We are back with another instalment of our WeAreBrain Team Passions articles series, where we take time to find out more about the secret passions of our brilliant Brainiacs. Because we are super invested in the well-being of our working family, we are always interested to learn about what makes them tick in their personal time as a way to get to a bigger picture of the characters we work alongside each day. The more you learn about someone, the more you appreciate them, don’t you think?
This week we grabbed a coffee with Sergey, our resident Lead Android Developer, to chat with him about his passion for cars and the art of fine-tuning them into spectacular pieces of engineering and design. Here’s what he had to tell us:
When did you get started with your hobby?
It all started at the age of 10 when I clapped eyes on our first family car, the Moskvich 2140 (little known outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States region). Before then, I was fond of football, computer games, and various other things unrelated to cars, like most kids of that age. But as soon as I drove in our car for the first time, I immediately promised myself to get my license and drive the car myself at the first opportunity.
A few years later, my father sold our Moskvich 2140 in order to buy a Lada 2106 and I, considering myself quite the adult (I was 14 years old), helped him in every possible way: not only with repairs (Lada’s notoriously required a lot of work) but even with some minimal tuning (replacing seats, headlights, radio system, etc.). It was then that I realised that a car is not necessarily something completed and ready to use, but also a large platform for self-expression.
What is it about cars that you like the most?
I consider all cars as completely unique pieces of engineering and design. Of course, some people may ask “What is the difference between them? They all have four wheels, a steering wheel, and pedals.” Sure, if one looks at it from this angle, this sentiment is true. But I like to look at them another way: each car is very different from the next, each possesses its own designs, characteristics, areas of application, and even character. When you drive a car, you begin the process of becoming acquainted with it and you almost form a kind of connection with it, which is usually very difficult to break when you sell the car. It’s no secret that many proud car owners give nicknames to their cars and sometimes, when no one else is around, they even talk to them. What I also love about cars is that they can be tuned!
What’s your favourite car company and model?
When you have a Moskvich 2140, it’s your favourite car. Then, when you have a Lada 2106, it becomes your new favourite car. It may sound ridiculous, but that’s how it works for me. I fell in love with my current car, the Opel Astra K, and it has become the best for me. I have driven many other car brands and models, and for me it only takes one trip to get a good impression of a car, and if that magic “connection” does not instantly appear, I know it never will.
In the future, I would really like to buy a BMW to find out if there is any truth to the notion that BMWs are designed more for the driver, rather than for the passenger (as Mercedes cars are, apparently).
We heard an office rumour that you upgraded your own car, is it true? If so, how long did that take you, and how did you enjoy the process?
Haha yes the rumours are true, although it wasn’t any secret – I told anyone who cared to listen! A few months after buying my Opel Astra K, I took it apart quite a bit to start the tuning process. The whole process lasted for about a year with rather long pauses between component testing. Now the process is completed, and I am fully satisfied with the result. I don’t plan to change anything else in my car (for now), and I hope all my current ideas will be implemented in a new car in the future.
Sounds exciting! What exactly did you upgrade?
The primary emphasis for the upgrade was focused on the sound quality. I recently have become very interested in music, or rather, very loud music. It’s known that contemporary cars are not built by engineers but by marketers aiming to make them less expensive, and one of the areas in which they save money is the sound quality. For audiophiles like me, even premium cars with high-end audio systems are still not up to scratch. Opel is no exception in this regard, so I started my tuning process from the audio system.
I started by making noise and vibration isolation mechanisms fitted into all the doors. I then replaced the original rear door speakers with more powerful ones, soon followed by the front speakers. I was satisfied with the sound quality for a few months, but then decided to install new sound amplifiers. The process is rather complicated, since you can’t just install sound amplifiers in a car without changing anything else. For example, standard car wiring doesn’t support amplifier installation. So, the wiring had to be replaced, which means that half the interior needs to be disassembled. I won’t go into the details of installing sound amplifiers in a car because the topic is quite extensive. I then had a problem with low frequencies, so I finally installed a HUGE subwoofer in the trunk. At the end of all the work, I was very pleased with the result, and of course, still am.
How did you learn to fix and upgrade cars?
Throughout my childhood, my father taught me to understand many things, especially the ability to do things on my own: from replacing a light bulb to soldering microcircuits. My father’s advice, together with reading technical books and striving to do things on my own, helped me to assimilate many areas in my life, and car tuning (in my case, an audio system) is one of these areas. Of course, thanks to the Internet and modern technologies that greatly simplify the understanding of complex things, I am able to learn new things whenever I need to.
Thank you for taking time to talk to us about your passion for cars and the art of tuning them, Sergey! It is evident from the way you speak about your hobby that you are deeply passionate about it. And thanks for explaining the part about upgrading your car’s sound system, although no explanation was required as we all hear you driving up to the office from a few blocks away!