We’re a couple living in Los Angeles that’s about to turn 30 (our birthdays are only a couple of days apart). We both work freelance in the film industry. Both of us are into cars, which is pretty normal for Southern California. Right now we have 4 cars (5 if you count the Lada) and only 2 parking spaces! Living in a place where many others share our passion and never knowing what kind of cool cars we’ll see is amazing. When we’re not working we like to go on road trips and go camping. If we can combine a road trip, camping and a car show it’s the perfect vacation. Our taste in cars varies widely. We’re just as likely to go to a Japanese Nostalgic car show 6 hours away as a classic Hod Rod show down the street. Practicality isn’t our top priority in a car purchase. The Lada might actually be the most practical car we own, except not so practical since it’s in Estonia.
I’ve been into cars and really anything mechanical my whole life. I was the little kid who took all his toys apart. My grandfather is one of the main reasons I’m a car guy. When I was a kid he taught me to drive a stick in his ’66 El Camino (he bought it new and still has it).
I started working on TV commercials when I lived in North Carolina, and when I was 21 moved to California. I work in Production, basically we’re the department in charge of organizing everything and tracking the budget. With the circus we run at work, planning this trip almost seems easy.
I have a pretty random car history…but what true car guy doesn’t?
- 1990 Chrysler LeBaron – First car, my dad bought it for me. Promptly filled the trunk with an extremely loud stereo that would make any 16 year old proud. Toyed around with having a computer in the car to play MP3’s before you could buy an iPod.
- 2000 Oldsmobile Silhouette – Borrowed from my stepmom when the LeBaron started leaving a blue-tinged smoke-screen. Perfect for hauling you and 6 of your closest friends to college parties.
- 1989 Chevrolet Camaro – My stepdad bought this to replace the LeBaron, however it was a project and had no engine, so we’ll come back to that.
- 1989 Toyota Cressida – Borrowed from my stepdad after the mini-van. Drove like a truck, and like almost every other Cressida imported to the US, it was light blue.
- 1993 Saturn SW2 – I bought it from my then-girlfriend’s dad. That wagon was actually one of my favorite cars. Amazingly reliable, 5-speed, great handling, and didn’t weigh anything because it was made of plastic. Also, the plastic roof saved me the indignity of the magnetic light-up sign when I delivered pizzas in college.
- 1989 Chevrolet Camaro (now with Engine) – Fun car…but not fast. The V8 made all the right noises though. And t-tops made it a great car to cruise in.
- The LA Metro / Ford F550 – When I moved to LA I didn’t bring a car. The only two requirements to get a job as a Production Assistant is to have a reliable car and a cell phone, so I lied to almost everyone I worked for and hoped they wouldn’t find out. And if they found out, I lied again and said my “car” was broken down and hoped they took pity on me. I was able to make it work because I drove what they call the production cube, the truck with all of the production gear in it. To get to work I started at 4am. I walked a couple blocks, took a bus to the subway, and the subway to the lot where I picked up the truck. Not having a car in LA sucks.
- 1992 Ford Explorer – This one has a great story…It was free. When you make a TV commercial you have to buy a lot of props and wardrobe, and when it’s over, most of that stuff isn’t needed anymore. Most of the stuff ends up getting donated to somewhere, and every now and then a crew member gets to take something home. I scored big, and got an Explorer that was used to ram a custom camera sled for an action shot of a car crash. After the shot there was basically no damage to the Explorer. It wasn’t in the best condition ever (why would you buy a nice car to crash), but they had given it a quick paint job so it looked presentable. It didn’t matter to me, I was finally able to sit in traffic with everybody else is LA!
- 1995 Ford Explorer – Replaced the old Explorer once it started leaking enough fluids to make anywhere you parked it a hazardous waste site.
