Students take pride in their unusual cars

Four students drive distinctly different cars than the average student in the Mill Valley parking lot

Baylen Monson and Abigail Troilo

When the bell rings at 2:55 pm, hundreds of students rush out to the parking lot to hop into their cars and head their separate ways. Among these students are juniors Keegan Gracy and Charles Beal and sophomores Cannon Rhodes and Kenten Laughman. One thing distinctly sets these boys apart from others: they d

on’t own your typical sedans. These four own unique cars, whether they be souped-up or simply old-fashioned.

Gracy owns a 1981 Chevrolet Camaro with a unique brown color that he’s had for one year. Gracy takes pride in the way his car looks, especially its style and color. Gracy said he loved the look of this particular car, and he was already on the hunt for a vintage car to buy at the time. The Camaro remains with all its original parts, except for a new exhaust. 

“I loved the look of [the Camaro] and was looking for a cool vintage car to buy,” Gracy said.

Similarly, Beal’s blue 1974 Nissan Datsun 260z remains mostly original. Besides small fixes such as cracks on the interior dashboard, the Datsun is the same as it was when it was new. Beal, along with his father and brother, all take an interest in cars. These factors are part of what pulled Beal to buy the Datsun two years ago. 

As an older car, Beal’s Datsun has some unique features that are less commonly seen today. The way that the car looks and functions is much different than newer cars. The outside of the car has a sleek, clearly vintage look. The inside has no high-tech screens, seat warmers, or Apple CarPlay that many are used to.

“I like the fact that it’s standard transmission… and an old car [that] has many features that aren’t in modern cars,” Beal said. “For example, the roll-down windows.”

Like Beal, Rhodes drives a Nissan, although Rhodes’ is slightly newer. Rhodes owns a 1995 Nissan 240 SX SE, which he has had for roughly nine months. Similarly, Rhodes’ family’s passion for cars is what led him to get his car. 

“I’ve been growing up around cars my whole life,” Rhodes said. “My grandpa had one [of these cars] when I was a kid, and I loved it, so it turned into my dream car.” 

Rhodes says that his car is one in 500, making it a very rare car that’s in high demand, and popular for drifting. What makes Rhodes’ Nissan even more unique are the modifications he made to it. Rhodes added a sports exhaust, coil overs to lower the car, and a cold air in take for the engine.

Laughman’s 2010 BMW 328, the newest of the students’ four cars, has also been modified to his liking. He did all of the work himself, and it cost him around $1,300.

“I lowered it, I got wheels, I have a ski box on top, [and] a cold air intake. I did tiny other things [like] lights and blacking out [the car],” Laughman said. 

To Laughman, his BMW is more than just a car and he believes it represents himself in a way. 

“I think it displays a little bit of me.

[I] kind of made it my own. It’s not just out of the factory,” Laughman said.

Previous to buying his car, Laughman had an idea of how other people build them, and that’s part of the reason why he bought it. 

“I liked the way it drove, I thought I needed an all wheel drive car for Kansas, and I liked how some people built them so I decided I wanted to do that,” Laughman said.

These vehicles seem like every car fanatic’s dream, but they too come with their issues. Older cars require more upkeep, and can have troubles in harsh weather. 

“[My Camaro] likes to break down often and takes forever to get the heater going,” Gracy said. 

Beal has a similar problem to Gracy: he also has troubles with the heating in his car. 

“In the winter [older cars] often struggle to start up on a cold morning. That’s usually the worst. As we get into fall and winter, driving to school in the morning can sometimes really be a pain,” Beal said.  

Specifically for Beal’s Datsun, the car only has two seats, and most cars today can fit four or five. The small size of the vehicle can be troubling, and even comedic to Beal. 

“It’s always really funny as I’m walking away,” Beal said. “I look back and it’s just completely dwarfed by all the cars parked around it.”

Despite these inconveniences, all four of these vehicles have unique backstories. Whether it be a shared passion for cars with family, or a hunt for the perfect car to modify, these students show a little bit of who they are every time they drive. 

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