Happy New Year, CEP fans! It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of writing for you. Well, I have some bad news. I'm back. In the vein of the "New Year, New Me" craze that happens for about two weeks every year, I’d like to talk about re-birth.
First, though, let me set the stage:
Any of you who are friends and follow my personal Instagram account or its limited bleed-over to Facebook or Twitter may have seen a photo I posted last night. I took a picture of my car and threw a few hashtags on there. The last one being one related to a group of people at my place of employment. Everyone in the group drives performance Subarus of one kind or another. Slowly, it has turned into a bit of a thing. Conversations in the cubicles, joking discussions of reserved parking spots, etc. Then, it began spreading to others in the office that don’t share our predilection for 6 stars on the front of their cars. It grew to include the 4 rings, the blue oval, Das Auto (does anyone even get that anymore?), and, yes, the occasional BMW owner. We went there. We’re going to need a new hashtag. Then, ideas started getting thrown about for group weekend drives, etc.
To me, that sounds a lot like “Car Culture”.
After our other posts on that subject, you can tell we have a pretty mixed bag of feelings regarding “Car Culture”. My father wrote an excellent guest blog as a rebuttal to Andrew’s claims that car culture is dying. He ended it with the sincere sentiment that perhaps people like your esteemed hosts for the CEP will keep car culture alive. After purchasing a car that other people actually want to talk with you about, I have found out that… we don’t have to. The organic community that is forming at my place of work is a perfect testimony to that. It spread from a bunch of people who all drive the same cars to people who drive the same manufacturer of cars to other “enthusiast” cars and so on. There’s no sense of a “car show” or even a cars and coffee. There’s no exclusive brand loyalty. There’s no posturing. There’s no one “type of person”. It ranges from IT guys, to accountants, to project managers, to engineers everywhere from their mid-twenties to near retirement. We all love the cars we drive and we love to talk about them with other people who “get it”. The cars in this group range from an Audi S5 down to my WRX stopping at every ST, STI, and M car in or around this group. Yet, common ground and conversation can be had on more than just a grudging basis. Eagerly even.
The difference between this car culture and the car culture that we have discussed in the past is words that I’d like to put in the middle to refine it slightly. This isn’t car “collecting” culture like Andrew was, for the most part, discussing in his blog post. It’s car “driving” culture. Car “owning” culture. Car “loving” culture. Car culture is now a “lifestyle” (despite the cringe-worthiness of that word). Daily drivers will reign. The economy is… better, but it’s not the economy of Duesenbergs, it’s not the economy of finned Cadillacs, and it’s certainly not the economy of the Countache. Collectors cars are expenses people don’t choose to afford all that often anymore. People need to find deep relationships with the car they just drive every day. This isn’t true for everyone. Cars that are an easy choice abound. But in people that choose a WRX over an Impreza? A Veloster Turbo or R-Spec over a regular Kia Forte? The GTI over the Golf? Even luxury car buyers that throw R, S, F, IPL, M, or AMG on their badges. We can even include those who buy a crossover or SUV that actually USE them to live their dreams.
This is what car culture is destined to be as it is reborn from the ashes of Suspenders Rick: people who LOVE their cars. All of them. Might some people sneer? Probably. Definitely Suspenders Rick would. However, like it or not, it’s the future. Hey, guy who polished up the daily driver 350z! Stop trying to fit in with Suspenders Rick! I’m looking at you guy in the Outback with the rooftop tent, about 6 tons of gear in the back, and mud on it! Guy who bought the new Camaro! Yes, you! Turn the CarPlay music down and listen to me! To modify a line from Mosing Motorcars, let’s drive ourselves happy! Then we’ll know that car culture can take the quotes off and be alive and well. Again. Despite Suspenders Rick.