“People warned me about the hills of San Francisco,” said Richard McMickens, the owner of a 2009 Nissan 370Z that was purchased due to a move that had relocated him to the west coast. “I’m from Philly so I said ‘it’s a hill, I’ve been over hills before, no biggie.”
New to the city, McMickens relied on his GPS to navigate which brought him face-to-face with some of the hills he had been warned about. Behind the wheel of his new car - selected due to its combination of sleek body lines and raw power from the factory along with its history - McMickens was adjusting to the clutch along with its engagement point.
“The hills had really sharp inclines where you can’t see over the top until you reach the crest; I was trying to get out of first gear and the car would roll backward until it initiated. My passenger was nervous and thought I was going to run right into the guy behind me on a scooter,” he said. “Long story short, I adjusted to the clutch without hurting anyone.”
McMickens' shares that his first memories are what sparked his passion for automotive. He remembers growing up watching his uncle build cars and bring home dozens of awards which led McMickens to put aftermarket wheels on his first car, a 1992 Cadillac Seville, in addition to modifying the cars audio.
From there, McMickens became more involved in his local car community and as his tastes began changing and growing, he set out to build an Acura Integra with a fully-built motor and machine work done by the help of his team, “The Wulfpac,” located in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
It didn’t take long for McMickens to start modifying the 370Z and even less time before he had added all of the power bolt-ons he could. By that point a tune was needed and McMickens turned to Rob Fuller at ZCarGarage in San Jose, California, who was regarded as a highly qualified Z/Datsun tuner.
Having previously owned a fully built Integra meant the dyno numbers after the tune were good, but not good enough for McMickens because he desired a more respect-commanding output.
Three-thousand miles later McMickens had Fuller install a Stillen Supercharger kit. The supercharger proved to be just what the car needed as a few dyno pulls revealed the car produced 433-wheel horsepower.
“With that said I was very pleased," McMickens said. The Stillen Supercharger McMicken's favorite modifications because it separates his car from many other 370Zs’ while the PowerHouse Amuse body kit is a close second complimented by silver paint with subtle gold flakes and black accents to highlight the unique styling of the Amuse kit. Dialing in the proper ride height on his coilovers from ISC Suspension proved to be the most frustrating modification McMickens performed as he looked for a balance between “the static life” and drivability.
From his first-ever feature in Car Street Journal to present, McMickens is no longer “new to California” and he attributes the car for many of his new friends and partners in the California car scene that share that same passion to protect and evolve the scene while building new memories and traditions that will last for generations.
The car has been shown at Wekfest, Blox Evolution, and was featured by Super Street Magazine as a “Top 20 of AutoCon LA,” named “Best Nissan” at Racewors, staged with Stillen at Nissfest, shown at the San Francisco Auto Salon and the Silicon Valley Auto Show.
The 370Z has made other appearances in numerous social media posts by Stillen, Super Street, and the official Nissan Instagram page. Additionally, it will be featured in an episode of “the Smoking Tire” with Matt Farah.
“I have gone from wanting to be in the shows to now helping organize them and supporting those that put the shows together” McMickens said, adding that he sponsors an award at the JapanTown Shukai Meet called the "Working Man/Woman Award.” The award is given to the “underdog of the car scene,” as McMickens says, or the “person that might not always win a trophy at a large show but gives their all to get the best parts they can for their car.”
“I built this car to inspire others,” said McMickens, “mainly children because I have my own and I know how excited they get when they hear the car crank over on a cold start or when I accelerate. My one-year-old son imitates the exhaust; he enjoys that whole experience so much.”
While built to inspire, the car was also built to perform and to be functionally balanced. Its furthest drive has been from San Francisco to Orange County and its made its way onto Sonoma Raceway, Thunder Hill, and Laguna Seca for circuit course driving.
McMickens enjoyed showing the car in 2016 but says his goals for 2017 include more track sessions and getting the car more exposure, sharing it with fellow enthusiasts, and finally getting around to installing a big brake kit. But more importantly, he hopes to continue to support friends and partners throughout the year as well as driving the car and “enjoying it for what it is.”
Written by Nicole Ellan James