Jersey boy John Coughlin has always surrounded himself with cars. Whether it's shooting the latest supercar as Photo Editor for a major news site, hitting the Auto X with his daily driver, or playing cars with his young son, John has embraced his passion for 4-wheeled fun. When not driving, surfing, or shooting photos, he creates great designs like "Please Refrain from Touching", "Panda Warrior", and "22B?".
John put down the camera to answer a few questions:
How did your interest in cars start?
I'm pretty sure I was interested in cars since before birth, and I don't recall any time in my life that I wasn't fascinated with them. I drove my first car at the ripe age of 2, when I decided that I wanted to take a ride down my parents driveway in my dad's 1983 Toyota pickup, and the rest is history. Cars have always been a passion of mine that has never dwindled, only grown. Now that I have a son, that passion has grown even more and it's something that we both enjoy.
How does your interest manifest itself?
My life revolves around cars. I've got a pretty good collection of 1:18 scale models, as well as tubs full of Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars ranging from when I was a kid to current model lines. I thankfully get to be involved with cars through work, so that only increases my time with them. If I'm not playing cars with my son, or watching some sort of Cars movie with him, you can find me prowling forums, washing my car, or just driving around looking for an excuse to take some quick turns. I also used to do Auto X when I had my Spec B, and I plan on doing it again now with my Golf R.
What is at the top of your automotive bucket list?
Given my current job I have already checked off a lot of things from my bucket list, but there are two things on my list that will be lifelong dreams:
- Own a JDM Nissan Skyline GTR. Preferably an R34, but I'll gladly take an R32 or R33.
- Drive on the German Autobahn and the Nürburgring.
Describe your vehicle, and what makes it special:
I currently have 3 cars. The family car is a 2011 Acura MDX with the advance package. I needed to get the adjustable suspension so it could be comfortable when driving the family around, but fun if I needed to run out and get some groceries.
My surf truck/run around car is a 2001 Honda CR-V. Originally this was my wife's car, in which we had our first kiss and first road trip together. We have a lot of memories in this car, but when it was time to upgrade my wife to the MDX, I took it over. During the time I've been using it, I have installed a 35mm Ironman lift kit, BFGoodrich TA KO's mounted on Cragar steel wheels, with a safari rack on top and full off-road lighting on the front. It won't be taking me on the Moab, but it looks pretty badass.
Finally, I recently just purchased a 2016 Volkswagen Golf R 6MT with the DCC/Nav package. Its currently stock, but I have a long, slow plan for it so it will keep my interest for a while. This car is a perfect compromise of exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something fun and sporty with a manual transmission and AWD. This doesn't leave too many options besides a WRX or the Focus RS. While both those cars are awesome, I wanted something a little more low-key and sophisticated. The Golf R checked all the boxes, plus it's a hatchback!
What was your first car? Do you have any sort of brand loyalty?
My first car was a gold 1991 Nissan Maxima. Up until I went for my driver's license test on my 17th birthday, I was constantly on the search for an early 90's Nissan Maxima, which at the time was a perfect blend of sporty and luxury(for a 17 year old). I had just passed my test, and was on my way to the DMV to pick up my license with my Dad, when I saw a gold Nissan Maxima sitting in a parking lot with a for sale sign on it. I started to turn into the lot to go look at it, but my dad convinced me that I should get my license first and afterwards we'd go look at it. So, after what seemed like hours at the DMW, I got my license and promptly drove over to that parking lot. I walked up to the window to look in, and on the drivers seat I see a sign that reads, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHNNY!!!!!" and out of the back seats jump my sister and my cousin yelling, "Surprise!!!!" Behind me, sitting in another car was my mom and my grandparents, all waiting for me. Thankfully my parents knew how much I love cars, and how I was always looking around at cars for them to trust I'd spot it on the side of the road in a parking lot. I'm a very hard person to surprise, but my entire family kept it a secret for months, and gave me one of the most memorable surprises I've ever had.
I don't really have any brand loyalty, but Nissans will always hold a special place in my heart because of the story above, as well as Subarus. I had a 2008 Subaru Legacy Spec B that I really enjoyed and spent a good deal modding. It was Stage 2+ with around 280hp to the wheels and 300 ft-lb of torque. I generally like to be considerate of all cars, and choose them on what they're like, what their purpose is, and whether or not it fits what I'm looking for.
What is your dream car?
My dream car would be an unmodified, R34 Nissan Skyline GTR. Ever since the days/nights of playing Gran Turismo with my cousin Josen, the Nissan Skyline GTR has been a favorite car of mine. Its all-around capabilities, stunning looks, and blistering performance, coupled with my fond memories of Nissans (I've had 3) has created a halo car for me, and something that I'll be striving to someday own. Plus, who wouldn't want to own "Godzilla"?
What do you do besides designing awesome shirts?
I'm currently a Photo Editor for a major news corporation. My daily activities involve researching, creating, and editing photos for daily news, as well as long-term projects. I am also lucky enough to be a part of our automotive coverage team, so I get to cover major auto shows, as well as take photos of the cars we get to review. Other than that, I'm the father of an amazing 2 1/2 year old boy, who may just love cars more than I do, and the husband to a beautiful wife.
What are some of your hobbies, not relating to cars?
When I'm not thinking about cars or playing with my son, I like to surf whenever/wherever there are waves and I play in a men's softball league.
What have the funds from blipshift helped you accomplish?
Thankfully the funds that I have gotten from blipshift has allowed me to put more money into purchasing my 2016 Volkswagen Golf R.
What's your favourite blipshift shirt?
My favorite shirt would have to be the Braking Bad "Overcooked" design by Randy Chase. It brings together a great show and some automotive comedy.
Any advice for fellow artists? How did you find the process overall?
Think of unique ideas and designs that tie in pop culture, or references from your childhood with the automotive world, that way it will not only resonate with yourself, but with enthusiasts. The overall process as an artist works very well. Blipshift is more than accommodating to honor your designs in the most purist way with rarely any significant tweaks needed.
Thanks for your time John. You can find more of his excellent photography on his website.