1996 200SX

An $1,100 gift from dad to his sons that spent a previous life as a mod-project before hydroplaning into a curb. Its previous owner did an (extremely sticky) manual transmission swap and gave it suspension more expensive than its pink slip. I think they even did an alignment upgrade which allowed it to do left turns on the highway without any driver input. It also looks like they were also modifying it to a classic single stage paint as most of the hood and roof were missing clearcoat. Some really breathtaking engineering went into that thing.

It had all sorts of character too like the radiator overheating randomly and the rims cracking/tire blowing out on the highway with regular frequency. It made driving anywhere exciting in that you didn’t really know if you were going to get where you were going.

Alas, for every midterm I missed, the car made up for it with other forms of education. I credit this car with introducing me to Auto Zone and Craigslist and how $600 worth of rims, Maaco, and regular maintenance will eventually persuade a middle-aged lady to buy it for twice its initial purchase price.

It might not seem very jalop but at 140 hp, it was actually the most powerful and least expensive car I was allowed to drive alone in my teens. So I could have done a lot (more) stupid things with it if not for the suspension that would ping pong my eyeballs in their sockets. I feared and respected it like a 3-legged donkey in heat.