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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 3 of 4

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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 3 of 4

Posted on 12 July 2011 by admin

Harlyn Jenkins 2006 Maserati Portland OregonMaserati Quattroporte Sport-GT/Harlyn Jenkins

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.

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“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.”

“That’s easy.”

“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.’”

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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 1 of 4

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VEHICULATE – Conversations About Exotic Cars and the Owners that Love Them – Part 1 of 4

Posted on 28 June 2011 by admin

By Nolan Milojevich – Marketing Specialist for Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo

While the Tonkin Family of Dealerships is well known for selling Hondas, Chevys, Acuras, and many more fine automobiles, it’s less well known that we also offer exotic vehicles like Ferrari, Maserati, Lotus, soon-to-be Fisker, as well as Italian motorcycles at Motocorsa.

This will be the first in a continuing series where I’ll focus on some of the more extraordinary forms of transportation we sell and service and the eclectic mix of owners that drive them.

Harlyn Jenkins / Maserati Quattroporte Sport-GT

PART 1 OF 4 – LUNCH, MINUS COFFEE

“God, your car sounds good.” I say.

Every couple of seconds the odd language of chirps and scratches from the Valentine 1 radar detector desperately vies for attention.  Its competition is the sexy rasp coming from the custom exhaust of a 2006 Maserati Quattroporte Sport-GT, and Harlyn Jenkins, a 30-something web entrepreneur and owner of the Maserati I was currently seated comfortably within.

Harlyn speaks almost exclusively, and rapidly, in sarcastic quips, pop culture references, and technobabble.  His Maserati, modified, is quite possibly the best sounding car I’ve ever heard.  Which is saying something since I’ve been around Italian exotics for the better part of four years now.

“That, I agree with totally.”  He replies, no pause.

I’ve known Harlyn to take compliments exceedingly well, especially when it comes to his car, “Actually found a really nice tunnel last week.  I had to go through it five times.  I had my daughters in the car, windows down, sunroof open. [They were] all ‘just do it again!’  Alright, don’t have to tell dad twice.”

Harlyn spends most of his time at his home with his family in Newport.  But travels to Portland for the occasional consulting thing, freelance gig, or quarter-dime-nickel poker game with friends.  Sometimes, he multi-tasks by doing all of the above in a single trip.  And this time he was taking time out to give me an interview.

We’re on our way to lunch on Hawthorne somewhere, as my treat.  I didn’t have much of a heads-up but take the opportunity to spend time with Harlyn whenever I can.  I was at my desk at the showroom around ten-thirty (doing something very important I’m sure) when I got a text from Harlyn, >>want to get lunch/coffee today?<<

So this would be the second time I’ve bribed him with food.  The first time was to pick his brain over social media concepts and strategy (I’m the man behind our Facebook page and Flickr account, among others) at one of our favorite local national-chain restaurants.

On the approach from 39th to Hawthorne I mention a bagel shop I know, and how they have coffee as well.  Then he drops a bombshell.

“I don’t drink coffee.” He says, deadpan.

“I thought you said coffee, slash, lunch?” I ask, confusion setting in.

“Well, ‘Coffee’ is just kind of the—”

“–Generic term?” I add helpfully.

“Yes.  Normally I get a steamed milk or something.”  Without a hint of irony.

“Steamed milk?” I ask incredulously, “You don’t drink coffee but you’ll pound energy drinks like Tiger’s Blood?”

“Yes.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah.”

“Why not coffee?” I demand.

“I don’t know, just don’t.” He says, bemused.

“Huh, I love coffee. I think I would stop moving if I didn’t have coffee.” Which, for I all know could be true if I ever actually stop drinking coffee, which is theoretically possible.

Harlyn continued, “Well, see, I think probably drinking too much coffee just made it passé, to the point where it didn’t work anymore.  So that’s why, you know, 9 cans of Monster and an IV just kind of does it for me.”

We miraculously find parking on Hawthorne during lunchtime directly across from Noah’s Bagels.  Coffee or not, Harlyn does have an affinity for caffeine.  I’ve heard stories of him foregoing sleep days on end while working on whatever project he’s currently engaged with, yet he’ll show no signs of physical or mental fatigue.  He’s like a ten year old in terms of intensity, and has a habit of flashing a malicious grin when he knows something no one else does, which happens frequently.  Come to write of it, I’ve never seen him do anything besides smile or pretend to be serious.

Harlyn has been a long-time client of our service department and recently underwent a complete re-spray at the Tonkin Bodyshop after an unfortunate occurrence–the car, not the man.

Although he jokes that his physique is compliments of ‘Body By Microsoft’, where many nights of overtime facilitated his future Maserati ownership, he has also worked as a consultant, then IT Director, of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  But he’s recently gone back to freelancing.

As a cute little side story, back when he was at the Aquarium, and during the inaugural Oregon Coast Exotic Car Show, Harlyn accompanied a tour group, myself included, behind the scenes of the Aquarium.  The complex is massive, with the areas open to the public being but a tiny fraction.  We saw a 2,000 square foot walk-in freezer filled with premium seafood for the animals, butter clams the size of softballs stacked waist high.

We also had the opportunity to make friends with an octopus in one of their holding tank facilities.  I’ll be honest, anything with eight legs freaks me out.  To me, an octopus is a giant, intelligent spider with a poisonous beak and creepy sucker arms.

I finally worked up the courage and touched it for half a second before pulling my hand back.  I thought I played it cool but Harlyn commented, slightly louder than necessary, that his eight year old daughter was tougher than me and how she loved the thing.

Our guide told us how this octopus had recently escaped from its tank, went across the cement floor, crawled up into another tank, ate that fish, then went back to its tank like nothing had happened.  Charming.

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