WATCH: Navy veteran saves for 22 years to buy 1986 Porsche

Hector Espinal joined the Navy to get off the streets of Brooklyn. But he never let go of his childhood dream to own a Porsche.
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Hector Espinal with his 1986 Porsche. Carisma/The Drive.

To say Hector Espinal had a tough upbringing in Brooklyn is an understatement. “When you’re walking out on the street in Brooklyn back when I was coming up, it was really dangerous,” Hector said in a recent profile on Carisma, The Drive’s new YouTube series designed to take you inside the mind of fellow car enthusiasts, diving into how their cars have shaped their passion and understanding of car culture.

“Graffiti, crack, bottles, syringes, drivebys… I remember ducking bullets right on Graham Avenue. It was very chaotic,” Hector said. He was enticed by the nice cars, the jewels and the gear the boys on the corner were sporting. “Everybody was having nice things. And you know, you get those things the fast way. I’ve cooked crack. I’ve stolen cars. I stole my first grade teacher’s car, not when I was in first grade but when I was in junior high. One of my mens needed a brand new 92 Maxima and we went and grabbed it, and you know, Murder She Wrote. It was the people that I rolled with that didn’t want that for me – the corner boys, the pushers – every time I got into that the person was like, you know what, this is not for you bro, go to school. Don’t worry about it if you need money.”

BROOKLYN, NY – October 1991 in Brooklyn. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

Hector knew he had to get out and saw an opportunity to do so by joining the Navy. He had a 1987 Chevy Astro when he enlisted and he slept in it. “I’d get off the boat, go into my Chevy Astro and change, go to the club or go off to eat.” After 22 years of service in the Navy, Hector finally saved enough to buy his dream car, a Porsche 911.

“I’m that Brooklyn kid who chased a dream and then, quite literally, drove it,” Hector told Porsche in a profile piece. “When I was younger, I’d lose myself in Car and Driver magazine – not just for the pictures but for the stories. Those pages fueled my ambition, and I said to myself: ‘One day, this 911 will be yours.’ And now, here we are. I’m very grateful.”

According to the Drive, Hector found a classic 1986 G-body 911 (the last year of the classic 911 that still got the original 915 manual transmission) on the internet at a consignment shop in New Jersey. He started with a stock 3.2 Carrera, caught up on a ton of maintenance, then took a page from Magnus Walker’s book and made it his own. Performance mods include a Steve Wong chip tune, WEVO shifter and engine mounts, Fabspeed cat bypass and Supercup exhaust, Zimmerman cross-drilled rotors with Porterfield ceramic pads, Elephant Racing torsion bars, upgraded bushings and bearings, and more. The result is a head turner, one hell of a backroad cruiser, and a ticket to bigger things.


Hector even ended up connecting with Magnus who gave him tips for dialing in his suspension setup. “I think a car allows us freedom. It’s a gateway. With a car, you can get into circles you normally can’t get into. You can start conversations with the most random stranger. Y’know, we have our rivalries, BMW guys against the Porsches, stuff like that. At the end of the day, cars are one of those things that always brings people together.”


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