Hooniverse Asks – Cars: Hobby or Career?

automotive career advice
Fuel injection, independent rear suspension and right turns are advanced courses

If you’re reading this site, you’re likely already a statistical outlier in some aspect of your car behavior. The quantity or quality owned, the time you spend reading or watching automotive media, or the numbers of pictures you post of your travels to races and shows. When you look at how much of the expenditures pie goes to all things auto, it’s tempting to make the jump from consumer to producer. After all, why wouldn’t you want to do something with cars for a living?
Unfortunately, you’re not the only one with that idea, meaning there’s likely a huge applicant pool for whatever position you might be after (except maybe live crash-test dummy). The more people want to do something, the less the pay or the crappier the gig. Provided you can differentiate yourself enough with a PhD in combustion engineering or a working knowledge of Alfa’s SPICA system, there’s a chance you can carve out a niche…but then you’re stuck in that niche, not getting paid to tour the countryside in a fine machine or build a 1926 Willys Knight into a LeMons racer.
Me? My stint as a tire monkey around the turn of the century was great money and experience for a young gearhead, but not something I’d really recommend as a career. Oh, and this gig? Sure, it pays for some gas, but it’s gonna be a loooooong time before it’s anyone’s day job. That said, as my real life resume as an engineer with some good project management skills matures, the idea of translating what I’ve got into something in the Wide World of Cars and getting paid for it starts to sound marginally feasible and more than marginally attractive.
But then again, it doesn’t take long before a job boils down the same busywork and bureaucratic nonsense, regardless of what you’re working on. After all, if it were fun, they wouldn’t pay you to show up every day. The flip side of this coin is to wring as much, well, coin out of your “real job” and use it do your car thing on your own terms. No one wants to fill out TPS reports about throttle position sensors.
Been in the automotive industry/media/marketing/aftermarket/dealer/etc? Still there? Based on the domains tacked on to a few of your email addresses, we know we’ve got plenty of folks on the inside. What’s your take: Business or Pleasure?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. LTDScott Avatar

    I went to college to be an automotive tech. Went through Ford's internship program at a local college (ASSET), got my degree (I was valedictorian of the whole school, quite a feat considering the automotive program was not known for academic prowess). Worked at a Ford dealer as a tech moving between different departments but ended up in the brakes/driveline department. My eventual goal was to go back to school to pursue further education, but my parents hit hard economic times which forced me to help them out and made further schooling unfeasible.
    I had worked at the dealer for 2 years and my pay was pretty crappy, so I applied at several other dealers but nothing worked out. It was at this point that I realized working on other people's cars all day sucked away my desire to tinker with my own car much of the time, and I didn't like that. My friend worked at Pfizer at the time and told me there was a data management position open. Pay was quite a bit better and it got me away from working on cars all day, so I took it. Kind of a crappy job, worked there for two years until the drug program I was working on got canned by the FDA, so I got canned too.
    Found a job at a small auto parts distributor doing internet based sales, which worked well since it combined two of my likes (cars and the internet). I've been here ever since, nearly 8 years now, and thankfully I'm in a role which allows me to avoid talking to customers much. The slumping economy has been great for the company and it's now about four times as big as when I started, and still growing. And I still get to deal with cars and parts all day, and am surrounded by gearheads (one of whom has already told me about said Willys LeMons car and the Uberbird connection, heh).

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      shhh, i think that's still secret.

  2. Mr_Biggles Avatar

    I design engine oil coolers for Dana. I got my engineering degree because I got a bit bored of wrenching on boat motors. I figured I could leverage mechanical aptitude and some of my practical experience to give me a leg up on the design side. It has certainly helped. But I wouldn't say my job at an auto parts company is in any way a result of my lust for cars. Some of the work I do is kind of tedious, but the facility I'm at does new product design and I don't get bogged down with production. It's pretty relaxed, they expect me to go home at 4:30 and balance my life with my career. That part of it is probably more rare in the auto industry than not. So I like my job, but not because I see it as living the life of the Hoon. We don't spend time at test tracks, and I never got to drive a Viper even though I helped design an engine oil cooler for one. It's something I'm good at, I enjoy it, but it's business.
    I'd be interested to know if doing design work for something like a Formula 1 team or a manufacturer's WRC team would be more exciting. It seems it, but the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. Anyone?

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I've worked with race teams in my previous life (see below). Mostly NASCAR and CART. The "life expectancy" of an engineer in those racing fields was 2-3 years. You get burnt out. Fast. One of the guys I worked with had been in NASCAR for 5 years and was considered an old timer.
      I would imagine F1 would be similar, though they tend to have larger engineering staffs that don't necessarily travel as much with the team. One of the guys I graduated university with went to work for an F1 team (I think he even spent some time with USF1), so I'll have to ask him.

    2. Feds_II Avatar

      You're not out of Oakville are you? I did some co-ops at Long, and my wife worked there until '06.

      1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

        That's the place, and that's how I ended up here. I did 2 co-ops here through Waterloo. The job fell in my lap when I graduated in '05. When were you and your wife here?

        1. Feds_II Avatar

          I did co-ops in Cambridge circa 1999. My wife was at the Oakville office until '06. We're '03 Waterloo grads. Odds are very good you and I have met in real life.

          1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

            Odds are very good you've been to my house to buy my moose buggy.

          2. Feds_II Avatar

            OH EM GEE! I have!

          3. Mr_Biggles Avatar

            Wow. The world really is small like my mind.
            Please tell Mrs. Feds_II I said hi.

          4. engineerd Avatar

            This is funny. And awesome!

          5. Mr_Biggles Avatar

            The tubes are a funny place. I freely admit that I am obtuse enough at times that I could chat anonymously with someone for a very long time and not realize that I know them.

          6. longrooffan Avatar

            The Hooniverse Is Awesome. FTW! Now don't go getting all drifty on me.

  3. jerjozwik Avatar

    i have a feeling if i ever went into cars as a career my unending admiration for them would start to slip.

  4. raphaelinberlin Avatar

    Undergrad history major, writing thesis on auto emissions regs, dreaming of future prospects in automotive sector using some kind of history-of-technology expertise dealing with public policy of automobiles and transportation. There certainly aren't a lot of openings for automotive historian out there, and it's not event hat i have such a deep knowledge of historical automotive facts or mechanical know-how. Hooniverse, I would tell you if this is realistic or not, but I have no idea. Time will tell.

