FEATURE I: Kevin
I am always humbled and excited to meet individuals that have an immense amount of knowledge on history within a culture. We cannot be who we are if it were not for those in the past that paved the way.
I first met Kevin the night I went to the Daikoku Parking Lot in Brooklyn Bay on 7.15. This was the second meet of Miatas of Brooklyn. From our first conversation, I was impressed by the knowledge and resource of this man. I am thankful to have him as the first person that I am doing my Featured Presentation. Cue the melodies from Mr. Erick Arc Elliott.
YV: What is your background and where are your parents from? I ask this question to my friends since we all have different cultures we come from and we always got to give them a shout out.
Kevin: My mother is from the South and my father has Spanish and Native Cherokee blood. I keep it black.
YV: What brought you into the world of automotive culture?
Kevin: My first car was a 2000 Civic Si with Gab Wheels. The car that got me into the tuning aspect of building is a 1995 MK3 Ginster yellow VR6 swap 24 valve, with a 75 wet nitrous shot. It was short lived but it was a very quick with excellent throttle response. It was one of the cars that got me into naturally aspirated builds.
YV: I take it that you are more of an NA guy as oppose to turbo.
Kevin: Turbos are great if you want power. I have been in plenty and it is nice, but I always revert back to all motor. There are levels with acquiring immediate power. First there is turbo, super charging, nitrous, and all motor. Whenever you are in a turbo car you have to be a lot more careful. You have to wait for it to warm up and god forbid if someone is chasing me on the K1 loop, I just wanna push the keys throttle out and I’m good. At the same time it’s my opinion and I respect everyone’s build.
Kevin: Being an all motor guy makes you an underdog. I want to give a special shot out to the people that work on my car. Ron Jones of Run Hard Racing, mainly Nissan guys, 2JZ heads, and just mainly 6 cylinder guys. I want to give a special shot out to Camron Spiker, with one of the most prominent Miata builds that really isn’t out there chasing power or fame but preserving culture. I wish I was on IG right now to give everyone a shout out. I want to also give a shot out to owners that build cars not for what status it gets them but for the pure love of it.
YV: What do you mean by building for the love of it?
Kevin: For example these days, you see these memes where you can only pick or build a Skyline GTR, RX7, Lancer Evolution, or an Impreza STI. There are a lot more Japanese cars than this. What happened to the likes of the Nissan Laurel, Mazda Mantis, Mazda Cosmo or a Toyota Celica? These forgotten cars paved the way for the iconic canon Japanese cars we all cherish. I am a low key fan of the Toyota Celica GT4.
YV: I personally think those are dope cars as well, with the circular headlights.
Kevin: The GT4 is big in the Caribbean. I just watched some videos about them. They are big out there especially in Jamaica and Guyana.
YV: Did you live in Hollis around the 90s or early two thousands? It just reminds me of all the West Indian dudes that tuned Toyotas and Nissans back in the day in Queens.
Kevin: No I did not. I still lived in Brooklyn that time and I’m a Brooklyn dude. I lived there from 1988 up until to 2004. I don’t have any hate on Queens guys, but you can tell the difference between a Queens and a Brooklyn dude.
YV: Hey, I always rep Queens and take offense to that but I am joking. You moved to Queens in 2004? I remember you telling me that you had a Civic and around that time from what I remember they were just stealing Hondas like there is no tomorrow.
Kevin: At that time I lived in Springfield by the Conduit. My boy Jamal who had a 4 door DBA, which I still love to this day. Shout out to Jamal, that car was taken from him. After the Honda scene, I jumped ship and got a Subaru Legacy Wagon. I did not care what anyone thought and that car was clean.
YV: Wait, you had a Legacy Wagon? What year was it?
Kevin: I believe it is either a 95 or 96. I had the touring car with the mesh wheels.
YV: Any mods you do to the Legacy?
Kevin: That was around the time I started to get into stance. At that moment I loved the car. It was comfortable. I got my first set of coilovers with this car. It was a set of Cusco coilovers. The car when I bought it had 250,000 miles and I was able to take it to over 400.000 miles before I sold it.
YV: That is crazy, but I remember there are a lot of Subaru owners that had high mileage cars back in the day.
Kevin: That goes to show you the testament to the quality of Subaru cars back then. After the Subaru was sold, I went back to Volkswagen. I had two Jettas and a GTI hatch. After buying a hatch, I never bought another four door car.
YV: I am assuming this is the car that led you to buying a Miata?
Kevin: When I sold the Volkswagen I took a gamble and bought a Miata. The price was great. It had Dodge Viper stripes and was small as hell. It wasn’t embarrassing, but in my head I am thinking is this the car you wanna get yourself into?
