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Counting Cars

I am what you may call a “certified car nut“. I love being around cars. Even as a young boy, I was always playing with toy cars and my childhood dream was to own a lot of cars when I grow up. In school, my workbooks often have sketches of cars or automotive parts drawn in a blank page or a border. In college, I took up Mechanical Engineering so I could work around cars. When I became a father, I even named my kids after cars – my daughter Vette and my son Chevy. My friends often wonder where I got my obsession and I think it has something to do with genetics.

My grandpa, Hon. Fernando “Andong” Dizon, Sr. (2nd from left) served as the Deputy Budget Commissioner under Presidents Ramon Magsaysay (seated) until Ferdinand Marcos.

Daddy Andong and Mama Terning (2nd and 3rd from left, facing the camera) led a good life, seen here attending a dinner-dance in August 1940.

Daddy Andong’s social status and high position in government afforded him some luxuries in life like cars, seen here with his 1936 Ford Deluxe Sedan.

I guess my love of all things automotive started with my paternal grandfather, Hon. Fernando “Andong” B. Dizon, Sr., who was a hard-working and honest public servant. He served as the Deputy Budget Commissioner of the Philippines from the 1950’s under President Ramon Magsaysay until his retirement in May 1971 under President Ferdinand Marcos. Throughout his life, my grandpa owned three cars: a 1936 Ford Deluxe 4-door sedan, his first car; a 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe 2-door sedan; and a 1963 Chevy II Nova 4-door sedan.

My grandpa’s first car, a 1936 Ford Deluxe, was a used car that he bought in the 1940’s.

Daddy Andong bought a slightly-used 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe 2-door sedan in 1955…

… and replaced it with a 1963 Chevy II Nova 4-door sedan that he owned until he died in December 1971.

It’s In Our Blood…

I guess the love for cars cascaded from my grandfather to my father, Atty. Jaime “Jimmy” G. Dizon. Papa, as we affectionately call him, owned four cars and his first car was the ’52 Chevy that he bought for P500 from my grandpa, Daddy Andong. It was replaced by a 1976 Ford Cortina 2000E in 1979, followed by a 1993 Nissan Sentra 1.6 Super Saloon (B13-771) in 1996, and finally by a 1996 Nissan Sentra Series III 1.6 Super Saloon (B14) in 2000. It’s interesting to note that my grandpa moved from a Ford into a Chevy when he replaced the Deluxe Sedan with the Styleline Deluxe in 1955 while my dad moved from a Chevy back into a Ford when he got the Cortina in 1979.

My Papa Jimmy bought the ’52 Chevy from my grandpa in 1963…

… and replaced it with a used 1976 Ford Cortina 2000E in 1979.

My Mama Norma bought Papa a slightly-used 1993 Nissan Sentra 1.6 Super Saloon in 1996…

… that was replaced by another Nissan, a 1996 Sentra Series III 1.6 Super Saloon, which was his last car.

While I was 8 years old, I astounded my father by driving his ’52 Chevy a few meters forward safely. When I was 15, I would sneak the family Ford Cortina out of the garage to drive around the neighborhood. I also learned a lot about working on cars with the Cortina, something I must have inherited from my maternal grandfather, Bernardo “Danding” Z. Razon, who served as a master mechanic, consultant and technical trainer for the American military during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s. Before he died in 1983, my Lolo Danding gave me his old books – a thick 1958 edition of Motor Service’s Automotive Encyclopedia and four Auto-Mechanics Education Manuals published for the United States Armed Forces in 1944. He also loved riding motorcycles in his youth, which is another trait that I  must have inherited, but that’s another story…

My other grandpa, Bernardo “Danding” Razon was a master mechanic, trainer and motorcycle enthusiast.

Lolo Danding gave me his old books including these four 1944 US Army Education Manuals and a thick 1958 Automotive Encyclopedia.

I applied what I learned from those books working on our family car, Papa’s 1976 Ford Cortina.

My Car Life

Being a lawyer and an honest public servant, Papa only allowed me to get my driver’s license when I turned 18 in 1983. By 1988, Papa felt that I was responsible enough to have my own car so he gave me P15,000 to look for a used car. I looked at a nice red 1965 Volkswagen Beetle but Papa did not approve so my Mama Norma helped me negotiate with the seller of a 1977 Volkswagen Brasilia 1600, which became my first car. The yellow Brasilia and I went through a lot together from my last year of college in UST Mechanical Engineering to the Board Exams through several job interviews to my first sales job, through numerous dates, and more job interviews until I landed my dream job working for a major car company.

