Usually our journey through owning various cars is littered with bad mistakes, poor financial decisions, and inevitable loss of investment in time or money (usually both). When upgrading vehicles the story of selling your current one at a considerable loss to cover the remaining cost after saving for months and years is very typical. That’s usually how the story goes. However, for Minnesota resident Brody Wick, the journey to his 1993 Toyota Celsior is a bit different.

Although it’s becoming more frequent, it’s pretty rare for someone to continually upgrade cars purely from trading, but that’s what happened with Brody. For him, it started with a $1000 Mazda Miata. So, how did he turn a $1000 Miata into a Toyota Celsior? Well, let’s find out.

The Miata ironically enough was a cheap beater to get him through a winter. Not your typical winter car, especially in Minnesota right? “I had a friend who was a huge Miata guy and I knew he was looking for one. It just so happened that he had a 2004 Mazda RX-8 that I thought might be fun. We spoke for a while and he was down to trade,” Brody explained. After his fun with that, he listed it for sale and was offered a 350Z for a trade. Another brief fling, another for sale post, and another trade offer, but this time things were a bit more practical.

After the Z, Brody was offered a 2007 Infiniti M35x which was perfect he thought. An AWD Sedan for winter and daily duties? Score. Little did he know that this is where the sedan bug would bite him as he fell in love with the comfort, quality, and ride of a Japanese, luxury sedan.

With some extra money still in the bank, Wick’s first choice for a new project was a R32 Skyline. In his search, he stumbled upon this Celsior and bookmarked the link to the for sale ad for it as a Skyline was still at the forefront of his mind. After a few weeks of searching without much luck, he revisited the Celsior to find it was still for sale and he decided to reach out to the owner.

From the ad and his conversation with the owner, Wick knew the car was incredibly clean and had only 9,700 miles on it which is nuts for a near 30-year old car. They pretty much agreed on a deal over the phone and the owner told Brody to keep him in the loop about when he’d fly out to come get the car. That was on a Saturday, and Brody listed his M35 for sale that night and had it sold that Tuesday. By Thursday he was in North Carolina grabbing the keys to the Celsior. Oh, did I mention that the sale of his M35 more than covered the cost of the Celsior, so Brody still had the R32 Skyline money? Seriously, I need to take a lesson or two.

After a 1,400 mile road trip back home to MN, Brody had his first RHD car in his garage, and a fair bit of money to start playing with it. First up, dropping the ride height. Brody ordered a full Air Lift 3P kit to provide the adjustment range he wanted. A few weeks after ordering the air suspension, he ordered his Weds Kranze Ratzingers, although the specs ended up a little aggressive to begin with. Brody admits to being a little green when it comes to air and fitment, but he had some local VIP people help sort him out.

After a slew of suspension arms and spindles were installed, Wick was able to get the height and fitment dialed in to his liking. A combination of Serial Nine and Megan Racing arms help get the camber, while some shortened spindles and extended tie rods aid in the height and alignment departments. Inside, the car already had a list of OEM upgrades and with only 9,700 miles on the interior it was pretty much brand new and Brody left it alone save for a trunk install for the air ride.

On the outside, a few subtle changes were made. An OEM lip and billet badgeless grill change up the front, while both fenders and quarter panels were cut, shaved, pulled, and welded back together before being repainted to OEM standards. UCF10s have such a classic look to them and it’s hard to beat the stock lines with a healthy drop and the right set of wheels. I think Brody did good on all accounts.

In the span of a couple of years, Brody put together a nice representation of a classic, VIP-Styled car. Simple but big impact. Brody attributes a lot of the help he received on the car to the small, local VIP group. “I met some really great friends in the small Minnesota VIP community, and they really motivated me to keep pushing on my car, and how quality/rare parts can really set you apart from others, even if only a small percentage of people will notice.”

Of course 2020 threw everyone for a loop, but surprisingly Brody said it was his favorite year with the car yet. He had no plans for shows or events, he just wanted to get out and drive it and enjoy it, which is something we should all take note on. However, one of his highlights of the year hit home with me. I’ll let Brody explain:

I had the opportunity to meet up with John and take some shots before I put the car away again. I look up to him with the quality, time, and effort he puts into his cars, and that’s something I strive to accomplish. It’s not about how many likes you get on social media, it’s about the friends and acquaintances you make along the way.

When I read that in the email he sent me, it made me stop and think about my own journey in the automotive industry. When I set foot in this world I had no plan or any notion of doing anything important. Most of the time, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just looked up to certain people. To think almost 20-years down the road I’d actually be someone that someone else looked up to was a thought that never crossed my mind. It humbled me pretty quick. I have a habit of being brash, highly critical, and straight-to-the-point which doesn’t always sit right with people. It made me remember something; no matter if you’re at a show, drag race, drift event, track day, car meet or whatever, some kid is looking up to you and your car. Be sure to set a good example to that kid.

It was cool to actually use these shots. As mentioned earlier, this was just a shoot that didn’t really have a plan other than get together to shoot some photos and BS. I thought the set came out decent, and I enjoy showcasing the very small VIP scene here in Minnesota. Can’t thank Fatlace enough for giving me a platform to share on again.

I hope you all enjoyed. Happy to share this as my first feature of 2021 and I hope you are all excited to see what the new year brings as there’s still lots of challenges to face, but here’s to getting back to doing the things we love. Till next time.

John Krueger

MN based photographer & writer.Custom car builder, sneakerhead, and wannabe hype collector.
John Krueger

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