What was it that made you fall in love with cars?
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you have a thing for cars. You wouldn't be alone in this either, there are millions of people across the globe who breathe, sleep and live cars every day of their lives.
But have you ever wondered why so many of us care so much about cars? It's a question that's been bugging me for some time now. I've been a petrolhead for almost my entire life, but whenever someone asks me 'why?' I'm unable to give a rational and logical answer, and blab about the emotions and 'POWAAAAA'. Funny, but not very convincing.
So why is it? Why do we love cars so much? I've listed a few reasons I found amongst friends and family, and wrapped them up in examples from my personal life down below. But most of all I would like to hear from you, why are you a petrolhead? What is it about cars make your heart skip a beat?
Is it a deeper connection? Are some of us hardwired to love cars?
There is a story that when I was little (like, infant little) I was a pain in the ass to put to sleep. My parents would lull me, rock me etc, but I just refused to sleep. This was until my dad somehow caught on that whenever I was in a car, bus or nearby anything with an engine running, I would almost instantly calm down and go to sleep. Soon my sleep time routine involved a trip to the car where my dad would crack the engine on for a couple of minutes to get me to sleep.
At that time my parents owned '79 Fiat 126p they got from my great-grandad. I also had a 'go' in various other cars from family and friends, like my Grandma's Fiat Cinquecento and Citroen C15 as well as the infamous FSO Polonez.
When I was five or so I was allowed to drive the last 50 meters of a dirt road that led to our flat. At first it was only on my dad's lap, but as soon as I was able to reach the pedals I begged and screamed to be allowed behind the wheel myself, and of course I got my way eventually.
So was I pre-conditioned to love cars? Are some of us just destined to love cars?
So as we know I've been around cars since the very beginning, but maybe it's just a result of the people around me? My dad was a petrol head and as long as I was around him I was into cars too.
When my parents split and I moved to the UK with my Mom, my love for cars dissipated for a while, maybe because I lost that petrolhead role model, or perhaps because my life underwent a huge change.
But still most of my happy memories from my time growing up in Poland are often oriented around cars, be it family road trips to the lake, driving to visit or the typical 'father-son' activities like working on the car, or my very first 'driving lessons'.
My love for cars came back when in college me and one of my best friends Charles were anxiously waiting to get our driving licenses and be able to get out on the open road. We would spend our days discussing cars, daydreaming of the first cars we would own and road trips we would enjoy.
Now I'm 20 and most of my friends are petrolheads, friends from university, work or other social gatherings. It seems I attract other car people or seek them out perhaps. I spend my weekends going to meets, scrambles or races, meeting people from all backgrounds walks of life from Ferrari owners to 18-year-olds turning up in tatty Fiestas and everyone in between, with a love of cars being the one thing we all have in common.
In other words, cars are my hobby, my passion and also form most of my social life. Nearly everyone I know now I've met through cars, and without them, I would honestly be quite lost.
Fascination with how it all works.
I remember my great-granddad going to the garage to 'fix the car'. Usually there was nothing wrong with it, but he would go and 'adjust' the carburettor or polish all the chrome bits again. Even well into his 70's he would still regularly go to the garage and work on his pride and joy.
Rather fabolous dad on the left with a 'I'm done with your crap' great granddad on the right. Circa 1990's
This seemed to have been passed down through the generations, as I can remember working on the car with my dad when I was a child, and now I try to avoid sending my car to mechanics as often as possible, and try to resolve problems myself wherever possible.
In my first year at uni studying media production, I ended up spending more time in the engineering workshop than the TV studio and radio booths where my lessons actually took place. And all because the engineers were building a race car. Now I'm certainly no engineer, but I was instantly hooked on the idea of getting my hands dirty learning about mechanics as well as having a go at designing basic bits of bodywork or figuring out just how dense a piece aluminium was.
I was well out of my depth but loved every bit of it, from taking the old car apart to trying to figure out confusing engineering software, to of course driving the beast...
All this leads me to the next reason to love cars...
If you are to believe the internet, Henry Ford once said 'Auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built'. I've no idea if the old man actually ever said it or not, but the quote is quite accurate – humans love competition.
Some might see it as a one big d*ck measuring contest, but that can be said about anything and everything in life, whether it be studying, progressing in our careers or lifting that little bit of extra weight in the gym. Healthy competition is good, it drives us to be better at whatever it is that we do, it gives us purpose and helps makes sense of what it is that we do, it also gives us teammates whom with time we get to call friends.
Us petrol-heads measure ourselves based on who can complete a set amount of laps the fastest, pull off the most impressive drift or drive through a certain rally stage in the shortest time possible. It drives us to be better than the day before and helps develop technology beyond what people would have thought possible just a few years ago, look at F1 and WEC as just one example.