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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Why Cars?

It is clear that when someone decides to dedicate an entire blog to one topic, that specific subject is of special importance to them. As such, some may wonder why I chose cars to be the subject of this page and the posts within it. In a broader sense, many wonder why it is I have such a love, truly a love, for cars. Simply a mode of transportation for many, a utilitarian item, almost an appliance, it may be a strange concept to exhibit such a passion for an inanimate object. In this specific case, I beg to differ, as I find the automobile to be a very unique item as far as the relationship we may form with it. Beyond the sheer beauty of some models and designs, cars are one of the single greatest forms of self expression that we may own. Cars also create visceral sensations, and enable a human being to experience movement and speed at the limits of what can be achieved on ground. Cars have personalities, and quirks, and each brand a differing ideology to align with. I do love cars, and there are plenty of reasons why.

A car says more about its owner than any other individual item they own. Whether we like it or not, what we drive sends a message, a loud one, for others to pick up on either actively or subconsciously. If you think about it, in most cases, a car is the most expensive possession someone owns outside of their home, and it goes with you wherever you travel. You may have a beautiful home, but unless you invite people over, they'll never see it. That leaves whatever you drove into town as the next most significant representation of what is important to you, as far as what you're seen with. Cars are big machines, sometimes loud, with lights and motors and moving bits; they attract attention. Now this is not to say that the importance I'm placing on what a car says about the owner is related to the cost. Of course, big money cars represent status, but that's less the point here than the nuance of what everyone chose, down to that $1000 beater. Pull up in a minivan, and the assumption is you have a larger family and need to transport them around; your children are your priority at this stage in life. Bought a new Subaru? Probably somewhat outdoorsy or sporty, like safety in all weather, maybe just have a fear of driving in the snow. Toyota Camry? You're the responsible thinker, you want reliability at all costs, you want a car that always gets you there that doesn't require much maintenance and hold value well. We all chose what we drive for specific reasons, and there's a fun in being able to state what those reasons are, in choosing what we want to represent.  Am I the serious businessman in my black sedan, or the fast-and-loose thrill seeker in the yellow sports car? Cars allow us to make these statements in a very public way. Just try pulling up somewhere in a lime green Porsche and tell me that crowd that gathered isn't trying to figure you out. You can't say the same about a watch, a pair of shoes, or new patio furniture. Every time I choose a car, I put thought into what it says about me, and enjoy doing so. Who do you want to be? You get to choose what that curb-side first impression is. When you drive away from that curb, you get the greater element of what a car offers you.

Cars, for me, above all the design and the image, are about the drive. It may seem obvious, that is in fact what they're for, but I'm talking about 'The Drive' as in the experience of really testing a car's capabilities along with your own. I, for example, love the rubber band pull of torque, that shove of acceleration you get from a big block V8 for example. Cornering is another fun element when you start to get into some of the nimbler performance cars, or start to upgrade handling components yourself. If you're a skilled driver, and in tune with your car, you can literally feel the road, you can sense the cars limits with exacting precision. Learn a car well enough and you'll know exactly how much more throttle you can give it through a bend before those tires let go, or just how late you can brake without winding up in a tree. Cars, in essence, are your own personal roller coaster, your road going fighter jet, your real life, multi-sensory video game. Few things beat the thrill of a passionate drive, with the vibrations, and rushing air, roaring motor, working hands and feet, even flexing your core to wrangle the car while your eyes pick lines through turns and scan for hazards. This is an experience you own, can share or enjoy yourself, at almost any time with the turn of a key and enough gas. What other device that one owns can deliver this kind of feedback? Not to mention, this can all be enjoyed while actually getting somewhere. It's your space, and mode of expression, providing you with endless entertainment and joy while delivering you to a destination. What's not to love? Well, there's plenty about car ownership that can be challenging, but that's the third element that makes cars such a unique thing.

Car ownership is a relationship. I mean this in the most literal sense, and it lends to what becomes the 'personality' of the car you own. You carefully select your car, you put time into learning about it before you commit, and it's a big commitment. You receive joy and benefit from the partnership, maintain it as expected, though trouble can arise, and unexpected costs, and some frustrations. You are willing to fix these problems, out of love, and in the hopes that you can spend more time together, though sometimes when the problems are too severe and too frequent you have to walk away. Cars have quirks, some specific to particular brands, like the Crayola crayon smell of earlier Mercedes leather. It becomes easier to see how your car takes on a greater significance, comes to life in a way, when compared to other possessions. We spend a significant amount of time in our cars, and when we take them places we associate those memories with them; we drove up that mountain in the old Dodge, or remember when the new puppy got carsick in your Mustang? Cars, in this way, are a friend or a part of the family; they are significant.

Plenty can be said about the aesthetic elements of cars, with some of the worlds best designers and engineers crafting stunning figures in metal and carbon fiber. I can go on about materials used, or the features they packed into an interior, or performance and handling. These things, though, are not what makes a car truly special to write about, they are not what allows me to say I love cars. Cars are an extension of you, your personality, maybe even a hidden side you have. Cars take you places, and give you superhuman capabilities, turning the world into a sprawling racetrack. Cars are friends and family members, there with you when you need them, and with needs of their own. Cars matter to me, they are and always will be a passion of mine. While I know this passion isn't universal, I believe if you consider some of my points you may realize just how significant your car is to you too. Who knows, you may realize you're more of a car nut yourself than you originally though. If you are, and I hope you all are, there's whole community waiting for you, here and all over the world. All you need to do is drive over.

See you on the road,


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