  5. lilwillie Avatar

    Business is pleasure and my foot got in the door at a very young age due to my Father going on his own in '83. So my passion for all things Hoon was born because it put food on the table when I was a kid. It also was born of stories of old. My dad racing Harley's on either circle tracks or doing Hill climbs. Throwing wood out of his Chevord F1500 pickup truck (Chevy truck with a Ford box) to heat the shit hole he called the shop was my first job. What a wonderful hell hole, you put your beer in the fridge to keep it from freezing. So throughout my youth I watched and listened to all the old guys tell tales of awesome and as I grew older I knew I wanted to fix cars to play with cars.
    '88 and a new shop built. I was a Freshman in HS so I spent many hours hanging out there wishing for a cool car. Swept the floor, or act like I did. I really was and maybe still am a spoiled kid. Dad never pushed me to get into the family biz or push me away. I did what I wanted and kind of slid into the job because I loved all things cars. High School was fun because I was Willie's kid and people knew I was the car guru. Lots of Seniors taking the freshman under their wing in hopes of hoist time.
    I did have other jobs while working for Dad. He kind of pushed me to find something. I think he wanted me to understand how good I had it. Pumped gas until my Senior year. Loved that job. I was the last of a long line of kids to work there. The owner sold out and it went Self-Serve and I was fired. Good lesson for me. Then as Tech school kicked in I detailed cars at a large dealer. That was a eye-opener to the dealer environment. Got to my last year of a two year program and told the manager I was quieting to go full time for Dad.
    Officially on the payroll in '94…by '99 we doubled the work space to accommodate the growing work load and to have more space for our fun.
    To back track some. I watched dad restore the families '61 Metropolitan in High School. I was chomping for a car of my own. The Gutless Cutlass wasn't doing it for me. As I graduated High School everyone was getting cars as presents. I got taken to a barn outside of town and was shown a 1960 Chevy Apache in a piss green color with more rust then paint. Dad said it was my graduation present. Most people who found this out at our grad parties thought it was stupid. So those people went to the side and those that saw what I saw I hang with to this day.
    That was a year build and then I got the itch for more cars. Woman and Beer to some precedent for a few years but after getting hitched I went car stupid crazy. Buying up the ‘69 Camaro on a drunken camping trip from a disgruntled owner. Saving the E21 from the crusher and making a autocross car out of it. Then dabbling in building road race cars with a friend and then crewing for him at some awesome road courses. Then finishing up the Camaro. Then getting Dad to restore the families Edsel. Then joining in and having my brother build his FFR Cobra at the shop. All the time more side projects up here. Then the BWM craze coming back, getting a E30 then trading it for my current project the ‘76 2002. All this time turning wrenches for a living in the shop, just to keep the other hobbies going.
    Currently I wish I had more money then time. The financial apocalypse has us down in business considerably. As Dad hits his late ‘60’s I hope he starts to allow me to make changes to bring in new customers. Even though I am a part owner he still his Dad and without him I doubt I’d be self employed and spending time writing on Hooniverse when I should be doing that LOF in the bay. We have a very old school shop environment. Customers are allowed in the work area. There is a cold beverage in the fridge for anyone. The floors still have some cleaning to be done. At times it frustrates me and I want a super clean environment like the dealers have right now. A waiting area that is like a Hotel’s. Then some days I think to myself that isn’t me. I am rough around the edges. I don’t mind a little grease and grime. We have a reputation of being solid car guys that are old school in appearance but know the current technology. Why change?
    wow, that was long winded. I don't even get that long of a post on the shops blog.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      No worries on the length, thanks for sharing. You seem to be part of a very rare phenomenon: a reasonably successful, long-lived family run shop that's being passed down a generation. Very few still in existence, for all the reasons I'm sure you know all too well.
      …but really I just wanted to comment that seeing "doing that LOF in the bay" first made me go "…LOF?" then took me 10 years back to my tire monkey days at Goodyear.

    2. longrooffan Avatar

      You, and your life story, are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experiences and, I believe, your customers love you just the way you are. Excellent.

  6. engineerd Avatar

    My grandpa told me once that the best thing you can ever do is find a career in something you love. Then it doesn't seem so much like work.
    I love cars, airplanes and spacecraft. I love to test and design things. I got lucky.
    Although my degree is in aerospace engineering, I've functionally been a mechanical engineer my whole career. I started off working in the Ford wind tunnels in Dearborn as a test/facility engineer. I worked with the development engineers to get their tests run, as well as keeping the facilities working so they could run their tests. I got to play with pre-production Ford vehicles, and some fun non-Ford vehicles in for benchmarking. Do you know how to disable the traction control on an E-Class Mercedes? Put the back wheels in gravel and spin them while pulling fuses until you find the right one.
    I got tired of that gig, though. I got to see lots of cool things, but the actual job became mundane and repetitive. I needed a change. So, I moved into our design office. Now I design test facilities for automotive, aerospace, NASA, etc. I've worked on BMW's new wind tunnel in Munich, Visteon's wind tunnel near Cologne, at four different NASA centers, and on a couple US Army test facilities. I've seen and done some amazing things, and I love it. Because of that, it's not so much like work.
    I like that my career isn't just automotive. My interests are a bit more diverse, and the ability to satisfy all of them in one career is really something special. I've thought about starting my own business importing cars from Europe and getting them federalized then trying to sell them, but there's a reason there aren't too many of those businesses. Besides, dealing with federal and state regulatory agencies and hacking apart cars to meet archaic safety regulations seems like it would kill the fun.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      So, I just re-read that and it sounded a bit snobbish. Sorry, I didn't mean for it to be. Sure, I may be boasting a bit, but it's more out of amazement that I found a job that fulfills my varied auto/aero interests.

      1. lilwillie Avatar

        eh, wasn't sounding snobbish to me. Everyone should be boosting a bit about their passion.
        Lots of cool stories to read about how hoons got to where they are.

      2. longrooffan Avatar

        No snobbery found here by this olelongrooffan. Sounds like a great life experience. Hope you get many, many more.

    2. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

      My father taught me the exact opposite. Make something you love into a job, and you'll end up hating it.

  7. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I studied to be a car designer. All I ever wanted to do, from age 5 I had been scrawling things with wheels on every surface and in all medias including jam and tomato ketchup. 13 years later I got into Coventry University on the strength of my portfolio, and spent the next four years studying Transport Design. It was a petrolheads heaven, we had projects set by various manufacturers and PAG, Prodrive and many others took great interest in our work.
    Not long after graduation I realised how hard it is to make progress in that career. I went in to car sales to stay current in the industry, and I'm still stuck there five years later on. I'm now somoething of a lost soul. I don't want to just sell cars for the rest of my life, it's too ordered, passionless and uncreative. Loathe it as I do, cars as a career puts (really pappy, unpleasant) bread on my table.
    These I write to take the edge off, it makes me feel involved in the industry I love so passionately. The great irony is that Coventry launched an Automotive Journalism course a year after I began Transport Design. Boy, did I ever back the wrong horse.

