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October 12, 2020

A California Love Story on Philippine Roads

“I proposed to my wife in the car,” says 39 year-old JP Artificio from the Philippines, remembering some of his happiest days with the Nissan California. And he did in style. “I recorded myself on audio and then mixed it in with our song and played it in the car. At the right time, I got outside the car and went around to my wife’s side where I asked her to finally marry me. I’d have to say that was the most special moment I’ve ever had with that car.” 

And when his wife was in labor with their first son, it was the California that transported them to the hospital. “Simply because I wanted the Nissan California to be the first car our son would drive in,” JP shares passionately. 

These are telling examples of his everlasting, unconditional love for his Nissan.

The Nissan California, originally bought by his father in 1992, was in storage when 21-year-old JP chanced upon it in 2002. “There was something about it that was calling me to fix it up, to make it look good,” he reminisced. “The car was still in good condition; everything was well taken care of except the engine, and yet my dad wasn’t really paying attention to it anymore.” 

“In a way, the car chose me. It was just waiting there for me to take care of. It was like it was calling to me,” he adds. 

He was so enamored that he decided to restore the California and had it towed to a friend’s mechanic shop to have a new engine installed – all without telling his father. “When my dad got home that day, he asked me where the car was. I was scared at first,” said JP. “When I told him that I had bought an engine for it, I saw that he was actually kind of proud. That was where my love affair with the Nissan California really started.” 

Long before he was even eligible for a student driving license permit, JP had pined for a car of his own. This, in part, seems to have kept him inspired over the years as he made the California into a very personal expression of his identity. “From the interiors to the paint job, I gave it all the little twists that would make the car look like it was uniquely mine. When people look at the details of the car, they will see how hard I’ve worked to get them like this. They see that every part of my cars tells a different story for me.” 

JP is now a solutions consultant for an IT company. The way he still speaks about the car today, you’d think he's talking about his first love. For example, when he limited its outings to public appearances, the car began acting up. “When I took it out again, I felt that it held a grudge against me. The water pump suddenly broke, and even the engine needed an overhaul. Maybe it just showed me how it resented me. So, I made sure that I will fix everything as a way of making it up to the car.” He even promised the car that he'd drive it twice a week. 

The car also opened doors to people as passionate about Nissan and cars as he was. “I was very proud of my California and I wanted to get feedback from other owners about my build from Nissan guys abroad.” He was even invited to join NissanBayan, the country’s first Nissan club. The club opened his eyes to a new social calendar. Nowadays, when quarantining rules allow, he drives his California to car-themed events and makes new friends.

This is an era of fast cars and faster product cycles. But for JP, the California's resilience imbued the Nissan brand with a certain timelessness. “Nissan has become more than just a car brand for me. What started out as the comfortable ride that my dad would drive me in has become something that has moved my life completely. Even if I bought a new car or one more classic project car, I just know I’ll be sticking with Nissan for life.”

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