PART 3 OF 4 – WHY MODIFY
“Hey, yesterday was free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s,” Harlyn mentions as we roll past their ice cream shop on Hawthorne.
“Didn’t know that.” I didn’t.
“Meant to post that on Facebook. Meant to go to Ben & Jerry’s. Did neither. Spent 16 hours pulling wires through my car.”
WARNING: I should warn the reader that what follows is a transcript of Harlyn speaking in pure technobabble. Skip down a few paragraphs unless you want to find out why he was pulling wires through his car, and have your brain hurt.
“[I’m doing a] full computer integration with NAV and entertainment, stereo upgrade, all that kind of stuff. But it will be a full-blown Windows 7 PC running in the car using the stock screen as an interface with a touch-screen membrane overlay. Which a lot of people are doing, I’ve just yet to see someone do a full-blown auto PC for the NAV tool. There are much easier ways to do it, but this is more fun… There will be a few video output issues.”
I shake the glazed-over look off my face, “What do you mean?”
He continues, “Well I’m going from full DVI down to RCA,” and proceeds to explain this again in more detail. I’m not sure how much longer this goes on but he begins speaking ‘automotive’ at some point, which is a language I am fluent in.
“We’re going to do a six-speed conversion to it, and it will either be supercharged or turbocharged.” He says as plainly as if he announced he was going to the supermarket to buy canned food.
It’s not much of a secret that the early Maseratis with the DuoSelect automated manual transmissions had a habit of eating clutch plates. For these cars, driving like a grandma (no offense intended to grandmas that drive briskly, especially ones that formerly owned a Maserati) would cause the plates to wear out prematurely. The solution, as Harlyn figured out, is to drive the crap out of it, and has gotten more mileage out of his clutch than anyone else we know of as a result.
But when the clutch invariably wears out again, he’s going to convert it to a six-speed manual sourced from the earlier Maserati Coupé GT. An idea presented to him by Mike, our Maserati technician, after he and a couple of other technicians training at Maserati of North America discussed the possibility over lunch. At the time, Mike said, “I know a QP owner that might just do that.”
But the obvious question is, “Why?”
“Because I can. Off the shelf never works for me.” He gestures, ”That’s great but I’d like it to do this, this, and this… Well, let’s make it do this, this, and this.”
Because he can.
“I love open source software,” he says assuredly. “I love some of the new open source hardware that’s going on. Based on that philosophy, things should be able to be modified openly and freely.”
“Says the guy who cracked his iPhone.” I fire back.
“Yeah, but everybody does that. You go to one website and you slide your finger.”
“So easy in fact, when you went into an AT&T store when Jailbreak first came out, they didn’t have all of theirs protected, you could do it to all of them in the store at once.”
“And you did that.” I say, more as a statement than a question.
“Na, I’m saying you could do that,” flashing his habitual grin.
But modifications can be taken too far.
“Dude!” He says excitedly after brief break in conversation, “I saw a Toyota Yaris, slammed, with a big-ass exhaust on it the other day. And I was like, you know, I’m all for modding vehicles, obviously… but… That’s one of those things that make me laugh, I’ll see a Honda with $130,000 worth of engine and suspension and bodywork and everything and I’m like ‘you realize you could be driving a [Ferrari] 360’?”
“Yeah, but does a 360’s wiper nozzles glow?”
“They could. That’s a good idea. Think I might have found my next mod. Hot Pink! Yeah right, I’d plug them in and I’m sure the NIT (Maserati’s central entertainment and navigation unit) would freak out and have some weird error code, ‘I’m sorry, you’ve riced your car, warranty void.’”