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      Yeah, I wanted to be a car designer too but realized how hard it would be to get into that field, not to mention the fact that it'd probably require me to move to Michigan. No thank you!

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        On the other hand, moving from Coventry, UK to Michigan, USA seemed oh such an exotic prospect.

        1. longrooffan Avatar

          Although as a Yank, Coventry has always been something of a mystic.

      2. Tomsk Avatar

        Same here. Took a summer course for high schoolers one year at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena for all of about three class meetings before looking at my fellow students' work and realizing, "Okay, there's no way in hell I can compete." That was the end of that, and what started me on the track toward writing about cars (see below).

    2. Lotte Avatar

      Ooh, I was totally dead-set on that path as well, three years ago when I just finished HS and was picking universities. I liked cars, pretty adept at drawing. One of my portfolio pieces was a new rear-drive Toyota AE86 successor (honestly!) and I even had market research and all that to go with it. Although not all my pieces were cars, there was enough wheeled content that my interviewer said: "Why don't you go to [the college with Transportation Design] instead of here?" My mouth said I didn't want to narrow myself down to just cars yet but I still really thought I could just sketch cars for a living. Fast-forward to now and I don't know if I'll ever do anything on a car design wise. I'm not even sure if I want to anymore; the design field is so diverse. So, I think branching out might be a good idea, maybe working at a design consultancy? I'm not working yet, but I (inadverdenly or otherwise) put car content into the projects that I do. It's fun that way!
      But it can never be my career. I think there a French saying that goes like this: "Do what you love second-best." (It might not even be French, but whatever. It seems to make sense.)

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        In all honesty, after four years of suprisingly hard studying, I was fairly pleased to have a break from drawing. I'd actually love to get back into design. My decision to major in the clay-modelling aspect instead of CAD was a daft one, I've since got hold of Rhino and 3DSM to try and teach myself to some level, maybe get back into the game somehow.
        But I'd also love to progress further in writing. My weekday evenings only give me one night of freedom for career furtherence and I tend to devote my Monday nights to Roadwork, leaving very little time for CAD training. And the weekends are reserved as quality time with my g/f. Working shorter hours with a shorter commute would be immeasurably useful….

        1. Lotte Avatar

          If you're pursuing design, a course on CAD at a local college (wherever that might be for you…) can do wonders. Having someone knowledgeable on my side as I picked up Rhino saved me a lot of time. I still can't do it to the quality of, oh, let's say a google image search of "Rhino renders", but the basics are down.
          …but I also like Roadwork! I can't choose either, but good luck anyway!

          1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

            Thanks man, good luck to you, too.

      2. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        May be a bit of a stretch, but I could see you getting into Industrial Design. Lots of hands on design if you want it, building, or conceptual stuff.

  8. muthalovin Avatar

    Do what you love, and love what you do – Unpossible.
    It is along the lines of having a "dream job." Sure, you should aspire to have that job, but if you spend to long pining for that job, life will pass you by. I really, really enjoy cooking, but I would never, ever want to be a chef. All the chefs that I have meet have been haggared and jaded with their jobs. They enjoy bits and pieces of the job, but they only do it to pay off the 50k student loans for culinary school.
    The same goes for me about my automotive hobbies. I am pleased that I get to have fun doing my hobbies rather than dread facing doing it for money. Sure, "I get PAID to do this!" sounds good, but its better if you invest your own time and money. The reward is just so much sweeter.

    1. TurboBrick Avatar

      I agree with you 100%. I used to love computers. Now that I've been in the industry for 10 years (5 as shop technician and another 5 in corporate IT), that's not the case anymore. I've replaced those interests with cooking and cars, but I'm very much positive about the fact that I have no desire to work full time doing either of those things. Reading Anthony Bourdain's book about his career really shed light to what the life of a chef is, and we've all heard the same stories from old wrenches.
      I've realized the best thing I can do is to build on my existing experience and be the best sysadmin I can be from 7.30am to 4.30pm, so that I can devote the rest of my time to my family, my food and my cars.

      1. muthalovin Avatar

        I approve this message.

        1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

          I agree with that guy.

    2. tonyola Avatar

      The great guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson) once said:
      "The business of a musician is music. The business of a professional musician is business."

  9. Maymar Avatar

    Also both. You probably have to be a little enthusiastic to end up on the fringes like here.
    But I'm also enrolled in an automotive marketing program – we'll see how that pans out for my career, but I've already done assorted work in the field. Before I enrolled, I was a service cashier at a dealership. I got access to some interesting stuff, and learning to use EraLink ended up being a huge asset (I've taken a couple courses in it at school, and sailed through them), but getting berated for other people's problems doesn't make for a great environment. I've also had a few relevant co-ops, working for the local dealers association, trying my hand at selling cars, and working at several auto shows as a product ambassador (or booth bro, if you prefer). I'd love to get in with a manufacturer after graduation, but I'll gladly settle for steady employment.

  10. Bret Avatar

    Definitely more fun as a hobby. I left high school with dreams of working in professional racing. I started with an apprenticeship in an old school Italian car garage, bought myself a Fiat and started in Improved Touring (big fun!). After a year I moved to working for a shop that ran Formula Atlantic and Sports 2000. Initially it was incredible – I was working with real racing cars! I loved wrenching on the cars.
    After a while the long hours and next to no pay started to drag me down. I couldn't afford to drive me own car and determined that I wanted to be the guy turning steering wheels, not the guy turning wrenches. Broke, I did the only smart thing I could think of. I went to college and got a liberal arts degree with a focus on radio, writing, and music. Fast forward nearly twenty years and I'm a programmer in non-profit research, still turning my own wrenches, but also turning steering wheels. Happy camper am I.
    My retirement dream is to open a barely self sustaining garage where I can support my hobby and help other deluded souls keep their projects running through a DIYer's "rent-a-bay" and sublets to wrenches getting started (sort of on the hair salon model). How hard could it be?

    1. skitter Avatar

      The Magliozzi brothers of Car Talk fame used to run a shop somewhat like that.
      You might want to read up on their experiences.
      Best of luck.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Sounds rather like the workshop in Christine. Pretty cool, and you might get to make out with a seventeen year old Alexandra Paul.

