My Life in Cars: Vaughn Gittin Jr | Top Gear
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My Life in Cars: Vaughn Gittin Jr

The American drifter talks transitioning from a 240SX to a life of Mustangs

Published: 30 Dec 2022
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My whole life has been cars, to the point of my mum having to pry matchbox cars out of my hand during her wedding when I was supposed to be carrying the rings down the aisle. My father was a used car salesman and he always brought cool cars home from auctions. He was an old-school hot rod guy and had 1955 Chevrolet Bel Airs, Mustangs and lowered Pro-Street pickup trucks.

When I was four years old he got me a go-kart for my birthday and I used to run it until the gas was empty when I’d visit him on weekends. It had a paddle brake and I was infatuated with going real fast and then pulling the paddle brake to make the rear tyres skid. 

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Fast forward and it was remote control cars, skateboarding, dirt bikes, BMX and then I finally got my first car at 16. It was a 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass lowrider. 

A few years later I got my first rear wheel drive car – a Nissan 240SX – and I would go to industrial parks and parking lots to do donuts, burnouts and figure-eights.

When we first bought that car it was actually for my father’s business to sell on to a friend. As we were leaving the auction I did a little clutch kick and powerslide. The friend then tried to do the same thing leaving college a couple of days later, but he put it straight into a tree. So I bought the car back from him and it sat in my parents drive in pieces for two years while I figured out how to get the funds to fix it. It was through restoring and personalising that car that I learned about the sport of drifting, which would effectively change my life.

I started Formula Drift in a 240SX in its very first year in 2004. That was also the year that Ford debuted the fifth-generation Mustang though, and I just fell in love with it. From 2005 to this day I’ve been in Mustangs and haven’t looked back.

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I still have the Nissan in my garage in its last driven livery. It’s just sitting, but it’s something I’m not ready to part with yet. So many learnings and such progression as a person are associated with that car. There’s a lot of attachment there.

There were times I was driving that car on the road and in Formula Drift at the same time. I remember driving it around Baltimore with its full livery in 2004. It retained its lights and turn signals and everything. 

Once I transitioned into the Mustang – and I was in a Mustang before I had a relationship with Ford – that was my first feeling of torque. The Mustang is perceived to be a larger, heavy car, but it was so nimble and it worked so well for drifting. I remember thinking to myself, why didn’t I give this a chance as a teenager? I came to the conclusion that I was just being a hard-headed teenager and wanted something different from my parents. 

Once I started driving a Mustang and getting involved in the culture I was inspired to start RTR. I grew a passion for Ford and from then on all of my road cars, everything transitioned into Fords. Right now I’ve got Mustang RTRs and an F-150 Raptor. My wife drives a Ford Explorer. We’re very proud of the products that Ford is putting out and pumped to be working on projects like the Mach-E 1400 with them.

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I can’t leave things alone though. The Raptor has a set of RTR wheels on it and some chunkier tyres. That truck is so impressive as it sits, and it has a full warranty which allows you to go and have a lot of fun with it, so I haven’t messed with that too much. My Mustangs – I have multiple, it’s kind of embarrassing – range from RTR Spec 2s which just have our suspension, all the way to Spec 3 and Spec 5. The latter is our supercharged widebody car with 750bhp.

Vaughn's Dream Three-Car Garage

Mustang Mach-E 1400
I’d build a second Mach-E 1400. That’s a ridiculous thing and a great introduction to electric for me.

Mach-E 1400

 
Lamborghini Countach
I’ve always wanted a Countach. I drove one and was extremely disappointed, but it’d still be in my dream garage.

Countach Top Gear

 
Zakspeed Ford Capri
One of my favourite cars of all time. Group 5 was literally just ‘do whatever you want to a car and race it’.

Zakspeed Top Gear

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