Here I sit at my desk, with an Xbox controller in my hands. A half empty can of Arizona Iced Tea with lemon sits on my black Ikea desk. The monitor is showing a 1985 Sprinter Trueno in red gliding through the English country side, while Astrophysics' cover of Fly Me to the Moon blare from my Corsair headphones. The turbo'd 4AGE gets drowned out by the synthwave beats coming from spotify. That was a fairly usual night for me. Staying up obnoxiously late playing video games as the warm summer breeze passes through my open windows. That evening wasn't unusual for me, or rather any young car enthusiast with no car to wrench on.
There's a struggle of being a car enthusiast with no car. You surround yourself with everything cars, except a car itself. I can look from my desk to the wall facing my bed. Posters of a 63' Grandsport Corvette, 64' Cobra Daytona, 67' GT40, and an advertisement of a 67' Corvair face my bed. They get to share the wall real estate with a 40 x 28 inch Akira poster, my dresser, and hopefully my MK5 Supra poster if I can find some thumbtacks for it.
Back in early February, I took a job at my local McDonalds. No shop wants to employ a 14 year old, so to the rear register of a fast food chain I go. I'm fortunate enough to work on the busiest days of the week, but sometimes it gets quiet on Sundays. When it's quiet, I get to think to myself about working here. Sure, I absolutely hate it, and Iced coffees have certainly been ruined for me, but I understand where my wage is going. I know that if I can keep my McChecks saved up, I'll have some extra money for a car. Maybe a nice 85' Celica GTS. Or if I'm lucky, a clean-ish Galant VR4. Hey, if god decides to throw me a bone, I can snag my neighbor's 280z 2+2.
Hell, who am I kidding? I live in a town house. I'm 14. I have no garage, nor the abilities to fix a car. My mechanical knowledge extends to replacing tire rod ends on ATVs, not complicated fuel injection systems. And my parents don't want me, a teenage boy with the need for speed and not much else, ripping around in a 40 year old death trap. They are being responsible by saying no.
As winter turns to warm, and the snow on the east coast FINALLY begins to melt, car shows are happening more and more. Fabspeed exhausts, who are about a 20 minute bike ride away, usually throw their spring meets around this time of year. Seeing clean-as-can-be Camaros and Novas are a common sighting in the warm weather. But that's still a solid month away. So from now to mid-April, I get to wait. But until then, it's just Forza and Arizona Iced Teas.
Thank you to @Sajeev for giving me the idea of writing this article. I'll see you guys next week for the conclusion of GM's money pinching saga.
Dude don't take on such a defeatist attitude about it. Be patient (this is coming from a guy whose patience is notoriously short and was even more so when he was your age). The things you want will come to you, but not by giving up before you get started. I saw that "if God throws me a bone" comment and kind of laughed. Have you tried asking?
Without getting too philosophical about it, I think in some areas you are on the right track. You know what you want. You have taken steps to get there. Sure, you don't have a garage and live in a townhouse. I didn't have my own garage until I was 27 (when I bought my first house). You couldn't begin to count the times I had to work on my cars outside of our duplex, in the parking lot, sometimes in the rain, just to get them running or repaired so that I could get to work. That doesn't even account for having to work on the only car I had kept at that point rom my high school years to get it back to "fighting weight".
What I am telling you is the same thing I tell many younger people who start at my office. Things don't happen as soon as you're out of college. That $70,000/yr job is out there, but you're going to have to work UP to it. The same thing goes for wrenching, fixing, up, or even repairing a car enough to get you back and forth to work or school. You have to crawl. Then you walk. Then you run. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And you'll have to pay some dues/ eat some crow along the way. You work your way up and BUILD that knowledge of exotic fuel systems, cam degreeing, distributor re-curving, head porting, as time wears on. Do you know how I learned most of my car related stuff? My Dad, his friends, Hot Rod Magazine, Popular Hot Rodding, Car Craft, Chilton's big orange EVERYTHING BUILT FROM 1970-1977 (and yes it even has a section on head porting) book, and time.
