Born and raised in a mountain community just inland of Eureka, California, Brian Finch didn't get exposed to many hot rods or muscle cars. His father was a timber faller whose only involvement in the automotive industry was driving to work. Where did Brian get the bug? His friends were all into totally unrelated things, caught up in the social activities the small-town school offered. After some deep thought and hours rooting through the family albums, he figured out where he got his interest from. In many of the pictures he had tools and parts of household appliances scattered about. From a very young age Brian was interested in how things came apart and what made them tick. Brian told us: "As soon as I could hold a wrench in my hand, I was looking for something to put it on." Taking apart toasters and radios was very interesting to Brian at first, but as he approached his teen years, he was looking for more of a challenge. He thought of cars as very large and complicated toasters that he wanted to take a closer look at. He read every hot rodding magazine he could get his hand on, cover to cover.
His family and friends couldn't aid him in fulfilling his curiosity, so he had to go about it on his own. Brian took a job at the local saw mill when he was 15 years old. Though technically illegal to have a child that young working, he got away with it because of his after-hours grease-gun job. Brian was working nights and weekends so not to interrupt his mandatory scholastic commitments. After eight months he saved the $550 he needed to buy his first car. He wanted something that looked cool and would serve as transportation for when he was old enough to drive. He found a '68 Mustang coupe for sale in the local paper and bought it. It was a running and driving 302 two-barrel car with an automatic transmission and bone-white interior. The car had been rear ended, badly wrinkling the trunk lid, tail panel, and both quarters-explaining the low price tag.
Brian worked on his first hot rod all through high school, upgrading the two-barrel carburetor with a four-barrel version and eventually building a whole new engine for it. He also changed the white interior over to black for a cooler look. Because of limited time, knowledge, and budget, the car never made it past primer. In 1986, and now only 17, he bought an '80 SVO Mustang to carry the engine from the '68, the shell of which he had abandoned. The experience of building and driving this '80 Mustang changed the way he looked at cars forever. As a bonus for signing up with the Navy right after high school, Brian received $5,000. This went toward an extremely powerful crate engine for the Mustang. Being young and power thirsty, Brian stuffed as much horsepower between the inner fenders without giving much thought to the rest of the car. With stock brakes and suspension, the car, and Brian, couldn't handle the power. The car ended up in a ditch. From then on, Brian saw how important it was to build the car as a whole, rather than as a house for an engine.