deal, so depending on what needed to be taken care of I either made a little money, or practically nothing at all.

That being said, that job killed my car. At the time, I was driving a Nissan Rogue Crossover all over the Bay Area. It wasn’t uncommon to break 500 miles a week, which meant that over the course of 9 months I drove more than most soccer moms do in a year. The Rogue took it all, until the transmission started acting silly around 84,000 miles and it was transformed into a 15 mph rolling roadblock filled with hand-me-down computer equipment, a camera, and the avatar of anxiety. After stopping on the side of the road and trying the “turn it off and on again” method, it worked fine. Still, I didn’t like the idea of potentially getting stranded and having to resort to methods stolen from the I.T. Crowd. I decided the next chance I get, I was going to get the Rogue checked out at my local shop.

Fast forward to me sitting in the Rogue and having the technician practically shove a paper towel in my face with what looks like something he wiped off the seat at the local gas station restroom, and explain to me that the thing might need a fresh transfusion of transmission fluid. This was only 20,000 miles since my intermediate service, so clearly either someone was screwing with me, or my car was about to screw me. After doing some research later that night, I come to find out that Nissan’s CVT Transmission for my Rogue was known for having more issues than Autoweek. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to Nissan and their lemon CVT transmission, with the same symptoms I experienced reported by other drivers.

“Well, SHIT.

I suddenly had the feeling I was riding on a ticking time bomb in the shape of a mom’s band practice transport, especially after seeing the darker-than-normal transmission fluid and reading a comparison between the CVT’s shift patterns and Helen Keller’s ice skating skills. So I made the decision to look for something that I could get for the trade-in value of the Rogue. And of course, in wisdom beyond my years, I asked Michael for advice.

“Miata Is Always The Answer.”

Michael’s beautiful, original 1990 NA Miata, in Mariner Blue. This is the car that helped convince me to get a Miata.

Michael drove a Miata. In fact, simply stating that he “drove” it would be a disservice because of his obsession of subtracting weight where he could to squeeze every ounce of performance from the machine, without having to take drastic measures or change the exterior of the car in any noticeable way. Thinking back now, I might have already had my mind made up when I asked for his help. I wanted a Miata, or something like a Miata. The allure of something sporty and fun like a rear-wheel drive convertible more or less guided my decision to look for a replacement for the Rogue, but I still had the frame of mind to look for a suitable replacement in the long term. I wasn’t just going to look at a Miata of course, but maybe something like a Mazda 3-Series, a Subaru, or a Volkswagen that wasn’t puking oil.

I decided that I might as well put my computer skills to work and create a spreadsheet comparing multiple cars and their costs of ownership for one year, with my driving habits, current gas prices, and mileage estimates gleaned from multiple sources. After all, I’d rather make an informed decision. After my date with Google Sheets, I managed to come up with a shortlist of cars that could be candidates for replacing the Rogue:

  • A 3-door or 5-door hatchback, like a Mazda 3-Series: A car like this would have actually been my first car, but my parents thought “He needed something he could beat up.” instead. We ended up getting a Ford Contour. That car nearly killed me.
  • A Toyota MR-S: Hilariously impractical, but the gas mileage was phenomenal. It took regular gas for it’s Celica-derived engine, so it was rated at 40+ MPG Highway which meant a savings of over $1,500 a year in fuel costs. The trunk space though was barely large enough for Schrodinger’s Cat, and insurance costs wouldn’t change due to the fact that the MR-S was more of a pure sports car.
  • A Miata: Here’s where things get interesting, since I was leaning towards a Miata anyway. Though not as practical as a hatchback, the gas mileage was claimed to be 28-30 MPG Highway observed by multiple sources, which meant a savings of $1,000 a year for fuel costs over my Rogue. An insurance quote also told me that I would be saving $60 a year over my Rogue. That’s because apparently the Miata is considered a compact car. That, or they figured if I crashed it it would  be more likely to kill just me, but no one else because there are no backseats and I’m single.

I had the data I needed; now, came the scheming. At this point, I was leaning heavily toward the Miata since it was cheaper to drive and maintain, and I would get to have some fun without having to resort to selling organs south of the border. However, I had an ulterior motive; I wanted to drive stick. I had learned a little bit because of my job, but my exposure was limited because I couldn’t legally leave the lot, so I never had the chance to actually shift out of 1st gear. Since getting started in a manual car is essentially the hardest part, it shouldn’t have been that hard to learn the rest and finally ascend to where all car enthusiasts should be. Still, cargo space would be an issue since I was carrying a massive (and massively outdated) boat anchor of a printer, and a bunch of stickers and buyers guides for different dealerships. I figured I could learn to carry less, and then pocket all those savings from the gas mileage and insurance costs. Having something more practical was still the logical choice, so I wasn’t about to just cave in and buy a Miata despite my desires.

