On Rebuilding Cars & Chasing Childhood Dreams
I had a lot of fun rebuilding cars when I was young—there is something creative about the process of getting a car that has been mangled, mistreated and downright neglected and turning it into a wonderful piece of craftsmanship.
I had a VW GTI when I was a teen and after installing a racing cam I blew the top half of the engine while—ahem, racing it.
I decided I would rebuild the top end of the engine myself, I bought a book, got some tools and gathered all the parts I needed. I’ll never forget starting the ignition for the first time after I was done rebuilding the engine and hearing the purrr of the pistons as new oil and gas throbbed through the car’s newly built—by me—veins.
I think that was one of the first times I thought to myself that I could do anything.
I ignored this part of myself for a long time, I thought it was a phase or perhaps even something I had out-grown.
When I was a kid I dreamed about owning two cars: the 911 Porsche and the 2002 BMW.
I almost bought a 911 when I sold my first business after graduate school but someone talked me out of it—that person is no longer in my life.
While driving home after buying it, the accelerator cable got stuck and I almost blew the engine up on the first day.
I later found out that the ’75 had a ton of issues and that the 2.7 engine was one of the most problematic of all the early Porsche engines ever engineered. I decided I would buy a used 3.2 out of an 86 911 and replace the 2.7. I bought the engine, dismantled it and got distracted—the feminine type.
I ended up selling the 911 a few years later when I needed cash to bring in a shipment for my company Wave Tribe. This was one of those mistakes that you end up kicking yourself in the ass for, over and over and over. This same car these day, even with the ‘bad’ engine, is going for 40k-60k, and they are really hard to find.
I know, most people say ‘it was just a car’. But that isn’t true, not when you spend hours rebuilding it, polishing it and driving it. I almost flipped it while racing my friend in his new Audio on the back roads of Ojai, but I decelerated at the last moment when I remembered that my Uncle Jim had died doing the exact same thing when I was growing up—maybe it’s just in my DNA.
Last year I found a beat up 1976 2002 in Ojai. I grabbed it quick and started to rebuild it. It’s been a ton of work and not easy to find the 40 year old parts. It is fun to connect with other BMW enthusiasts, people are super generous with their knowledge and time about rebuilding these beauties.
I love going into the garage after a long day at the computer and getting my hands dirty on the next upgrade. I can’t begin to express in words how fun this thing is to drive, it takes corners way better than my much newer BMW, and you can feel the entire car while driving. It’s kinda like having sex before you knew how to have sex, but the more you ride it (drive it) the more you understand how the journey is going to unfold. I know, that was a bad analogy.
A few months later and after much work it now looks like this . . .
This article isn’t about bragging about my cars. Nor is it about what kind of cars I have because most people are driving cars way more expensive than mine—it’s about following your passions and building something (or rebuilding something) that makes you stir on the inside, it’s about doing something that gets you excited and puts a smile on your face. It’s about being you and starting something worth doing.
I have learned that I love old cars and I love to bring them back to life. I also found another Porsche recently (this time a V8) and I feel reunited with one of my all-time favorite machines on the planet.
Find something you love and dive it—don’t do it for anyone but you.