It can be difficult to get into a new hobby. When you’re a fresh face in a new world, some people may make you feel unwelcome because you’re not as knowledgeable as others. This can happen with any hobby, from something as simple as a video game to as complex as a car. The reality is that you don’t have to know how to time an engine to love a car. Loving cars is different for everyone!
Earlier today, our David Tracy wrote about the Ganeshan family Honda Odyssey, a van that was in the family since it was purchased new in 2004. For many people, cars are just appliances that get disposed of when their duty is over. That’s not always the case, and in cases like the one David highlighted today, a car becomes a part of the family.
Autopian readers are starting off the year not with one-liners that have us on the floor laughing, but with a number of comments that tug on our hearts. That article was full of them, but today’s COTD is a result of a couple of observations. Mr.Asa said:
They’re a source of fellowship like few other possessions even have the chance to be.
You might collect model trains. You might restore hit’n’miss engines. You might play soccer. You might love to read. You might have any number of passions or hobbies. With very few exceptions you aren’t going to get stopped in the parking lot of some place and have a chance to discuss those hobbies; you aren’t going to have a chance to expand your circle with someone that likes some of the same things as you.
Not saying that any of those other hobbies are bad, not saying that you need to jump into cars with both feet (although if you’re reading this, you probably already have,) just saying that its a beautiful thing to be able to see someone in the weirdness that the world has become and be able to instantly connect with them on some level.
Newbalanceextrawide followed it up with this COTD winner of a reply:
It’s interesting- a lot of the hobbies I’ve had over the years can be kind of gatekeepy- craft beer snobs who always want to question your knowledge or judge your preferences, or photography people who look down their nose at my equipment- I realized it’s made me approach hobby/fan groups cautiously. I was taken to a soccer match, for example, and when asked how I was enjoying it, I said I lacked the expertise to have an opinion, but was having fun.
I was not taught mechanical skills growing up and smile and nod politely at many of the more technical discussions here. I definitely feel like an imposter sometimes, and not a worthy gearhead. That’s probably why I landed here, because of in particular Jason’s approach- cars as art, the tactile feel of chewing on various rubber or vinyl bits, etc. There are so many ways to be an enthusiast. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to be able to rebuild an engine to appreciate things.
Mr.Asa’s comment is something I’ve never realized before. Of the perhaps infinite hobbies, few of them have the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger quite like a vehicle. You can be into CrossFit, but unless you walk into a bar and tell people that you’re into CrossFit, that random conversation isn’t happening. Park a crapbox Chevy Tracker in a car wash bay, and you might strike up a conversation out of nowhere with someone.
Unfortunately, the car world still has plenty of gatekeeping. In some spaces, you’d be looked down on for liking an automatic transmission. In others, you might be insulted for liking something that’s not a mainstream enthusiast car. It’s something that I’ve experienced for years because I love the Smart Fortwo. Hell, I even got crap for my first car, the red Kia Rio below. To this day I still get nastygrams in my email saying that I’m not a car enthusiast and unqualified to write about cars because of the cars that I like.
Frankly, that’s insane. Do you know how boring it would be if everyone loved the same cars? Variety is part of what makes car enthusiasm so awesome. To Newbalanceextrawide’s point, you also don’t need to know how to overhaul an engine in a day to love a car. Maybe you just love the way cars look or sound, but don’t know how to wrench. That’s fine, too! Love that Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet at the top? You’re good in my book.
Cars are for everyone, and you can love a car for any reason you want. So long as these pages stay online, it’s something that we’ll always push.
Oh my god I had completely forgotten about the car texture chewing conversation. I think that was one of the posts that made the autopian stand out to me haha.
I needed to hear this. I don’t have the time, patience, or mechanical aptitude for most wrenching tasks. I could never build a Project Cactus. When my old Cougar needs major work, I have a trusted mechanic and a checkbook. But I love cars. I love learning the history, I love driving them, I love looking at them, I love seeing a rare one in the wild that most people wouldn’t even recognize as unusual. And when I drive my Cougar, someone else gets to see the rarest car they’ll see all day.