Don't give up before you get started or you will never get where you want to be. And if need be, stand on the shoulders of some of us old guys on this forum. I, for one, would be glad to help out with any questions you may have.
I did. So has everyone else.
This is absolutely correct advice and although it is likely tougher under the "East Coast/responsible parents/limited job market/townhouse/lack-of-skills" scenario, you just need to believe that if you want it enough and are willing to work and sacrifice, ANYTHING is indeed possible. At 14, you have immense possibilities in front of you, and which ones you capitalize on are largely up to you. Concentrate on overcoming the difficulties - learn what you can, make a list of what you need to do, then work on ticking things off the list. And the best advice Guitar74 has given? Lean on some "been there - done that" folks. I can attest from personal experience that 99.9% of the car nuts out here in the rest of the world are happy to share knowledge and help teach newbies...
Go for it, young man!
That's the joy of owning a car as an enthusiast, as it makes up for the lows of not having a car. I was lucky, as I worked for the family business (and when I turned 16 I was the courier with a "company" car) instead of being forced to work in a fast food joint, but I am sure that just like me, the money you earn at McDonalds will be even sweeter when the right car shows up for sale in your price range.
Sounds grim, BUT, it’s not! You have done all you can possibly do, at this time. So congratulations! Truly.
Also, you have a plan. More congrats! A general plan, which can be part dream, is a good thing. It gets you on the road to your destination, wherever that is. You do not want to be too specific right now, you want to be open to all that comes your way.
While you’re planning for your first car, how about trying some entry level karting? Might be a fun way to spend a McCheck, get your parents involved, and maybe there’s some wrenching opportunities, too.
Hey Sam, NEVER GIVE UP! The comments to your post are spot on. There's nothing I can add. You will get to the destination if you really want to. Make up your mind that you will succeed. There will be trials and failures but when they happen use them as a learning tool. We all learn from our mistakes. CitationMan mentioned carting which is a good way to start. When my youngest son was 14 we got into lawn mower racing. Yea, lawn mower racing. Hard to believe a mower can get up to 35-40 MPH ain't it. That was a learning curve for him and in our second and third year we went on the win the Mobile County Alabama (Dixie Outlaws) points championship in our class. It took him two years, but as he learned he was also winning. I think it was Richard Petty who said "If you're there at the end you have a chance to win." Oh yeah....God throws everyone a bone everyday! Hang in there Dude!
I just joined but wanted to make an effort to respond because your story is just so relatable I feel nostalgic. As for your circumstances, you're in the right place don't worry about it! You have quite a bit of time to get things sorted out and plan your dreams. I was in the same exact boat about 11 years ago as I just turned 25.
I found Hagerty because I have two cars that I love like my own children and Hagerty is the only place I can insure them for agreed value until I turn 26 or with other companies until I turn 30 ... Technically there's Grundy so don't misquote me on that but I wasn't impressed with their onboarding process and customer service when I applied.
When I was your age, I was drawing out a checklist of what I needed. This would include the basics like a Driver's License, Insurance, and of course means to secure a car. Personally a License is probably the most important because it plays a big role when you're looking at insurance policies. The most common question is how long have you had a Driver's License and the policy premium you are assigned is based on points awarded in accordance to your driving experience. I assure you that you would most likely want to find every legal loophole in your state or county to get one as soon as humanly possible. A Driver's License may even give you an edge when you're trying to get a job as some employers like mine require it.
The next thing to build would be well ... credit. This requires a heavy amount of discipline as not everyone knows how to use credit effectively and life does get in the way sometimes. I find credit to be important as well because it not only determines how you pay for your cars and large purchases but if you live in a state where underwriters look at your credit to calculate your risk factor, you'll want the best credit score humanly possible. Now I can't tell you how to build credit properly because anything I say could be a bit tone deaf as I don't know your circumstances. What I can say is I skipped a stage of my adult life partying, hanging out with friends, being 20, being old enough to drink.
But I think all of it paid off. I currently have a 2020 Jaguar F-Type, a 2000 Mercedes Benz e320 Station Wagon, and my daily driver is a 2017 BMW i3, and I bought all of these cars under my own name.
Oh, and my first job too was at McDonald's!