Which country has the best car culture?
Pack your bags, you're moving to automotive paradise. But where is that?
How important is car culture in your life? Is it just a byproduct of where you are and what you drive, or is it the driving force (pun absolutely intended)?
If it’s the latter, are you happy with the car culture where you are? Or would you move to find the ultimate motoring lifestyle? And if so, where? And why?
These questions got us thinking about where we’d go to indulge our preferred automotive activities. Here are a few that we came up with – what would you go with?
Might as well start with the obvious one. Japan doesn’t mess around when it comes to car culture, thanks in large part to a relatively relaxed view of vehicle modifications and a societal history of deep, deep obsession with hobbies. Those factors, plus plenty of domestic manufacturers, have given us a wealth of scenes from bippu and bosozoku to touge and kei cars, and everything in between. Oh, and a tonne of domestic race series.
Admittedly, we might have to spend a bit of money on language lessons, but think of the money we’d save on the postage for overnight parts!
Photo: NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Another ‘duh’ choice. The US is so big that it has room for almost ALL the car culture. In fact, it’d be a job in itself to split up the US into the major scenes, and then try and decide which one we’d fancy the most.
We could get a shack in Utah and spend all of our money on ludicrous mods for a Jeep Wrangler, then see if we could drive it up a cliff every day. Or we could find a cheap place up Detroit way and plunge into the world of American muscle, strapping superchargers to enormous V8s and not really worrying about the price of fuel.
Doesn’t appeal? There’s a burgeoning electric car scene in California, salt flat drag racing in Bonneville, pick-ups in Texas – look, there’s loads of stuff, ok?
For a relatively small place, the United Kingdom also boasts a very diverse car culture, due to its long history of car manufacturing and motorsport. So whether you’re all about maxed-out hatchbacks, spend your time lovingly restoring classics or you just like spending £1,000 on unloved chod every six months, you’ll find your niche here. And probably plenty more niches you never knew existed. Buy a cottage in Scotland where you can thrash your Cayman every day, or a nice place in Wales near the Evo Triangle. Or a flat in Croydon near the local McDonalds car park.
Photo: Tim Shepherd on Unsplash
Utes. Holdens. Australian muscle. V8 Supercars. Summernats. Bathurst. So much to love. Driving on the roads? Eh, not so much – Australia has some serious antisocial driving laws, which means hoons are not welcome. So soak in the culture, but keep it cool on the road.
Photo: Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
The UAE (and, let’s be honest, particularly Dubai) has something of a reputation for supercars and exotica, and it’s one that’s very well deserved. But it’s also a melting point for global car cultures. The new cars on sale come from European, Far East and US markets, and the used market is wonderfully diverse. Head up to one of the second-hand car areas of town and you’ll find pretty much anything you can think of, and there’ll be someone, tucked away in an industrial estate, that can help you make the best of it.
Add to that two world-class racing circuits, an ingrained rally culture and a huge amount of ludicrously powerful SUVs batting up massive sand dunes, and you’ve got a petrolhead paradise where fuel is dirt-cheap.
Photo: Oskar de Jonge on Unsplash
Audi. Mercedes-Benz. Volkswagen. BMW. Opel. Porsche. Err, Trabant. Germany has an enviable car history, something that was pushed by the government in the run up to the Second World War but continued afterwards, when the British fired up the VW factory to produce the Beetle. Go pretty much anywhere in Germany and you’ll find enthusiasts of one kind or another.
Want to drive fast? There are stretches of autobahn with no speed limits. And if you get bored of them, there’s always the Nurburgring.
Photo: Jacopo Marello on Unsplash
Speed, style and questionable reliability. Italy has a fairly chaotic history but it’s produced some of the most desirable cars you can think of during that time, from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati to Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Pagani. And those are just the ones that are still going.
Italians love a fast and/or good-looking car, and it’s not uncommon for the police to stop you solely to check out your motor, or to encourage you to go faster. Where else would that happen?