Monday, May 25, 2015

University of Dayton HST 344 Student "Auto" Biography -- Collin Coates

I have always been an automotive guy.  The automotive lust struck me as a little kid when my father was in and out automotive plants and expos for work. He would occasionally take me to a car show, or show me the work he got to witness.  By the time I was just 10 years old I was naming the cars that drove down the street and had managed to steal almost every car key I could find in the house.  I couldn’t wait till I could call one of those keys my own, and have a vehicle in which I could take as my own and be proud of.     
               I got my first car when I was 16 and was absolutely fascinated with it.  It was a 2005 Acura TSX, a beautiful sedan for a young kid. I managed to put an aftermarket air intake into it, a set of subwoofers, and a fancy spoiler before I sold it off a year and a half later.  Fast-forward 6 years, now 22, I own my fourth automobile and it is extremely special to me.  This automobile has taken me places unimaginable and opened my eyes to a life I never thought I would be blessed enough to enjoy.
               It all started with the University of Dayton, believe it or not. In my sophomore year I landed a co-op position with General Electric, giving me sufficient funds to buy a vehicle on my own, with no help from my parents. I sold my second car, a Subaru WRX hatchback that I had built as a stage II performance car, and my parents split the proceeds with me.  I used this amount of money to put a down payment on a two-door Jeep Wrangler Sport.
               I had always wanted a Jeep as I always enjoyed the outdoors and the thought of adventuring places other vehicles could not.  Throughout the duration of the first year owning my Jeep, I did what I had done with my first two vehicles. I began to build it into an off-road machine.  I got to a point where I was no longer satisfied and longed for more space for camping gear and a more off-road capable vehicle.  Two more internships had fallen into my lap with Marathon Petroleum and I had a chance to do something most 21-year-old kids would not.  Given my father’s automotive background with Chrysler, I had been offered an employee discount of 5% below factory invoice of a brand new jeep.
               So I did it, I sold my previous jeep and sprung for the most capable off-road vehicle off the lot, a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited.  This time a 4-door, offering the space I wanted, as well as a Rubicon, offering the off-road features I wanted such as front and rear axle lockers and an electronic sway bar disconnect feature.
               Given the habit of building vehicles I developed, it should be no surprise that I would do the same thing with this Jeep.  Over the course of a year and a half I have built my Jeep into a fully built, seriously capable on and off-road driving machine.  It has a 3” long travel suspension with 37” mud terrain tires, steel front and rear bumpers, rocker armor, and flat fender flares allowing for more suspension travel and protection to rocks and trees off-road.
               This summer, before traveling to Leipzig, I took my jeep across the country and through a few technical trails in Colorado and Utah.  One of them being a famed trail in Moab, UT called “Top of the World”.  We made it to Moab late the night before, camping in the canyons at the head of the trail.  As the sun rose and my body awakened, I was instantly filled with a sense of anxiety and adrenaline. I did not have anyone to do the trail with to help me in the event that I needed backup, and I was about to take my jeep on one of the most technical trails it has ever seen.
               The trail started easy on fire roads, and then the slick rock started to appear.  This required perfect lines and axle lockers in order to climb over the stair like cliffs along the trail.  About half way as I continued my way to the “Top of the World” rain began to fall, making the trail seem even more sketchy.  However, my jeep proved worthy, only asking for more. The minute I reached the top was one in which I will never forget. Over looking a scenic canyon and parked at the edge of 1,000 foot cliff, I have never been in so much awe at nature before.  After snapping a few photos and collecting my adrenaline rushed soul, I began to make the trip back down the way I came up, continuing on west to California where I was heading.
               My Jeep now waits for me in California where I will be co-oping for Boeing upon my return from Leipzig.  I have a trip planned for the 4th of July weekend to run the Rubicon Trail, a seriously technical trail in Northern Lake Tahoe in which my very jeep was named after.
               If it weren’t for my Jeep I would never have had the opportunity to travel across the country and experience the wonderful outdoors that our country has to offer. Having a Jeep has made me more adventurous, taught me to work harder to afford the expensive hobbies I have taken a liking to, as well as allowed me to connect with other off-road enthusiasts.  It has changed my life style and I am forever grateful.  At this point in my life I tell people that I will always own a Jeep!

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