Car Enthusiasts

Jad Farah

Popular Culture Mirror Essay



Car Enthusiasts 

Throughout my childhood and growing up, cars have always been a huge part of my life. My uncle bought and sold cars for a living, so you could say I was around them all the time. I still remember playing with my little toy cars and remote control cars. I started learning how to drive at the age of twelve, my dad took me to a parking lot and let me sit in his lap while I steered, it was the most amazing feeling of my life, the thrill of something so powerful and so quick yet being able to control it had me taken away. Of course he was not going to let me sit in the driver seat alone anytime soon. The day I turned fifteen I got my permit and started actually practicing to drive on main roads and by sixteen I had already had my license. My uncle then gave me his old BMW, ah my first car. You could say as a sixteen year old I had a fairly nice car even though it was a ten-year-old car at the time. That is when I first really became interested in making modifications to my car to make it look cooler and function better. The movie series Fast and Furious was already on the top of my charts for favorite movies and I seemed to want to make it reality. However, these movies gave a bad vibe to society, they showed that car lovers only cared about racing, action, partying, drugs, and cars. On the contrary, this stereotype is an overgeneralization of how car enthusiasts really are.. Why is it that society automatically assumes that people who are car enthusiasts are what someone would call “bad?” Car enthusiasts are viewed as “bad” because of social media meaning society as a whole will view them as “bad.”

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.” (Fast and Furious) This quote inspires me, because it tells a story, it is saying that when he is driving for those ten seconds when he speeds off nothing else matters to him, he is free, and this is how I feel. These movies are a big reason I am the way that I am to this day. They are what got me into the car scene from the beginning, so much that I have a memorial sticker of one of the main actors in these films Paul Walker on the back of my car. Nevertheless, no matter how much I loved these movies they are what made the car scene seem the way society assumes it to be today. “You almost had me? You never had me – you never had your car… Granny shiftin’ not double clutchin’ like you should. You’re lucky that hundred shot of NOS didn’t blow the welds on the intake! You almost had me?” (Fast and Furious) As you can see there are many quotes that show off a certain vibes from the films. This one in particular shows that these car enthusiasts are here to race, which ultimately leads into people looking down upon them. Nonetheless, that is what these type of movies were all about. No one is interested in seeing a movie with no action and no drama, there always has to be some type of plot behind these action based movies and this is why society thinks about car enthusiasts the way they do. People in American society watch movies of this sort and put together one and one, assuming that the whole population of car enthusiasts are like that. On the other hand, I am not trying to prove that all car enthusiasts are not like that because I am very certain that some are, but for everyone to get punished because of those who are this way in the car enthusiasts community is just cruel. Due to being looked down upon, we suffer from being stopped by cops more often for not even doing anything wrong. Just because we have a bad vibe they feel that it is more okay to pull us over.

Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is one of the most watched factual television shows in the world. It all began in 1977 as a motoring magazine program. Over time, and especially since a re-launch in television type in 2002, it has developed a humorous and educational program making it easier to understand aspects of car enthusiasts lives. The program is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and has featured at least three different test drivers known as “The Stig”. The show is estimated to have around 350 million views per week in 170 different countries. Its purpose is to inform the audience about cars and what they are capable of doing. The audience in this show varies in age a great deal. This show was surprisingly one of the first to make car enthusiasts seem “good.” It seemed to have intellectual men as actors on the show, not someone who would set off a bad vibe. It showed us as risk takers, people willing to go to extremes to prove a point, or to prove that they are better. It showed us as handy men, people who are knowledgeable in the garage, have a strong social network, and most of all friendly. That is what the car scene is all about, friends, you will never go and be shunned or teased. Everyone is friendly and kind to one another and everyone wants new comers to be a part of it that way they can experience how it really is, not how it is portrayed in the movies. Top Gear does a really good job in showing how enthusiastic people are about cars and how handy some people can be.

