What Makes An Enthusiast These Days

Marcelo de Vasconcellos
by Marcelo de Vasconcellos
what makes an enthusiast these days

Though it was only 6 pm, it was already dark out. The fall sent shivers to the Southern Hemisphere, and I ventured out to procure bread for my family. I got to the bakery shop, facing a small dilemma. All the parking on the bakery´s side of the street was taken. I drove around the block and parked on the other side. It’s a narrow two-way street and buses pass all the time, making it difficult for two cars passing at once. I worried about somebody hitting my car or smashing my side mirror. So I thought about it a minute and left the lights on when I exited the car, hoping that would be enough to alert our modern-day semi-comatose drivers. And that my friends is what makes me an enthusiast.

In an era of ubiquitous radars, crushing insurance for anything slightly sporting and obnoxious rice racers and ultimate car douche-bags, enthusiasm is not what it once was. I believe that enthusiasm nowadays is evidenced by thinking of your car. Granting it half a second of our overstretched attention. When I go to the mall, I inevitably bore my wife by driving around for a while looking for that “safe” space. One that affords my car some room to escape dings and scratches. Parking as close as possible to a column is part of my strategy. The other is avoiding mommy mobiles as the fairer sex is not known for respecting the doors of the cars parked next to them.

I also wash my car from time to time. I like to keep it neat and never leave anything in the trunk. I firmly believe a trunk is for the temporary transportation of objects and not an extra closet to store your excess junk ad infinitum. You wouldn’t believe my brother’s cars for example. Not only do they go dirty for weeks at a time, but pop his trunk and you’ll find old socks, tennis balls and rackets, stethoscopes, two-liter plastic soda bottles. The car of course has no feelings and is not offended, but such behavior is proof that he is not an enthusiast. It shows he doesn’t spare a thought to his cars.

I could go on (I get out of the car to watch over the gas attendant’s indifferent work instead of lazily sitting in the car), but my point is made. Modern enthusiasm is not about zero to 60 times, top speed or even engine size. It’s more about how the car fits into your life. How it makes you feel. Whether or not it gives you what you want from it. From sublime handling to icy perfection and boring, eternal reliability, whatever idiosyncratically rocks your boat.

In this vein, modern enthusiasm encompasses anything from the poster child of bland, the Toyota Corolla, to the epitome of cool, the Citroën 2CV. If you spare your car a half of second of thought throughout the situations you face going about your business, then my friend you are an enthusiast.

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  • Hubcap Hubcap on Apr 29, 2013

    I was going to add something similar to what Ryoku75 posted. Instead I'll piggyback on that post. To me an enthusiast means a desire to learn more about that which you are enthused. I've always had a fascination with transportation. Be it car, motorcycle, airplane, boat it really didn't matter and that same passion holds true to this day. The thing is we all arrived via different routes. I've mentioned my interest in transportation. Couple that with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to see and experience a number of different activities and an auto enthusiast (as well as an enthusiast of many other things) is born. I must admit my first love is aviation but I've got room for multitudes of interests. As am aside, I've always thought that if tv exes and others who produce enthusiast programming actually listened and attempted to incorporate what the core audience wants we wouldn't be subject to much of the drivel on TV today. I understand you need to appeal to as large an audience as possible but when you massively dilute content your audience goes away and you're left kowtowing to the base desires of the masses which starts a dreary cycle that too often ends with a good concept ruined.

    • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Apr 29, 2013

      I thank those of you who've read my comment, I just wanted to differentiate the typical enthusiasts that you see in car crowds, too often we're grouped together as being power hungry or whatever you call someone that demands deisel wagons (Better that than a hybrid CUV imo). With TV shows they should find a way to appeal to their core fans while appealing to the masses, make a show that teaches AND entertains rather than wastes my time with sub-plots and fake deadlines. I think that Top Gear UK has done a good job in being both entertaining and educational, the of so hated US version being quite a bit more simplistic though (I blame History).

  • on Apr 29, 2013

    @Marcello One of the better TTAC pieces I've read recently. Auto enthusiasm involves so much more than the tangible things we ascribe to it (speed, cost, badge, etc). You have managed to capture that in your article. To enthusiasts cars are an art form--to be savoured, appreciated and respected. Thanks for bringing it home a bit.

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Apr 29, 2013

      Thank you for the kind words. The way you put it, it encapsulates very well my feelings on the subject. So I think you're absolutely correct sir!

  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.
  • Dave M. I suppose Jethro’s farm report comes via AM, but there’s a ton of alternative ways to get that info. Move forward people. Progress is never easy.
  • BEPLA For anything but the base model, I'd rather have a pre-owned Polestar 2.
  • BEPLA "Quality is Job........well, it's someone's job, but it's not our job.Neither is building vehicles that people actually want or need.We only build what's most profitable. If only someone would buy our 97 day supply of SuperDutys."