        1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

          You also might get squished by a jealous Chrysler's steering wheel.

          1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

            But really, what are the chances of that.

          2. Smells_Homeless Avatar

            I have to figure it's infinitely more likely than me getting withing lip-striking distance of Alexandra Paul.

    2. longrooffan Avatar

      While the DIY "rent-a-bay" is certainly admirable, make sure you have all the "i's" dotted and the "t's" crossed on the insurance waiver….and know that I will be waiting in line for a bay on Saturday morning…

  11. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I've never had a job, let alone career, in cars. Often thought about it though.
    I've been fortunate to find a career I enjoy and am successful at in commercial construction estimating.
    I've always had a fear of a hobby becoming a job and then it's no fun anymore. I'm glad to see from the other poster's that that isn't always the case.

  12. Feds_II Avatar

    I started in the automotive field: I did various co-ops for suppliers, then went to work for GM in their Canadian Regional Engineering Centre. After 3 years, I could see the writing on the wall for the General, and decided to test my fortunes elsewhere. I started an unsuccessful tuning company, worked for some amateur race teams, trying to open doors in that biz, and eventually realized that I am happier keeping cars as a hobby, and earning my paycheque elsewhere.
    That said, I currently manage a cogeneration plant at a university, and look after eight 1000 HP piston engines, as well as a fleet of 40+ vehicles, so the automotive stuff is still in the background.
    I may make my way back into cars. I see some potential in a WVO/Biodiesel business, but that is down the road a little.

  13. skitter Avatar

    I'm currently trying to get my own business off the ground based on my first patent application.
    I'm working within the automotive industry, but only because that's what I've put the most thought into so far.
    Just like when I was in the corporate world, I'm frustrated and exhausted.
    But I no longer feel like I am wasting my life.
    /never going back

    1. engineerd Avatar

      Skitter! How are you?
      Did you get your hat?

      1. skitter Avatar

        Er, no…
        If this means the post office has pulled another "undeliverable address", I may have to go fix their system for them.

        1. engineerd Avatar

          Oh no! Argh…
          I'll see what I can do from my end.

          1. longrooffan Avatar

            somebody need a yellow Grand-Am series hat sent their way in honor of the Hoonmas not quite ending yet?

  14. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    When I was on the business side of the industry, I made good money but it wasn't very fulfilling… now I am on the side I want to be on, and I make next to nothing.

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      But you get a fair amount of adoration from us! I call it Hooniverse Fun Bucks, but cannot be redeemed at the Hooniverse store.

    2. Eggwich Avatar

      You ain't got money, honey, but you've got 89p! Keep doing what you're doing and I'll continue being envious.

  15. P161911 Avatar

    I got my mechanical engineering degree. When I started, I had intentions of working in either the automotive or defense industry. At the end of my freshman year I got a co-op job with Dow Chemical. I lived in Michigan for one quarter. I realized that this Georgia boy DID NOT want to spend the rest of his life in Michigan, so a job with the Big Three was probably out. Got to do a little bit of tangentially related auto stuff at Dow (plastics for car parts). My first job out of school was at TUG building the little airport baggage tractors, sort of automotive related, at least I could legitimately join SAE. The job itself was horrible, I quit. As a fill in I work at Carmax in sales for about 3 months. Car sales is not a place for a gearhead, too many stupid customers. I was one of the few salesmen that could even drive a stick shift.
    Bounced around to a couple of more engineering jobs, selling water towers (bid prep.) and designing cell phones, where I got involved with 3D CAD, which I thoroughly enjoy.
    Then I got a true Automotive engineer type job. I worked as a design engineer at Auto Vent Shade. I even had an assignment to surf the net and make a chart of all the new models coming out. We even built show cars for SEMA. But it still just boiled down to a design engineer. Got laid off.
    Had a stint at the toilet factory (yes it WAS a crappy job). Realized I don't play well with Japanese management.
    For the last 5 years I've been doing plastic and sheet metal design for lottery terminals (no, I don't know the winning numbers, I'm not even allowed to play) I currently really like my job, lots of 3D CAD work and I'm responsible for pretty much the entire mechanical design of a product. I always worried that if I did end up doing car design for the big three I would be the door handle or engine mount engineer or some other small super specialized thing.
    If you are interested in getting into automotive on the engineering side, my advice is to get a mechanical engineering degree, even if you don't end up in automotive, you can work in just about any other field.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      I actually forgot about my first foray into the automotive world. I was THE brake caliper engineer for Genuine Parts Corp./NAPA. It wasn't really even engineering, just figuring out what parts were needed to rebuild each caliper. I was surrounded by auto parts each day though.
      I did learn that the most likely reason the part you bought at the parts store doesn't fit is the fact that some guy in the rebuild factory put the wrong one in the box, maybe the case for every one in the store.
      GM was known for doing really tricky things. What might be a right front caliper on one vehicle was a left rear on another.

  16. Jim-Bob Avatar

    My job could be considered to be tangentially connected as i currently deliver pizza for a living and tinker for a hobby. I am trying to complete a mechanical engineering degree though starting in the fall. As much as I love working on cars i don't think I could be a mechanic for a living. It's not that I don't know how. I am the best mechanic I know and the one that others come to for advice and work. It's that replacing alternators on Camrys for the rest of my life would be a depressing waste of my talents and abilities ( although less of one than delivering pizza). All I would be doing is fixing what others have designed and that would bother me. I want to be the designer. I also want to work in an environment where the people around me have more to discuss than getting wasted last night or how they are pregnant by yet another man…again.
    For now though I have to be content to finish my current projects and either drive them or sell them before I go back to school. The last one I build will likely be the one I keep and that is a 1992 Geo Metro set up for maximum fuel economy. My target number is 70 mpg highway.

  17. Seth_L Avatar

    My education and job are in IT. I wish I would have gone the automotive route instead.
    Though if the economy doesn't pickup, I'll be begging for jobs at used car lots.
    Also have no time to work on my own car, or do anything hobby related apart from reading.

  18. ptschett Avatar

    I'd have loved do car styling or engineering as a career, but I didn't want to leave the ND/SD/MN area and there aren't exactly many opportunities for automotive design here (other than GEM, if you call those "automotive".) So I got my degree in agricultural engineering and have done design work on some form or another of construction machinery since.

    1. Feds_II Avatar

      As someone who has a GEM in the fleet, I will come forward and say "NO, you can't call GEM automotive."