Papa gave me P15,000 to buy a used 1977 Volkswagen Brasilia 1600 in 1988…

… which my Mama sold when I wasn’t using it much in 1993.

In 1992, I was hired as the Dealer Development Coordinator at Nissan Motor Philippines, Inc. (NMPI), where I was assigned a 1991 Nissan Sentra 1.6 SGX (B12) company car. I was promoted a year later and was assigned a brand-new 1993 Nissan Sentra 1.4 EX-Saloon (B13). When my company car privileges were suspended because of petty office politics, I bought a used 1974 Chevrolet Nova 2-door sedan for P50,000 to drive from my home to the office and back… and to drive my boss crazy.

In 1992, I was assigned a company car, a gold 1991 Nissan Sentra 1.6 SGX (B12-series)…

… which was followed by a 1993 Sentra 1.4 EX-Saloon (B13), which looks like this car except mine had black unpainted bumpers.

Suspended use of my company car prompted me to buy a yellow 1974 Chevy Nova in 1993.

Start of Multiple Cars

Up until the Nova, I only had one car at a time. In 1994, I moved to Mantrade and my new job as the Fleet Sales Manager came with a thrifty 1991 Nissan Sentra 1.4 SLX (B12) company car, which was a welcome respite from my not-so-economical Nova. Two years later, I rescued a faded but complete 1971 Chevrolet Camaro RS and dragged it to home to be restored. Papa was pissed at me for having three cars – the Camaro, the Nova, and my Sentra company car – taking up most of the parking space in front of our house. I sold the Nova to finance the restoration of the Camaro and then I got a new job as the General Sales Manager of Nissan Gallery Ortigas, along with a brand-new 1996 Nissan Sentra Series III Super Saloon (B14) company car.

Mantrade assigned a 1991 Nissan Sentra 1.4 SLX as my company car.

I eventually sold the 1974 Chevy Nova in 1996…

… to finance the restoration of of the 1971 Chevy Camaro RS that I rescued.

Nissan Gallery Ortigas assigned a brand-new 1996 Sentra Series III (B14) as my company car.

My high-paying job at Nissan Gallery Ortigas came to an abrupt end when the president who hired me became at odds with the owner of the company. I took a short break from corporate life to tinker with my Camaro but was eventually hired as the Marketing Manager of Audiovox Philippines, which assigned me a company car, a Flamingo Red 1991 Nissan Sentra 1.6 Super Saloon (B13) that looks exactly like Papa’s car. The company also sponsored the restoration of my Camaro in February 1998, and by April, it was on display at the 1998 Trans Sport Show.

My Marketing job at Audiovox Philippines gave me a 1992 Sentra Super Saloon company car…

… and the finances to restore my ’71 Camaro. Note the BAD4U commemorative plate.

Hiatus Turns To Enterprise

I reported back to NMPI in 1999 to head their Customer Relations Department (CRD). Shawie and I got married in October 16, 1999 and Papa gave me his 1993 Nissan Sentra 1.6 Super Saloon to use as my family car, which I paid for later on. In August 2000, I moved to Brightpoint Philippines to head their Customer Service Department because I want to work closer to home to be with my wife and our baby daughter. In August 2002, our Finance Manager reported “staggering operational losses” despite our annual sales of P3.2 Billion (Go figure…) and my position became, uh… “redundant”.

Papa gave me his old Sentra (B13-771) for my family’s use.

I left Brightpoint with a golden parachute (a hefty separation pay) and decided to go on hiatus from the corporate world to pursue an alternate career as a motoring journalist. I wrote for a variety of publications and websites from 2001 to 2004 but focused on motorcycle journalism to carve my own niche. By 2005, we came out with MotorCycle Magazine, which gave us the funds to buy a low-mileage 1996 Mitsubishi L300 Versa Van and gave us the leverage to negotiate an advertising exchange deal where we got a new 2007 Kia Picanto 1.1 DLX.

The first fruits of our enterprise included a low-mileage 1996 Mitsubishi L300 Versa Van…

… followed by a brand new 2007 Kia Picanto 1.1 DLX A/T.

