Random Thoughts: The Fine Line

RX7-620x347As the old saying goes, there is a fine line between genius and insanity.  Equally, I believe there is a fine line between a hot rod and a shit box.  As hoons, many of us likely skirt this line with our cars on a nearly daily basis.  Limitations on time, budget, and give-a-shit put us in places where we are willing to sacrifice the visual cues of our projects for a bit more go-fast or just a few more tenths of a lateral g.  How far are you willing to go, though?  At what point does not caring what other people think about your ride turn into an attention-seeking, deliberate disregard for aesthetics?

This morning, someone introduced me to the “Zero F**ks Given” RX7 that was featured on “the youtubes” on friend of the ‘verse, Matt Farah’s show.  This car and video brought all of these questions forward in my mind, and I began to play jump rope with the fence on whether I loved or hated it.  On its face, it is a seemingly well executed 5.0 swapped RX7 assembled with quality parts.  The RX7 started life as an automatic 12A car that didn’t really deserve to be saved, and was turned into a tire roasting monster.  It is kitted with sticky tires, and it appears to be driven both hard and often. 

Loves:  The bare interior.  The Hankooks on Diamond Racing steel wheels.  The V8 soundtrack.

Hates:  The douchenugget decals.  The exposed speedometer.  The massive hole cut in the hood.


The driving experience sounds like a bucket of fun, akin to being attacked by starved, crazed weasels.  This is a car that will kill you dead without thinking twice about it, and that makes me want to take it back home for a quick fling, but I doubt I’d introduce it to my mother.  The RX has insanity in spades, and seemingly an experience not to be taken lightly. 

I appreciate that this car was built by a 17 year old kid, “delivering pizzas” to make it happen.  When I was 17, I could barely build a lego set, let alone complete an engine swap.  It is good to see that there are younger generations that are still interested in cars, working hard, and getting dirty.  All of that said, there are parts of this car that just seem to scream “troll”.  It seems that a lot of the grunginess of this build is intended to get a rise out of people, rather than a lack of funds.  He has put in as much effort making his car look like a trash heap, as some guys put into a concours quality detail job. 

I really like the “mentality” behind the build, but the execution leaves me wanting.  Not wanting much, mind you, but wanting, nonetheless.  As I said earlier, this car makes me wonder, consider, and question other builds that I am intimately familiar with.  Namely, my own Porsche 944 project, and a friend’s bulletproof Beetle.  Neither are particularly attractive, but not to a fault, and while they may not be the fastest things in the world (in fact, I think the Beetle may be the slowest thing in the world), they do provide us with the smiles we ask of them.


Project 944, while not quick, has been trained to work well in the corners.  Significant efforts have been put into lightening the car and performing “OEM Plus” handling modifications, and the factory 145 horses seem to be doing the job well enough for the time being.  It was purchased for a paltry $1500, and even after a top end rebuild, and a pile of other parts, I still have less than $2500 dollars in it.  It adds all of $7 per month to my insurance rates, and makes my driveway a much classier joint. 


The paint is pitiful, the seats are torn and cracked, it has a few electrical quirks, and it is loud, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  At a recent Porsche meet, I won an award entitled “Most Aesthetically Challenged”, and I was a proud papa going up to accept it.  The car has travelled more than 180,000 miles, and I plan to put at least another 180,000 on the clock.  It may never get the paint job it needs, but there will always be room in the budget for more power, bigger brakes, better shocks, springs, torsion bars, and tires.


The “bulletproof” belongs to my friend James.  He picked it up last summer for a song, and proceeded to do the SOP Volkswagen modifications.  Lowering modifications measured in feet rather than inches, interior updates (one of which included safety belts), extra gauges to keep track of the antique engine’s operations, and engine work to keep things running for many miles to come.  A Volkswagen freak, through and through, James uses his Beetle as an extension of his personality.  A little old, a little broken, but it just keeps plowing forward, racking up the miles, and living life to the fullest.