Then Michael shot me a message: “Hey, there’s this guy selling a Miata in Santa Clara. It’s the shit.” With piqued curiosity, I asked him for the Craigslist ad. He sent it to me and I looked it over:

Rare 2003 Shinsen Miata 1.8L, 93000mi”.

A fairly recent Miata, at 93,000 miles seems pretty common,  but a Shinsen Miata? That’s a god-damn unicorn. I felt my resolve to get a more practical car melting.

“New and Fresh”

The 2003 Special Edition Miatas. In the back is the Shinsen Version, of which only 1451 were built for the American Marker according to Jalopnik. Photo Credit to Car and Driver.

Let me clarify what a Shinsen Miata is:

In 2003, Mazda created a special version of the Miata that was slotted under the Special Edition model. Named “Shinsen” (meaning “New and Fresh”), this new version was intended to attract younger buyers to the brand with a myriad of interesting features:

  • Titanium Gray Metallic Paint (used on the 2002 SE, and the later NB Mazdaspeed Miata).
  • Unique Navy Blue Cloth top, Navy Blue Cloth bucket seats, Navy Blue door inserts, two-tone Navy Blue/Black leather-wrapped shifter knob, embroidered floor mats and aluminum trim.
  • Leather-wrapped Nardi Torino steering wheel.
  • Special Edition white-face gauges
  • Convenience Package, including a heated glass rear window, electric windows, tweeters, fog lamps, power locks, cruise control, and keyless entry.
  • A 1.8L 142hp engine mated to a 5-speed gearbox and a Tochigi-Fuji Limited-Slip Differential.
  • Optional appearance packages, including the front air dam extension, side skirts, mud guards, front and tail light covers, and a rear deck spoiler.

Mazda intended to sell 1,600 Shinsen Miatas, however other sources say just over 1,400 were built. Additionally, the Shinsen was only offered for the 2003 model year. In other words, the Shinsen Miata is a rare and beautiful beast! You can imagine how skeptical I was when Michael sent the Craigslist ad to me. He assured me though:

It’s legit man. The seller’s on the forums I belong to and he posted about it there. This car is perfect for you! I even test-drove it. It drives better than mine!

Now I was in trouble.

I wanted something that was more practical than a rare entry-level sports car, but something like this barely comes up anywhere. Who wouldn’t want to own a car like this? Michael and I had made arrangements to see the car the same weekend I chose to bring the Rogue to a dealership to get it inspected and appraised. A test drive couldn’t hurt, right? After all, I was planning on selling the Rogue on Craigslist or AutoTrader anyway. Michael however, was so confident that I would love the Miata so much, he even promised to front the cash so I could pay him back when I eventually sold the Rogue.

“Oh god.” I thought to myself. What was I about to get into?

An eye full of CV Fluid

Although this example is much worse than what my CV Boots actually looked like, both boots in the Rogue were leaking fluid.

I was staring up under the Rogue with a technician after a detailed inspection. I was pretty confident that the Rogue needed work, since I was putting so many miles on it. However, I wasn’t prepared for the actual amount of work needed to bring the thing to a safe drivable state. The look on the technician’s face should have told me what I was in for. That, or the fact that as soon as I looked up under the car, a glob of a yet-identified fluid fell and hit me just under my good eye. The technician brought to my attention the transaxle and showed me the CV boots leaking fluid (oh shit). The boots were shot and spewing fluid, which meant that the whole transaxle would have to come out and be inspected (oh SHIT!). That would be a $2,000 repair if the transaxle would have to be replaced, not counting labor.

To add insult to injury, the rear brake rotors needed to be replaced, the bushings were all shot, and there was an unknown fluid leak in the engine; likely the culprit behind the face-soiling. Then came the final shock: The shop had quoted me $4,000 total for the repairs. The Kelly Blue Book Value of my car was rated at around $4,000 for a Good condition Rogue. At best, the Rogue was in Fair condition, but thankfully, I never told the shop about the CVT issues. If I were going to trade it in I would have to get KBB for it, otherwise, my next best bet would be to keep driving the car until I raised enough funds to repair the issues and try trading it in again. Clearly that wasn’t an option, because I had to pay the rent and I like fast food too much.

