Sometimes I think us car enthusiasts take our passion too far. It’s very easy to do, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to stop myself slipping further down the rabbit hole when it comes to caring for my pride and joy. Our cars have a habit of growing into a bigger and bigger part of our lives as time goes on, like a TV show character which starts out as a mere footnote but becomes intricately weaved into the main plot by seasons’ end. The commonly held belief is hobbies and passions are good for us and every healthy human being should pursue the activities which fascinate them, but like everything in life a dark side always accompanies the light and the passion of cars is not immune to this.
When I say ‘dark’ it’s not necessarily something sinister I’m referring to, it’s dark in the sense that our burning passion can have the tendency to sour the joy we get from being a motoring enthusiast. Allow me to explain…
The very first car I had was possibly the worst car a self confessed ‘gear head’ could own; a 1994 Honda Accord VTI hand-me-down from Mum and Dad with a spritely 310,000km on the odometer and 18 years of wear and tear from three merciless children growing up. For a young Joseph in his teenage years the words ‘my car’ and ‘tight’ were never uttered in the same sentence, for there was absolutely nothing tight about my Honda Accord at all. Instead words like ‘loose’ and ‘worn’ and ‘shitbox’ accompanied discussions around my automobile of the time.
The bolstering on the right hand side of the driver’s seat had worn so badly I’d almost roll out the door at the first signs of a bend in the road. The A/C was bitterly cold on a winter’s night but sauna-esc on that 40oc day when you needed it most. The gearbox hated my existence, always rejecting first gear anytime I was leaving a parking space and had another car waiting, causing me to look like a complete peanut as I crunched and grinded my way through the ordeal.
But blow me down like the first house the little pigs made it was hassle free motoring. I can’t once remember washing the damn thing; I couldn’t tell you what oil it took because I never serviced it. Dents, scratches, bald tyres, burnt clutch (my fault), curbed rims (that was Mum, probably…) you name it my Honda Accord had more trauma than a frontline solider after four tours of duty. Thank god it was a 90’s Honda built in Japan, meaning it was over engineered and simply refused to die no matter the abuse it copped.
It’s not that I wasn’t into cars back then, far from it. It’s just that didn’t care about the car, I was always on the internet looking and researching and dreaming about real cars I wanted to own. GTR Skylines, S2k’s, WRX’s even old school Aussie muscle cars occupied my imagination. As far as I was concerned the Accord was simply an A-to-B car to get me through the dreaded Queensland learner licensing system and idiotic P plate restrictions which burden every young driver for four long years.
Not one mechanical part failed on my old Accord; couple this with my care-free attitude towards it and you have a car enthusiast with no care in the world except that of one day owning vehicle you would actually be proud to call your own, and this is where the trouble starts…
When the heart, or ‘feels’ as the youth of today would describe it, gets entangled into our passion for our car one thing is almost certain; we become overprotective of it. We bemoan our parents for being overbearing but honestly some of us are no better than them when it comes to the well-being of our pride and joy. In some ways cars are like children; both aren’t meant to be wrapped in cotton wool and shielded from the external elements, and being overprotective is not going to help either of them lead a happy and fulfilling life.
There’s nothing wrong with caring for your car, I’m not denying that. But there’s a fine and slippery line between rational maintenance and babying an inanimate object like a little girly-man (say that in Schwarzenegger’s voice).
A car is a car, treat it like one. Don’t lock your pride and joy in a garage for weeks/months at a time, drive it regularly and with vigour and you’ll actually be doing more good by it. Wash your car when it becomes dirty and needs a clean, don’t clay bar it every two weeks and spend 12hrs straight detailing the damn thing. You know why? Because by sinking excessive time and energy into our cars we turn our passion into a nightmare, a never ending and vicious cycle of obsessing over some part, any part, of our cars. The more time/energy we invest the greater the return on our investment we demand back, that’s human nature. The problem is it’s impossible to keep a car in 100% immaculate or running order forever unless you do the only thing a car is built NOT to do: Never be driven.
A car is a car. This OCD level of care coupled with a raging passion for your car is blessing but also a curse. You only deny yourself of enjoying your own passion. What was once bliss has now become a burden, something full of anxiety to suffer through and be void of all enjoyment, and for what?
A car is a car. Accept the fact your paint will get stone chips, the interior will get worn, and mechanical parts will one day perish or break. It’s OK because all these things can be fixed or repaired (No way!). Drive your car how you wish to drive it, modify your car how you wish it to look and run. Don’t worry about resale or future value, motor vehicles are depreciating assets 99% of the time; it will lose money on trade in no matter the condition. For your own happiness and sanity don’t fall into this trap, a few hundred bucks is not worth years of starving your hunger for automotive bliss, YOUR automotive bliss, not the next guys.
A car is a car, and cars are built to be driven.