Hello dear fans of the Check Engine Podcast,
Today, I have a simple question. Have you ever loved a car? Now, we’ve discussed the outcome of ACTUALLY LOVING a car during one of the Pace Laps on the podcast. You end up in the news and the subject of much hilarity on amateurish automotive podcasts… ahem. However, that particular kind of love, in the carnal or biblical sense, is not what I mean. I mean have you ever loved a car like a really good friend who became family? Or maybe like a family pet? I know I have, and that is what I’d like to take a look at for this week’s blog.
As you may have heard in our most recent podcast, Nick is putting his car (or truck, as it turns out) future in the hands of you, dear listeners. This means moving on from his beloved Trail McBlazer, and he mentioned that it is bound to make him slightly misty-eyed. I too have had to move on from several cars. I’ve let three early-2000s VW group cars enjoy their well earned rest as well as a Toyota 4Runner. Those cars were all victims of accident or unrepairable mechanical issues. Last year, I decided (much as Nick has with the old TMcB) that repairs on my Jeep had become a losing proposition and it was time to move on. To me, that felt like pulling the plug on a relative. That choice rested with me and me alone, and I gave it the Caesar’s thumbs down. The action of retiring the Jeep hit me so hard that… I didn’t. I still have that Jeep as a project vehicle. I just couldn’t let it go.
All of this was despite the fact that it wasn’t a GREAT car. It wasn’t a FANCY car. It wasn’t even the best at what it was purportedly designed to do. But man, I loved that car. Why? That is the question that I’d like to explore. As far as I can tell, it’s linked to experiences. As evidenced by some of the stories we told in our very first episode, the stories you make in cars stick with you. They go with you wherever you go (in fact, they take you there) like a loyal dog. They carry your stuff like a loyal… pack animal of some kind. What? I’m NOT a farmer, despite some previous job titles. They shelter you from the elements like a house. They allow you to live your everyday life AND your dreams. I lived in that Jeep for almost two weeks. Tropical storm, heat, thousands of miles, on-road, off-road, and waaaaay too much dirt in the cargo compartment carpets… To me, that is the crux why the human/vehicle relationship is so strong.
Now, for those of you without a long commute to work or a strong road trip game, a lot of those things may not apply. I fully understand that some people out there may read this and find me patently insane to be in love with a car. Others who are more “numbers” driven than I may point to 0-60 times, off-road clearances, interior cargo space, MPG, or any number of other… numbers to point to why they love cars. Aesthetes may point to the color, the wheels, the design language, or even the sound of a car as to why they love it. A lot of these criteria are on my list for why I may lust for a car from a distance. They may also be why a car can be an object of “love at first sight” (or drive).
However, much like the relationship between people and other people or that between people and animals, the relationship that we describe as love comes from something deeper. It’s cheesy, but it comes from a history of shared experiences and needs being fulfilled that only arises after you’ve had a history. It lets me live my life and I take care of it. I know it’s a machine, but in those who are setup to love cars, the relationships between car and owner pull all the same levers as other relationships. In fact, they can be key players in other relationships and major life events. The “just married” car trope? Your car is there for you. Going to college and cram the car full of stuff? Your car is there for you. Long way to say, I love my car. I’ve loved all my cars. Just like I’ve loved all my dogs. And all my good friends. Let us know in the comments or on social media why you love YOUR car. Or why I’m crazy. Or both. I’m not opposed to both...