Passion and pride through performance
Cars aren’t just for driving. Not just for getting to school or work, for picking up groceries. They’re not just tools. Who says they have to be practical, fuel efficient, or even aerodynamic?
For so many, our cars are more than that. Even at our own high school, a unique and diverse car culture exists, from classic muscle to modern JDM-style cars. You’ll even run across a few equipped for the track, scattered around the parking lot.
“It’s not about how fast your car is, it’s about how much fun it can be to drive,” says junior Andrew Drake.
Drake drives a 2008 Mazda Miata MX-5 hardtop convertible. His Miata is outfitted for the track: DGR adjustable coilovers with about 1.5 degrees of negative camber and a drop of 1.5 inches; paired with aftermarket 17×9 Enkei RPF1 wheels– with 45 millimeters of positive offset– wrapped in 235mm Nitto NT05 tires.
It’s not about how fast your car is, it’s about how much fun it can be to drive,”
“A lot of people say you can’t really put a feeling on it, there’s no real reason why we love them in particular, you just do,” says Drake, “The sound, the feel. That’s why I love engines so much.”
If you’ve walked through the north side of the student parking lot, you’ve probably heard a few different amazing exhaust notes.
Junior Jakob Shapiro cites his passion for cars as coming from others.
“I love loud cars and deep rumbles,” says Shapiro, “[especially] when all of the sudden a super loud car flys by you on the freeway, that’s always really cool
Shapiro’s 1999 Ford Mustang GT is probably one of them. Shapiro runs on a set of Mickey Thompson Street Comp semi-slicks: 315s in the back and 275s up front. Drilled and slotted rotors with ceramic racing brake pads.
In the engine bay, Shapiro has an SR Performance cold air intake, a Bama Performance ECU race tune. And the secret to Mustang’s amazing sound: a Flowmaster Super Flow 44 Cat Back exhaust.
“Everyone accepts everyone’s build and how they like to do their things. We all might talk crap, but at the end of the day, we all still love each others’ cars,” says Shapiro. The modified car community is such an accepting community– regardless of whether or not you like muscle, imports, or tuners. If you’re passionate and you do it right, you’re in.
Luke Shank is the proud owner of a ‘79 Chevy C10 that he’s done most of the work on himself.
“The fact that it’s built, not bought,” says Shank, is his favorite thing about it: “Being able to do that and do it on my own and know every single nut and bolt on it.”
Shank’s matte black C10 features lowered suspension with rims, a rebuilt carbureted 350 cu. in. small block engine, and sits a few spots down from Shapiro’s Mustang, and sounds amazing at idle.
“I like how everybody knows each other and there’s one common thing for everybody to talk about. There’s no real discrepancies,” says Shank, “It’s just something to get away from all the arguments of life.” Cars– just like any other hobby or job– offer an escape or way to manage anxieties, whether it’s building, driving, or looking at them.
The question of an auto shop class on-campus was even brought up, both as a means for mechanically-inclined students to further their passion and the less apt to get a jumpstart on their skills.
“If feel like if we were taking an auto shop class,”says senior Isabela Olivarez, “We would notice more errors and you wouldn’t have to necessarily rely on other people to fix your car as much if you could do it yourself,”
Olivarez’ 1975 Volkswagen Beetle is arguably the most recognizable cars on campus. Restored by her uncle, the Bug’s small and compact shape and cheap cost made it an instant classic, back when it first came out.
“You should definitely know how to jump your car, know how to change a tire: basic small fixes,” agrees junior Andy Gongora. Knowing these skills can save you time and money, and potentially your life. Sitting on the side of the road can be dangerous, especially if it’s on the freeway.