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July 19, 2007

Ask Patty Interview with Amanda Shinji of Second Life's Pontiac Motorati Island

Ask Patty has been spending a lot of time in Second Life on Pontiac’s Motorati Island. On the island we have met some awesome car-lovin’ gals! We interviewed Amanda Shinji of the Parkade nightclub about her car customizing hobby.

Untitled Ask Patty: How did you get interested in designing cars in SL? Have you always loved cars?

Amanda Shinji: I've been interested in cars since my parents first took me out and I saw all the different wheels that they had.   I used to point to the wheels of a car and be able to identify it from them alone.   I'm a bit of a tomboy when it comes to cars and I have a particular fondness for Japanese cars, especially the Mazda RX7 FD, which is my dream car and the one that one day, I will own.   

I found out that Scion had a virtual dealership in SL (alongside Pontiac, Nissan and now Mercedes Benz) and bought myself a tC, but I found it boring to drive, so I set about learning how to modify scripts and bodywork and it sort of went from there.   The beauty of modifying a car in SL is that you can do what you want.  Okay, there are limitations with making a certain number of objects (aka 'prims') move, but there are ways around that.

AP: How long have you been in SL and how did you learn to built cars in SL. Tell me about your building studio in SL

AS: I've been in SL since December 2006, when I joined to see a virtual concert by a band that I like and then stayed as it looked like fun.   I learned to build by literally playing with prims; seeing what button did what, and how I could manipulate them and then when I discovered cars in SL. Everything just felt natural for me to start building and modifying them.

My studio is based around a small workshop, situated just down the road from the site actually.   It's a small place, nothing fancy, a bit grubby but you can tell it's mine as it has a string of Pontiac Solstice GXPs parked outside, all displaying modifications or custom graphics that I've made.   I also have a high-altitude building platform, where I've recently been working on newer cars, like my Pro Stock Solstice GXP and the Ultimate Drift Spec car too.

4_scion_xbeast_1 AP: Tell me about Parkade your venue in SL?

AS: Parkade is a nightclub, based on a converted car workshop.  It's a dirty, grimy place which still retains an automotive feel, but it's got a touch of the iconic club style about it, with modern balconies, exposed metal work and half a Solstice GXP for the DJ booth.   I've been going to Parkade for as long as I've been in SL, but when the old owner decided he'd had enough, I took it over along with 2 friends as backup, rebuilt the club from the ground upwards and I run it on a day to day basis.   We're slowly building up a loyal fan base and have live DJs Sunday-Thursday, as well as a monthly link-up to a live mash up night in San Francisco too.   I'm working on developing Parkade as a brand, as well as the premier nightclub on Motorati Island.

AP: What car do you drive in Real Life?

Smartroadster AS: I've had 3 cars in my short driving career so far.   I passed my test at the age of 17 (I'm 24 now) and got a little Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.25, which was a great little car to drive.  I didn't buy it new, but it lasted me with no problems until I got a new Mini for a combined Christmas/Birthday present (the benefits of a birthday in early January) and again, I loved that to bits as it was a fun, nippy little car, but I sold that after a personal event in my life meant that I was no longer able to enjoy it in the way that I had.   My third and current car is a Smart Roadster, which I love!   It's got a dinky little 3 cylinder, turbocharged engine, which puts out 81PS and that’s plenty of power for me nipping around where I live and heading into London now and again.   It's quite an exclusive little car as sales were really poor and they stopped production of them in 2005.  Granted, it's not the most practical car, but I'm single, I have no children and when I need to wheel my nieces around, I usually use my sister's Vauxhall Zafira anyway.

AP: Tell me about your favorite cars.

2_pontiac_solstice_gxpbaja_edition_AS: As I've already said, I have a real lust for the Mazda RX7 FD.  I just LOVE the looks of the car-it's incredibly sexy-plus despite the relative unreliability of the 13B rotary engine compared to a piston engine, it sounds incredible when tuned and it's not that hard to get 450+ BHP at the wheels from a 1.3 liter engine.  It's just gorgeous. If I couldn't have an RX7 then I'd settle for an RX8 or I'd love to import a Pontiac Solstice GXP.  I know I work with them a lot in SL, but the more I see pictures of real ones, plus watch video footage, the more I'm falling for it.   It's a really lovely car.   My only worry would be driving a left-hand drive car on British roads.

AP: You built some cars for Pontiac… can you tell me about some of your favorite projects for them?

1_pontiac_solstice_gxpultimate_drif AS: I have been commissioned to design and modify several Solstice GXPs for Pontiac, including the Motorati Girlz edition, a one-off champagne pink car for Callie Cline, the official car for Parkade and more recently I've been asked to make a display model for the Aquatica area, which has seen me take a Solstice GXP and turn it into a road-going pirate galleon, complete with eye patch.   I am planning to make that a mobile car too.   Having said all that, my favorite modification is the Solstice GXP Baja Edition, which was built as a personal fun project, but Pontiac have agreed to license it from me and once I've made a few tweaks, it will be going on sale.

There is hopefully going to be a VERY exciting development on the horizon, possibly involving the Solstice GXP Baja Edition, but I can't say any more about it.   IF it happens, will be one of the first to know!

AP: What other interests do you have in SL? I understand you are a DJ?

AS: I am indeed a DJ and I play out at Parkade, as well as other venues in SL from time to time.   I've been interested in music nearly as long as or even longer than I've been into cars, so it makes sense for me to be doing it in SL when It'd such a major interest of mine in the real world too.   

2_pontiac_solstice_gxpbaja_editio_2 As well as designing and modifying cars in SL, I like to race them too, when time permits.   I'm hoping to go racing at the Fairgrounds Speedway more often soon, plus get some more street racing events organized too.   I  also like to go ballroom dancing (yes, ME in fluffy gowns), skydiving/flying and I’m also extremely partial to a spot of retail therapy (shopping).

AP: Tell me about you most fun experience in SL ( PG).

AS: That’s a really tough question to answer as I've had a lot of fun in SL, but my best experience has to be when I married Sadie [in SL], earlier this year.  Sounds sappy, but it was a lovely day and we got married on the beach outside our house, in the open air with our friends around us.  That was a really special day.

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