After getting burned from the previous car I swore off the Nissan family…but she was a girl of a different kind.
Before the Altima sold I made a trip to Culver City for some lunch. My mind was wandering, I was thinking about the new job. I wondered if I made the right decision of getting in to the equipment industry. I was getting sad again, almost on cue I saw a gleaming light bouncing of the tail lights of this black car. I never really paid attention to the Infiniti brand, I perked up when I saw this model.
I got the model name down and in an effort not to get burned again I did my research. I found out it was known as Nissan Skyline in Japan. I always wanted a Skyline, even if it wasn’t the one in the movies, I knew the heritage and performance would shine through. Specs for it stated 306 horsepower from the 3.5 VQ engine, to make it even better it was available with a 6 speed manual in sedan form. It became my mission to acquire the car.
It took me about a month to find a black one with a manual transmission that was stock and not salvaged. I found this one online offered at $12,000 from a small corner lot. It had around 100,000 miles but well taken care of. I went to go see it on a Friday evening but the dealer was closed. I did get to see it but could not make the deal. My family was pushing me to get a new car or a pickup truck. However I was in love again, and it now became my mission to acquire that car. I went with my dad the next day, for some reason my dad always wants to be part of the process of buying cars. I had no intention of leaving the lot without that car.
It was a rocky start. The battery was dead when the dealer attempted to start it. They got it started with a jump pack. My theory was that because of the declining popularity of manual transmission equipped cars it did not get a lot of visitors. I’m sure traffic is a contributing factor as well. The car still smelled of new, the beautiful interior and exterior left no doubt in my mind. On the test drive I realized the brake rotors were badly warped and the catch point on the clutch was hard to modulate. Blinded by beauty and power from this wolf in sheep’s clothing I realized that all she needed was a little love. I would make it so she would never have to search again.
After about 2 hours of paper work and insurance details the car came home with me. Before we got home she already had a name; Keisha. My budget included money to get the windows tinted the next day, 5% rear windows and 10% front windows, she was looking good already. Next paycheck went to a new battery and rotors. The rotors took me out about 20 miles from home to acquire, a consequence of the rarity of this model. I took pride in that though. When the plates came in I realized the car had never had front plates installed, the holes were never created. I could not bring myself to install them either. It would be like getting rid of Cindy Crawford’s beauty mark.
Being the newest luxurious car on the block brought attention. Friends would come around and asked how I did it. I gave them the honest truth about school, work, and living in my car. I was trying to motivate them but they always had an excuse as to why they could not. I hate when people ask for advice and not take it. I noticed more females coming around and seeking attention, I was focused on my new career and not looking for a committed relationship.
It also brought trouble. I enjoyed visiting family in TJ (Tijuana, Mexico) still. Every time I drove that car down there I would get hassled by police. Usually for the tint as they have a “Narco” (e.g. drug trafficker) problem and this car would fit the criteria for such a person. I would get asked what I did for a living, how much I made. The were in awe that I made more than them at an honest job. That usually resulted in bribing them for my release, not that it’s a secret or anything. They always gave me speech about impounding the car and I may not get it back. There are stories about cars being lost and later found being driven around by police commanders or government officials. I would comply, I wanted to take no chances. She was mine after all, the cost was usually under $100.
My cousin was having her wedding in TJ. We were very close growing up and was asked if I would drive her in my car to the church and photographs after. I did so. I was very happy for her and nervous. Everything had to be perfect for her and I was up at 5am getting ready for a 4pm wedding. I don’t like waiting in line to cross the US/Mexico border so I try to leave after 2am. Having been up all day my plan was to cross the border and either get a hotel room or sleep in the car. I ended up behind an old motor-home that was spewing out tremendous amounts of noxious fumes. The last thing I remember was rolling up the windows and adjusting the AC to get rid of the fumes.
Apparently I passed out from a combination of fumes and fatigue. I was awaken by Border Patrol knocking at my window. I was dizzy from the fumes and in a stupor was taken out of the car. They thought I was drunk, I wasn’t, and taken in to the station for further questioning. I was trying to explain to them about the fumes and being tired. Still recovering from the fumes I failed the field tests. CHP was called, so I was taken to their station where I took the Breathalyzer, I was under the limit. At this point I was livid and causing a fuss. They were not listening, they felt it was best for me too cool off in the drunk tank. They said it would be about an hour or so before I got out.
It was Comic-Con weekend in San Diego and it took 13 hours to get out. The cells were overfilled. I was mixed in the real criminals. I was still in a suit and every time we switched cells I would get asked if I came from a wedding. I told them I was the driver, and they couldn’t believe I was in there. I got my car back though at the end of the night. I was never charged with anything. The bright side of this is I tell people I did a hard 13 in jail…13 hours. It changes a man and I never wanted to go back.
It also brought fame. The company I worked for provided a take home van. This was my weekend car. That way it drove made me seek out new areas to drive around. I started out by learning how the car handled on Angeles Crest highway near Pasadena. Its mountainous curvacious roads are very popular with bikers and auto enthusiasts. I would practice in normal to severe weather conditions including snow, when available, and at all hours of day/night perfecting my skills.
