In honor of the late, great Carroll Shelby…1965 Shelby AC/COBRA

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Photo by M Perkins

A Love Story

The year was 1993 and I was rolling a frost white 88 Toyota Tercel EZ,
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the EZ stood for BASIC!!!  I mean a passenger sun visor or side mirror was not included on this car.  It had gray vinyl seats with a 4 speed stick shift and crank windows, but it was my baby…with all its 78hp glory.  From senior year in high school, racing up and down the 110 fwy, back and forth from CA to San Antonio, Texas.  For my high school friends, my Texas fam and my wife, you know this car put in work!  But this entry is not about my baby, but rather the one that stole my heart.  Folks this is simply a love 💓 story.  A story about how I fell in love, with a little roadster from Japan.

It was around 4:30 am and I’m heading to work at the Aerospace Corp in my white 88 Tercel hatchback.  Cruising westbound on the 105 fwy bumping that new Lethal Injection from Ice Cube, because that’s just how I roll.  It was dark and there were only about 5 cars on the fwy because no one gets up that early.  I was crossing the 405 and nearing my exit on Sepulveda when I saw a little red convertible sports car zipping by me.  “Is this guy’s top down at 4:30 am?  What a nut!”  As I neared the Sepulveda exit, drops of water began falling from the sky and my thought was, “this guy is about to get soaked.”  He takes the exit ramp in front of me, and as he was pulling up to the red light the rain is starting to come down.  He reached back with his right hand and with one motion pulled the convertible top up over his head and latched it closed just as the red light changed to green.  I mean, he never even stopped the car!  It was a flawless execution.  Was he doing a commercial for Mazda?  My eyes lit up just like that kid Ralph in “A Christmas Story” whenever he described the “official carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle…ooooh!”  I was blown away!  I thought to myself that I had to have one!  It was at that exact moment a new love had been born…Miata!
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Fast forward some 20 years and who knows how many cars later and I finally get up close and personal with the infamous well-balanced Miata rosdster.  One day the guy at the end of my block had his garage open. He had an Orange Lotus parked in front of his house and was working on a Miata in the garage with another guy that looked to be his twin.  Me being nosey me, I decided to walk my dog down there to see what was going on in my neighborhood.  Now usually in Corona you don’t hear Too Short playing in a garage, especially from the garage of a white guy that drives a Miata, but this was my introduction to the infamous Brothers Wilde.  I introduced myself and my interest in their cars while trying to remain calm and nonchalant, but good old Christmas Story Ralph was inside me just as giddy as a Christmas day.  After a bit of conversation I was invited to come check out Adams Motorsports park, an outdoor go-karting track, from these guys I just met, to experience some Time Attack and drifting that goes on out there.  Now between the two of them, they have probably bought and sold more Miatas, than you could count on all your little fingers on both hands, so the title Miata experts guru’s seems rather adequate. Well being the enthusiast I am I showed up at Adam’s that Friday night with my helmet in the off chance that I was courageous enough to go for ride along with someone.  That night I got to witness some high powered cars racing and some amateur drifters sliding all over the course.  There was some track mishaps with cars driving off the course up the hill and hoods popping up and spin outs galore! This was exciting but I then I saw it!  I watched in amazement as a little red blur and a silver blur sped around the course Time Attack style and I got the warm and fuzzies in my gentlemen parts. It was my neighbor aka mx5msm and his brother riding shotgun and their buddy aleks024 in the other car…WOW!  After their run, the invitation to ride along was presented to me and I jumped at it.  Now putting my life in someone else’s hand is not the norm for me, but the life insurance policy is paid, so eh, what the hell! I strapped on my helmet, said a quick prayer and let the fun began. With a death grip on the door handle and me wearing out my imaginary passenger side foot-brake, I was blown away and the handling capabilities and balance of these little cars in semi stock form.  The only thing he had at that time was suspension, a rollbar and an intake…thats pretty much it.  100hp never felt so exhilarating. Now throughout my driving years I had been use to piloting and rolling in much higher horsepower cars, Evo’s, Subies, TL’s and what not, so I was blown away to say the least at what I was experiencing. Turn after turn after turn, tires screeching with only the light from the Miata’s signature pop-up headlights illuminating the track as my neighbor and I were being run down by who I suspected to be Lewis Hamilton‘s driving instructor…aleks024! My grin only got bigger.  My helmet tapping against the rollbar as we slalomed thru the tire section and the hairpin turns.  This car was amazing!  Truth be told, I may have soiled his seat a little bit, but that was his fault.  This ride was life changing, I mean I felt…ALIVE.  I know I’m rambling on, but all in all I HAD A BLAST and obviously survived to write about it lol.  Anyway I was more motivated than ever to stack some cash to make a purchase of one of these little wonders.  Thanks the Brothers Wilde for the invite and ride!