- 2000 BMW 328Ci – I was still working as a PA, but now as a runner, and I was spending up to ten hours a day in my car. When I bought it, it was the most run down looking car at a higher end used car lot. I got a pretty good deal, and after a good detail, tint, black M3 18’s to replace the dated chrome 15’s, and new smoked lights all around to replace the old faded amber, it looked 10 years newer. I loved it, but sold it because old BMW’s are stupidly expensive to maintain.
- 1991 Mazda Miata – I bought this as a track car while I still had the BMW. While bone stock I managed to get a few track days in with it at Willow Springs and the Auto Club Speedway Roval. It had over 180,000 miles on it, and after a particularly hot day at ACS I drove home underpowered. Compression check showed cylinder #3 had bad rings. It’s now completely torn apart, the engine bay is painted, I’ve got shelves full of parts, and there’s a fully built turbo motor waiting to go in…just have to get back to putting it together!
- 1990 Mazda Miata – Bought to replace the BMW with something cheap simple and reliable. It’s fairly clean, and I intend to slowly fix it up to be a nice stanced driver.
- 1995 Mazda Miata – When I was on the search for a Miata to replace the BMW, I emailed on and off with a person for almost a month without ever actually getting to see the car. Two days after I bought the 1990, the owner finally told me I could come look at it…so I though why not, it might be better! It wasn’t really, but it was insanely cheap, and came with a 1.8L motor, Torsen LSD, and sport brakes. It was just too cheap, I couldn’t help myself so I bought it too. Eventually I’ll swap all the good parts off of it onto my other Miata’s. The reason it was so cheap, is because it had a salvage title, and a new accident revealing the 1/2″ thick bondo repairs from the previous accident.
I’m kind of a computer nerd. My dad was into computers when I was a kid, so that rubbed off on me. Being a computer geek actually turned into a career for me. I work in Post-Production as an Online Editor. I really enjoy figuring out the workflows for different types of cameras…so yeah, geeky. Another thing about me is that I love sailing. I learned to sail when I was 11; My mom took me to a sailing weekend at the Girl Scout camp, and I was hooked. I spent every weekend in middle school and high school learning to sail and later teaching sailing.
Growing up I always thought cars were cool, but I didn’t really know much about them. The main influences in my love of cars are two of my dad’s brothers. One has a Lotus Elan (1964ish) that he’s had since new and still drives in the summer. The other one has a briefcase (aka “the briefcase”) full of pictures of his car history (he had a Pantera!!). The briefcase is dreaded by some, but if you like cars at all it is awesome. So awesome in fact, that the first time Bird was going to meet this uncle I made sure the briefcase was coming on the trip too.
I haven’t had as many cars as Bird, but here goes:
- 1982 Olsdmobile Delta 88 – My first car. It was affectionately called “The Tank” by my family. It was previously owned by a little old lady who I think only drove it to the grocery store. This car was a hit with my friends (even though they all had nicer cars) because you could fit 6 people with seatbelts. Sadly, The Tank’s transmission didn’t make it very long and my parents sold it while I was out of town.
- 1997 Pontiac Grand Am – Although newer, the Grand Am didn’t have very good A/C. This was a big problem in Texas, so I’m glad I went off to college where I didn’t need a car. The Grand Am was totaled while I was away at college (not my sister’s fault).
- 2003 Ford Focus – My mom was driving this, but she gave it to me so I could move to LA (I’m pretty sure she didn’t like it much, I didn’t like it much either). I drove the Focus for about 6 years. It never left me stranded so it was hard to justify getting rid of it, but it was just so boring!
- 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth – My first brand new car. I heard the Fiat 500 Abarth was coming to North America, and I told Bird we needed to go the the LA Auto Show to check it out, I fell in love with the Abarth and I had to have one. I placed my order as soon as I could get someone to take my money. I learned how to drive a manual on the Abarth and now it is second nature (that’s right, I special ordered a car I couldn’t drive!). I love finally driving a car that doesn’t feel like an appliance! I’ve got the mod bug pretty bad now, and I clean my car far more often than normal people. I feel like I finally get to drive something that reflects my love of cars.