I’m in an interesting position vehicle-wise. I do own a unique vehicle that only a handful of were ever built (no records) and very few still exist (if any other than mine). But, it takes someone with a fair understanding of older Ford trucks to really understand what I drive. Some folks see it as a bit odd and ask about it. Some folks don’t even register that it is different at all. Occasionally, someone stops, does a double-take and with a wide grin asks me about it. I get notes left on it regularly asking me to call them about selling it (no). So, I have gotten used to people with a wide array of hobby vehicle-ness. I accept them all. I don’t get upset when people ask me if I want to sell, for I have lost a few vehicles for the lack of asking about it or leaving a note. It is a coach-built 1964 Ford F100 crewcab and my dad bought it from the original buyer/orderer in 1965.
My most recent vehicular purchase could not be less interesting. A white automatic ’99 Corolla sedan. You know what? I love that little bugger! It’s a great car!
I’ve gone through various phases of lusting after Corollas. As a college kid with a bad head gasket on my Jetta that I could not afford to have fixed, I wished I’d have bought the damn Corolla. As an adult who decided to go cheaper/used after driving the new Corolla, only to have changed vehicles three more times in quick succession, I remember asking myself “why didn’t I just buy the damn Corolla?”. 35 years of driving and I still haven’t bought the damn Corolla, but I guarantee every time there’s one available at the airport rental counter, those are the keys I ask for.
I smile every time I see a CrossCab. I’m not sure I _like_ it, but I appreciate that something so absurd exists.
Come to think of it, I finally saw the new Avatar last night and I feel kind of the same way about it.
It probably wasn’t the best idea for Nissan to make it, but it sure makes me chuckle that they did.
I’m a super diehard Gearhead car addict…. My main love is early 60s Lincolns, one which I own is very well know around the world as being one of the wildest Suicide Lincoln builds ever. I also have a lifted excursion, and many other vehicles ( mainly Lincolns ). I own a kustom metal fabrication and paint shop which I do countless vehicles of all shapes years makes and models. Beyond that I host a monthly cruise in event, one which I encourage families to come out and have contests, games,free prizes for kids and participants. I want to start having kids get into the scene as much as possible. With all that being said I like all types of builds and as a shop owner I also know that many car enthusiasts can’t do everything either, some can do minimal, some can’t do anything but they still love cars and fixing them up and enjoying them and attending events.
My family had a beige 1983 Volvo 240 (Manual) which we put over 200K miles on. It’d been through some things mechanically due to water getting into the gas at a filling station in our town and a timing belt not replaced when it was supposed to, but aside from that it was a reliable, comfortable family car. I didn’t learn to drive on it. It was too important to risk. We taught me in my beater (1961 Olds 98, auto). I learned stick shift on my brother’s beater, a 1977 Plymouth Arrow. Then I was allowed to drive the Volvo. I am not sure my family ever had a car quite as good at the job it was intended to do than that Volvo was.
No gatekeeping. Diversity adds strength to a community-and a little weirdness certainly adds flavor. I spent a solid 1/2 hour talking to a young guy with an older stock Honda about all the trim parts he had done in matching paint-splatter. Not my style, but he had worked hard-first time ever pulling a valve cover-and was a bit wary of being among the wrenching crowd. Had arrived in my Bil’s Caterham clone, so had a bit of faux authority there: I encouraged him, told him not to sweat the lack of wrenching space or skills, and to just do what made him happy. He’s an enthusiast in my book.
My first car was a Honda Odyssey in the same color as the Ganeshan’s. Faithfully served our family for 11 years until it was handed down to me and survived all of the shenanigans a 16-year old could possibly put a car through. Even discovered it was faster than a Suburban in a “family hauler drag race”.
When I finally saved enough to buy my own car, we traded it to a contractor for some roofing work. He drove it for another year or so before it was lost in a freak accident. A windstorm blew a semi truck across the state highway, the trailer overturning across part of the van and pinning it against a guardrail. The contractor credited the vehicle for saving his life, and after seeing the accident scene firsthand I can’t help but agree.
I hate most when people look down on other enthusiasts who admit they don’t wrench on their cars. Not everyone has the desire, skills, or time to work on their vehicles but still can enjoy driving them. You’re not “better” because you wrench. You’re not “better” because you drive a manual. You’re better when you welcome everyone who wants to be a part of the hobby in.
People’s connection to their vehicles is not something that is subject to the approval of others. Or, it shouldn’t be. I remember some stupid comments about the “whale tail” on my 911 SC. I could care less what others think. I was never happier in any car I ever owned. I wish to God I could find it.
No sane person could like the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. But that’s okay, I can talk to crazy people as much as I can talk to the non-crazy people. It’s always interesting to hear why people like the things they like.