  19. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    There are two things keeping me from saying "fnck it" and chasing down some kind of automotive career:
    1) Family responsibilities. I'm fine to live in a quonset hut in the middle of nowhere and run a shop/used car dealership, but I can't bring myself to subject the wife and kid to that in the name of me getting to play
    2) The Golden Handcuffs, which sounds like a fun Saturday night, but it's basically that I can keep punching the clock on my current career path (Biomed. Engineer in implantable medical devices) and make a lot more than 90% of the "car jobs" that I'd chase down.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      That said, I've always had a dream scheme of running a combo dealership/service shop/auto parts store that specializes in offbeat stuff.
      With space and resources, you could troll auto auctions and craigslist for those $500-5000 "specials" that need a bit of sprucing. On site, you give them the required maintenance and upgrades/fixes that they need to go from "hopeless, get it out of here" to genuinely attractive to the right buyer. Probably plan on doing more online/ebay sales as in-person.
      Provided you can manage expectations, you could get buyers to come back for regular service/maintenance, maybe at a discount if the car was purchased there. Mixed with that, you could run an auto parts store, hopefully with a cranky old guy behind the counter.
      The hope is that with all of them rolled into one, you'd get a feed-forward effect, sharing some overhead. People coming in to buy parts see the cool cars, people who buy cars come back for service or to buy parts. Maybe have a little sandwich shop on-site, just to get a bit more foot traffic. Using the resources at your disposal, LeMons gets really easy, and becomes a worthwhile business marketing expense. Obviously, have a strong online presence, blog, store, etc. Hopefully you could get enough critical mass and brand recognition/image that you could supplement income with branded/licensed merchandise (see: Moon, SoCal Speed shop, etc).
      The most obvious problem is startup: you'd need a lot of cash to get things off the ground, which means investors or loans, both of which limit your degrees of freedom and are in short supply.
      Second problem is location: anywhere that's likely to have the eye and foot traffic you want is going to be really expensive and/or improperly zoned. Best bet is probably the local "auto row", which is probably really expensive.
      Third problem is the massive overhead associated with both auto dealing and auto service legally, particularly in California. You need to do a lot of volume to cover all of that.

      1. Andrew Avatar

        Agreed on the Golden Handcuffs. When I graduated (mechanical engineering) I desperately wanted to get into motorsports, but there were no jobs available. I went to work for a major aerospace firm, making far more money than most of my classmates, especially one who eventually did land a position at a NASCAR team. I'm not sure I could stomach the pay cut to switch careers, especially since the higher pay allows me to own a far nicer car than I probably deserve, and pursue trackdays, autocross, etc on a regular basis.

      2. Feds_II Avatar

        I've had exactly that dream: The "Auto Hangout" (not the name of the place, just the concept). Cool cars for sale, a bar/restaurant overlooking a pristine restoration shop, a service shop, and a gas pump or two.
        Cater to the car clubs. Give them a destination to come to before/after cruises, or a place to hold events.
        As part of my failed automotive business, I worked with a couple of guys who started up shops, and yes, if you are going to make a go of it, you need tonnes of resources up front.

        1. TurboBrick Avatar

          I think every one of us has had this idea at some point. Bar/Restaurant + restoration shop (call it… Restorant) might be intresting, the crowd would have something more intresting to look at than '99 Malibus. Wouldn't it be easier to find a restoration shop and implant the hangout place to it, than other way around? Anyways, it's a nice idea.. this way Guy Fieri can get a sandwich AND a tuneup when he shows up.

      3. P161911 Avatar

        That sounds like my idea if I get super rich and need something to do, but don't care about making money.

      4. muthalovin Avatar

        Can I run the sandwich shop?
        I have had loosely similar conversations with the wife about a lube & coffee shop. It would be really, really cool, but the costs associated are killer, and digging out of that hole would take many, many moons.

        1. TurboBrick Avatar

          Do you need a bread baker, here's one!
          I have seen a sandwich shop + inspection station hybrid in the medical center area of San Antonio.

      5. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        This is all assuming you don't accidentally become an automotive journalist…

  20. Black Steelies Avatar

    Purely pleasure. My time with The College Driver site had me believe a job as professional automotive journalist was quite possible and it may still be. But now I feel like it would have the potential to become just another job. Writing deadlines can be stressful, and I've just experienced the small of it as a college student without a real job. When this is your career, deadlines are all that there is. My writing skill is above average, but not to the level it needs to be a professional. For now, I just want to finish my engineering degree alive and have been toying with the idea of getting a pilots license. As for the future, well we'll just see.

  21. ptmeyer84 Avatar

    This very question has defined my life choices, good or bad. Like all of you here, my lust for cars started at an early age. I knew cars would be a part of my life, but I wasn't sure to what degree. I also knew that I was going to be married and have kids at an early age, so that was also to be considered. I love rural Nebraska with all of my heart and I will be rasing my family here, but damn it, the car culture consists of raised 4x4s and driving Monte Carlo's around on dirt ovals. Much different from the autocross/rallycross/HDPE/other road racing that I desired.

    1. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      So working in the automotive/racing field in rural Nebraska was pretty much out. I needed a job that would create enough dough to provide a comfortable living for my family, and be able to quench my racing thirst. After changing gears a few times, I have settled on the pharmacy profession and will be graduating in May. I feel very good about this choice of profession, but racing will always be in my blood. Hopefully, the time and money will be there for me to be able to do some sort of racing in the future. My current dream (since thats all I am able to do while in school with a wife and 2 year old daughter) is to buy a tract of land and make my own rally course!
      In summary, I would love to have a carrer in road/rally racing, while living in rural Nebraska, with a big family. But sometimes you can't have it all.
      Anyway, that ended up being alot longer than anticipated. I have really never divulged any of this before, and this seemed like an appropriate setting to do so. So thanks for reading!

      1. lilwillie Avatar

        That is a dream I would drive from Wisconsin to race at.

    2. ptmeyer84 Avatar

      For some reason, I was prompted to split my comment up. Why is that?

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        The ways of IntenseDebate are mysterious and beautiful.

  22. facelvega Avatar

    I'm a professor of design history and theory at a graduate school of architecture, though I cross into the industrial design department as well, where I'll be giving a roundtable talk on automotive design history this term. Shooting off my mouth about long-dead designers and What It All Means, flying all over the place to look at obscure design stuff, and taking pretty much the whole summer off to work on cars: that's my job description. I'm actually working right now by telling you all about this.

    1. Thrashy Avatar

      Wow. After I graduated from architecture school earlier this year, I was pretty sure I didn't ever want to see the inside of an academic facility for the rest of my life… but I may have to reconsider.

