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Some Cars Are Just Not Meant To Be

As we mature and grow older we come to realize and accept that not all things are meant to be. Those things could be anything, be it that dream you always had, that goal you hoped to accomplish, that obstacle you wished to triumph. Sometimes life just does not work out in a way that we ever get to see that dream come to fruition. And for some of us car guys, there is no better example than our dream ride.

I couldn’t tell you when I fell in love with cars

240 Original AdI couldn’t tell you when the bug bit me, or what sparked my interest from the get go. But what I can tell you is I fell head over heels with a certain car from the very moment I laid eyes on it. Now I consider myself a simple man, and I like my cars no different, having grown up and hung out with all types of car guys and doing what I do for a living. You can imagine how many different vehicles I have had the pleasure of driving, fixing (Breaking cough, cough), and enjoying. Not to brag, but you name the car, and I have likely had the pleasure of driving it. However, very few made me feel the way that I do when I see or drive the Nissan 240SX.

I recall while in Vegas for SEMA one of my coworkers asked me what my dream car was, and having owned one of these at the time I replied “The one I own.”

On paper, the 240SX isn’t breathtaking

Being first offered here in the states in 1988 and sold in a market meant to compete with the likes of other affordable sports compacts, on paper the 240SX isn’t breathtaking. Powered by an inappropriately matched 2.4 liter truck motor (A motor Nissan purposely installed to not drive sales away from their flagship Z sports car), and not featuring such out of the box creature comforts as its European contemporaries (Think the iconic E30), it is easy to overlook this little coupe. But from the moment I first saw and drove one, I was a goner. Everything about its understated looks just drew me in. Given my skills, and the car’s aftermarket backing, I loved its potential. I knew I could build a really fun and badass car if I could get my hands on one.

My first attempt at this car came my last year of high school. After saving every penny I could and tracking one down I finally had my shot at putting together something special, my dream ride. I started by planning the build out in my head first. I envisioned every modification, every detail down to the color before I even began putting wrench to bolt. Being broke, as most high school kids preparing for college are, I admit the process was slow going but everything was coming together as I had hoped for. I started by hunting down the correct set of wheels, to finding the correct color paint to go with my theme. As I started working full time, the build process for this car started to run smoother and my hobby grew into obsession. Every time the UPS guy showed up at my house I came closer and closer to completion. Just before I could finish and put my tools away, look back at the car and say “done,” disaster struck. Being my only ride I took this car everywhere, from school to work to the occasional races on weekends. (Yeah, street racing, I know, but back then we had some class, so don’t hold it against me) One weekend on the way home from dropping off a friend it started to rain a light mist, but enough to concern me as my car used semi-slick street/drag Nitto NT01 tires. (A big no-no under non-perfectly dry conditions) Simply downshifting too early in the rev range was enough for me to loose traction coming off my home exit, to where I could not recover, cordially introducing a light pole into the passenger side of my car nearly breaking my arm in the process. I stood there and watched my car for hours thinking this was it, completely gone beyond repair.

After a few years I promised myself I would give this another shot, so I went and purchased my second version of the car. It was a newer ’95 chassis, also a base model and automatic. Again, I began the process of planning the build and going in a different direction; You know, really going all-out this time. But as fate would have it, I lost this car in almost the same exact fashion. I took a sweeping wet turn while braking and the car understeered straight into an oncoming car, completely totaling it. (Coincidentally doing next to nothing to the car I hit) Luckily no one was seriously hurt and all this happened before I could really start dishing out any kind of cash on this car.

E90After college and spending a year hitching rides to work I decided I would try yet again, this time another ’95 S14. This time I started from scratch and took my time, as I did not have a specific goal for this project and I really failed to take the time to just enjoy the car and drive it, as most of my projects previously spent a lot of time on jackstands. Being older now and having recently moved in with my now fiancée, building cars got put on the back burner as I had more pressing matters. My fiancée happened upon an E90 BMW she absolutely had to have, a car I knew I could not get her without trading in my project 240. After telling her there was no way in hell I would trade in my car to buy it, that ended up being exactly what I did. (Happy wife, happy life right?)

