Home » If You Care About Car Culture Don’t Be A Jerk All The Time

If You Care About Car Culture Don’t Be A Jerk All The Time

Dont Be A Jerk Ts
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Cars are still a necessity for many Americans and, therefore, the culture of cars is likely to survive for a while. The long-term health of our culture is at risk for various external reasons and one big one: People acting like jerks.

Cars are awesome. I love cars. I devote most of my day to writing about, driving, or thinking about cars. Some of my best memories are in cars. When people online or in person explain their dissatisfaction with cars I am quick to defend vehicles not only as a form of transportation but also as a focal point for community building amongst often diverse groups.

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Car culture is good for democracy. It is good for society. I interface with people I might otherwise not because of cars and, in doing so, have the kind of interactions that are necessary for a functioning polity.

Unfortunately, there’s a group of folks, best represented by the r/fuckcars subreddit, that see cars only as a societal evil. To them, cars are a historical mistake caused by greedy 20th-century capitalism that led to us remaking our cities for cars and, by doing, so clogged our air with noxious fumes and sent everyone out to the suburbs.

It would be easier to laugh off the group if there weren’t constant reminders that our hobby is at risk of being outlawed in different ways. And being a jackass really hurts all of us.

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This has come up recently because of this gentleman, Miles Hudson, aka SRT.Miles, aka aka the “Belltown Hellcat.” He has a Hellcat Dodge Charger with a modified exhaust and his joy seems to be in driving as loudly as possible late at night in Seattle.

In watching a lot of these videos it’s not clear if Hudson’s goal is to represent car culture or just be an annoying influencer, but to the average resident nearby it’s a “car thing” and nothing else.

You can really get the sense of how this is about cars from a recent write up in Fox 13 Seattle:

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Hudson’s Hellcat — a Dodge Charger modified with racing-grade software and an ensemble of aftermarket parts — wears a price tag close to $100,000. While some automotive mod companies linked to Hudson on his Instagram page relish his patronage, others are slamming the brakes on any association with the reckless driver’s exploits.

The city’s patience wore thin last week as Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison took legal action, demanding a default judgment against the daredevil driver. Hudson could be on the hook for not only his towering fines but also the taxpayer dollars squandered as a result of his failure to answer the city’s pleas.

Residents have lodged numerous complaints and police have issued warnings, tickets and reports to no avail. Hudson’s mother emailed the city in mid-May, insisting that steps were being taken to bring the car into compliance and under new ownership. Yet, a recent video on Hudson’s Instagram page contradicts these claims, showcasing masked antics that only fan the flames of local frustration.

The “racing grade” software bit is kinda hilarious and this is an extreme example, but it’s certainly not the only one. If it’s not Hellcats in Seattle it’s people in trucks “rolling coal” on electric cars:

If you’re not aware, rolling coal is using a (usually modified) diesel truck to spew as much particulate matter into the air. This is typically done by tweaking the engine to dump as much diesel into the cylinders as possible and, without enough air for proper combustion, the exhaust releases a big smokey plume that’s terrible for everyone. A kid in Texas tried to do it to a bunch of cyclists, accidentally collided with them, and sent two of them to the hospital.

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The Hardigree Principle

Not to get too Andy Rooney on your ass, but when someone acts like a dummy in a Nissan Altima that’s easy to write off as a person being a dummy in a Nissan Altima, but when someone acts foolish in a modified car or a sports car it’s suddenly more ammo for those trying to declare all cars evil.

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Now, Matt Hardigree is only human, don’t think I haven’t been through the same predicament. I get the appeal of being dumb in a car and I have, of course, been dumb in a car. But I’ve very specifically tried to do dumb shit in a way where, if I really screw up, I’m only annoying/hurting/inconveniencing myself. I’ve also tried to do it stealthily. If I’m in a bright orange Veyron I’m not going to go bombing down Broadway.

Weirdly, this seems to be the exact opposite of how people act. The more conspicuous the car the more conscious the activity.

This is why I’m proposing The Hardigree Principle, which states that the louder and flashier your car the harder you need to try to not be a jackass in public.

If you’ve got a heavily modified Pontiac Aztek with a bright purple zebra wrap and a bangin’ sound system then it’s on you to not blast Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” outside the Children’s Hospital at 4:00 AM. If you’re a Creed Festival then or a race track or whatever, sure, have at it.

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If your daily is a brand new 911 GT3 then, cool, good for you. Great car. Maybe try not to hoon it on city roads in the middle of a weekday, it’ll only end badly.

This isn’t to say that if you have a stock Dodge Neon you’re allowed to drive however you want. Always be safe, but the odd front-wheel-drive tire chirp from a spotlight isn’t going to grab the attention of the national news or doom car culture.

This Is What SLAB Culture Gets Right

Growing up in Houston I sort of grew up with SLAB cars. For those who don’t know, SLAB means Slow, Loud, and Bangin’ and refers to any car (though often older American cars) lowered and covered with bright candy paint, a huge subwoofer (with which to bang), and swangas (wheels with the giant elbows out).

Out of any context, they are about as obnoxious as any car could possibly be. But the “slow” in SLAB is important. While I regularly experienced SLAB cars in the wild and, on occasion, heard a few pop off with some Lil’ Keke in the middle of the HEB parking lot, I rarely had any issues.

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Part of the reason is that so much money is put into these cars that it would be risky to drive fast with these wheels. Unfortunately, as pointed out in the film above, clout chasing has resulted in some street racing and other less-ideal behavior for social media.

To get a little more Andy Rooney, I do think social media has made this behavior worse by making it possible to grab a huge audience and make money by being more obnoxious with your car.

Ultimately, I think car culture is a good thing and for every one jackass annoying their neighbors for lols there are dozens of other helpful, well-meaning people who just like cars. It’s on the rest of us to do better personally and also to discourage our friends from being chodes so we don’t wind up with more car shows that think they need to ban whole classes of cars to survive.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin: It’s a nice car culture, if we can keep it.

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67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
16 days ago

I think social media is the single worst thing to happen to any kind of culture for the last decades, and we will pay for it for some time.

Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
16 days ago

Ok lets get this straight the Belltown Hellcat guy is more into social media influence than a member of car culture. Also I find interesting that a recent study linked loud exhaust with psychopathy. I’d put the coal rollers in the same category as well even if the study did not. So really you are here preaching to the choir and not the perpetrators.

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