Actor Paul Walker, best known for the racing movie franchise Fast & Furious passed away last Saturday afternoon after a collision in Southern California. It is reported that Walker was a passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT which lost control and caught fire.
I owe a lot to Paul Walker for my fascination and appreciation for cars today. I was an impressionable 13-year old kid when The Fast and the Furious appeared in theaters in 2001. I must have watched it a hundred-plus times on DVD and it is one of the few movies in which I can recite most of the script from sheer repetition.
Beyond that, I discovered the concept of tuner cars. The Fast And The Furious is one of the most influential car movies of my generation. Despite the cheesy underbody lights and body kits, Walker’s role in the series introduced kids to a new concept of cars in an era where most of the vehicles on the road were quite boring. Sure, there were many great cars out there, but they were mostly way out of reach for anyone like me (e.g. McLaren F1, Ferrari 360). Walker’s role in the F&F series — showcasing the Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 and the venerable Toyota Supra — revealed the potential of much more accessible and relatable vehicles to kids learning the roads.
For years after my first viewing of The Fast And The Furious, I dreamt of owning a fifth-generation Honda Prelude Type-S. I maintained a list of the upgrades I wanted to add to make it mine. As life goes, when I turned 16 I ended up in a four-cylinder Mazda B2200 pick-up truck that was old as me. Nevertheless, I drove the hell out of it all while learning the basics; how to drive a manual, managing bad weather and most importantly — learning to appreciate my limitations on the road. My car had no power steering, no right side mirror and had no aspirations of velocity over 80 MPH. It took a modicum of effort and input from me to drive and established good habits.
I never got the Prelude. Eventually I bought a new Honda Civic sedan for my new work commute and a few years later I stepped up into a BMW. Today, I have a Subaru Impreza WRX in my garage that is mostly stock, yet I still keep a list of upgrades that I’m slowly working my way through like I had ten years ago.
Thank you Paul, for your part in sparking an interest in me that grew over time. You will be missed.