      1. facelvega Avatar

        Well, I didn't mention the part about there being a hundred qualified people waiting in line for my job even though the pay is complete crap, so don't feel too bad. Then again, if you just got out of architecture school you already know all about that.

        1. longrooffan Avatar

          So you ARE the guest on next week's Hoonicast, right?

  23. OA5599 Avatar

    Except for a few cars I parted out during college to pay for classes, my career has had almost nothing to do with automobiles. I think most jobs that would pay to be around cars would suck the fun out of it.
    If I win the lotto or my 401K grows well beyond the second comma, I'd consider expanding my hobby to maybe include buying and selling interesting rides, but that would be primarily for the purpose of getting seat time in a wider variety of vehicles, not to put groceries on the table.

  24. sparky Avatar

    Aside from fuzzy notions of having a casual shadetree fix-it shop on the side, I decided long, long ago that I didn't want to mix automobiles with career. I know myself well enough that I have no doubt I would learn to hate cars and anything to do with them if I was compelled to deal with them for my livelihood.
    Instead, I went into television as an occupation. What do you suppose is the very last thing I want to do when I get home from work? Hint: my TV at home hasn't been turned on in over a year and currently has a big pile storage boxes in front of it blocking the screen. My personal video camera sits in its case. I can't even remember the last time I rented a movie.
    I still enjoy working with my cars, and I am very clear about why I do. Especially since I can walk away from them whenever I feel like it and go do something else!

  25. dragon951 Avatar

    Dang, that was a lot to read, but worth it to get some insight into the mind of Hooners.
    As for myself, I design mansions, then live in them (whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop)!
    My family has had a fairly strong Porsche following since I can remember, so naturally I developed a similar fascination. Unfortunately, I went the direction of my other passion for a career. I say unfortunately, because research in biology is not exactly what you would call profitable. The plus side is I get to research what I want, and do something I am excited about (discovering the method to the madness we call life). The minus is that people rarely pay you well for a job like that. One of these days I will either A. discover something patentable, or B. cure cancer and win a Nobel; but until then I will have to content myself with just keeping my car running and doing my wrenching on mice (well, we don't use wrenches and lifts so much as scalpels and microscopes).

  26. Tomsk Avatar

    For most of my youth my ambition was to be a car designer. My 3-ring binders from high school were filled with sheets of notebook paper and worksheets that, their fronts having outlived their usefulness, featured doodles of cars (and some truly, truly weird sh*t) on the back. Eventually enrolled in a course for high schoolers at Art Center in Pasadena and quickly realized I just wasn't good enough (something of a recurring theme in my life, it seems) to have a future in that industry.
    A few years later (the fall of Aught-two) it came time to pick a college, and the older sister of a friend of mine whom I knew pretty well and eventually got to know a lot better (No, not like that. Pervs.) was quite happy at University of La Verne (a private college that's – no joke – caddy-corner from the Pomona dragstrip) and was in their journalism program. My folks and I did some digging and decided it was a really attractive proposition, and I had long enjoyed (and still enjoy) reading car mags and, since junior or senior year of college, car Web sites (One million Internets if you know what stylebook tells you to write "website" as two words with "Web" capitalized). Thankfully I got in and had a great time, getting my BA in journalism in four years.
    During senior year I had two solid job leads for after graduation: first was a clerk at the famous Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank (I did a profile piece on the place for part of my senior project, and the then-owner said if I was interested in a job to come a-knockin'), and second was as a writer for…wait for it…[REDACTED]! (I can't remember if we decided to bury that meme or not.) From Spinelli, no less! (I had mentioned the J in a column in the school paper, which was and still is available online and, well, Bob's your uncle.) However, both were part-time and, despite my protestations that I could scrape together something resembling a living doing both, my parents wouldn't hear of it. I was to find a full time gig with medical bennies and the lot. Sigh…

    1. Tomsk Avatar

      Remarkably, less than a month into my search, I stumbled across a posting on a journalism job board for an associate editor position at RACER, one of (if not the most) respected motorsports monthlies in the country. Got to write a bunch of features for them (mostly on NHRA drivers), as well as copy editing, layout, various Web duties and contract work for some of the advertisers and the parent company's primary custom publishing client (a major, major OEM).
      All was well for 15 months before the then-publisher called me into his office one afternoon and said he had to let me go. This was in October '08, right as the economy's feet had left the diving board and it was doing a cannonball into the crapper. Three or four of my colleagues would follow in the ensuing months. Forced to move back in with my folks, I began looking for a suitable replacement. Then, as now, none to be had (at least, none that would hire someone with a mere year-and-a-quarter of experience).
      Eventually I started writing for Examiner.com, creating a sort of encyclopedia of post-1985 used cars that may have varying degrees of future collectbility hiding within (You can find the collection here.) for the better part of a year, and I also volunteered on the good ship Hooniverse as a contributor before finding my current home at Sub5Zero.com.
      The owner has been on an expansion push of late (both in terms of the site's size and scope and what us writers are paid), which is great news. However, if something better comes along (or I come up with an idea for something to do myself, and I already have a couple), I'll certainly give it some thought. Bottom line: I really can't picture myself at a job or running a business that isn't at least tangentially related to cars. That's probably holding me back, but not much else really excites me, interests me, or doesn't make me loathe humanity. Though at this point in my life (going on 27 and living at home with no girlfriend), I might have no choice but to pull the name of another vocation out of a hat and start selling out, even if that means going back to school. I just wish I had some answers.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        To me, circa 1 year ago, this was the dream. Quick change majors to journalism or photography, contribute to the car site every day and get used to writing a lot at once, and perhaps expand as much as I could into web design/production etc. I genuinely loved test driving cars and being able to google myself and come up with real articles that I wrote as opposed to just some crappy picture posted from my days of active Boy Scouts involvement. I would build my reputation as a writer and make a smooth transition into one of the big time auto mags that I've devoured cover to cover since middle school. But then I realized it just how tall an order that is, and lost a lot of gumption.
        I haven't written for TheCD in over 6 mos. in favor of focusing on my classwork and searching for potential engineering co-ops. I really feel the pressure to find something I would genuinely enjoy doing with my life but lack the direction and courage. So I float through my coursework and watch my classmates fret and fuss over silly things like resumes. I daydream and read books like Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maint. and A Walk Across America finding some refuge in the stories of the disillusioned young men that came before me. Perhaps I stopped following the auto journalist lead too soon, but I've got at least 2 more years of college to figure it out I suppose.