While I’m sure Corbin Goodwin (owner of the RX7) will “give zero f**ks” about my criticisms, that’s exactly what I would expect.  Luckily, it’s his car and he can do with it what he wants.  If it were mine, however, I would rivet in a bulge over the exposed intake manifold, rivet on some fender flares and add wider steel wheels and stickier tires, then put a small fairing over the exposed back of the speedometer on the hood.  Aside from that, I would drive the nuts off of that car, and have a ton of fun doing so.

What are your thoughts?  At what point does the line blur?  Which side of the line are you on?

Images: Corbin Goodwin (RX7), Bradley Brownell (944), and James Carr (Beetle)  Source: The Smoking Tire


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44 responses to “Random Thoughts: The Fine Line”


    I agree with your stance. I have had and currently do have several projects that are definitely in the vein of "who cares if it's ugly, it's fast", such as my current LS FC RX7. I've invested basically no effort in the exterior of the car to this point. But that doesn't mean I'm trying to make it actively fugly. If this were my car, as you said I'd throw some cheap ZG flares on it, rivet on a Thunderbolt style hood bulge, put in a real gauge cluster, and put a better looking chin spoiler on it than the plank. I love the idea behind the build (I did something very similar with the first iteration of my 7 when it had a 5.0/T-5 in it), but I would have reined it in a little on the aesthetics. But I'm glad he feels differently, because it adds a nice variety to the world. It'd be boring if everything looked how I think is best.

  2. wisc47 Avatar

    I saw this video earlier today and felt conflicted as well. I love the car he used, the engine, and the wheels especially, but I couldn't get over the fact that he was putting so much effort into not giving a fuck and wanting to deliberately annoy people. I mean doesn't that seem a little contradictory? If all he cared about was having fun he would've spent all his time making the car fast and then stopped before he got to the stupid speedometer, obnoxious stickers, and ridiculous front splitter(?). That being said, I really do dig the faded paint.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      This is kinda what I was trying to say below.

  3. vwminispeedster Avatar

    I love everything about this car. He built it, drives it hard, and enjoys the hell out of it. He's more than welcome to come to Oakland and Seconds Saturdays starting in April. We will welcome him with open arms (and bacon scones) if he can survive the drive.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      Tell me more about these bacon scones.

        1. dead_elvis Avatar
  4. MVEilenstein Avatar

    The problem with people who say they don't give a rip, but then go out of their way to remind you that they don't give a rip (in whatever form that takes – paint, decals, four different wheels), is that they actually do care what you think. Otherwise, why would they bother telling you?

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Careful, soon we'll be in zero-fncks-given inception.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        It takes all kinds, of course. If this is what makes him happy, more power to him. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

        1. calzonegolem Avatar

          The RX7 obviously cares what you think it looks like. I'm pretty sure the Porsche does not fall into that category. I'm not sure that the beetle doesn't.

  5. julkinen Avatar

    Look how little I care about my car!
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/YbxPPd3.gif"&gt;

    1. calzonegolem Avatar

      I tree what you did there.

      1. PotbellyJoe Avatar

        I'm going out on a limb here, but the joke, you got it…

        1. MVEilenstein Avatar

          He was all bark, no bite.

          1. Vavon Avatar

            Stop beating around the bush.

          2. PotbellyJoe Avatar

            The car is nothing to pine over, but I still wish he would leaf it alone.

    2. Irishzombieman Avatar

      Mattocks work better.
      <img src="http://www.kilo943.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/pickaxe_car.jpg&quot; width=400">

  6. OA5599 Avatar

    "At a recent Porsche meet, I won an award entitled “Most Aesthetically Challenged”, and I was a proud papa going up to accept it."
    I don't know what to say about a car meet that thought it necessary to create such an award and then turn around and give it to a car that appears to have all its major exterior parts where the factory installed them, in the correct somewhat-shiny colors and in relatively straight condition. You need to hang out with a better class of people. And by "better", I mean lower.

