First time on a 787. See you all on the other side
I like bikes with tacky graphics
Best posts made by TheJWT
I bought a 1995 Suzuki Alto Works!
I put a deposit down on this car exactly one month ago, and then waited, and waited, and waited... The Japanese car buying process is weird; I'll write more about it some day.
But today, I have my new car! 1995, auto (unfortunately), 65k km/ 38k miles, one previous owner, 660cc turbo 3 cylinder, and in typical Japanese fashion, lots of goofy electronic things wired in under the dashboard.
@Exage03040 was the first to correctly guess what I was buying in my last post, so you win one drive in it on the touge (flight to Japan not included)
Bought my Shinkansen ticket today
I finally got my visa today, and things are starting to come together with my move to Japan-
I'm flying to Tokyo on Sunday (and arriving Monday), then taking the Nozomi-class shinkansen to Nagoya. 212 miles in about an hour and a half, maxing out at 300km/h. Unfortunately the journey will be after sunset, but I'm still looking forward to it! It should be significantly more interesting than the 13 hours on a plane to get to Tokyo
Ever wanted to move to Japan?
You need one of these in order to get a visa- a Certificate of Eligibility. Teaching English is pretty much the only way to get a certificate of eligibility unless you're marrying a Japanese National or spending a ton of money ($500k last time I checked) starting a business there. It's virtually impossible to just "get a job" in your field there. There's zero incentive (and actually probably some disincentive) for companies in Japan to hire foreigners unless it's for teaching.
I'm hoping I'm able to leave next month. Japan will open the border again in March, but there's a massive backlog of people trying to immigrate, and caps on the number of arrivals per day. If I can't make it by the time the school semester starts in April, I might have to wait an entire year.
Things are beginning to happening
After months of stress, several rejections, and a lifetime's worth of job interviews, yesterday I signed a contract with a company that does job placements for English teachers in Japanese public schools. I don't have an actual placement yet, so I'm still apprehensive about saying I'll definitely get a job, but the contract I signed is a notification of employment so that they can start getting me a visa and a certificate of eligibility.
Hopefully this time next year I'll be shitposting from Japan
Stories from a former Classic Car Club Intern: Part 1
On and off over the past few years, I’ve been recounting my time as the intern at CCC Manhattan when I was in college. It began as a personal project, just writing about the cars I got to drive so that I could re-read it later in life and remember what they were like. Eventually, that started morphing into writing about the experience more broadly, and finally I got off my ass and finished it over the past few weeks. Some parts of this were written years ago, some parts were pulled from other posts I’ve written, and other parts were written last week, so please excuse me if I contradict myself, or my opinions seem to change between paragraphs. It’s also extremely long, so I’m splitting it up into four parts for your reading pleasure. Now, getting right to it-
In August 2013, I moved from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio to Brooklyn, New York to go to Pratt Institute, where I would be majoring in Architecture. A year before that, I had visited New York City for only the second time in my life to check out the school with my mom. Our flight home at the end of the weekend was out of Newark, so we took a car service which used the usual route of Canal Street to the Holland tunnel. Just as we were about to descend into the tunnel, I saw the logo on the side of the adjacent building for the Classic Car Club; the same one I had seen videos of and read about on Jalopnik countless times. Someone named Jon on a forum called Oppositelock that I had just joined had started working there recently...
It must’ve been my first or second day in New York and I had one objective- go and visit the Classic Car Club. I went with a friend I had just met, who wanted to explore and take in as much of the city as she could. And… we couldn’t find it… CCC’s original location was at the corner of Hudson Street and a little stub of road that dead-ended into the Holland tunnel’s access ramps called Broome Street. It was an absolute nightmare to get to, regardless of whether you were walking or driving there. We searched around for it for a while, but ultimately gave up and moved on elsewhere. But I came back the next day! I was nothing if not determined to find this slice of car guy heaven on earth.
I incredulously stepped through the open front garage door and asked the first guy I saw if it was ok to walk around and take some pictures. That guy turned out to be Jon Harper, known to early Oppo users as JBH, and known now as a pretty accomplished automotive photographer. He was interested in the Autodromo watch I was wearing, and he showed me the very good quality fake Bell & Ross that he was wearing. We chatted for a while, and I took pictures of every single car there, especially focusing on the white E30 M3 that was parked outside. This was my dream car all throughout high school, and I had never seen one in the flesh before. I knew that somehow, some way, I had to drive that car.
I’d end up running into Jon again a week or two later, the first time I took the Metro North train to Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan, Connecticut. He had driven the E30 there along with the two car club interns, Aaron and Mathias, who were both around my age. I was so amazed that someone my age could work at a place like that, and I immediately wanted to join them. For the next few years we’d all keep in touch; I’d stop by the club every once in a while, and I’d go with Aaron and Mathias to Oppo meetups and car shows. I had my own car, a first-gen Nissan Sentra SE-R, but I had to keep it at home with my parents, so I’d bum rides with them to events.
Aaron's 944 and Mathias's ML at the first tri-state Oppo meet in 2013
Architecture school is a unique kind of hell, so working a job in addition to it wasn’t on my radar for the first few years. Eventually though, in August of 2015, when my summer break was quickly coming to a close, Aaron made a post on Oppo saying they were looking for a new intern. I had to think it over for a few days, which now seems ridiculous, but I was genuinely concerned that it would be too much for my already busy schedule. I’m not writing this because I didn’t take the job though. I decided to go through with it because I didn’t want to be the guy who goes around saying he could’ve worked at the Classic Car Club, or could’ve driven all manner of supercars as a 20 year old.
My primary job there as the unpaid intern was processing in/out sheets. These are pretty much the same sheets you’d fill out renting a Chevy Malibu from Hertz. We’d mark any existing damage to the car, fuel level, mileage, etc… and then charge the members for any incidental fees. There was a massive backlog of hundreds of these from the time between when Aaron left and I started.
I had a whole system I’d go through. I’d check how many miles they drove, versus how many they were allowed. Nicer cars were in higher “bands”, and higher bands charged more money per mile. Something like the Lamborghini Huracan was $2.50/mile, so the charges racked up quickly. Then I’d check the EZ Pass tolls (all cars there had their own transponders) and the fuel level, and add those charges accordingly. I’d charge them through our payment system, sometimes thousands of dollars per booking, email them the receipt, and record it all in our books. I wasn’t qualified to do any of this, but it was easy and I was competent enough to make it through the backlog pretty quickly. I worked in the cluttered old office at the center of the club on an early 2000s iMac, alongside (literally, it was a tiny office) the parts guy Mathias, the event director Jeannette, the membership director Adam, and the member event coordinator Joana. The Owners, Zac and Mike, worked out of an Airstream that had been turned into an office. Right outside the office door were the mechanic bays with two car lifts, and next to that was the washing/ detailing bay. It was not a large space by any means; it only occupied about half of the ground floor of the building at 250 Hudson Street.
I’d get on the Clinton-Washington ave. C train (usually jumping the turnstile, I had precious little money since I wasn’t being paid) and take it to Canal street after class on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, making my way through the week’s in/out sheets, and helping out wherever I was needed. With the original location being so small, there was lots of shuffling cars around and out onto the street where members could pick them up. Eventually, Zac trusted me enough to let me open and close on weekends a few times a month, which thankfully was paid. We also offered to deliver and pick up cars that members had booked. This was where the fun came in. Usually, it was just whoever was around or free at the time would do the deliveries, but I eventually got quite good at finding out about them beforehand and making sure I was the one to carry them out. On the drive out to a member’s place, I would press every button and go through every menu to try and learn as much about the car as I could, so that when I dropped it off I would seem like I actually knew what I was talking about. Occasionally I’d even get tips, which was something I found hilarious… Here I am as a 20 year old, getting to drive a 6-figure, 500+hp car with zero regard for fuel, insurance, tolls, registration, etc… And then people would actually pay me for the privilege of doing so. Not that I wouldn’t graciously accept them...
Those weren’t the only opportunities I had to drive the cars though. We would put on events outside of the club that needed cars taken to and from, and there was always a steady stream of cars that needed to be picked up or taken to shops for repairs that we couldn’t handle ourselves. One of the most common trips was to a decrepit but very interesting old body shop literally across the street from the Newark airport. Also, with the club being so small, any time there was a party or an event which required open floor space, we would take most of the cars over to the parking garage at pier 40, a few blocks away up the West Side Highway.
The car club had been at 250 Hudson for at least 10 years, and by 2015 its physical size was really starting to hinder its steady growth. Initially a new site was found in Red Hook, Brooklyn and announced to members, but behind the scenes, Zac was working on a long shot deal to stay in Manhattan. That ended up working out, miraculously, and in April of 2016 the Car Club moved to its new and current location, at Pier 76 on the Hudson river. In total, I worked at CCC from August 2015 to November 2016 with my winter and summer breaks thrown in there. I ended up quitting for various reasons which I’ll get to later, but over that period I was fortunate enough to drive most of the cars, the experiences of which I’m writing about here.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
I only really got to drive it once from what I remember- From the old location on Canal St to a regular member who lived around 50th street. I did that route a few times in various cars, and it involved going down ever-busy Houston street to the FDR highway. It was always a pretty crowded journey, except for the on ramp to get to the highway, and the ramp getting off past the UN. The latter is where I got to really get on it; it’s a dead straight off ramp for maybe a quarter mile. That Aston was definitely in the running for the best sounding car there. It had an active exhaust, but whatever fuse keeps it in quiet mode had been removed and it absolutely ripped. The dash would light up with warnings because of that, but we would just tell people to ignore it. I remember it being pretty quick; nothing insane but enough to have some serious fun. It was a manual too which was pretty cool. I felt like James Bond driving it, too, as I’d imagine you would in any Aston. I even took a really douchey picture of my Autodromo watch on the steering wheel. With it being a 2008 it was getting to be pretty dated, but it was super comfortable and a car I really loved driving.
BMW E39 M5
The e39 was the first ‘fun’ car I got to drive after I started working at CCC. I had to pick it up from a garage somewhere on the upper East side, which was also a first. Not having really ever driven in NY, I had no idea how the garages there worked, and I was so nervous being some random ass kid saying he had to pick up an M5. I was nervous for a lot of reasons, actually. I was used to driving a manual in my Sentra, but not really in anything else, and I didn’t know the route back to 250 Hudson. I was amazed how readily the attendant handed me over the keys to something I obviously couldn’t afford, but I guess kids of rich parents aren’t exactly uncommon there. Pulling out of the garage, I was ecstatic to be driving one of my dream cars, and also what’s regarded as one of the best M cars of all time. I’d get on the throttle anytime I could, I cut through central park and got on the West Side Highway at 79th st- going the wrong direction, naturally. The E39 was an above average car for sure; it was quick and comfortable, and I remember the transmission to be typical M-car good. Even in the few times I drove it, however, I could tell it was never going to be a reliable car. I had heard stories that this was the 3rd or 4th one they’d had, and when they broke Zac would just get a new one. On the first drive going down 9A the engine was getting hot, and other times the digital dash would fail.
The other times I remember driving it were both back from Jersey; once from the body shop by the Newark airport and once from some random alarm shop with Pat in god knows where. It was kind of the taxi for CCC, and I started thinking of it as just a slightly more quick sedan. One of the times driving back, I had my eye on the fuel gauge which was low and going down FAST. I don’t know if it was the electrics being shitty as they were known to do, or if it was actually that bad on gas, but that was sort of the moment when I stopped idolizing those cars. There was also a time that someone had parked their Vespa right in front of it on the street with the steering locked, and I had to literally drag it out of the way so that a member could take it.
BMW E30 M3
I drove it twice; the second time was just picking it up from a member on 19th st. in traffic, so nothing special. The first time, though… I hadn’t been there super long yet and I was still wanting some sort of big driving experience. I also desperately wanted to drive the E30, since it was my dream car all throughout high school. I came up with this plan to ask Zac if I could take the E30, which had just finally come back from being repaired, to Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan. After asking a few times and some understandable hesitation on his part- their insurance didn’t even cover people under 25- he agreed. I would come there Saturday evening to pick it up, and drop it off the next day after the show with a full tank of gas. I came by with my roommate Gabe on Saturday, it was the first time I’d ever even sat in it and I was over the moon being in my all time dream car at that point. I didn’t really know how to get home either, so Gabe and I just kind of aimlessly drove it around until I ended up in Williamsburg. My first impression was that it was just as rattly as my Sentra, but nowhere near as fragile. That night I took Gabe, and our other roommates Dan and Ryan for rides down Flushing under the elevated section of the BQE and down by Prospect park. Gabe and I were driving around near campus that night when two guys saw it at a red light and they freaked out, even though they thought it was an E36. “SICK E36 Bro, you got the cage and everything… Killing it bro!” I don’t know how you can get excited about a caged M3 but not know the difference between an E30 and E36. Whatever though. We just smiled and gave a thumbs up.
I had told my roommate, Dan, about my plan to borrow the car a few days before, but the night before I actually picked it up I had told him that Zac had said no. I said it was because of insurance liability, me being new there, we didn’t do that kind of thing, etc… I had parked right out front of Willoughby, our dorm building, and that night I asked Dan to come to the 24-hour Korean grocery store across the street with me to get a snack. He noticed it right away, and thought that Walker, the former CCC intern and fellow industrial design major somehow had it (His dad did have an E30 M3, but it was red. It was one of the first cars Bring a Trailer auctioned). We walked over there with Dan trying to figure out if it was the Car Club’s M3; I said let’s check inside, and I pulled the key out of my pocket and opened the door to his surprise.
The next day Dan and I took the M3 to Connecticut, with Gabe following us driving Dan’s Nissan with Ryan. Gabe was going pretty slow up until the Whitestone bridge since he had never driven in the city before. After that, the route was pretty simple (or so I thought), so I pulled away from him after the toll booth. Naturally, I ended up taking the wrong ramp and instead of getting on whatever highway we were supposed to take, we ended up in the middle of the Bronx. I blamed it on Dan’s navigating skills instead of mine, and I pulled over and put Waze on, then doing 100+ mph the whole way there… I think we hit 120 or so on the Merrit Parkway, blowing past all of the classic cars that were headed the same way. We actually got there a few minutes before Gabe and Ryan, despite our lengthy detour. It was a cold show but a good one, we caught up with our friend and classmate Andrew there, and we all ended up going to the diner in Springdale for breakfast, where I made Gabe take the picture of me leaning on the rear bumper. Ryan drove back with me since he had the least amount of seat time, and he actually owned an E36 M3 convertible back home in Texas. I didn’t drive as crazy on the way back, but we still had fun. We stopped for fuel before bringing it back to CCC, where I had to help clean up from the previous night’s party as part of my deal for borrowing the E30.
As for the driving experience, it’s a great car without a doubt. The engine was super responsive and it sounded pretty nice. Handling was good but there was never really a place to push it. I didn’t like that reverse was left and up, I put it in reverse more than once when I was trying for first. It never really felt like the transformative driving experience I had expected it to though. I’m sure I had hyped it up too much in my own head, and I had read all of the car journalists’ glowing reviews of it. In reality it’s a quick, fun little car, nothing more or less. I think it was after driving it that I began to realize that I was capable of forming my own opinions about cars, and that just repeating what I heard on Top Gear meant I was just being the mouthpiece for someone else’s opinion which was no more valid than my own.
The first time I drove it was a delivery downtown, when I first got my CCC jacket. I was so proud of it that I immediately put it on and wore it everywhere I went. I’m sure I could’ve just asked for one the first day I worked there, but when Joana gave one to me I felt like I was finally worthy of driving all these cars. I got more experience with the i8 when Mike, the photographer Kosten, Jovan, and I took a few cars north to photograph for the website. I had driven the Cayman GT4 to the first photo spot and we decided to all switch cars. Coming from the GT4, the i8 immediately felt slower and less responsive, and the steering was way more electronically assisted. It was super comfy and it ate up miles on the highway, but it really wasn’t the most fun car on the twisty roads. I thought the way the gas engine kicked in was fun for a while; it would come on a second after you pressed the accelerator, so it felt like it has a big turbo, but that got old pretty quick. It did garner the most attention in the group; we stopped to get gas in some small town and everyone who passed by hovered around the i8. I’d get a constant stream of questions about it, and I’d confuse people when I told them it was actually a hybrid. The third time I drove it was to East 59th or so. I was really into east-coast rap that week and I was blasting Nas and Gang Star down Houston which felt pretty baller. I didn’t care that everyone was looking at me, I was in a BMW that looked like a spaceship and had Lambo doors. Going up the FDR I passed a guy in a Cobra who I gave a big thumbs up to. The only other time I remember was dropping it off at the nearby garage on West Houston; I pulled up and got out in front of two girls and I felt like I had made it in life.
The Corvette was scariest car I’ve ever driven. I had picked it up from Pier 40 once or twice and gunned it down the short stretch of the West Side Highway, but the time I had to take it to the dealership in New Jersey was the first time I really experienced how insane the Z06 is. I got to Pier 76 in the morning to pick it up and I had to wait to turn it on since Zac was talking to some people nearby and it was extremely, excessively loud on startup. The whole way down Dyer ave, through the Lincoln Tunnel, and onto the highway mess once you get into Jersey, I was itching to open it up. It felt about 10 feet wide going through the narrow lanes of the tunnel. Finally, on the ramp onto one of the highways next to the Meadowlands, I finally got to floor it. I had driven the Mclaren the week before which may be a bit quicker around a track, but the Z06 is a completely different kind of fast. You can floor it in pretty much any gear, light up the tires, and still be going faster than anything on the road. I think I hit 120 or so, extremely quickly and way too easily, and backed off the rest of the way there.
The Chevy dealership in itself was it’s own experience. There I was, in a slightly dingy suburban NJ Chevy dealership, waiting for the Z06 to get an alignment, watching Duck Dynasty on the tiny CRT TV along with all the other people there who looked like extras from Duck Dynasty; and though it was only an hour from the city, it felt distinctly central Ohio… The drive home was a bit busier, traffic had sadly picked up, though the Corvette was very good at merging on those dumb stop sign on-ramps they have over there. Most of the drive I was behind an Evo X, who was probably as eager as I was to get ahead of the traffic and see who’s car was faster (definitely mine). All in all it was a super fun and scarily fast car. Even now, after they’ve been out of production and replaced by the C8, I don’t think they really get the respect they deserve as a performance car. I probably couldn’t ever live with one; the front tires are so big it feels like the steering wheel has a mind of its own whenever you hit a bump and I would definitely break my streak of no speeding tickets very quickly.
To be continued...
Latest posts made by TheJWT
RE: NSX: The ULTIMATE History of Honda's Supercar (Part 1)
Excellent article on my favorite car of all time
RE: Road trip day 1- Ebisu Summer Drift Matsuri
@Nauraushaun There were probably 4 or 5 AE86 guys all drifting together at one point, it looked like they were having a ton of fun!
That 2-tone Crown went out with the yellow/blue Mark II competition car. It looked pretty much completely stock so I thought he was going just to get moving shots of the Mark II. He proceeded to absolutely fucking shred and everyone came out to the pit wall to watch.
I'm still trying to find out who owns it and what the specs are. It was by far the coolest thing there
Road trip day 1- Ebisu Summer Drift Matsuri
I'm on summer break all August, so I decided to go on a road trip with a friend checking off all of my bucket list things in Japan. Day zero was the 14 hour drive from Okayama to Fukushima (It should've been 10 hours, but there was severe flooding and a landslide took out part of the highway which led to a very long detour)
Anyway, Ebisu Drift Matsuri was the big event of the whole trip. We drove from the AirBnb to the track early the next morning and stayed there the whole day. Even with Japan's travel restrictions there were a surprising number of English-speakers there. I've heard Fall matsuri is the biggest of the year, and I plan on going to that in November. (And taking the train next time...)