It’s not often that I feel the need to rant, but this is a topic close to my heart. One of my giant pet-peeves are so called ‘Car Guys’ who bash on anything outside of their favorite brand/style/trend/comfort zone. How dare you call yourself a ‘Car Guy’, you close-minded twerp!
Do you see the potential project in most anything on the road? Or do you only ‘bleed Ford Blue’ or look down your nose that is anything non-watercooled VW? Is anything with less than a V8 the bane of your automotive existence? “Herp you can’t get decent and reliable horsepower out of a 4cylinder ricer derp!” (I’m sure Mr. Jackson or Mr. Robles would love to disagree with you, preferably at an open track day).
I see it all the time on web forums that I frequent, especially in areas where open discussion regarding all cars/motorsports/racing is allowed. “This is a /insert brand here/ forum, why are we talking about /insert other brand here/.” Really? Do you, Mr. Fan Boi, not realize that the brand you’re hating on has been around for years, and part of the history of the latest trend you’re so proud of being a part of?
True Car Guys (or Girls) seem so few and far between these days. Is it the younger demographic that is taking over ‘the scene’? You have the rockabilly guys hating on the imports, the import guys hating on the ‘domestic rice’, the domestics hating on the Hondas, guys in trucks hating on anything without a bed, the Chevy guys hating on the Fords, and the Mopar guys quietly hoarding obscure parts for their turbo Shelbys (that’s for you, Lorin ;) ). Heck I bet that just 10 years ago those elitist stance-natzis were driving some kind of Wings West widemouth-clad Honda Civic splashed with vinyl graphics – not like you could get them to admit it now, of course.
What amazes me is that it all started with the same ‘roots’ – young men who decided their plain-jane autos were so totally boring, and driving fast an looking cool was a lot more fun than putzing around town, so they modified them. Then post-WWII the glory days of the American Auto was born, and you started seeing all of the great kustomizers (spelled it that way on purpose!) and car builders emerge and happily start modifying anything they could get their paws on.
To me, the automotive aftermarket industry is like fashion – what goes around comes around again. Look at the demographic of the ‘rockabilly’ scene for instance – aside from the gamut of tattoos you see (on the men and women), how different are they from the guys who rocked that back in the 50s and 60s? And lately I’ve been seeing a trend back to the clean Sport Truck of the 90s – OMG! No air bags? No horribly done tribal flames and bad airbrushed graphics? Superb! Just clean and smooth and timeless. And to see a cleanly modified, lower budget IMSA style Mustang or Camaro makes me so giddy (ie: not the typical big money Pro Touring cars you see these days).
Another way the aftermarket industry resembles fashion is the whole ‘stance’ thing, and drifting. What’s more desirable than to emulate what’s hot in Europe and Japan – and be the first to bring it here! Dump your compact hatch on coilovers, put 195s on a 9″ wheel with a bit of poke and tons of dish, and bam! Instant-style, street-cred, a car that you can’t drive on crappy roads, and tons of hate from the Mustang crowd…. but hey, it looks cool. Kind of like those pro-stock Pontiacs from the late 80s, with their giant M/Ts, heartbeat graphics on a pastel paint job, chromed suspension, and a giant overdriven supercharged big block, that only saw life idling off and on a trailer. Totally practical!
And to think those old-pro-streeters probably shake their head in disgust at the guy in the slammed VeeDub next to him with the roof-rack, plaid seats, and rusty hood.
A ‘Car Guy’ would proffer a hearty ‘thumbs up’.
Well, here’s a big hearty adult beverage of choice to you, Car Guys/Gals. You know who you are.