What is car culture?
Culture: The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of particular people or society. We are definitely a different sort of people; we talk about coilovers, straight pipes, cats (not the furry type), offsets like everyone in society understand what we are talking about.I’m sure in reality more people understand what we talk about than I am willing to admit but that aside, what I really want to talk about is how this whole car culture – the very specific set of ideas, customs and behaviours I have come to be all too familiar with – managed to add a new dimension and passion to my life.
Culture seemed relatively easy to define and way too socio-anthropological tasting to analyse in depth for this ‘car’ blog so let’s get to the nitty gritty – the definition of a car. Did I really just ask that? I really hoped I’d never be asked that question. Well, I guess here lies the answer: a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people. Not very interesting is it? I didn’t think so either. A box that rolls down a road that will get you from A to B is a bloody good car. A car that has good fuel economy is a good car. A car that isn’t expensive to maintain is a good car. A car that has a good resale price is a good car. Yes, boring.
So why am I about to discuss the ideas, customs and social behaviour of people who have chosen to, in some way, incorporate these boring road vehicles, typically with four wheels into their lives?
Let me tell you a story because right now that’s probably a better start than getting into the difference between an wastegate and a BOV. My first car was my parents’ car, a 2006 Honda CRV Sport. What a car; leather seats, sunroof, plenty of boot space, sunroof, heated seats for the freezing winters of Australia…Since I was on my provisional license at 17, I loved the car. I got to drive the Maccas during my lunch breaks, road trips to the beach and pumping the music. Great car however, it was boring…
The first moment when I realised that I found an ignition for cars was when one of my mates had a “really cool” car. I didn’t know what is was but it looked like something that came out of Fast and Furious or Need for Speed. It was black as night, cool aftermarket wheels, LED taillights and made a loud noise when it started up. Ah but this isn’t the winning moment yet. We were just heading down to the shops – I was about 20 at this stage (still driving my parents’ stable, well maintained CRV) – and we stepped into his car. It was low to the ground and felt like a race car. So we’re cruising down this quiet road late at night and he wanted to show me something. It had been raining before so the ground was a little damp and in 2nd gear, he stepped on it. Nothing…still just accelerated like a normal car. Then 3000rpm hit. My head hit the back on the headrest. The rear tyres screeched and we took off. What was a long road suddenly felt like it was going to end very quickly. I felt it. The spark. The adrenalin. The unrelenting power of a car that was no longer boring but that could make you feel you were riding a rollercoaster that you were in control of. For technicals, my mate drove a Nissan Silvia S15, with a Garrett GT3076r that didn’t come on until 3000rpm.
In 2013, I bought my first car at the age of 21. I gave up on the idea of a well maintained, economical, value-holding car and traded it in for the ideas, customs and social behaviours that was, the car culture.
Why am I here and why am I writing this? I want people with interests in cars to read technical articles and trivial debates on whether a turbocharger or a supercharger is better. I’m want this to be a space to share experiences and stories -we all have one, I’ve briefly shared mine and I’m sure many others would appreciate hearing yours. For many, the technical debates quench their thirst but for others, a quick read, a little inspo and a scroll through some pictures is all that is enough. Before I move on, I’m not a professional either in writing or car culture or technical information but I believe I know enough to write a good story and share some knowledge and give my independent, honest perspective. So, where does this leave us?
Here is to the stories of Car Culture.