Truck. VW Bug. Porsche 911. Lamborghini Countach. Jameson Neumann's early life progressed. No sooner could he speak his first words than his father was quizzing him on the types of cars that went by. While his preschool classmates were differentiating between their ears, nose and eyes, Neumann was being asked to know the difference between a Ferrari 308 and 328.
In kindergarten, he wasn't just drawing the typical "stick family with dog next to Christmas tree" with his crayons. He was creating three-dimensional automobiles. From a very early age, there was no doubt in his mind he wanted to design cars someday. Throughout his teen years, Neumann would tell everyone he planned to be a car designer. But it was more than just the usual "pro baseball player," "doctor" or "fireman" that underachieving kids often aspire to be; Neumann confidently believed it himself.
Shortly after tossing his high school mortarboard into the air, he enrolled at Montclair State University in pursuit of his dream job. A few short years later he moved to the car capital of America--Detroit, Mich.--to attend the College for Creative Studies, where he was given the opportunity to showcase his talents. As a project for one of his senior year industrial design classes, Volkswagen asked the class to design a concept VW Beetle without changing any steel tooling such as the hood. Neumann designed a power sliding canvas top and moving rear window system with a flat-folding trunk floor. This would prove to be his golden ticket. Volkswagen went for it and made the "Ragster," and other companies noticed.
While Neumann was proving his worth in the automotive industry, he was showing his friends that you don't always need the most expensive car in town to make a quality statement. Not only was he drawing cars, he was modifying them as well. One such gem would be his Chevy Beretta GT, a zero-option car he equipped with every rare factory upgrade he could track down on eBay. A self-proclaimed "eBay-a-holic," Jameson spent endless nights searching for parts to make the Beretta faster, better looking and more agile. His efforts paid off and he and his Beretta became the talk of the school.
Like many of us, Neumann never believed in having just one car. At one point he held the keys to three different cars including the above-mentioned Beretta, a 300ZX and a Saab 9000 Turbo; but still no Viggen. That was the car he really wanted, and his computer's screen saver reminded him daily. For years he searched for the rare and elusive Viggen, a car that was made for the North American market only 400 times.
When he finally got this 1999 example, he swore he would not change the car. But that idea flew out the window when he first drove it home. Still, he feels that the Viggen is already a remarkable car and insists he won't alter much. The majority of his improvements will be in the suspension and interior. He doesn't agree with outrageous spoilers and body kits that don't function better than their stock counterparts. While his car may not have many modifications at this point, it's his attention to detail that sets him apart. The sampling of carbon-fiber pieces is subtle but consistent. And the Viggen thunderbolt on the new wheels is a nice touch.
Neumann's parents never stood in the way of their son's dream to become a car designer and encouraged his automotive obsession. To this day they still keep their favorite concept design he ever drew. It's stood the test of time remarkably well indeed, especially considering it's 20 years old and done in crayon.
1999 SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
2.3-liter inline four, dohc, four valves per cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled, custom cat-back exhaust, carbon-fiber fuse box cover, Genuine Saab intake, Hyperboost HX compact BPV with blue silicone hoses
Genuine Saab front end kit with front anti-roll bar and urethane bushings, Genuine Saab rear anti-roll bar, MP strut brace
Wheels and Tires
ASA JH8 with custom Viggen center caps, 7x18
Pirelli P-Zero Nero, 225/40-18
Clear side markers, Saab carbon-fiber door pulls, carbon-fiber B-pillars
MP short-shift kit, carbon-fiber ignition console, AutoMeter Sport Comp carbon-fiber boost gauge, Genuine Saab gauge pod, Sparco pedals
Alpine IVA-D310 touchscreen (with carbon-fiber background download), MB Quart Q Series front and rear coaxial speakers, Rockford Fosgate amplifiers, SWIX steering wheel controller