      2. Eggwich Avatar

        The Chicago Manual of Style used to push "Web site" as the proper term, but I think even they may have given up that fight.

        1. Tomsk Avatar

          The answer I was going for was AP Style, and as of 2007, they we're still beating that drum.

      3. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Sounds like we've both been running towards the same goal from different directions.
        I don't think its any coincidence that there are so many wannabe journos in Hooniverse's readership, this seems to be the site we turn to in the search for intelligent life in the motoring world. The thing that hurts is that we can all pick up any of the big print motoring titles and immediately find words from people who look like they're going through the motions. You ask yourself "how the hell did they land that job?". I get the feeling that loads of it comes down to luck.
        Whether my position would be any different if I had something rubberstamped, on paper, by some examining body, saying "This man is a qualified auto journalist" I have no idea. I'll just keep ploughing my own furrow in the belief that if I throw enough shit some of it will stick.

  27. Ryans92L Avatar

    I would love to make automotive my career, I went to college for CAD and Design. So there is a chance, plus I come from a family of mechanics (I didn't go to school for it, but I know my way around a car), I have thought about it on more than one occasion working on a small line of Se7en or Atom esqe cars with my dad out of his shop. He has built a few cars (fully custom chassis with a factory or home made skin) as it is already 1 Late Model, 3 Street Stocks (one pictured below), 1 Micro Sprint, 1 1/4 Midget, plus he has been working on 2 Yamaha Bobbers. He isnt opposed to the idea, we just need to hit the lottery now…
    <img src="http://www.silverspringspeedway.com/images/history/L/LightDene/111lightcar.jpg&quot; width=500>

  28. njhoon Avatar

    Cars are my hobby and will stay that way. I worked in a bodyshop during college and learned alot, but it started to become a 'Job'. I ended up in IT and now work for a medium to large sized company and it has sucked all of the joy out of anythng computer related. I fear that if I went to do something auto related the same would happen. A good case in point is that I have three computers waiting to be fixed at home to finish my "home network / fileserver /email system" setup but they have been like that for 6 monthes because it is too much like work. I would rather block sand a bus then work on them.

  29. cmdrfire Avatar

    Both. I can work happily as an (automotive) electronics engineer by day, and by night do work on my fleet of broken vehicles. It's quite a good situation, as I love everything automotive, including the incestuous, bs-spewing, crazy, smoke-and-mirrors-and-dog-and-pony-show auto industry.

  30. 2jmotorsports Avatar

    This topic is right up my alley as I am a mechanical engineer working in aerospace composites but am trying to get back into automotive work. I suppose this would not be so difficult if I lived near Detroit. Here in socal, there are mostly aftermarket automotive manufacturers and open engineering positions within those companies are extremely rare (I know because I have looked for many years). The work that I do is ok and it pays well, but I just have the feeling that I would be much happier if I were designing automotive parts instead of tooling for making this widget that goes on a satellite for XM radio. Ive interviewed for some pretty big names such as StopTech, Banks Engineering, JE Pistons, Hotchkis Suspension, and ended up working for Snugtop for a couple of years. The funny thing is that most of these companies turned me down because I "didnt race" or "wasnt enough of an enthusiast". Since then I have taken up autocrossing and am currently trying to build a dedicated autocross car as a testbed for all the things that these companies have told me I dont have enough experience with. In the meantime Ill just keep trying.
    So if anyone knows of a design/manufacturing engineering opening with someone automotive in socal please let me know. =D

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      You should see if Stillen is hiring…

  31. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    This question is the very reason I'm not a pro musician today. I had the opportunity and the scholarship was in place (promising tubists must have been in short supply at the time) but I realized, in a very rare for the teenage me flash of brilliance, that as soon as I HAD to play music, I would hate it.
    So I bailed and sold and delivered parts for NAPA for about three years. (ElCamino with a baseball cap!) That experience taught me that I wasn't quite moody enough to be a mechanic, and that I did NOT want a blue collar. So, back to school for me. I figured if I wasn't going to be a musician, I could still be close to it so I studied to be a recording engineer with a backup of creative writing. I found that the recording business is cool enough that people are willing to do it for free, so I took the first job I could get, which was as a backup jockey at a university. That turned into a service desk supervisory job, then network engineer, and now I'm in IT management. And who cares if I end up hating that, right? I never had much passion in the computers anyway, so it's not much of a loss if I don't want to play with them after hours. If I had worked my way away from cars or music, I'd never forgive myself.

  32. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Cars (and other automotive areas) are my career and my hobby, but in different areas. Fresh out of high school, I worked at a body shop, but after about a year, I decided that I needed to go to college, but I still enjoy doing body and paint work (probably because my career in that was so short-lived).
    Enrolled in college for mechanical engineering, and got hired in full time at my second co-op (CAD). After 5 years of designing non-automotive products, I'm at a company now (for the past 6 years) where I design transmissions and assorted other drivetrain components for cars and military vehicles.
    And then I come home to my 6 car garage and tinker with my various project vehicles.
    Life is good.

  33. kvhnik Avatar

    Not cars but bicycles. I've been lucky enough to make a 20+ year career out of designing and building bikes. I get to travel some (sometimes too much) and I get to ride a lot. And occationally I get to travel somewhere TO ride. Not a bad gig. And yes, I also consider myself a gearhead…that's why I'm here. As another commentor said, find something you love to do and it doesn't seem like work.

  34. lilwillie Avatar

    What I have learned after many years is the car never did anything wrong to me. The person who owns it did. Cars are generally really easy to work on and fun to fix. The people that own them are impossible to fix.
    I may have burned a few bridges through my years of working on cars but it has helped my sanity. Fired many customers who just didn't get that yes, I love cars, but I'm not working on them for nothing or taking any abuse for doing so.

  35. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Started out patching up jaloplies in the backwoods out of necessity and loved the crap out of it.
    Moved on to the high tech sector for 20 years, and had the money but rarely the time to work on my old cars, which was a problem at times, as they were my daily drivers. I'd be enroute to a high-profile business meeting and have the carbs on my Datsun start flooding or the exhaust on my MG fall off, show up in khakis with greasy hands. Surprisingly most of my employers tolerated this, and a few even used it to position me in the customer's eyes as the resident elecro-mechanical guru.
    2 years ago I left to pursue a 2nd career in fixing old cars and racing in Lemons.
    I'm now flat broke… traded steak for macaroni and cheese, and vacation consists of a weekend at the in-laws instead of a trip to Tahiti. And I like it.
    Now that I think about it, Hooniverse came about just a few short months before I left my old career. Coincidence?

