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Legends Series: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera
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Legends: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera

I went to my first show with the fish tank [in my Corolla SR5] in the middle of summer in New Jersey. I was late to the show and they wouldn’t let me register. I had all my tools with me, so I found the owner of the place and I said, ‘Look, man, you’ve got to give me a chance.’ And he just said, ‘I’m sorry.’ 

I’d only gone to one show before, so nobody knew who I was. I had no connections in the industry. I was there by myself and I said, ‘Look, man. I’ve got something here that’s pretty special and if you just give me five minutes of your time, I guarantee you won’t regret it.’ 

Legends: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera

The guy finally said, ‘Okay, I’ll give you five minutes.’ So I showed him the car, I had a towel over the fish tank and I showed it to him and said, ‘Look, I have a fish tank in this car.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Are you serious? Are those fish alive?’ And I go, ‘Yeah!’ It had the pump and everything. He said, ‘Okay, I’ll let you into the show, just finish your car and let me know when you’re ready.’ So, I was in the back, far away from everybody. It probably took me three hours to finish what I was doing and I finally called the guy over. 

Legends: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera

It was unbelievable. This guy brought me to the very front and I didn’t have to pay to register. All the judges had stopped judging because they needed to see this car. It was my second show and I went from being a truck driver to having a fish tank in the car. One of the reps from Phoenix Gold — this is back when they had their first amplifiers — came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man. I’m going to get you in touch with Phoenix Gold, they have to see this car.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, right.’ Next thing you know, I get a phone call from the President of Phoenix Gold and they want to see some more pictures of my car.

Legends: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera

PASMAG: So, when did you start competing?

FISHMAN: I started competing at shows that summer; winning some and losing some. Whenever I lost, I didn’t car about losing, I just asked the judges what I did wrong. I just wanted to get better. The same judges would see my car the next week and I would fix whatever they told me. I just kept learning as I was going. 

I was going from show to show every week and the next thing I know, my car started becoming the talk of the East Coast. I went all the way to Canada because back then Canada had some great installers. I was competing throughout the Northeast, and I got invited to the IASCA finals in ’91 where my car took first place. I got invited to CES and got featured in Car Audio magazine. Here I am, 24 years later.


Legends: Inside the Mind of David “Fishman” Rivera

PASMAG: That feature was your first of many...

FISHMAN: Yeah. That was the magazine I wanted to be featured in, because I had called the editor months earlier and explained to him that I had this car and my dream was to be in his magazine. Of course, you’ve got a Puerto Rican with a fish tank in a car; no one is going to give you the time of day. 

Legends Fisherman Micky Slinger PASMAG 012

When I went to the finals and the car was the talk of the show, [the editor] was there and I recognized him. So, I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, you like this car?’ And he goes, ‘Oh yeah. Very interesting.’ I said, ‘Well, you might not remember me, but do you remember someone on the phone tell you he had a fish tank in his car?’ He says, ‘Oh, I don’t recall.’ And I said, ‘I do, that was me.’ 

I had all of these magazines wanting to do a feature on the car, so I had all these editors fighting each other to see who was going to do the feature. Of course, my dream was for my car to be in Car Audio magazine, but he didn’t know that. So I just started playing the game and I got my car featured.

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