Car people are not the type of people who like to be categorised, we hate being put in a box. But, it can be pretty difficult to get involved in a culture so mixed and ill-defined, so I’m going to attempt to classify the groups that are usually formed in enthusiast culture.
First, you have the enthusiast that believes that nothing should be changed from what the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) has graciously given us. They love the car for what it is, change absolutely nothing – and enjoy even the faults of the vehicle to the fullest extent. The general stereotype here is the mid-50-year-old, air-cooled Porsche 911 enthusiast – but if you include the general public (people who don’t consider themselves enthusiasts), this may be the most common way to look at a vehicle.
Form > Function
All for show – they build their car as a showcase of their selves and usually build whatever they want, however they want. And they’re usually happier for it. This is a large part of the community – and it breaks down further into categories like Stance and HellaFlush. If you ever meet a car on the road that looks like it would barely make it over a piece of gravel on the road – this is the enthusiast that you’ve just seen.
Usually set up with air-bags to lift and lower the car on demand (unless the owner takes pride in being ‘static’ i.e. the ride height stays that low) – and with wheels that barely clear the arches, the competition gets fierce at car shows as these enthusiasts fight it out.
Function > Form
Usually found arguing over which tyres are the stickiest and what tyre pressures they need to be at, or laying down facts about why their wagon is amazing because they can haul 4 sets of tyres to the track, or just plain old racing and destroying parts, just to fix them later – these are an interesting group.
There’s some division here, in terms of what the ‘function’ or ‘purpose’ of their vehicle is, it may be drag racing, autocross, drifting, circuit racing, rally racing, 4 Wheel Driving or equipped for utility – it’ll usually be built for a mix of the few.
These are a pretty controversial bunch – the ones who wholeheartedly love a single brand or a single car – and are convinced that nothing else will make them happier. So they can get a bit snappy or territorial about their choice of car. They’re a useful bunch though, and they’re probably the primary reason manufacturer specific web forums are so full of useful information – the amount of information they fit into their brains is staggering – and they’re always ready to lend a helping hand.
To be quite honest – this is a quite weak attempt at categorising a group of people who inherently don’t want to be categorised. We express ourselves through our cars and usually don’t care what anyone thinks about it – we do it for ourselves. I’ve had it explained to me a bunch of times that girls like to dress up and look pretty for no one else but themselves. So when I’m asked why we rev our engines, speed off ‘unnecesarily’ at traffic lights and why we pay so much attention to our cars, I point out the similarities between that explanation and our involvement in cars.
It’s great to get involved in the community. It’s a surprisingly fun time watching someone struggle over a speed bump – and in my personal opinion, it’s a hell of a lot of fun going quick around a racetrack with others.
A cheeky downshift and a wave while passing a fellow enthusiast always brings a smile to my face.
It’s fantastic revving your engine for a keen little kid on the side of the road and seeing their expression.
But most of all – having a passion which puts you in front of a massive audience – and lets you express yourself however you like, all the while having the choice of whether you care what other people think or not (within reason 😉 ) – is probably my favourite part.