The automotive industry was a major step forward in the evolution of mankind. It gave us the ability to travel on our own terms, not bottled up on a train for days, stuck on horseback, or leading a wagon train. It created a new faucet for the creative types to make a statement on the world, define an era, and ultimately change the world forever. Hundreds, if not thousands of manufacturers have come and gone, each leaving their own unique footprint in the timeline. Still today we see dozens, if not hundreds of different brands of automobiles on the roads. We cherish classics, some to the tune of tens of millions of dollars on the auction block. But what is it that makes us cherish these relics? Is it the engineering? The beauty? A childhood dream car? All of these are perfectly fine reasons to cherish automobiles, and I believe it’s a true mark of greatness for humanity because of how differently something so common is perceived by the masses.
Cars come in virtually any configuration you could possibly want and they are all great for different reasons; there are cars, trucks, semi-trucks, sports cars, grand touring cars, luxury, race, vans, utility, and sports utility, and the list goes on. You can purchase your vehicle in almost any color imaginable, and those aesthetics are only the beginning before you select your options. Which signals to me that for as common as cars are, for as many as they make, to some degree you are able to specify specifics for YOUR CAR. You get to be the designer, have the final say, and cherish your own automobile for years to come. It becomes your statement, your way to show off your interests and personality in a small way. Some people do this by buying a new car every few years because they want the latest and greatest in technology and appearances from their favorite brand. Others go and buy a classic, they revive it to modern standards, and suddenly have built their own unique one of one. Sure, it is built with another car’s body, but if you swap the motor, drivetrain, and other mechanical components to your liking or interest, then nobody else is going to have it.
Car culture is a culture that is different to every person you ask. Some define it as racing, others define it by make, like Jeep fanatics. Some do it by the country, such as Japanese Domestic Market (JDM). Whatever intrigues you about cars, there is a culture for it, and that is the beauty of cars. There is no one finite reason why we love or hate them, but there is the unifying factor that something about cars gets everyone excited. Everyone has a dream car, even people that tell you they aren’t into cars has one that if given the opportunity, would love to take home and have.
That’s the beauty of cars, the fact that they give people something to be excited about, something to come together around, and most importantly (I think) something to unite around. Whether it be the styling, the significance, the uniqueness, or even the simplicity of something mechanical, cars are something for everyone. They are practical, fast, loud, flashy, simple, and the list goes on. Ultimately, however, I believe they represent the better side of humans, the achievements of engineering and science, the expression of creativity and personality, all bundled together in a sea of limitless choices for your own personal canvas. Expressing yourself while blending in with something so common is the great thing about cars. Sure they get us where we need to go, but it can be the best journey ever when you travel in your own car, because the car suits you, you adore that car, it is your expression, and that’s what makes it great.