Ultimately, my decision boiled down to two things: Do I decide to keep the Rogue and attempt to repair what I can with whatever funds I could muster, knowing that at any time the transaxle could fail or the CVT could leave me stranded? Or, do I bite the bullet and trade the Rogue in right then and there, and use the check to buy the Shinsen Miata? I looked up at the undercarriage of my Rogue, and felt a sudden pang of guilt. Despite all of its issues, the Rogue survived two moves, a career change, several adventures to Laguna Seca, one Hit-and-Run, and four years of driving in the Bay Area. It was my Rogue after all.

Then, a glob of axle fluid falls onto my face. I wasn’t sad anymore. I looked over to the salesmen with the glob still dripping down my face and said “Ok, let’s make a deal.

“Exit the Rogue, Enter the Shinsen.”

This is the last picture I have of the Rogue, just after I sold it. It still makes me sad when I look at it, but who knows what might have happened if I kept it?

I stood in front of the Rogue with the paperwork under my arm smiling at Michael poking his head out from his Miata. His eyebrows were still cocked in either amusement or bewilderment, so I repeated myself.

“I traded in the Rogue!

Michael finally snapped out of it and asked why, so I explained it to him. To put it simply, it made more sense to trade in the Rogue now than waiting to repair it later and then selling it on Craigslist. This way, I didn’t have to worry about getting the funds, or dealing with tire-kickers. On top of that, if I was going to buy this Miata today, I could pay Michael off sooner since he offered to lend me the cash. That being said, I might have been rushing the decision a bit since I didn’t want to deal with the Rogue anymore, and I had already done the research. I was determined to get a Miata now since it felt that the universe itself was lining up for me to get in this car and drive it off into the sunset. Plus, I actually broke even and got a solid $4,000 for the car, despite the costs it would take to get it perfect again.

Paperwork in hand and a box full of personal belongings, I looked back at the Rogue and felt that pang of guilt again. The thing did have some sentimental value after all; It was my mother’s before she gave it to me and had it shipped from the East Coast. I even helped her pick it out, despite the fact that I kept pushing her toward the Juke because it was clearly the cooler choice. And now the Rogue was sitting empty, 3,000 miles away from where it first came into my life. Then I remembered that tiny injustice I suffered when I was pulling off the highway at dangerously slow speeds, with me panicking and making inhuman noises. I shook the salesmen’s hand and thanked him again for the deal-making, and then I squeezed into Michael’s Miata and together we took off. It wasn’t until I looked in the side mirror and saw the Rogue that it hit me: “Oh shit, I sold my car!

No going back now.

After we a quick trip to an auto parts store nearby, we arrived to the seller’s home with  the Shinsen in the driveway. He had been tidying it up a bit before we arrived. He recognized Michael and shook his hand with a smile; Michael did say he test drove it after all. The Shinsen looked impressive; in addition to all the features a “standard” Shinsen comes with, this car had the factory air dam extension, side skirts, mud guards, and lamp covers. In addition, the owner also had added a magnetized phone mount, a bluetooth stereo head unit, and a chrome roll bar. At first glance, the car looked amazing, but there were some problem areas. The paint on the front bumper was pock-marked with paint chips; obviously from the dust and rocks that plague California’s highways. The paint was also peeling in some areas of the front bumper and scuffed off in others, and the lower lip extension in front of the passenger-side fog lamp had been cracked. To round it all off, there were some minor dents and scuffs around the body, and a gouge in the driver’s side skirt. Curious, I asked the seller what the story was with the car and how he came to own it. The seller went on to explain where the car came from; it was bought by a little old lady (I thought that was an urban legend) straight from the factory with all of the options, drove it until she couldn’t drive it anymore due to her age, and then sold it to him. He then proceeded to use it as a weekend driver/autocross car.

That would explain all the paint and body issues. On one hand, this car was a solid driver that had a lot of performance potential. But on the other hand, I wondered who would autocross this car? Despite it being a Miata, it was a still a rare Miata. The seller also went on to explain that the car had some major services done, including a clutch replacement at 75,000 miles,. Still, there was work that was needed to be done, including a timing belt replacement, and a resealing of the oil pan and differential. After talking with Michael about it more, we came to the conclusion that the car needed about $2,000 of mechanical repairs in order to get it running perfectly. This was course was not counting the body issues, but I could always do that later. After all, $2,000 in repair for a car like this was much better than having to pay $4,000 in repairs for a car that had all the sex appeal of a bowl of grits.