Years pass and it eats at me knowing that I never got to finish one

Red 240 1red 240 2I never got to build one to completion, and missed the rush I got from driving this thing to its limits. So, I decide I will get that taken care of now and finally make this happen. I would do this old school and get myself the same body ’92 coupe like I had always wanted, I would go all-out no matter what it took or cost, but I would see it done. My good friend Mike had found me the perfect donor, a fixer-upper that another enthusiast started but could not finish. I picked up the car relatively cheap considering the modifications it came with already, and went to work piling on every single thing I could think of. If you know me, you know I don’t half-do anything, so everything from the headliner to the carpet, from trunk interior to dash was swapped with fresh new replacements.  I did it all, from hunting down OEM body panels and odd rare Japanese components. All she needed was some paint and she would have been perfect. Just as I dropped it off to get the body work started, fate paid me a visit. A family member needed my help and doing so would have required me to dish out some big bucks, bucks I did not have at that time as most of my free money went to seeing this car completed. I did what I had to do, and within weeks my car was carted away in pieces, bit by bit, tearing apart the dream I once had a long time ago.

Someone once said that sometimes its best we never meet our heroes, that certain dreams should never be realized and that they are best to stay that way. Ten years and four cars later, I realize now, me and my dream car (however simple it may have been) were just not meant to be.

 


About The Author: Mike Rivera

mikerMike Rivera is an ASE Certified Technician and Senior Sales Account Executive at FCP Euro. He can be reached at mike@fcpeuro.com

 

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10 thoughts on “Some Cars Are Just Not Meant To Be Leave a comment

  1. Seeing 3 of these cars, and being in the one that understeered (comfy airbag BTW). Feel you’re pain, man. Still got one but hasn’t moved, hopefully get the motor rebuilt so I can just drive the thing. Maybe I’ll sell it and get a BRZ.

  2. Excellent writing & composition. The nostalgic weepy-eyed reminiscing perfectly brought me back to the mid-80’s Toyota Supra fixation….I now have a strange craving for appropriate era Boy-George, WHAM! & Pet-Shop boys musique….

  3. You appear young enough to have time to find another one you can keep. Giving up on your last one to help a family member was a very unselfish gesture. I hope you will get to keep your next one.

  4. Very nice article. I had love for the leased 240 I drove in the mid-90s until I totaled it (while working for NMAC), It was a step down from the normally aspirated 300 I had but still fun to drive, and more sensible and comfortable (I’m 6′ 5″).

  5. “Someone once said that sometimes its best we never meet our heroes, that certain dreams should never be realized and that they are best to stay that way.”
    Or you can have the rides of a lifetime as a teenager….and then spend the rest of your life wishing you could have Just. One. More. Hour. with those cars,which were the Bugattis my father bought for a song (and I drove) when I was a teenager:
    http://www.sdean.net/bugattis.htm
    And it’s been 45+ years of remembering…crash boxes, perfect (and not so perfect) double-clutches, slalom slide corners…driving true performance thoroughbred cars at 9/10s…and 45 mph…
    We also had the 3500GT Maserati (their first production non-race GT car)….but it was nowhere near was much fun as much fun……..

  6. love your article, Im a firm believer that is something is horrible you should speak up and same goes if its great. I really enjoyed reading your article. all of sudden I feel like pulling out my depech mode CD’s. I totally agree with your ending of your article….I think it is better not to meet your Hero’s.

  7. It was during my first stay in Japan that the charm of this car became apparent to me.

    A friend of mine had an S13 fastback with the Silvia front end (a Sileighty they call it). It was a plain-vanilla set-up; its KA power-plant churned some cheap LSD by way of a 5 speed. Honking air filter and unapologetic exhaust system aside, the engine didn’t get much attention. The only other notable mention was the interior – as in; it didn’t have one. Door panels, sound deadening, carpets, head-liner, etc., all gone. Nothing but a single dangling speaker (still don’t know if that was for the door-chime, or what.)

    Shoehorned into the bucket seat next to him, grinning ear to ear, I sat tight as this guy flogged a car that shouldn’t impress, on paper at least. In reality, the low weight, instant-on N/A power delivery, and aforementioned fundamentals made for a car that was waaaay more fun than any I’d been in before.

    They say that nobody really dies of ‘old-age’, but really rather the failure of one or more organs. From my perspective, it seems a bit of a shame to have owned so many of these cars, and have retired so few in the dignified manner they deserve – hauled to the wrecker with a pulverized power-train.

    I might be wrong, but it sounds like you have always viewed them as incomplete, instead of simply celebrating what was great about them.

  8. Hi Mike
    My dream car was the HO Phase III falcon. At the time the fastest “family” car in the world. Alas, the prices they now fetch are just too expensive for me. So, like you, I shall place it in the “just not meant to be” bin. 🙂
    cheers
    Al

  9. I disagree that you did not get your dream car. You had 2 good shots at it. You just installed the wrong tires. Racing tires are a no-no for daily driving.

    • I have to agree, although the author really made no excuses about it. That said, is a project car ever really finished? No one I’ve ever met who owned one, thought so.

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