What is his job? How much does he make? Where does he live? What does he wear? These are all superficial things people use to judge another quickly. Judgment happens, it has its use but it is consistently misguiding. Personality and actions always prevail. However, there is a faucet of prudence that I consciously keep “What do you drive?”. It is a question not often asked but observed to the best of my ability, if someone drives a cavalier it won’t change how I treat the person but it does register in my brain that we may not share one of my passions.
A man’s car can take any shape. The smell of Honda Civic and VTEC will be the smell of someone’s dad; the PT cruiser will be the family road trip car, everlasting in memory, maybe even a ford f-150 didn’t break down hauling something, or probably did break down and was a introduction into the world of self-taught mechanics. My point is, in the end any car can have value and be the vehicle that means most to someone, but if someone loves a Cobalt more than any other car, cool…that isn’t what I’m about.
I respect the fact anyone works on their own car or modify it in any way, from plasti-dip to turbos. I would rather see the worst chromed out Canadian tire special h2 hummer roll down the street than be stuck in a sea of vehicles used as unmodified, dispensable tools. Sometimes people have to use what they have. But this is where my ignorance comes into play. I think a man aims high, works hard, makes sacrifices and achieves what he wants based on his own code. What you drive is a part of manhood to me, I feel almost every guy wants to drive a sports car at some level, but how many are ready to make the sacrifices to do it? It’s a terrible investment, impractical, and high maintenance, there are many more reasons not to ever drive a sports car, but it shows where passion lies and lets me quickly analyze the person I’m meeting.
People may add the word power to the definition of a true car. I disagree. Brute force has always been a symbol of masculinity but not often a sign of ingenuity. A balance of power and agility just as a balance of force and intellect makes a better man and a better car. Humbleness is preferable to excessiveness, experience preferable to potency. Goliath was a man, yet so was David, The better balanced will prevail not the most postured.
Three Toyota AE86 corollas, Two 240sxs, a Scion FRS, Dodge Challenger, Mr2, Miata and a Porsche 911, All cars I have spent a lot of time driving/analyzing and am blessed to have available to me. All have the core of a proper car, rear wheel drive, 5 or 6 speeds, with 2 doors. Remove ABS, traction control, and any other computer but fuel injection and to me that is a true car, man’s car. Practicality, spoiled options, and laziness as a driver are left behind. Replaced with, skill, finesse, prestige and attentiveness.
600hp has its use and is no doubt impressive, 3rd gear e-brake slide and smoke trail around a bank oval will be fast, fun, and impossibly entertaining to a crowd. For myself I prefer to 2nd gear redline shift into 3rd, weight transfer timed with a clutch kick, pedal floored since the corner back, clutch kick again as revs drop with a slight manji to keep it going, no smoke, no mistakes, no power to correct if speed is scrubbed touching the brakes at all, hell hardly any angle. One with 600hp the other with 130hp. 600 is impressive, loud, satisfying and powerful. 130 is weak, laughable but also kamikaze. Both slide the corner, 600 will make it almost every time, 130 hardly ever but the one that is made means everything was done right and it reached its potential. Tire count at the end of the day 600 (16 tires destroyed and trailer home) 130 (drove two hours to full track day and two hours back home on the same set). Let alone the stress of trying to transfer 600 hp of energy through a clutch, transmission and a 90 degree differential. Heat, expense, and excessiveness just ain’t my style but I sure do appreciate the style. 600 hp makes my knees weak puts a smile on my face and is amazing to watch but the finesse needed for the underdog to compete is my reward. Sliding around is only one discipline.
World’s best circuit, which is the first to come to mind? Nurburgring. It is the ultimate circuit on the planet and the one a car’s potential is measured on, why is that? Because it has the same recipe as the ultimate car, it’s unforgiving, unpractical; it has prestige and demands attentiveness. Just like a man’s car the course will not cater to you, it will not give you a second chance; it will test you at every moment. Brute force can be used and is impressive but so can skill, a 1001hp Bugatti Veyron and a 263 hp r500 Caterham are equals on the track. Yet one has 738 less horsepower and costs $1,483,000 less. One has every assist and computer, one with nothing but the operators foot.
I imagine my preference for efficiency comes from a deep set familiarity with lack of resources. Use what you have and do the best you can is something I have followed my whole life, by choice or situation is debatable but at some point it merges into your personality. I now enjoy being as efficient as I can and using my problem solving skills to use the entirety of the resources I have available to me. This translates into what cars I like, lightweight, efficient and simple.
My two favorites are the 1986 Toyota Corolla and aircooled Porsche 911’s . The Toyota is lightweight, fuel efficient, low power and unassuming in its looks, it doesn’t break parts or have high cost or attract universal attention. It is popular but only to the people who know about its reputation, meaning I only get talked to people who share my same interest in cars. I can afford to drive it, repair it, and have fun in it without killing myself with too much speed or power. The 911 was my first favorite car, to me they are beautiful and unique, they represent doing everything well, being stubborn while doing it, all while being dangerous. They can race, drag, drift, road trip, cruise, and show. No other car does everything so well with so much prestige. People can’t even decide if it is a sports car, an exotic or a supercar. I think stubbornness is an advantage if used properly; it makes you finish things it just has to be paired with wisdom. The 911 has kept its engine in the rear even though it is not the optimal mid-engine position. Its looks worked so why change, you either love it or hate it, the sign of doing something right. It did the best with the DNA it was born with. Being the only car with the engine in the rear comes with a unique set of rules and distinctive methodology, a man who can drive a Ferrari fast can also drive a Lamborghini or McLaren fast, but cannot drive a 911 fast with the same technique. The assumption that you can drive it the same has claimed many lives and added to the Porsche legacy. Unique, powerful, capable, dangerous and niche.
Rear wheel drive is unforgiving of mistakes and liberal power. Two doors make a purposeful and lighter car. Manual transmission connects you to the car within a skill. No computer aids forces attentiveness and mastery. The heritage, climate, dedication to Motorsport and style also play a part but I believe the rwd 2 door manual aid-less car to be the backbone of a man’s car, at least the man I wish to be. What is yours?