Stancenation and Lowerstandards are both websites made by people who take pictures and videos of those who have taken extreme measures to make their cars they way they are.  This source is completely different from the rest, it has a wider range of audience members than the movie series Fast and Furious however, a lower range in age difference than Top Gear. These websites attract a very direct and knowing audience. These websites are for people who are in love with cars, people who are willing to spend endless hours and endless paychecks on their cars. The cars on these websites are unbelievable, cars from all around the world that people own, artwork per say shown off just like in an art museum. These websites don’t necessarily generate money but do have a huge influence on people to make their cars more unique. That alone makes people go out and spend big dollars on equipment and accessories for their cars. I believe that the camera has a huge role in these websites; each picture is taken at a different angle with a different background to emphasis on what the owner of the car is trying to say. Some cars look nice and shinny, while other cars look mean and vicious and this is all done through a camera and its background. Depending on the lighting of the picture, something that’s nice and shinny can come off as having a matt finish to it making the whole car look completely different. Another aspect to these sites is the fact that they are not advertised nor have any commercials about them; they are all communicated through the car community and people who are influenced by cars. I found these sites because of friends of friends who told their friends about them, each car is so unique and that is why I stated this source has a complete different audience to it. These are more of the type of car enthusiasts I am into, people who modify the way their cars look and function to make them better and unique. “Thought id share some of my recent works. I’ve found a niche with my automotive stuff using heavy amount of strobes with everything I do…. enjoy..” (Stancenation) [sic] As you can see, many people on these websites are not even car enthusiasts anymore, this scene has become so big it has transformed into artwork.

Society automatically assumes car enthusiasts are “bad” because of what is portrayed in today’s media. However, society does not read between the lines to see what is actually going on. Just because the media views something as “bad” is it really bad? Media, such as the films Fast and the Furious or Need for Speed, show what the people want to see, action of course. However, in reality do you think car enthusiasts are going to be racing down the streets, crashing into cars, and jumping over bridges? Of course not, in reality, we are all getting together and showing off our cars, seeing how and what we can do to make them better. Car enthusiasts have taken it so far, you need passion, artwork, and willpower to be able to make cars look and function how people have before. So in the end, are we partying, racing, smashing into other cars, and doing drugs? No, we are not, we are gathered as friends to show the community that we are not bad, we are good and are here to help others see what cars are about.



Works Cited

The Fast and Furious. Dir. Rob Cohen. Writers. Ken Li. Gary Scott Thompson.

            Erik Bergquist. David Ayer. 2001

Top Gear. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, James May. 2002


4 thoughts on “Car Enthusiasts

  1. What a fun mirror essay to read. You hit a lot of my high points: I love BMW’s, Top Gear, and enthusiast websites.

    I personally love to keep my cars in factory shape — which is to say I would never replace one of my radio’s with something “new”; I return to the factory design time and again.

    I love the performance sites and the Bimmer forums — so many great ideas to make your car look, and perform, great. One thing I think we almost always change are the emblems. While the BMW logo is “nice” we can do so much better. We currently sport a kaleidoscope/purple color combination on one of our cars and a green/white on another. We have toyed with switching to graphite and red on the dark grey model, but hesitate only because we’re not sure about the red yet — in this one case, the blue looks pretty good.

    You are right though. Depending on whose driving which car, the police are always pulling someone over. We rarely get tickets, but it doesn’t stop the officers from making sure the insurance is current and the driver is legal. Nobody has ever been pulled over in the wagon. 😛 (That’s profiling at it’s greatest.) The coupe and the twin-turbo are head-turners — you gotta make sure you drive as legally as you possibly can; we won’t even pull into the bike lane to make a right-hand turn like we see officers do all.the.time!

    Still, thanks to people like Jeremy, Richard, and James (of Top Gear) car people get a lot more respect these days. We’re not all trying to modify for street racing, and we’re certainly not all looking to sell drugs to afford our cars. Top Gear makes me laugh at their antics, and it makes people realize there is a lot more that goes into car enthusiasts than just the above mentioned problems.

    Thanks for the great read!

    • I think you hit on all of my major thoughts as well Jamie. I think that “car guys” as a group will be around for a good while longer, so hopefully society will be a little more discerning in the future, rather than the stereotypes that exist today.

  2. This is great!! I like that improvements you’ve made from the first draft! I really like the additions you made to the intro with your first car, as well as the clarifications to your sources you presented. Good job on this essay! For a topic that does not have a lot of sources to go off of, you did such a great job “driving” your point to where you needed it to go.

  3. This was a very good essay to read! Its very well written and it makes a lot of good points. As someone that likes to drive fast cars i can definitely relate to your essay. The police will definitely keep a closer eye on you if your car is louder or it looks better than other cars. So it definitely no surprise to see that car people are considered “bad” people because they are constantly pulled over to things they may or may not have done.

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