    1. mnm4ever Avatar

      Well he did clearly say it was a "Porsche meet", I wasn't even sure they let 944 owners attend.

      1. wisc47 Avatar

        They're allowed but only so the 911 owners can throw fruit at them.

    2. BradleyBrownell Avatar

      It was mostly done in jest, with good intentions. There is always a ratty 356, early 911, or some such that shows up to these gatherings that is "proud" of the patina or use that a car has earned over the years.
      "Meant to be driven" is the motto that most Porsche guys subscribe to, but obviously there will be the "concours" guys showing up. We all like to give each other a good ribbing.

      1. OA5599 Avatar

        If I were you, I'd pick out the owner of a trailer queen and hand over that trophy. Tell him to come back when the car looks loved.

  7. Xedicon Avatar


  8. mnm4ever Avatar

    I agree with what you are saying, anyone who goes that far to make you think they don't care does care. But that's pretty much how teenagers are, just part of being obnoxious, we all were then. I have always preferred my car/bike/computer/whatever to look good AND perform good, so I never got into the rat rod thing, or even the track rat thing, but I do not fault those who do, I can understand the appeal, just know it isn't my thing.
    But in the end, at least this guy is out there building his car and wrenching on it and caring about it, instead of holed up in his room playing video games and caring more about the latest smartphone. And he is spending a lot of time and money into making it perform, instead of ricing it out with stupid body kits and painted interiors like a lot of his peers probably do, which may explain the "trying to get a rise of of people" thing.

  9. jeepjeff Avatar


  10. Irishzombieman Avatar

    The kid's a hoon. He's got his priority straight.
    Priority. Singular. And that priority is, "What do I want my car to be?" Not "what do I want people to think of me?" or "what car crown do I want to fit into?"
    When anyone keeps that priority straight, I almost always love it. It's when the car becomes the product of deranged groupthink that things go downhill. And while sometimes the product may be similar, the motivation is completely different, and you can feel it.
    Another car like this that I love:
    <img src="http://cdn.speedhunters.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/IMG_3154_1om0_0.jpg&quot; width="400/">
    <a href="http://www.speedhunters.com/2009/11/car_feature_gt_gt_that_240z/” target=”_blank”>http://www.speedhunters.com/2009/11/car_feature_gt_gt_that_240z/

    1. julkinen Avatar

      That's a lot better in my opinion.

      1. Irishzombieman Avatar

        Me too. But both were built for by cheap kicks, not crowd impressing. My guess is that the Datsun wasn’t a first build, either.
        I love that a kid built this Mazda, and while it’s pretty rough, I betcha the next thing he does is better in every way. And whatever follows will improve some more.
        As far as the metaphorical fence goes, for me, it all comes down to motivation–the question of "why" as apposed to "what". Purity of motivation bleeds out of cars like these, and sometimes makes me love things I've always hated.

    2. plecostomus Avatar

      this is much better.
      There's no needless wood on it. No douchey stickers. Flares. What's not to like?

    3. salguod Avatar

      I'm not convinced that he doesn't care what folks think. He seems to be particularly proud of the stickers meant to annoy, not to mention how he goes on, with a smug, proud grin that I want to smack, about how much care he put into not caring.

      1. Irishzombieman Avatar

        Just rewatched the video and paid more attention to him than to the car this time, and I'll give you the smug rebel/intentional misfit verdict. And yeah. I hate the stickers. I could say pretty confidently that I'd never be this guy's buddy.
        Mentor, though–maybe. Dude's got potential.
        And I love the car he built.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      So you got rid of the truck and trailer?

  11. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    My Audi is the exact polar opposite of these cars. It looks literally mint-fresh on the outside, the Pearl Blue paint buffed to mirror perfection, the interior leather is rip and stain free, the AMG rims are a clear sign of a man with exquisite taste and demonstrate just the right amount of "scene" mentality. But that's on the outside.
    Mechanically my car is probably about a thousand miles overdue a service, I have noise from the auxilliary belt, the cambelt is due in about two thousand miles, the A/C compressor was decoupled about four years ago and I suspect that one of my wheel bearings isn't long for this earth.
    It's like inverse rat-look.

