What Makes a Car Person?
What exactly is the definition of a 'car person'? Why is this debate turning the motoring community into an unnecessary class system?
I’ve spent the last few months chatting away with fellow motoring enthusiasts both new and old to this community and amongst our discussions and heated debates, one thing seemed to stand out to me. None of them could agree on just what qualities a car person possesses or what defines a ‘car person’. So in this article, I set to find that out and go over what I’ve discovered in my travels.
I ran into an old friend who believed that only people who knew the ins and outs of the car; its mechanics and inner magic workings could truly be considered a car person. Someone who knows how a turbo works or what torque is or how to replace an exhaust system or fit new modifications to a car. While this is valid, I think it’s rather exclusive. This discounts the entire motoring industry as a whole and I’ll explain why.
Say someone works for an exotic car company. They work in the styling department and spend all day in mood rooms with pictures of sleek animals and winding roads pasted to the walls drawing sketches of car shapes. They spend weeks and months turning those sketches into actual drawings; plans of future cars to be built. They might be the person who styled the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale (what I believe to be the most beautiful car ever built) or maybe they styled the McLaren P1. Or maybe it’s someone who hasn’t even been born yet. Some future designer that will excite and thrill the next generation of petrol heads with a brilliant new style. They might not know how to change a head gasket or how to fit a new exhaust system but they’re as much a car person as someone who can.
This brings me onto the next aspect of this. The people who write about cars much like myself. Now, I’ll admit, I couldn’t really tell you much about the mechanics of a car, an engine bay looks as strange to me as an unexplored patch of forest and I don’t know how to modify a car to save my life. I can change a tyre and have a fair guess at what’s broken if a car goes wrong but beyond that, I don’t know much. What I do know is that I love cars. I love to love them. I love to hate them. I love to drive them. I love to write about them. So do a lot of people on this amazing platform and so do a lot of people I know. What stops people from taking an interest in cars is the idea that they have to know everything about cars to talk about them. I don’t think you do. Am I less of a car person because I just love cars but don’t know how to modify them or mend them? I mean, I chose to adopt Jeremy Clarkson’s explanation of how a turbo works “Exhaust gasses go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens, and you go faster.” That’s good enough for me.
Now this isn’t some article designed to hate on people who do modify their cars or know the mechanics of everything car related. This is an article to say that you can be a car person without knowing those things. Car enthusiasm is not geographically determined either. You’re not any less of a car person because you like Italian cars or German cars more than Japanese or American cars or vice versa.
I think the boys at The Grand Tour have spent the last sixteen years trying to build an idea. A community of motoring enthusiasts who could agree and love cars but also have heated arguments about which is better. A community of journalists, drivers, writers, designers, mechanics, racers and everything that exists between them that shared a love for cars. That’s why they helped to give us DriveTribe, this amazing platform, where a nineteen year old kid from a small town in Australia can share his passion and his view about cars and everything motoring related.
So what makes someone a car person? A motoring enthusiast? A petrolhead (or gearhead for the American reader)? What is it that makes you a part of one of the best communities in the world?
Let me put it simply and poetically.
If you get in a car and you’re thinking more about the drive or the car than your destination, you are a car person. If you comment about your car with passion whether it be negative or positive, you are a car person. And to sum it up:
If you view a car as something more than a one or two tonne mode of transport that gets you from Point A to Point B. You are a car person.
Let’s stop trying to box people out by telling them they can’t be a car person and instead start telling them why they can. We are all car people in some way or another. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Photo Credit: Hunter Leech