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General

It started when she was a little girl. She desperately wanted to have a car toy, but everybody brought her dolls instead of car toys. Car toys were for boys. So, one day, in the middle of her birthday party, she decided that enough was enough. When her uncle gave her another barbie doll, 4-year-old Tara threw it out, in front of twenty pairs of shocked eyes.

In addition to scaring her family with this aggressive-called behavior, she got creative in how to satisfy this burning desire inside her. After the birthday party, her mom would often find her inside her room with all her color pencils around her, pretending they were cars. “What are you doing now, my dear?” her mom would ask. “They are stuck in traffic, mom. So they are learning how to fly.” Or “There is no parking space for these poor cars! So this red car is folding to make space for her friend, Blue.” Tara would reply.

Her parents encouraged her to do what she likes, so her dad eventually bought a dozen small cars. However, other friends and family members were not as open-minded. They thought of Tara’s interests as boyish, as something that needs to be corrected.

And so they tried to correct her. They asked her the same old question everybody asks from children: “what do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor or an engineer?”. Her answer always surprised them: “an inventor”.

15 years later, she was studying Mechanical Engineering at one of the top universities in the country. She eagerly took every course she could on automotive and design, and made the professors go crazy with her never-ending questions, starting with “why” and “how”. She only lacked one thing, which would make her the happiest girl in the world: a car.

But she had no money for a car. All her family’s savings went toward her tuition fees, and with most of her part-time work salary being spent on living expenses, it would take 18.3 years to be able to buy a car. Believe me, she did the calculations.

She had two choices: to wait a few years, graduate, get a good-paying job, buy a car. Or, she could get creative.

But how do you get creative in buying a car?

The short answer is: you don’t. You can’t just simply win a car, with chances being 1 in 100,000.

Instead, if you are a mechanical engineer, you can “build” a car, right?

And this was her 4-word mission for the next 3 years of her life: “Build her own car.”

What problems can arise when you want to build your car? Well, many. First, there is the technical knowledge you lack, even as a mechanical engineering student. Nobody is going to tell you the very details of automotive design, and there is nothing on the internet. After all, this is confidential information for automotive manufacturers. Second, you don’t have the material, the machines, and all those industrial robots working in huge factories with precisions of 0.1 mm. Third, you have no place to work in.

She thought for days and days. Instead of choosing the most popular, easiest option of giving up, she came with a detailed plan of how to reach her dream.

In October 2013, she bought the first piece of her dream for $13: the right mirror of a Crown Victoria Ford. The mirror had a scratch on the back but was fine elsewhere. She cleaned the mirror with extra care, like it was a delicate fabric, and put it in one of the shelves of an old, smelly garage she had rented for 6 months.

Soon, she found a part-time job as a mechanic assistant in one of the auto repair shops. This was a big milestone for her, as she learned how to work with different tools, how to repair the repairable, and how to convince her manager to give her the parts customers threw out. She always had to fix these parts to the most fixable state, and then add them to her collection of ready-to-use parts, now consisting of a door handle, a flywheel, a fuel filter, and an oxygen sensor.

If the manager was in a good mood, he would let her take some tools home, only to return the next day. This enabled her to slowly put the parts in their places and join them together. She had drawn a 2D sketch of her car on the ground with white chalk, like a puzzle waiting to be filled with its pieces. It was much easier for her to continue working when she could see how far she had come.

There were parts that she couldn’t get at the auto repair shops, as they were either non-fixable or no car in town seemed to need to change that part. As a result, she learned how to buy small cheap parts from amazon and eBay. After quite a few days, she became the fastest buyer of used auto parts. Her inbox was full of notification emails, and her hands were full of automotive catalogs, trying to figure out what goes where. After all, she wanted to build a car that worked.

When she was not searching through all the websites that could sell auto parts, she was lurking in car cemeteries to get the large body parts. The worst thing that could happen was either somebody caught her dragging a car’s driver’s door home, or that the part would not fit in with other parts in her collection. The second was much worse.

And so, in the summer of 2016, she had bought nearly 23,000 bolts, nuts, and hoses and had 6578 car parts. Some of them were already attached and ready to be put in place, but mostly not. The hardest part to get was the engine, who she’d tried for 8 months to find. At last, she was able to buy a 4-cylinder Honda engine for a low price. The worst part was to bring that heavy material into her garage, which she had to change two times. Her past landlords weren’t willing to rent her anymore, as a result of all the noise she made at night, working on her dream project.

It was finally the time to put all the pieces together. It was time to build her dream. She didn’t care if her car was like a clown dress: all parts in different colors and shapes, with no symmetry at all (except the two headlights she could miraculously get from the same car). But it was her dream, and she felt happy in each and every cell of her body.

Who said dreams won’t come true? Tara believed that if you want something, and you work for it really hard, eventually you will get it. And that was what happened. She filled the gas tank with the gasoline she had bought before, started the battery by using the wires she had put down the steering wheel (the car had no start switch and no key), and she became the happiest girl in the world when she heard her car roaring. The engine was working! She could turn on the lights, play music in an old music player which took its power from the battery, and her windscreen wipers worked too! The only thing left was to see if the car can move. So, after taking in all the glory of the moment, she opened the garage door, changed the gear to one (which made a high noise), took her foot out of the brake pedal and slowly on the gas pedal. The car moved like a queen waking up from sleep and kept going for 5 meters when it suddenly stopped and went silent. It wouldn’t start anymore.

But, this was not the end. 


December 14, 2019 04:57

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6 comments

Dave Jackson
06:20 Dec 19, 2019

You must have done a fair amount of research or used your own imagination to give it such verisimilitude. It doesn't matter either way, because it was fantastic! Very well written!

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Tara Emami
21:44 Dec 19, 2019

I did both. Thank you very much!

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Unknown User
19:58 Dec 18, 2019

Awesome! I couldn't wait to finish the story and see if the car moved or not. By the way, we need girls like Tara with big dreams, great determination, and top of all a kind heart.

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Tara Emami
21:42 Dec 19, 2019

Thank you very much for your feedback!

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Mahsa Hosseini
20:47 Dec 17, 2019

Woow is this a true story?

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Tara Emami
17:35 Dec 18, 2019

It's based on a true story. The shopping part is fictional :)

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