    1. skitter Avatar

      It's like inverse rat-look what normal people do.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Have you been driving the Town Cow?

    3. wisc47 Avatar

      Wait, AMG rims on an Audi? Someone has a sense of humor.

  12. skitter Avatar

    I've got a lot more sympathy for working hard to not give a f*ck than working hard to be normal. It's probably my greatest character flaw that if someone is trying to pressure or manipulate me, I'll intentionally disappoint them. There's some of that there.
    I say don't just do what someone else likes. But just doing the opposite of what someone else likes doesn't work for long. You have to do what you like. And you can't just know what that is, so you have to try things. There's a line I love that a connoisseur isn't someone who with so-called good taste. The whole mess that gets boiled too far down into giving or not giving a f*ck is rooted in thinking opinions can be right or better. You'll know what you like when you see it, and the idea that you're supposed to like certain things is grating at best. A connoisseur is someone who has seen everything, and whose sense is fine enough to both appreciate and differentiate anywhere along a spectrum.
    Though for that to be worth anything, they have to be able to share their enthusiasm, and extend their experience to people unfamiliar with their field and taste. And tastes don't necessarily overlap, and the esoteric isn't intrinsically interesting, so they and we need to have respect for each other. Not necessarily for the things being enjoyed, but for the enjoyment itself. There's fun to be had defying convention and flipping the bird. There's more fun to be had pursuing what you find interesting.

  13. calgoat Avatar

    I have a soft spot for anyone who would put any effort into making a first gen Rx-7 roadworthy again. The basic concept is amazing, and the unrestored paint is kinda cool, but the extra bits are really a reflection of his age, I think. But it's not the worst thing ever. Some of the stickers are even funny (not that I would ever put them on my car). For me, the car's interior has to be a liveable, functional and organized space; so this build is a disaster for me in that regard.
    But like others have already said, it's his vision and his honest effort. That counts for a lot.

  14. Bill Avatar

    I think this car fits with a growing number of cars coming to light that are cool (in my eyes) because their owners are just pushing through with what they want as opposed to what the scene says that they should have or do. The guys at BangShift are doing a Caprice along the lines of this thing (minus the stuff stuck to the outside) that I have been following and it looks cool (to me). I like the kid, the car, and the fact that he did it himself.
    Here is the BangShift car (first time I have tried to embed a photo)
    <img src="http://bangshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Buford_T_Justice_9C1_Caprice_Hotchkis_Mickey_Thompson09.jpg"&gt;

    1. clunkerlove Avatar

      I've also been following the BangShift Cop Caprice story with a level of interest that surprises me. Like I give a sh*t about an old Caprice, and yet here I am waiting for the next installment of the saga. Brian Lohnes is a very entertaining writer!
      The RX7 however … I'm losing interest in it in the span of time it took me to write this.

    2. nutzforautos Avatar

      This hits the buttons for me!! Totally BAD! (I only had a problem with that splitter on the RX 7. )

  15. danleym Avatar

    I kind of like the shitcan that can go fast idea. I remember going to the local Friday night cruises with my dad when I was little, and there was a guy in an early 70s two door (like I said, I was little, that's as clear as my memory is) that was a combination of faded blue paint, primer, and rust. It actually had a massive band-aid sticker on the door. And it would blow the doors off any other car there. I always liked it.
    I get what some are saying about how if you get to the point of trying to annoy people then you do care what they think, but I like the thought of getting under people's nerves like this. Because why should anyone else care enough about what someone does to their own car to get upset about it? I don't like donks. That said, I don't get mad when I see one. So yeah, go for it, and show people how ridiculous they are for getting riled up over what someone else does to their own car.