If you’re reading this, there’s a fairly good chance that you ascribe some deeper meaning to your car, or cars in general, that can’t necessarily be put into words. It’s kind of like when you’re talking to someone who isn’t a “car person” about how it’s not necessarily the act of a canyon run, installing some new part, or even just routine maintenance, but rather, the feeling you get from it that’s some mix of pride and joy in varying quantities.
However you try to explain it, they just don’t get it.
To be fair, they’re right. People Who Are Into Cars like to derisively state that the People Who Aren’t only see them as appliances, but at the most basic level, that’s kind of what they are, right? There are tons of appliances that come with motors – your blender, your washer dryer set, your fan, etc. In the case of a car, that motor just happens to be attached to a set of wheels that allows you to get from point A to point B. Cars started as a literal means to an end, and for the vast majority of people, that’s what they remain. You can’t fault someone for seeing a car as a car, just like you can’t fault someone for seeing a fridge as a fridge.
There is no sensible logic behind loving a car, but that lack of reason is exactly what makes someone a car enthusiast. It doesn’t make any sense throwing a tune on your engine, or slapping an intake on your car to get to the next stoplight, what, a tenth of a second faster than you would’ve otherwise? But it’s something that we all have done, are doing, and will continue to do to our cars regardless, because it’s all about the emotion that those kinds of endeavors evoke.
My daily driver for the past 3 years has been a Scion FR-S. If you’ve been on the internet at any point during that time, you’ll know that there’s a LOT to not like about it. It’s too slow. It should’ve been turbocharged. It’s the same price as a Subaru WRX with two less driven wheels and 70 less horsepower and it’s a Scion so what are you, a kid or something? I can’t argue with any of that, those are all completely sound reasons why it’s not a car for everyone, or even most people.
But, it’s the perfect car for me. Back in high school, before I really knew anything about anything, one of my closer friends had an Acura Integra Type R that he had been passed down from his cousin. He loved that car, and for good reason – it had and continues to have one of the highest specific output naturally aspirated engines ever built, it was light and nimble, and when it crossed over into VTEC (har har VTEC yo, I know), there was nothing that sounded remotely comparable. He loved that car, and I wanted to love a car the way he loved his.
13 years later, the FR-S was announced and I was among the first to throw down cash for one. For all of its faults, the FR-S is easily one of the most nimble cars I have ever driven thanks to its featherweight chassis. Even though it’s super cliche to write this about a high-revving car, when you’re behind the wheel you always get the sense that the motor is asking for more. And, this is going to sound like the dumbest thing ever, but it has 86 badges on the side! I was born in 1986! It has my fucking birth year on its fenders! Hachi-roku! We were meant to be!
Like I said, I knew there was no logic behind buying one, but the car spoke to my emotions in a way no other car before it or since has. Even though I know it won’t ever have any of the cultural or historical significance of the actual Type R, to me, the FR-S is always going to be the vehicle that takes me back to where I was in high school, when I was just learning that cars really were more than just a way to get from Point A to Point B.
So, maybe car culture makes no sense, and Scion is now becoming a Toyota, and the FR-S isn’t what everyone wants it to be, but I don’t care because I’m always going to love it in spite of everything. I’m going to love it because it’s my Type R.