As I sit here in my Uni room, looking at my 1/24 Scale Honda City Turbo II (dubbed "The Shitty City") on the desk, seeing a poster of The Blues Brothers on the wall and seeing my wallpaper on my computer of an RS1300 Capri, I began to wonder where the hell I got my taste in cars from. I sure as hell wasn't brought up with any Japanese Kei-Cars parked round the back of the house (although, we did have Suzuki Samurai, which is pretty much in that class). We did have a Capri but it was in pieces in a local shed. As I look to the left of my desk and see shelves of model cars, ranging from every iteration of the Nissan Skyline, to a Mk2 Transit model kit which needs to be started, to a Renault Megané Maxi Kit Car, I then start to ask myself, where the hell did my interest in cars come from at all? How do my generation, a generation surrounded by technology, cars that are beginning to drive themselves, and an increasingly lessening need to even leave their bedroom, bother to get interested in archaic and frankly dangerous pieces of machinery that cause the loss of more and more lives every year? And then I look further down to the back of the room (my neck was getting a bit sore so I decided to move the rest of my body too) and see what probably was a big factor in not only my own but most likely many, MANY people's interest in cars. My games consoles. I'm speaking metaphorically because I left my games consoles at home but that didn't make for an interesting introduction. To be honest I didn't even move my head. Firmly glued to looking at the computer screen. Onwards...
I had a rather odd upbringing regarding cars. A lot of people around my age that are passionate about cars either grew up with a family of mechanics that worked on cars and taught them how to fix things, and some people around my age grew up watching cars on the television or playing with them on video games or HotWheels cars. I had a mixture of both - mainly a father that clearly shows where I got my car obsession from. I was extremely young at the time but at one time we had a Lancia Flaminia, a Land Rover Series 3, two Porsches (Okay it was a 924 and a 944 but that's not important) a Bentley (the same shape as the one James May had. Or has. I don't know.),
and probably most importantly to my young mind, a Jaguar XJS V12. The XJS was completely done and lay up on ramps for the entirety of it's presence during my existence, but ever since I have had a strange fetish for a blue V12 XJS that I can't quite explain. Sadly the most interesting one, a genuine Lotus Cortina, was sold before my time. Blame my older brother's birth for that. His mere existence took away something that could've been truly mesmerising before I was even born. I never did like my brother very much.
But strangely, I never spent much time in the yard around them. In hindsight, I wish had've done, because now a lot of those cars are worth a hell of a lot more than they were back then, which was actually very little. Nobody gave a solitary shit about a Porsche 924, and then some TV show involving three blokes had to have an episode where they all bought cheap Porsches, and suddenly they weren't cheap anymore. An episode which aired shortly after ours were sold. Cheers, lads. Nothing was ever really done with the cars, they always just... sat there. Fixing lawnmowers for people and not building a garage took priority to him, which meant I was more interested in toys I could actually play with, instead of stationary objects. Plus we also had a hearse sitting here at one point which I'll be honest wasn't the nicest thing to be around as a child. But having those cars there meant that I was still firmly in love with cars, and when I was three and half (yes, just three and a half and I still remember it as clear as day, such was the impact it had), on December 25th 2000, I was graced with something that firmly rooted cars into my life forever. Something which I still have to this day, in fact.
I apologise for the iPhone quality, I left my camera at home. You can just see the Honda City too...
Video games, I believe, are one of the main reasons that people (of my generation, at least) have an interest in cars. 16 years on from that Christmas day and I have spent literally countless hours in front of a TV screen, tuning cars to the most minute details like tyre pressure and camber angles, pushing hard to increase lap times around the Nurburgring, and collecting and expanding my knowledge about historic and brand new cars. This same passion for pixels on a TV screen that inspired me to take up motorsports, to build scale models of the cars I've seen on screen, and to have such a strong passion for cars that I insist on parking my car outside the window of my uni flat just so I can sit and look at it sometimes. With the introduction of online gaming, and it's truly mainstream debut around 2005 (Give or take. To be honest, I consider the Xbox 360 to be the real pioneer of online gaming. But you may disagree), I believe that millions of the younger generation that play car video games had their minds completely blown away.
The ability to talk online in real time to like-minded people around the world about a shared passion, cars, was just amazing. I would genuinely have spent hours talking to my friend Cory who lives half way around the world about how a slight bit more camber on the back of my Shelby mustang would help it drift more around the turns of Tsukuba Circuit, and how any thing that didn't have a V8 was against God and was wrong. My parents must have thought I was mad, but I'm sure my dad was probably proud I was up all night discussing rev ranges and racing lines instead of something boring like Golf. Who even bothers with Golf these days? Like really? And this was long before Social Networking like Facebook came along, so if your friends in school weren't interested in cars, you were screwed.
But my problem is that many people may (and do) consider us to be lesser car enthusiasts than those who grew up wrenching on cars, because we never really got our hands dirty. I'm not saying that all of us who are younger have got an interest in cars purely because of video games and things like that. Quite a lot of us did grow up around cars being fixed and having lots of cars at the house and never even looked at a video game. And you know what? That's perfectly fine too. But the point of this article is to say that all people with a passion for cars have it for different reasons, and no two car enthusiasts have the exact same taste. Some of us grew up loving cars through digital pixels on a television screen, and some of us grew up loving cars because we spent hours wrenching on them and helping to fix and work on the "Ol' girl" in the garage.
And that's perfectly fine.