So with that flame fueled and the search began.  I joined a forum or two and after researching these cars and combing the internet for a while.  I grabbed my cash and went shopping.  A few test drives later, I ended up with a stock 91 NA BRG (British Racing Green) Special Edition Miata.  I added a few parts to give it the Mike touch. So now without further ado, I present to you…BUBBA #741 of 4000.

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Bubba’s photos by M Perkins

Going Topless

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Here is where I stand or shall I say sit today. 2002 Audi TT Quattro 225 6-speed 3 pedal…oh yeah!. I was sitting at work looking thru our companies internal car buying service on a Friday when this I came across the ad for this little TT.  It was not the baseball leather edition, but it still caught my eye. That Sunday after church, my wife asked what were my plans for the rest of the day and I thought this was the invite for a honey-do list day.  I told her, “going to check out a car.” I anticipated the usual WTH glare she gives whenever I mentioned the C- word. To my surprise she asked if she could go with me. Whuuuuuuuut? Happy dance, happpy dance!  Wait, what did you do with my wife?  I took this rare opportunity and ran with it.  So we headed down to northern OC, but just to look at it because my mind was already made up about this CLEEEEAN Blue Graphite Pearl B6 Passat – Wolfsburg Edition…euro💓. In my mind I. already had this thing bagged on Accuair, tucking something 3 piece and polished at all four corners with an APR tune and custom 3″ Magnaflow turbo back exhaust. I was trying to negotiate a lower price on the Passat that week when I decided to go take a look at the TT.

The TT was stock, but super clean with low miles for being such an old seasoned car. Garage kept and pretty well taken care of except for the slight rear bumper ding from either a backing incident or someone not respecting the sexy backside of the little Audi.  I always had a thing for roadsters, S2k’s, Miata’s especially, but the TT…who doesn’t want to pull the top down and show off their TTs ;). I told myself “just leave it stock and save the mods for Bubba (my NA BRG Miata I was building)”, but Self said…”SCREW THAT!” and you just can’t argue with Self…that’s just crazy talk.  Well I got a big beautiful smile from the Mrs when I put the top down to check it out.  The price was right, so the deal was done and the date night car was bought.

Now here she is, sitting low and fitted with a staggered set of Privat Cup wheels – 18×8.5f and18x9.5r.  Rubber comes in the form of Sumitomo’s measuring 215/40 up front and 225/40 out back, giving just the right amount of stretch.  These german vehicles have crazy factory hub spacing and fitting aftermarket wheels can be a challenge so the addition spacers is very necessary without custom built wheels.  I picked up some 12mm and 15mm spacers help the TT achieve just the right amount of pokage so that I can be “culturally” accepted.  The gravitational pull is courtesy of German built ST coilovers. The saying goes, “if you ain’t rubbin, you ain’t dubbin!”  That too can be said for Audi’s as well. No performance upgrades…yet.  Right now its simple and clean!
Photo by M Perkins

Intro to the Past

Welcome to Perks Garage! This blog will be used to discuss my passion for all things automotive. I will share my views, opinion and perspectives on cars, tuning, specs and events that I attend throughout the year, and yes there will be pics as well.  Now I admit that I am not the greatest photog, but in my head I am just as good as a Marcel Bischler or a Jeremy Cliff, look them up if you don’t already know.  I will be interviewing other enthusiast and showcasing builds along the way.
Now that we got that out of the way, let me start by introducing myself. I’m Mike and have been in love with cars since I was about 10, which was a looooong time ago. I am not afraid to work on my own cars, from regular maintenance and stereos to installing custom suspension and body kits.  My first memory of driving was in my sisters Honda Civic when I was about 12 or so.  At that moment I was in love and knew driving would be my sanctuary.  My first automotive love was the 88 Honda CRX SI.  When most boys were drooling over their dads dirty mags, I had the Honda car brochure spread eagle on my bedroom wall with the CRX centerfold enticing my dreams.  I would rush home and thumb thru the brochure everyday, going between the CRX and the Prelude.  It was torture since driving a car was years away…legally that is, and owning one was even further.  In my years, I have owned a number of vehicles and I have modified every last one of them with the exception for my 85 CRX (funny story about that one). Needless to say my  hobby drove drives my wife crazy, as I am sure it would most wives.  In the last 2 years, I tried to convince my wife that owning 5 vehs for 2 drivers with a 2.5 car garage was a great idea.  With that, I am now banned from buying another car for quite some time now 🙂  I’ve gone from Tercels with big wheels to slammed Accords.  From RonJon kitted TL’s to stretched and poked Quattro TT’s.  In the words of the great philosopher of this new generation imported direct from Canada “Started from the bottom, now we here!” – Drake 2014  lol

Now with that brief intro, I give you Perks Garage!

Welcome and enjoy the ride.