Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s love affair with automobiles got off to an inauspicious start. His first car nearly got him killed, and not because he was driving too fast. In the summer of 1994, at the age of 19, Jackson plunked down $53,000 in cash made from peddling drugs on the streets of New York for a charcoal gray Toyota Land Cruiser. He tricked it out with a rooftop bike rack, new wheels and a sound system with a bass that thumped so hard it rattled the license plate against the back hatch.
A few months later, Jackson was driving his car through a rough neighborhood when a stranger pulled up next to him, flashed a menacing look and asked, “Yo, where Black at?” “Black” was the street name of a notorious–and violent–gangster. Jackson quickly put it all together: Black had a similar-looking car. Jackson shrugged at his questioner and, luckily for him, the man drove off into the night.