YV: Yes, yes, and yes.
“One key thing we never did as a brotherhood was hate. If there was feedback to be given, it was constructive and we supported one another.”
YV: As a Miata owner myself, I have been given criticism by outsiders and jokes within my circle of friends about the car. Do you feel there is a stigma for yourself for owning this fun car?
Kevin: You are parking a car in the hood and not to many people really know what is a roadster or a Miata. What is prominent in our areas is mainly Nissan Maximas, Infinitis , Bimmers and the one black guy who wanted to separate himself from everyone else.
YV: That one different black dude is you in the cut.
Kevin: There is this notion that if you don’t have the latest and greatest toys, people assume you don’t have “it.” I frankly got tired of all that other shit and I just do what makes me happy.
YV: You actually inspired me to seek out vintage garments from the race scene and I personally never seen anyone pull it off in this fashion. What led you to start this jiggy fashion wave? You might give me a look asking this question but people will be copying this a few years from now.
Kevin: The two people that got me into this sort of fashion is first, Tanaguchi
YV: Are we talking about NOB?
Kevin: Yes, the other is Max Orido. I don’t know why, but it was something about them. They reminded me a lot of own personality and character.
YV: I get a Tarzan Yamada vibe from you though.
Kevin: Yamada, I have his spirt as in don’t piss me off when I am driving. For instance, cutting me off because there are a bunch of BMW S44, S55 guys that I have taken down and I will say this in the K1 loop, inner. Don’t get me wrong I push my car to the limit even though it is a 1.6 compared to a six cylinder
YV: I’ve seen you when we drive that K1 loop and I don’t even bother chasing you. I usually pop out last.
“You have to be able to dig yourself out of your own grave with no shovel. Use the two hands God has given you. This is difficult for most of us to understand. Most of us want quick results.”
YV: We’ve discussed this before and I personally have met a lot of black men and men of color that are part of the automotive culture and I say that because I grew up in Hollis, Queens (shout out) and have seen the era of racing down Francis Lewis in the two thou. As a black man in the automotive culture, do you feel there is this racial animosity from a lot of these automotive outlets that are predominantly white men that do not cover your stories?
Kevin: White men have had a head start within the automotive culture here in the United States. Their fathers passed down to them their knowledge of cars and sometimes their actual cars. I am not trying to put anyone down, but with black owned builds even if it is not the most expensive build, we are proud of what we have. I do believe there is currently a big gap but that is slowly starting to change. We have individuals such as myself and I do hope to inspire other black car builders and anyone in general that appreciates automotive history and culture. There was actually a Facebook group I was part of that was predominantly black car tuners.
YV: Do you happen to remember the name of the group?
Kevin: If I can remember, I would let you know. I think it was something like African American Tuning Group. You get a plethora of cars that range from RX-7s, Skylines and Integras. One key thing we never did as a brotherhood was hate. If there was feedback to be given, it was constructive and we supported one another.
YV18 – Kevin’s Yellow Print to Life
1. What are you passionate about?
Kevin: Personally, I am passionate about learning new things, especially electrical. I would like to perfect electronic diagnostic. Number two would be body work. It would be the pursuit of perfection of making a car mold to what you envisioned the lines to contour and seeing it come to life. There are engine builds, but when you see a car with gorgeous paint gleaming and a proper aero kit, it is something that cannot be spoken about but must be seen.
2. What would you define as success?
Kevin: It is a very difficult question you ask. Finding success is difficult but I find more success in failure than winning. I have yet to learn full success in winning. What I do know is real hardship. You have to be able to dig yourself out of your own grave with no shovel. Use the two hands God has given you. This is difficult for most of us to understand. Most of us want quick results. After my dad passed, I never lived up to the full potential I should have. I realized what the true meaning of success is and it is more living and understanding. Money is secondary, when you have a story of how you got there, that is success.
3. What are your keys to happiness?
Kevin: One of them would be meeting people in real life. Understanding the story of what each individual has gone through.
4. What’s one Kevin gem you can bless us with?
Kevin: Be your fucking self. I learned this the hard way real bad. No matter how much you want to be someone else.
5. What do you want to just get off your mind and let the world know?
Kevin: Speak on behalf of people that are depressed. You have the power to speak to someone. I have had my deep depressions. Especially 8 years in and out of it.
If you would like to follow more of Kevin’s build or have questions, please follow his Instagram page at Roadster_Runner1990. This is just the beginning and he has a lot more planned. I cannot give it away, but we will all just have to patiently wait.