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Just realized that was my 1,000th comment! How totally fitting.

  36. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    I really have a few passions, cars, bicycles, well anything mechanical really, and computers. But these are mostly my hobbies, the things I look forward to when I'm not making mobile phones better to interact with. I have a degree in Industrial Design, but like living in the KC area, so I get to be flexible with what I do. It seems that I have been designing, improving, or making electronic widgets for as long as I have had a degree. I've always looked at designing with an eye for utility, if it doesn't function above all else, it is worthless no matter how good it looks. Guess that leads me to drive my beloved Jeep, it just works (except for those times when lilwillie gets emails from me when I broke something).
    I love cars as much as I love my family, these are the things work will always pay for.

  37. johnf1979 Avatar

    Well I grew up in the east end of Dearborn, MI so cars as a career seems more like the norm than anything else. My dad having been a part of Ford's first ever white collar layoffs in 1974 started at AMC in 1975 as a technician and eventually got an engineering degree. He has been there through Renault, Chrysler, Daimler, Cerberus, and now Fiat. Amazingly he had the same cubicle from 1985 through 3 years ago when they finally closed the old Plymouth rd Jeep and Truck headquarters, originally Nash hq, and moved him to Aurburn Hills. I also have family at GM and Ford. Suprisingly my father and many of the people I know in the industry are not really car people like us, my dad is content to drive late model SUV's that he doesn't have to work on. As for my path, I started loving cars at an early age in the early 80's when I was a child I could Identify every car on the road. My first job after high school was as a bodyman apprentice, I quickly learned that there was a measure of artistic skill involved in that that I was lacking.

    1. johnf1979 Avatar

      I moved on to being a tire technician, eventually becoming certified in brakes and front end work, where I learned quickly that this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I moved on to Roush where I was a technician working on prototypes for Jeep and Truck engineering for Chrysler. From there I went back to being a technician at a tire store. After that chain, the boy's of pep, pulled out of Michigan, and anxious to change track I got a job on a parts counter at an Oldsmobile store. An old mechanic once told me that a bad mechanic makes an excellent parts guy and I find this to be very true. From there I moved on to a Pontiac store where I currently work, we now sell Buick, GMC, and have a Nissan store 3 blocks away. While doing all this I have been slowly pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Wayne State in Detroit. I do find that working in the buisness has drained away some of my enthusiam for cars but it may just be the long dealership hours and declining income since 08. I do plan to stay in the industry after graduation however.
      Wow that was long.

  38. Eggwich Avatar

    I would like to claim that I have had Teh Fire In Teh Belly for cars since I was a young egg, but that would be a lie. When I was a kid, like many kids, I took after my Dad, who seemed to believe that, while necessary, cars were blasphemous, terrible things that would rape you when you bought them, then die after 60,000 miles. (This was too often true for early 80s American iron, I fear.) My Dad was also the scapegoat for ruining his father in-laws beloved Chevy Vega, which never ran right after the accident. (As if the accident had anything to do with that car sucking balls, reliability-wise. The whole "getting my mom pregnant" thing didn't score him any family points either, lulz.) Plus, I grew up in Michigan, and many of my Dad's friends ended up being auto plant rats, which while it paid well, didn't exactly lead to the best outlook on life. My dad was a plant rat for a while, hated it, and quit. That's one decision he seemed happy about, at least, even if he did sacrifice security for joy. My uncle worked for years at Detroit Diesel, which he would always say was "total shit. Like working working for the big three without the pay." Everyone around me worked in the auto industry in one way or another, for the big three or somewhere in the supply chain, and I wanted no part of it. What can I say, I was a rebel.
    So, I went to University of Michigan, majored in psychology, minored in Spanish and Bong Engineering. And pinball. And not getting laid very often. I worked in social services for a long time, and I still do, technically, but as a Database Analyst for the San Francisco Dept of Public Health, I work more with numbers than people, which is good. I can still be uppity and righteous without having to work with actual humans with actual problems. I'm not really uppity, I just like that joke.
    So, despite my early anti-car leanings, and living in a city where a car is a burden, I found myself struck by Car Love about eight years ago. I always enjoyed them, but I was intimidated by the mechanical side, stuck with that ridiculous viewpoint kids have that if I didn't learn it at a young age, I'd never catch up to others and be really good. Fuck that. I have my whole life to mess with cars, and I will destroy some along the way, and I will laugh in the face of adversity and piss excellence all the way home.
    So, now I'm taking night classes in an Automotive Technician program to get my learn on. I took the intro course, which of course I thought I already knew it all but didn't, then last semester took the transmission rebuild and repair class. Absolutely loved it. And yes, I am That Old Guy at school that is there because he loves it and could give a shit about the grade and just wants to learn. I'm taking this semester off, which I kind of feel lazy about, but I have enormous amounts of materials to read and learn from. I don't need a classroom to learn, and I've got a whole internet full of people to bounce questions off of.
    While I would loooove to get an auto-related job full-time, like others have mentioned, it will be hard to start off brand new in a new career, with new career intro pay levels. So for now, I'm building up my tool collection (Matco and Craftsman, love you guys) and hope to move into a place with a garage very soon, where I can buy shitty cars, fix the basic things, and flip them. I know I don't have the diagnostic skills to pick the easiest fix/biggest profit cars right off the start, but I'm willing to hit or miss, so long as I'm learning. If I make a profit on one out of three, party on, Garth. Because I'm in it for the love.
    (And to make this even more unnecessarily long, and to paint a better picture of my Dad, I DID grow up with a school bus and an old cop car parked next to our first house, so he did have some strange vehicular admiration going on. And even in my most rebellious days I still drove a Mustang and loved the shit out of it.)

  39. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    Cars are going to remain a hobby for me for all the usual reasons (family demands, looming retirement).
    As a teenager myself and my friends used and abused numerous two and four wheeled vehicles (and some waterborne craft). It was vastly entertaining and educational, especially trying to figure out how we managed to snap the skirts on 7 out of 8 pistons in my buddies 302, then transplanting a 390 into his Meteor. But, flying really held my interest.
    Others have mentioned that doing something for fun, and doing it for a living, are two different activities. Something which I have to agree with. My flying started as a vocation but after many years and much travel (especially into high density areas in Europe, Asia and the US), it has become "just work". Mind you it is a very demanding and interesting job, but these days it is really just an endless series of performance oriented tasks. Should my children wish to fly I will help, but I would encourage them to find something that provides a certain sense of satisfaction (and a little more stability than the aviation industry, it's brutal out there).

%d bloggers like this: