Home » What Would You Tell Your Younger Enthusiast Self?

What Would You Tell Your Younger Enthusiast Self?

Autopian Asks Younger Enthusiast Self
ADVERTISEMENT

The automotive affliction is one that often takes hold at a particularly young age, and as youth as a time of experimentation, we often make some mistakes in our journey to being the car people we are today. However, what if you could potentially, maybe, perhaps attempt to stop some of those mistakes before you even started? Yep, today’s Autopian Asks involves time travel, so fire up your Mr. Fusion and let’s get cracking.

Imagine that underneath the seat of your latest second-hand ride, amongst crumbs and other debris, you found a magic envelope capable of sending precisely one letter to yourself in the past. What would you tell young enthusiast you? Obviously, you could mess up history and indeed the future considerably depending on what you write, so exercise extra care, but a little anonymous message probably won’t hurt, right?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Admittedly, if I had to do this, I’d probably write just three words: “Trust the process.” Everything I’ve done and haven’t done has led up to this point, for better or for worse. Everything about where I’m at right now, from writing about cars to owning the cars I do, has been a massive moonshot, and perhaps out of an abundance of caution, I wouldn’t want to risk messing that up. Of course, the alternative is “find space for that RX-7,” but then I’d be tempting fate. Our own Mark Tucker, pictured in the lead photo, would send a message along the lines of “The rust isn’t worth fixing.”

So, what would you tell your younger enthusiast self? Would you drastically attempt to change history, assuming the Novikov self-consistency principle won’t save you, or would you do something else? As ever, share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Photo credits: Mark Tucker)

ADVERTISEMENT

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
176 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago

Buy that $500 buck 69 Road Runner from your friend. It will still be there in your driveway after your license is reinstated, dumb ass…

Second don’t let your Dad off the hook for selling your 69 Super Bee.

Buy the Ferrari, don’t be a wuss.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

Start buying the best version of the cars you like now, because by the time that you are older and have more income, those cars will be out of your project car budget range.

When I was a teen and just got my first job as a technician at a Ford/VW/Infiniti dealer, all of these cars were affordable:

  1. Old aircooled Porsches
  2. Vanagon syncro westy
  3. 86-87 Turbo Buicks
  4. Used quigley 4×4 vans
  5. Older Land Cruisers
PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
2 months ago

“Go ahead and buy it. You’ll figure it out.”

So many opportunities passed because I didn’t feel like I was ready for the time, the space, the challenges. Once I started buying, I started finding ways to make space and time for all of the project cars I’ve enjoyed, and I don’t regret any of them.

Tacofan
Tacofan
2 months ago

Don’t bother with that cold air intake and stop wasting money on that Restore can every oil change, just do a normal oil change and your 93 MR2 will hopefully not blow it’s engine like it did to me.

World24
World24
2 months ago

“Fixing cars isn’t really that much fun as a job, even if it’s just some oil changes. Think harder about where you want to go in life, and don’t get stuck with the quite bothersome debt the comes from being an out-of-state student in a specialty college program, even if it’s for the products you enjoy the most. You could just buy a car from that company to show the love you have.”
Don’t get me wrong: my job that I got through the college has been entertaining and I’ve proven myself in my position (I’d say at least), but I probably could’ve gotten here at some point in time if I had stayed in town for the 2 years after college. The debt is truly a killer, and the benefit really isn’t there.

Jimal
Jimal
2 months ago

Hang onto that project car. I’ve gotten rid of so many project cars over the years that if I had held onto and finished…

Captain Chaos
Captain Chaos
2 months ago

Go to Charleston and rescue your sister’s CRX.

Just about the time I was going to get my license back in the mid ’90s, my sister decided she wanted an SUV, and found herself a nice used Mazda Navajo. She had been driving around in a red CRX Si with a 5 speed that was in OK shape mechanically (she could have done a better job on routine maintenance, but it is a Honda, so probably would have been fine) and pretty good shape cosmetically. I was just too dumb at the time to connect the dots and realize that it would have been a fantastic car for me to kick around in. Instead, I got to share my other sister’s Plymouth Acclaim (until I wrecked it in the infamous Springfield, VA “Mixing Bowl” during a downpour).

I actually don’t know what happened to that CRX, but I kick myself every time I think about how easily it could have been mine.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Take auto shop instead of drama and debate. The later may have more girls but they are just drama queens.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

When I was that age, my “forward thinking” school decided it needed to mix things up – so it forced the boys to take home ec, sewing, etc. and the girls to take shop.

So yeah, pretty much everyone was miserable. I did learn to make a pretty good omelet though.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Actually growing up my regular sitter grandmother took care of teaching cooking, baking, sewing, crocheting, card games, and canning preserves. My older brother who had grandfather as a sitter learned the more manly of pursuits. Our little brother never learned shit.

Maymar
Maymar
2 months ago

“Buy something more fun and stupid now, because it might never happen otherwise.”

H4llelujah
H4llelujah
2 months ago

Do not sell the 1978 CJ7
Do not sell the 1980 Dodge Aspen
Do not sell the 1979 F150
Do not sell the 1991 K1500
Do not sell the 1991 K5 blazer
Do not sell the 2004 Rumble Bee
Do not sell the 1987 YJ
Do not sell the 2001 TJ
Do not sell the 2007 Wrangler
Do not sell the 1991 Miata

Do not buy the 1989 Bronco 2
Do not buy the 1991 Toyota Pickup
Do not buy the 1999 Mustang
Do not buy the 2001 Taurus
Do not buy the 2007 FJ Cruiser
Do not buy the 1992 K3500
Do not buy the 2011 F150

Last edited 2 months ago by H4llelujah
PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
2 months ago
Reply to  H4llelujah

Do NOT buy the 2007 FJ Cruiser?

There has to be a really good story to justify this advice.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
2 months ago

Maybe he had to sit in the backseat during a road trip. That happened to me seven years ago and I can still remember how claustrophobic it felt.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
2 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

Oh, I remember how badly the back seat sucked and I’m still questioning it at least a wee bit.

H4llelujah
H4llelujah
2 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

It wasn’t too shabby. I was already used to Wranglers and I had a few trackers as well. If I’m burning the gas, I don’t wanna hear the whining lol

H4llelujah
H4llelujah
2 months ago

I’ve held the keys to a toyota twice my life, and somehow they were both money pits.

Long story short, Back around 2012 I had driven and owned a LOT of Jeeps, but they were always 150,000 mile plus Jeeps that I picked up cheap. While being super reliable (I SWEAR!) I wanted to start traveling big distances to go off-roading. This was all inspired by overlanding starting to show up in off road magazines.

Common “knowledge” was (Still is) that if you want something that’s just not going to break, get a Toyota. So I decided I wanted the Toyota “Jeep”, the FJ.

Despite flawless maintenance records and absolutely zero red flags, the FJ ate it’s entire timing system JUST out of warranty. If I’d have stayed in the old TJ I traded for it, I probably could have made it out to Moab that summer. Because I listened to the internet, I lost any shot at affording even a quick beach vacation.

The next year, while planning our trip, I came home to a positive pregnancy test on the counter.

So if I’m REALLY reaching, that damn thing cost me my only shot at going to Off road Mecca for the next few years lol

So yeah, that was my last Toyota 🙁

Last edited 2 months ago by H4llelujah
OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
2 months ago
Reply to  H4llelujah

Do not sell the 1980 Dodge Aspen

I have extremely fond memories of the 1977 Aspen Wagon with the mighty leaning tower of power since that’s the car I learned to drive on and I feel like it was a better car than history has remembered it. But, really?

H4llelujah
H4llelujah
2 months ago
Reply to  OrigamiSensei

Dude! Mine was just a Slant six automatic coupe. But somehow it was just a joy to drive. The engine sounded like a typewriter, but that thing would fire up every single time, from 100 degree days to -5 out, tap the key and it was running. The heater worked great. The seats were comfy. It handled like a dream. I think maybe I had $1500 in it, and drove it for about a year and (foolishly) traded it for a plain old Ford ranger.

Drad
Drad
2 months ago

Gas mileage doesn’t matter when you are 18. You literally have nowhere you need to be! Who cares if it breaks down, you can learn to fix it

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
2 months ago

“Buy that ’67 Corvette convertible at West Acton Sunoco they had for $500” in 1979.

And while you’re at it, buy something exotic out of those ads they used to have in the back of Road & Track, preferably a Porsche. Even more preferably a 908.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Dudeoutwest

My father once did exactly that – in the early ’70s, he bought a ’50s Jaguar XK140 he saw for sale, sitting on a lift, at a gas station. I always hold that up in my mind as the way to be.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago

Look for a different van. That one is pretty, sure, but it will use the aesthetic to ruin you. See if you can find one mechanically better off.

Or: maybe don’t get into DJ’ing/band stuff and just get a used Camry instead?

TommyG
TommyG
2 months ago

IDIOTA! Don’t sell the race car. Sure, times are tough right now but in 3 years you’ll have a new job with $$$$ and you will regret selling it for the rest of your life. (circa 1990)

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago

I was a weird kid in school, and getting a 1972 Super Beetle at 11 years old (I’m 30 now) didn’t help. I was damn near obsessed with it, old VWs are all I wanted to talk about. Naturally “Clark and his VW” made me an easy target to make fun of, and I took a lot of abuse on that front. It sounds stupid now, but when you don’t have a lot of friends and people make fun of you for one thing you really care about, something you’d wanted your whole life…it gets to you. (Yes, I’d wanted a Beetle since I was about four and saw the Herbie movies).

Anyway, what would I say to my middle/high school self? Fuck everyone who doesn’t like it. They don’t matter. You’ll forget who most of them are not long after graduating high school. By the time I was 18 most of my classmates suddenly thought it was cool, when I was in college everyone wanted to see the Beetle and go for a ride. As an adult out of school and on my own, all I get are compliments, smiles, and stories about VWs people had when they were younger. Getting that car, corny as it sounds, was one of the most important moments of my life. Just knowing that one day people would find it interesting instead of something to be shitty about, would have helped me weather it all a bit better. Not like other people’s opinions matter in general, but it’s hard to think that way when you’re 12.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

I love how at this point, Beetles are perhaps the ultimate I know cars signal. Few people who own one are having a shop do the work all the time, and it’s not like anyone is taking them to a dealer (the very idea of someone trying to do that makes me smile. “No, I don’t mean the 2011…I mean a Beetle…”).

To own one conveys immediate gearhead street cred with everyone. Can’t say that about, say, a new Lamborghini.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Trade
Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

What’s funny is I think I actually met the exception to this rule, probably 14 years ago. Talked to an older guy at a gas station who had a VW Thing which was his only car. It wasn’t a showpiece by any means. I mentioned how easy they were to work on and he told me he had no idea how to work on it, and that he took it to the one shop in the area that still specializes in air-cooled VWs. I still think about that guy, because I can’t imagine daily driving an old car and not knowing how to fix it. But more power to him!

Other than that one guy, you are absolutely correct. If you see someone driving an old VW, chances are they know their way around a car.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

I had a friend, a retired cop who even a few years ago, owned an ’80s Mazda 626. It even had antique plates on it. I used to work on it for him b/c otherwise, he’d take it to a shop. I don’t think he knew anything about it.

His MO was being cheap, so things worked out great all around.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
2 months ago

Buy a cheeeaaaap first car!

And cars become less fun past about 100hp/1000lbs

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago

Dear 24 year old Andrea in November 2012,
You’ve wanted a Fiat 500 for about a year now and congratulations, you got one! What seems like a fun and convenient car for now is actually going to change your life. You have just embarked on the journey towards becoming a car person. You’ll love this car, but you’ll want more so in a couple years, you’ll get a 500 Abarth. You’ll learn stick to get it. You will learn to maintain it and buy the tools to do so. You will meet so many people who will help you along the way, some of them will become your closest friends; people you will consider family.
You don’t know what it is, but in about 9 years you will adopt a Lancia. Really, it will find and adopt you. By then you will have stopped being afraid of walking into a shop. A shop will see your passion and adopt you, teach you, and give you more than you can ever repay. You’ll end up working in a shop across the street, helping others to feel less scared when they walk in.
In short, the choice you’ve made will give you a new life you could have never dreamed of just a year or two previous. You will dream every day of finding new ways to tie yourself to these cars and push yourself farther down this path. Holy shit girl, you are so in for the most incredible life. Sometimes painful and difficult, but never boring. Now go out there and know that you are blessed by Saint Gianni Agnelli of Turin.

Sincerely,
2024 Andrea

Torque
Torque
2 months ago

Andrea this is bloody fantastic.
Certainly deserving of COTD!

Bdot
Bdot
2 months ago

Calm down. You will eventually have a hot 2 door hatchback, and a hot wife that enjoys driving said hot 2 door hatchback.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
2 months ago

You are and will forever be too poor to really be enthusiastic about cars.

Buy the best most reliable transportation appliance you can, so it can get you to places and events where you can extract more enjoyment with whatever is rolling around in the perpetually too thin bank roll

Newcarpetsmell
Newcarpetsmell
2 months ago

Buy once, cry once. Don’t get cheap parts or the cheapest desired project car for sale. Better to pay more for a non-wrecked, rust-free car than think you’ll be able to fix it on a budget.

Last edited 2 months ago by Newcarpetsmell
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Newcarpetsmell

I couldn’t disagree more. My daily is a free f150. My other car was $800 and I rebuilt the motor with the cheapest parts on Rockauto. My mom’s daily was about $1200.

My advice would be, buy the crappy car. Jump into the deep end mechanically, it’s the best way to learn. You don’t need to spend much money to have fun.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I feel like I have a Rockauto magnet on my fridge that has your car on it…

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

After my drive tonight, I’ve gone 87 miles on that motor, which is my first engine build. I’m pretty proud of that.

I keep thinking that I should see if I can submit that car to be on a Rockauto magnet because it is most definitely Built with RockAuto Parts.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Unlike the ones with say a Ferrari, where you know the guy just bought some wiper blades and that’s it.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
2 months ago

Three things. Not particularly in this order.

  1. Don’t sell the CBX.
  2. Don’t sell the ’67 Firebird
  3. Don’t get married.
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
2 months ago

As I approach age 60… if I could address my younger self, I would say that “car enthusiasm” just isn’t worth it. “Hey, younger Eggsalad… you’ll waste a lot of money trying to buy interesting cars that you can afford, because you’ll forever be trying to keep them running. Take a 4-year loan on a Corolla, pay it off, drive it for another 6-8 years, repeat.”

Bucko
Bucko
2 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

I’m not approaching 60, but I’m not far behind. My advice is the exact opposite. Buy that basket case and keep it running. You will learn skills that they will never teach you in college. I have passed the skills I learned on to my daughters, who hated working on stuff when they were 10 year old but who now tell me how valuable those skills are in the workplace.

I get the opportunity to hire engineers and I always hone in on their mechanical aptitude. I’ve seen far too many engineering students who have a 3.9 GPA, but can’t tell the difference between a ratchet driver and a hole in the ground. If someone with a 3.0 GPA tells me that they worked on cars growing up, I’ll hire them over the same student with better academic credentials so fast it will make your head spin.

That doesn’t even count the lifetime of memories I will have driving my 79 Scirocco instead of a Corolla

Last edited 2 months ago by Bucko
Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
2 months ago
  1. Don’t dismiss different genres of automotive enthusiasm just because they aren’t your taste. Imports can be awesome. You don’t have to embrace it, but throwing hate isn’t productive.
  2. Take the risk. Dive in. Unbolt stuff. You’ll break things, but that’s how you learn.
  3. Buy that weird car. As long as it’s not too rusty.
  4. Speed isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just because your Foxbody can do 100 doesn’t mean you should ever do that. Guess what… the car is still super enjoyable when you’re being safe in it.
  5. Your first car… That 1984 Subaru GL 4×4 with the digital dash? Show it more love. And try to keep it. I know you hate it now, but you’re wrong. When it’s gone you’re never gonna see it again.
  6. You might have autism. You’ll never be able to grow a beard. You can’t gain a lot of weight but you are totally built to run half marathons. And that Mark McGwire rookie card your saving is gonna disappoint you. Don’t take anything seriously and you’ll be fine.
Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

All are really good, but #2 very much speaks to me.

Part of what got me into wrenching was a gut feeling, first small but then growing, that I didn’t really know my car.

Sure, I drove her, paid others to maintain her, like many people, but I began to feel I didn’t really understand much about her in a visceral, hands-on way, and wasn’t making what seemed to be a meaningful connection, beyond simple ownership.

So I took the plunge and enrolled in night school. It was fantastic, and I proved to myself that my hunch was right – I had been previously missing out on so much. So I wish I’d done it when I was younger (and am always jealous of those who grew up with it), but I’m nonetheless glad I did, eventually.

Torque
Torque
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Reminds me of the DIY / right to repair idea…

“If you can’t take it apart and put it back together yourself, you don’t really own it…”

Kind of like seeing a beautifully maintained / restored or custom car. It’s different when said car was maintained / restored or customized the owner themselves vs. being thr guy/gal writing checks/CC/vendors.

And yes Both certainly can still be auto enthusiasts

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  Torque

Visiting relatives, there’s a neighbor who owns a Ferrari 599 GTB. It’s amazing to behold, and represents a world of automobilia so far from my own. I almost drool just looking at it when their garage door is open…I can’t imagine having a car like that to simply jump in and go.

But…at the same time, for the owner, it’s this sort of beautiful black box. They don’t work on it, or seem to know much about it except driving it. Any problems are a drive to the shop and/or a flatbed tow away from solved.

To each their own, but it always strikes me a little bit as less intimate, and more like renting than owning.

Torque
Torque
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

100%

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago

Sell the kidney and buy that immaculate ’69 Fiat 1500 with the Nardi steering wheel. You still have another kidney, but you won’t find that Fiat anymore.

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

Also, with only one kidney you will learn how to lead a much healthier life.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

“So, what would you tell your younger enthusiast self?”

Keep doing what you’re doing by buying cheap manual cars… and don’t get married. Or if you do decide to get married, for the love of god, only marry a woman who has a good career and makes at least close to what you earn.

Oh and load up on Network Solutions, Amazon, Apple and Tesla shares… dump all your spare money into them.

Last edited 2 months ago by Manwich Sandwich
Angry Bob
Angry Bob
2 months ago

This. When incomes are off balance, it doesn’t give your partner a lot of incentive to try to make things work.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago
Reply to  Angry Bob

It depends on the two people. My wife ALWAYS made about 10 times what I would on average. In a good relationship money is only a tool.
I was a lucky bastard. YMMV.

176
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x