The Fake Petrolhead and & Their Many Forms - Part 1
"Showing off is the fool's idea of glory"
It takes a certain type of person to be utterly obsessed with a single topic. Look at Stephen Hawking, this is a man who could theorize complex calculations devoted to the very existence of matter and time itself and explain it in a way that somehow made sense (sort of) to those of us who paid a slight interest in his science. Marie Curie… A woman so obsessed with investigating unknown quantities of uranium and thorium that it would ultimately become the cause of her demise through radiation poisoning. But, never the less, these are examples of people obsessed, something that we as humanity should celebrate. If it was not for pioneers and obsessives in their respective fields, we may still be forging weapons in iron as opposed to posting pictures of our home-made pork & fennel ragu on Instagram.
The seemingly instinctive human trait of obsession has spawned many interesting sectors of society, there are those among us who obsess over the most trivial and sometimes bizarre of things. Such as plastic surgery, so much so to the point of looking like a life size barbie doll (an extreme example I’ll admit) or collecting stamps (in my opinion, another extreme example, if extremely dull). One of the more common obsessions that has formed over the last 100 years however, is unsurprisingly, cars. This, naturally, has too many sub sectors to go over and at the risk of offending certain car sub-cultures I’m not going to list them today, though that may be a topic for another day. However, we are all familiar with the obsession with the motor car and things that go "VROOM", as many of us are inflicted with said addiction for things that have 4 wheels, and with this obsession comes a certain level of anal retentiveness and snobbery.
But, with said snobbery comes an appropriate amount of entitlement we all feel through our often geeky level of knowledge.
It would be understandably shocking if I stood up during one of Hawking's lectures and told him he was wrong about his theory of black holes. Or if I decided to write a book on the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics based off Doctor Who and Star Wars, predictably I would be titled a fool. Those of us who are obsessed however, spend our spare time studying our passion and honing our knowledge in the hope that someone may actually ask us about the engine codes in early 00's BMW’s or the type of suspension used on an EP3 Honda Civic, despite the fact no one other than us, are quite as sad. But it is with this obsession and nerdiness that makes it more offensive when we come across not only a pretender telling us we’re wrong, but an entitled one at that.
Therefore, I feel appropriately entitled to express my deep discomfort with the fake petrol head and their ever-annoying habits that I’m certain I am not alone in sharing a hatred for. So, allow me to run you through, week by week, my short, but not exclusive list of petrol head peeves. Let’s begin with the loudest of the bunch.
Just because it's shiny and expensive doesn't mean you know what you're talking about
This is a tricky one to understand based solely from the heading, as most petrol heads are guilty of showing off in some form or another. As even I have previously likened myself to a young Paul Walker whilst driving, only to be surprised by the rather gopping look that I see staring back at me from the reflection in the sun visor. But no, “The Show Off” is not that sense of joy we feel behind the wheel, nor is it related to the satisfaction one has during oversteer, what I am referring to is much worse. I am of course talking about the ignorant posers that we have all had the misfortune of being in the presence of. The type that buys a car, not to utilize its full potential but instead to use as a top trump card during a pub conversation. This is the type of person to mention the price, despite the fact no one has asked about the price, someone who will be as quick to point out their car is faster 0-60mph than yours than they are at saving an infant from drowning, due to fear of their Yeezy’s getting wet.
I affectionately refer to these people as “elevenerife’ers”, as in, if you’ve been to Tenerife, they’ve been to Elevenerife. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect someone who owns an Lamborghini Hurucan to not be proud of themselves, as the reality is, that is an incredible achievement. But I would sooner look at the car in question, than speak to the owner with an overly high opinion of oneself based on the car they drive and it's price tag.
Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that all supercar owners should utilize their cars “to the max”, that would be like suggesting anyone who owns a Rolex to take up extreme diving and nor am I suggesting that they don’t mention their cars at all as that would be boring. But unfortunately, it seems that these special motor vehicles are wasted on this certain type of individual, as their knowledge of cars never extends beyond the brochure and thus, they are exposed as a non-petrol head with nothing more to offer to the motoring community than a fat wallet and a false sense of what a car should be (the best example of this is the Ferrari 575m prior to the Fiorano Package). It is, in my opinion, the reason there is a new supercar released seemingly every hour.
Money can buy many things; and expensive, fast cars have always enticed those with a few pennies to spare. But beyond the brochure is where the true petrol head finds themselves, as opposed to those with a tendency to attract attention to themselves through conspicuous behaviour, namely talking about themselves and their £5,000 carbon pack option too much.
We Petrol Heads obsess ourselves, not with the price tag, but how the car works, how it feels and more importantly the story. The obsession of cars encumbers a vast array of emotions and passion that dictates how we feel about cars, not how others feel about us and our cars. We will sit for hours deliberating over the joy of a manual gearbox regardless of speed rather than just say “Why not just pay more and get the flappy paddles?”. It is here we find the downfall of the poser and where, ultimately, they miss the point of what it means to be a petrol head. I could (with practice) regurgitate Marie Curies Theory of Radioactivity, but whichever way you cut it that does not make me a physicist or chemist nor does it in any way mean I have the authority to say what is right or wrong in this field. In this same sense, explaining how much you paid for your F1 style Centre caps does not make you a petrol head, it only makes you a Smart Aleck who’s read the pamphlet. To summarise, “Showing off, is the fools idea of glory”- Bruce Lee.
I think it’s important that I conclude by stating, I don’t believe all supercar owners fit this category, quite the opposite in fact, a lot are achieving childhood dreams but a lot are achieving status instead. With that being said, my ever-expanding theories of the fake petrol head only begins here. As is the way of the car world and its many sub-cultures, so is the fake-petrol head and his many forms.