In 2010, we launched Power Wheels Magazine and attracted several advertisers who loved our series of Long Term Tests and our series of Project Cars restoration stories. Our first supporters included Foton Motors Philippines, who entrusted us with a 2010 Foton MP-X passenger van, and Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC), who entrusted us with a 2011 Kia Soul 1.6 LX A/T, to subject these vehicles to the rigors of daily use for our Long Term Tests series. In 2012, we acquired a white 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300E (W124) for our Project Car series but we had to return it to the seller after a few months because of a petty dispute. It was quickly replaced with a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SE (W126) in 2013.

We subjected our 2010 Foton MP-X 9-seat passenger van through the rigors of our Long Term Tests series…

… as we did with our 2011 Kia Soul 1.6 LX A/T.

We acquired this 1990 Mercedes-Benz W124 300E in 2012 but gave it up after a petty dispute…

… and replaced it with a 5.0-liter V8-powered 1986 Mercedes-Benz W126 500SE in 2013.

Partnerships with JSK and SPH

In 2014, we started our partnership with JSK Custom Paint and Auto Works when we entrusted my Camaro for restoration. For our Project Car series, we acquired a 1977 Mitsubishi Celeste 1600ST in 2014 and a 2014 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT in 2015, which JSK quickly turned into show cars and displayed at the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS). The Mustang won as “Best 2-Door” in the 2015 MIAS while the Celeste won runner-up honors in the 2018 MIAS.

In 2014, we acquired this 1977 Mitsubishi Celeste 1600ST, worked on it sparingly, drove it to vintage car meets…

… and then brought it to JSK in 2016 where they turned it into a show car for the 2018 MIAS.

In 2015, we acquired this former media test unit from Ford Philippines, a Gotta Have It Green 2014 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT…

… and JSK transformed it into a show winner, garnering “Best 2-Door” in the 2015 MIAS.

In 2016, we acquired a 1992 Mitsubishi Galant MPI that one of our media colleagues and former contributor swapped with one of our 250cc motorcycles but we later exchanged it for a clean one-owner 1991 Mitsubishi Galant GTI, which we planned to convert into an all-wheel-drive turbocharged VR4. George Blaylock of Diamond Motors got so enamored with our all-original GTI that he bought it from us for his personal Mitsubishi car collection. For our Long Term Tests series, Suzuki Philippines, Inc. (SPH) entrusted us with a 2015 Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 GLX A/T and a 2016 Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GLX A/T, and we chose a brown finish for both vehicles. We still have the Suzuki Ciaz up to this date and we still love it!

This 1992 Galant MPI was swapped for one of our 250cc motorcycles…

… and we exchanged that MPI for this 1991 Galant GTI, which was eventually bought by Diamond Motors Corporation.

Suzuki Philippines, Inc. entrusted us with a brown 2014 Ertiga 1.4 GLX A/T…

… and a brown 2016 Suzuki Ciaz 1.4 GLX A/T for our Long Term Tests.

From Print to Digital

When demand for print media began to wane, we initially tried to resist the trend to go fully digital. But when magazine sales began to drastically decline, we eventually decided to join the band wagon and focus all our energies on this website. We feel that our efforts were not in vain because of the readership we’ve been getting on this website and on our Facebook account, even without boosting. We will strive to continue working on our Project Car series, specifically on our stalled 1971 Chevy Camaro, our mothballed 1986 W126 500SE, our ongoing 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe LS, and our newly-acquired 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S. We also hope to secure a new Long Term Test vehicle soon, God willing.

We’re still working on our 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe LS but if it ain’t broke, we don’t need to fix it.

We have a new project on our hands, a 1974 VW Super Beetle 1303 S…

We hope to generate enough funds to restart the work on our 1986 W126 500SE V8 Benz…

… and finish the restoration of our 1971 Camaro for the 2020 car show season.

So, now you know where our passion for anything and everything automotive originated. Being a car nut must have cascaded from my grandfathers to my father to me, and hopefully to my kids. I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy sharing my automotive enthusiasm with all of you. From the bottom of my heart, I would personally like to say THANK YOU for allowing me to indulge in my passion and for sharing the same passion. We would most especially like to thank our sponsors, advertisers, and creditors for sharing their passion as well and for their continued support. To our dear readers, thank you for logging on to powerwheels.com.ph regularly and for increasing its readership and reach. You always encourage us to do more!

Maraming, maraming salamat po!

I’m also a motorcycle enthusiast but that’s another story…