6 December 2012

Introduce yourself: Jonny

Hey brothers! My name is Jonny and I will be a new contributor to The Corolla Brotherhood blog and facebook page. Like the AE86 Corolla, I was born in 1983. Ever since I can remember, cars have
always had a strong presence in my life, in fact my first memories are of my father building 6 wheeler Tyrell, McLaren and Honda F1 Tamiya 1/12 hobby kits on the kitchen table. I spent hours looking at the models taking shape. Remember this was a time where there were no such thing as playstation or facebook, simpler times where even the TV had only 2 channels.

Weekend plans almost always involved any sort of racing. My father took me along with him to all kinds of hill climbs, rally, sprint races and auto shows. A car that was building its reputation in motorsports at the time in my native country Portugal was the AE86 Corolla. It won several rally championships and the national importer Salvador Caetano even ran a special sprint trophy with more than 20 Corollas. I remember being very impressed both with the design and the performance of the little Corolla, and from that early age I knew that would be MY car when I grew up.

My teenage years however were mostly dominated with my new passion: motorcycles. They were all I thought about night and day, and they got me really interested in engineering to the point of starting to work as a motorcycle mechanic. I was fortunate enough to work for one of the best in business Mr. Vitor Moreira who at the time was building and prepping motorcycles that competed in the SBK Championship.I still look up to him as my mentor and I owe him a great deal for his tutoring, that shaped me into what I am today.

I knew my motorcycle days would eventually drive me bankrupt from all the speeding tickets, or drive me into the hospital morgue, and so my father decided the only way he could convince me to forget about bikes was to buy me a AE86 for my 19th birthday. It was a bone stock zenki Levin hatch with 13" mesh wheels and I instantly fell in love with it. Between school and work, every free minute I had was spent working on the car, and it was later transformed into the first Trueno in Portugal, a country only second to Ireland in European AE86 numbers.

The arrival of Drifting and Initial D was definatly a turning point into my AE86 passion, as the model itself became more popular than ever. It became even more of an obsession, I was now working on other people's cars, selling parts, building engines, manufacturing FRP panels, breaking cars for spares and cuts, and importing vehicles from the UK. Things took their course naturally and I established myself in business with OISHI Performance + Grafix in 2007.

In late 2009 my mate Paul Howard invited me to move to the UK and work for him at JDM Garage. It was an easy decision to make: England is the place to be if you love japanese import cars, and recession was hitting my country pretty badly. No one had any money to spend on classic car restorations or engine builds, and I wouldn't be happy servicing daily driver crap everyday to survive. So I packed my belongings in the Rolla and made the 1300 miles trip with the sound and smell of tires rubbing the arches. I ended up selling the 86 a while after, a decision now filled with regret, but it's reassuring to know that the car is being very well looked after by its new owner (and now my friend) in Sweden.

After realising the mistake, I found a LHD SR20 swaped Levin coupe for sale in Holland, browsing the AEu86.org forum, and made a deal to buy the rolling shell with no drive train. This is now almost finished and will be featured on the blog later so stay tuned for this.

So this is my story brothers, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. You can expect this kind of content in the blog from me: the story behind the passion. I think it is far more interesting than spec lists and what parts you have. It's the stories and the people that make the Brotherhood!

See you soon.


Oishi Performance + Grafix

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