At 12 years old I would have given my left nut for the first Mark Gonzales pro model skateboard deck. I would have given the other one a few years later for an '87 CRX Si. The second-gen CRX was the next car I had to have...and then the first Prelude VTEC, a DC2 Integra GSR, of course an ITR, and a couple of hatchbacks thrown in for good measure-make them fourth- and fifth-gen ones, and those are just the Hondas. The cars were easier to come by than the board though. I ended up with a cheapo California Street Stroker instead of the Gonz. Of course, I always wanted an NSX too but, like the board, that was just a pipe dream. I've admired that car since my pimple-faced, awkward high school sophomore days where I spent much of my time waiting for peach fuzz to develop into a goatee. I didn't know what VTEC or variable stage induction manifolds were for or why aluminum was better than steel, and it didn't matter-I wanted one anyway. Never mind that I couldn't even drive yet, or shave.
I've never been one to horde cars. Show me a Honda guy who's got his own fleet of Civics and Integras in his backyard and I'll show you a fleet of cars that suck. The less is more approach generally works best-taking time with each one on an individual basis, building each up appropriately, none at the expense of the others. Of course this means I sell off what I've got in order to get what I want, which is the hard part.
Ten years ago I thought I wanted to be a drag racer. My daily driver was running 11s, which made me feel like the badass that I thought I was, and encouraged me to build a full-blown track car. So I picked up an EG hatchback, yanked the B18C1 from my GSR and began building what I thought was going to be something fairly competitive. Long story short, it wasn't. The build took so long that by the time I thought I had it finished many of the parts I began with were considered outdated, even against regulations in some cases. My monster of a fuel pump is now considered street car fare and my slicks were even snickered at once. None of this bothered me much though. During the three or four years it took me to build the car I learned a few things: I'm not a race car driver-in fact, I enjoy building more than I do driving, which explains the small fabrication facility I have at home, but that's another story.
A friend and I built the car from the ground up in a dark corner of my shop. We stripped it ourselves, honed our TIG-welding skills by fabricating a 10-point rollcage and wheelie bar setup, made the windows and fuel cell, built the engine, even tuned it ourselves. About the only thing I didn't do myself was stuff the sleeves in the block...but I was there watching. I know every weld on this car, every bolt, every beer can ring on the roof, every mistake that's been covered up, but by the time the car was finished I'd somehow lost the drag racer in me. I took the car out a couple of times only to bring it back home, cut something up, and re-fabricate something else. Building became an addiction, which made selling the EG all the more difficult.
I haven't raced the hatchback in years. I fired it up regularly and kept it clean but that was about it so I decided to put it up for sale not too long ago to make room for the NSX I always wanted. It was one car I couldn't justify keeping around, despite the engineering I'd put into it, but selling it wasn't easy. I turned down a potential buyer because of what he wanted to do to it-it was shameful really. The right buyer did come along though. He plans on keeping it relatively intact, racing it-unlike me-and continuing the car's legacy. I'll have my eye on him. None of that made it any easier to sell though. I'm still not rich, but I do have an extra spot in the garage. Still, no matter what fills that spot, I'll never forget the ol' hatchback.
- Aaron Bonk