Evan Mankarious builds his dream car


Marianna Marsden

Senior Evan Mankarious restored and modified his car. Using a broken down Chevy, he uses a bigger engine and racer fuel to enter in car races.

Jake Hamilton, Opinion Editor

As senior Evan Mankarious zooms down the highway, the loud music blasting from his new speakers is drowned out by the engine’s hum.

“Yeah,” Mankarious said. “This isn’t exactly the best car for a quiet conversation.”

Mankarious found the 1972 Chevy Chevelle in the desert two years ago, in his grandfather’s lot. Through hard work and endless labor, Mankarious built the car up to its current glory.

“When I first found it, it had plants growing through it and it was covered with weeds,” he said. “Half the parts were stolen. There was literally a mouse living in the engine.”

Mankarious spent the next year repairing the car before it could finally run again. Since then, he has spent every day working on improvements from the interior to under the hood.

“Nobody else I knew really worked with cars so I just had to figure it out myself,” Mankarious said. “I basically learned by looking at the original hand-drawn manufacturing manual.”

To earn the money, Mankarious works at the Mechanized Museum in Camp Pendleton, restoring old tanks from World War I and Vietnam.

“That has made a lot of tools available to me, and it gives me a lot of space to work,” Mankarious said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I have a blast working there.”

He also sees that if he wasn’t earning plenty of money, and doing the work on the car by himself, the project would not be possible.

“If I had hired others to work on the car, this would have cost around $50,000,” Mankarious said. “Doing it on my own is the only way I’ve been able to afford it.”

Of course, there were some bumps along the road. The car has caught on fire eight times, and once while Mankarious was working on the engine, the set off of the car’s sound waves broke his neighbor’s windows. All these setbacks only fueled his drive for success.

“I’ve never seen someone who put so much effort into what they do,” junior Mark Harris said. “He just keeps at it.”

Last summer, he went up to northern California to try the car out on some famous race tracks. On the Laguna Seca, he placed 5th out of 72 racers.

“It’s just a blast to drive,” Mankarious said. “Plus, it’s not just like ‘oh, this is the car my daddy bought me.’ It’s something that I actually built, so that’s a really cool feeling.”

Back at his garage, Mankarious works under the hood to get rid of a screeching sound that has been coming up during acceleration. After replacing the alternator belt, he makes a few final adjustments.

“That should do it,” Mankarious said. “Or, you know, it might blow up. We’ll see.”