Words and Photography: Jonny Smith
Chapter 1: Zak's Harlequin MK3
Here we are, already onto part 3 of my 2019 USA trip. Just like every morning for this first week it involved me and Garrett sorting ourselves out and grabbing breakfast. This day in particular was my last day in Connecticut so we planned to go out for food and then take a trip south towards the New Haven and Bridgeport area.
A good friend, Zak @zakdepiero lives down that way so I contacted him and said we'd swing by in the early afternoon to have a catch up. I hadn't seen Zak in quite a few years. We first met this side of the pond when he came over to Europe for a long trip and so happened to attend our Rollhard Belgium Show; 2014 I think the year was. Back then I knew how good Zak is with a camera, so it was fun to finally meet him and see him in action shooting cars at the show.
So after another fantastic breakfast at Garrett's favourite local diner, O'Rourkes, we jumped in the Jetta Coupe and made our way down the I91, through some fun tunnels and before we knew it we arrived at Zaks.
We all spent some time chatting away hanging at Zak's house. Having a look at the metal and wood work he'd been teaching himself to do, try and sort out the engine issues with the Mk3 TDI swap and show us the Merc that's tucked away awaiting some attention.
At the time Zak had a set of Fifteen52 Mullets, a personal favourite from the Fifteen52 line up.
Following on two years from my last visit, Zak got the Mk3 Harli all running well. Sorting many of the 473,882 issues, that as a test run he would drive coast to coast and back again all to deliver an engine. Traveling 3200 miles from Connecticut to California, passing through 15 states, detouring through Cottonwood Pass, the highest 'paved' road in the USA and finally arriving in San Diego.
After this initial trip Zak wasn't done. He made the journey north up to Seattle before traveling another 3500 miles home. There's something special about a trip like this, something we would only daydream about over here with how bad our traffic is. I dread a 100 mile trip, let alone 7000 in total. Also just like Garrett and his Jetta Coupe, nothing like finishing the build on your car and then traveling on an insane trip.
Chapter 2: Butzigear Porsches
After some time, Zak mentioned of a cool workshop nearby; he knew the owner, David and lead the way. Straight away, I knew this was a special place. A slant nose Porsche was parked out front, not something you see everyday. That may have been great but boy was I in for a treat later on.
We went inside and met David, who owns Butzigear. He's a man that knows Porsches inside and out. His passion for cars started from his early years all thanks to his father who was also a car guy. Like many of us, it started with Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars, his first go-kart and spirited drives in their GTI. He began his journey of working with cars at the age of 16, employed by his uncle. Soon, he stemmed into building his own VW's and Audi's, gaining a reputation at shows with his builds. This all leads to about 6 years ago when David decided to focus his love and passion towards building and customizing Porsches with a strong concentrating on 80's & 90's 911s. David has looked after many Porsches from all over the USA and even helped people across oceans. His meticulous and methodical work style is one to admire.
He showed us some work he was doing on a customer's 996 Turbo and then took a thorough look at Garrett's Jetta coupe outside. It was cool to see a guy heavily invested in the Porsche scene pay so much attention and appreciate every little thing Garrett had done.
It was at this point when I looked into the parking lot and saw the crown jewels of Porsche's, the glorious 914. The only Porsche I admire to own. There's something 'ugly duckling' about them that makes them so cool to me. Not only that, this was one of the 914/6 GT wide body models!
After, what was probably hours, but felt like minutes. Being in America, food became the topic of conversation and David's friend Carl knew of a good Mexican spot just down the road, Puerto Vallarta Orange Restaurant. The biggest burrito and huge margaritas were consumed.
Since this visit David has moved shop and gained a more favourable sized workshop to work out of. Zak runs a business Dividing Designs and has created some outstanding pieces for David's new shop. I can't wait to swing by next time I'm in the area and check out some more Porsches.
Such a good boy!