I began making videos at this time to show off. At the beginning they were pretty boring driving scenes. I then discovered a dry lake in Lucerne Valley. The video I made there would light another passion. I learned how to film and edit to create videos more exciting than previous attempts. It was fun to get a luxury car dirty or muddy. The cleanup not so much. It helped me learn more about throttle control as this engine began making real power around 4500 rpm until the 7500 rpm redline.
I showed some friends of mine in TJ and they suggested we make Spanish rap music videos. One of the guys could indeed rap however reluctant as his friends would make fun of him. I encouraged the guy and we did it. It was looking good, however a friend of ours had gotten killed for unknown reasons. I was just starting to perfect my filming, directing, and editing skills. I took no chances and stopped going down there for filming. When I would it was un-announced and I stayed in hotels away from the area.
I went back to drifting on the dry lake. However I was finally caught by Police, they stated I was being reckless and faced arrest and impound. I was let off though. It was then I decided to get back in to RC cars.I had gotten in to the hobby some years back but the ex got jealous and made me get rid of them. I figured I could do the same thing at a smaller scale while minimizing cost and danger to myself. It occupied my time well, it helped me be even more patient and detail oriented. I still kept practicing on Angeles Crest weekly, didn’t want to get rusty.
I enjoyed working on lift equipment immensely, but the pay raises left something to be desired. I had students loans that I needed to pay. I signed up to drive for Lyft, a ride share company. It was a great experience. Being a mobile tech did not allow me to talk or interact with other people other than quick meetings with customers. It taught me to stop being shy, how to read emotion, and how to initiate conversation.
I did it overnight to avoid traffic and to avoid shifting as much as possible. That meant dealing with drunk people. They are the funniest and most honest. There were times when I felt uncomfortable but I learned how to deal with it. Even with that strategy at the end of the night my left foot would be in pain.
I still drive for Lyft with a newer COAL for the following reason. I ended up working with the local Coroner’s office through my job. I saw death first hand. There were many methods of death. Often from drunk driving incidents, and of course the drunk driver was not the person who ended up there. It made me think of all those times I got drunk and drove. After seeing what could happen I put an end to MY drunk driving. I’d like to think I’m making up for all those times I got away with it.
Dealing with traffic was really stressing me out. I wanted a job at a shop where I would not have to deal with it. The opportunity came when a friend of mine said he quit his shop job close to my home. I asked for contact info. The company maintenance team got back to me fairly quickly as they had no one in house doing it. I got the job and felt better as the stress level went down.
Having 2 cars at home made it a hassle with parking as I had one in the driveway and one on the street that I had to move for street sweeping. I made the hard decision to sell the G35.
Before I did I took her on the Loneliest Road in America. It was my was of saying goodbye to a car that taught me how to love again. The feeling of getting behind the wheel made up for all those previous times I was feeling low. It wasn’t the newest or fastest car on the road, it didn’t matter because I had earned the feeling of happiness I thought I had lost.
The car never broke down on me. I was religious about the maintenance. She only got the best synthetic oils, she even got racing brake/clutch fluid. There were minor upgrades but most were to prolong reliability. I had 2 different brand tires on the front and back due to knowing that she under-steered at the limit. She got the best car washes and waxes. This may sound silly; I’d like to think that she never broke down because I brought her back to life. Maybe it was her way of saying she loved me back.
I put her on Craiglist with a quick run down of who owned the car and how it was maintained. I quickly got a buyer. There was just one last thing I needed to do.
To show my gratitude to the person who got me in to writing this series of COAL’s I planned to drive that person up Angeles Crest highway one last time.
I picked up Bella at night and introduced the car to her as a person. She thought the car was beautiful and understood my attraction. This was in February of this year. It was raining heavily on and off this year; Even worse up on the crest. Bella had no idea how skilled I was at driving the crest in those conditions. We ended up racing and beating a Nissan 350z in the rain. The whole time Bella was nervous, she braced herself and was holding on for dear life. She could not get any lower in the passenger seat. I had fun. After we came back down the mountain I finally told Bella that she was the only person I ever brought up that mountain due to the danger, especially in the rain. I continued to explain how extensively I had trained up there and what this car meant to me. Even if it seemed dangerous she was safe. All she could say was “WHAT!…gee, thanks!” as our night continued on and the tail lights blended in with south bound traffic on the 2 freeway in Glendale.
A 17 year old boy ended up buying the car as his first. I gave him quick advice on being careful with the car as it was very powerful. I told him to take it easy and learn how to handle the car as one wrong move may be disastrous, I was speaking from experience. The car was never in an accident but every once in a while she would push back to remind you to keep your ego in check. I wished him the best.
As the car drove away I got sad and let out a sigh. But I was happy the car would continue bringing happiness to someone new, perhaps even igniting a love and passion in them as she did for me. Truth be told this car was the Shhh…
I still had my next COAL, although less powerful, it was the thing I needed.