Michael then offered to test drive it again and the seller obliged, so off they went in a little jaunt around the neighborhood while I waited, surveying the service records. I figured that Michael wanted to get one more test drive in because he liked the Shinsen so much. Either that, or there was a little tinge of jealousy there. The Shinsen was better outfitted after all. While they were still out, my mind had begun racing:

I had just sold my car that I had been driving for four years, and I was about to buy a car that I had no experience driving, needed some work done, and was less practical. Despite the math all adding up and telling me this was the better option in the long run, I kept thinking to myself “Did I make the right choice? Or, did I just drain the bathwater, and stuffed the baby down the drain with it?” My thoughts refocused on the Shinsen coming around the corner and parking.

“This is it.”

“Learning the hard way”

The very first photo of the Shinsen Miata, right after I bought it.

Everything that happened next was a blur. Michael had the cash he had promised to front me if I decided to sell my car, and thanks to negotiations, we were going to pay less for the Shinsen because of the work that needed to be done. The seller agreed to sell it for $5,600 instead of the original asking price, which meant that my check for the Rogue was going straight to Michael. In the end, I would end up owing my gateway into the Miata world to the tune of $1,600. I signed the necessary paperwork, and then the cash exchanged hands.

Just like that, the Shinsen was mine! It all happened so fast that I barely had the time to process anything other than my combination of excitement and stomach-churning anxiety. I suppressed the urge to make another inhuman noise as Michael practically shoved me in the driver’s seat and told me “Show me what you can do.” The hard part was over now. Now came the part where I, a driver who’s only experience with a manual came from spending too many hours playing Crusin’ USA, was going to drive a car “I” just bought. So in other words, the part that could potentially kill me was just beginning.

Michael was patient while I got used to the car while puttering around his neighborhood trying to shift into 2nd gear. It took several adjustments to my seating position, learning the clutch points, and several stalls. Through his careful instruction of  “letting things fall into place without forcing them”, I was starting to comprehend the complexities of the technique. Then, quite literally, it all slipped into place. I shifted into 2nd gear, with only a small amount of that acrid burning-clutch smell hanging in the air. But, that first time feeling the shifter knob slide into the correct gear and the accelerator and clutch pedals completing the successful hand-off between beats simply felt sublime! It wasn’t perfect; it would take more practice to successfully pull off the flawless ballet of manual driving, but I was doing it! I had now ascended from struggling to get uphill with a transmission comprised of molasses, to manually selecting a gear like a bolt-action rifle and truly being in control! Before long, I was making my way up Calaveras Road in Santa Clara, toeing the clutch pedal and accelerator as I got higher and higher and made my way up past the Calaveras Reservoir, towards Mission Peak. I struggled a bit when downshifting, but thanks to Michael’s careful instruction I was able to apply power when needed and carefully navigate the road’s hazards: other drivers.

A quick aside: it’s interesting how fast you notice how bad other drivers are when you’re learning to drive stick. Because most people drive an automatic, they’re not actively thinking about driving. Instead, they’re preoccupied. The end result is a driver who’s prone to bad habits such as tailgating, speeding, and using a cell-phone while driving. In a way, driving a manual makes you a better driver because it requires your focus and attention. There is no room for distractions. It’s almost meditative.

“Voodoo Child”

I took this picture when I made it to the top of Mission Peak. For my first time driving a manual rear-wheel drive sports car, there was no better way to end the day!

Soon, the hills gave way and a parking lot came into view. We had made it to the peak! I quickly parked my newly acquired Shinsen Miata and gingerly crawled out; my left leg throbbing from truly using a clutch for the first time. Below Michael and I was Silicon Valley, surrounded by the green hills of Mission Peak. Several others were present at the parking lot, but in my mind and in this moment, it was only us at the top of the peak. Somehow, the stars and the planets aligned just for me and something that I had always wanted seemed to fall into my lap. Despite all my planning and scheming; despite the spreadsheets, bookmarked webpages, and notes, it felt as if it was just some outstanding dumb luck that I ended up with this car. Like a sort of Voodoo .

“Voodoo.” I thought to myself.

“Hey, Michael? What was the name of your car again?” I asked. Michael looked at the car and back to me. “Did you ever watch Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends? My Miata is named after Bloo!” I asked him if it was common among Miata owners to name their car. In fact, it was. Whether by divine providence, dumb luck, or pure coincidence, Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child was playing on the bluetooth stereo during the drive up the mountain. “Perfect.” I said to myself.

“Hey Michael, how does the name ‘Voodoo’ sound?”

Since then, “Voodoo” has been my daily driver, and I have so far put around 10,000 miles on it. Thanks to a job change that allows me to work from home, and a new living arrangement, I’m driving it a lot less. I’ve had many interesting adventures with it, including a trip to San Francisco just a few weeks after I acquired the car (imagine how frightening those massive hills were in a tiny Miata!), more than a few trips up and down Hecker Pass, and several trips to Laguna Seca. I’ve also had some work done to it to keep it functioning well; including replacing the timing belt, water pump, and radiator. Soon, I’ll be working on the cosmetic issues such as the cracked lip extension, paint issues, and dents.

But for now, she sits; waiting for the next adventure.


Photos: The 2018 San Francisco Auto Show Preview Party Added!

I’ve been so busy…

… and yet, I still found the time to get access to The 2018 San Francisco Auto Show VIP Preview Party!

In addition to that, I’ve been working on writing more articles for this blog. I should be putting something up very soon!

Check out the new gallery!

Finally got “some” photos up!

In between moving to a new place, starting a new part-time job, and working on several projects at once, I’ve finally managed to upload my photos from the last couple of events!

Of course, one of the biggest spectacles of the summer was the Rolex Monterey Motosports Reunion, but imagine two events of this caliber happening within a month of each other! That was the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI; a massive gathering featuring cars from the legendary marque from Stuttgart!

I spent two days shooting behind the fences at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hoping to catch some great shots of all kinds of Porsche race cars whizzing past the lens. Little did I know I would end up with the biggest gallery of photos I’ve uploaded so far! I’m running out of space!

A little bit after the Reunion, I managed to attend the Mini Owner’s Association of America’s All British Car Show in Danville! Imagine what it must have felt like when a genuine Allard J2X arrives and steals the show!

Now that the season is winding down, I’m hoping to be able to try out something new I’ve been thinking of doing with this blog. No spoilers though; you’re going to have to wait and see what I have in store!

Stay Tuned!


I’m a sucker for Gulf Liveries, in case you couldn’t tell.

I don’t exactly know what it is about Gulf Liveries that makes me like them so much. Maybe it’s the variations of the baby blue and orange scheme across the different race cars that’s had them? Maybe it’s because the there hasn’t really ever been an ugly version of the Gulf Livery? Whether its the famous stripes that adorned the Ford GT40 Mk1 in 1966, the stripes on the Gulf-Porsche 917, or the orange on baby-blue arrows on a Porsche 911 I recently saw, just seeing this paint scheme makes me giddy!

See the car in question at the The 14th Annual Orinda Car Show photo gallery!


Monterey Car Week is over, and I didn’t know I could get hung over from Photography

Well, It’s official; You CAN actually get hungover from processing photos all day! Granted, these days it’s much easier with programs like Adobe Lightroom, but sometimes it can take forever. I’m still going through photos I took from the different events I attended during Monterey Car Week!

Here’s some of the galleries that you’ll be seeing soon:

  • The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2018: I already have most of photos up, but I still need to go through what was taken with my phone, like I did with the The Rolex Monterey Pre-Reunion.
  • The 2018 Concorso Italiano: I managed to score a ticket to the Concorso Italiano this year instead of sneaking in and crashing the reception like I did last year! I can’t wait to go through those photos!
  • Exotics on Cannery Row: I managed to check out the famous Exotics on Cannery Row this year. It was amazing to see some insanely rare and expensive cars just parading down cannery row and spitting flames out of their exhaust! I think I might have developed tinnitus though.
  • The Annual Morgan Club Dinner: Thanks to a friend I was able to attend the Morgan Club Dinner and hang out with some really cool car Morgan Enthusiasts, Photographers, and even one of the drivers that was racing that weekend at Laguna Seca (See the #33 Morgan Plus 4)!
  • The 2018 Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance: This was one of the most exclusive events I’ve ever been a part of, and some of the machines that were on display were incredible! I’ve never been close to a multi-million dollar Ferrari before, but there were THREE Ferrari 250 Testarossas on the lawn! Not to mention the largest display of Tucker’s I’ve ever seen! I can’t wait to get through those photos!

On top of that, I’m going to be selling prints of my favorite shots on my Visual Society profile! You can access my print galleries by going to the “Shop” link on the menu bar. These are large files though, so it might take a while to get everything up!

Stay tuned!