What is a car enthusiast? I feel like this answer is a bit skewed in our minds. Are you an enthusiast based on what kinds of modifications you have done to your car? Are you still considered a car enthusiast even if you only have stickers plastered on a stock vehicle? Do you even need a car?
The last question sounds ridiculous, and most of you may even say ‘yes’ to that question but if you really think about it you don’t even have to be an car owner to really be considered an enthusiast do you? You could have more passion and influence than someone with a car in the automotive world we live in today. It certainly helps you understand more and relate more but you can be stoked on cars and only be 12 years old, so what then?
We all do it, we look down on the younger generation of gearheads because they run around with stickered up beaters, painted steelies and fart cannons. They ask too many ‘dumb’ questions, they are doing ‘it’ all wrong, they are ruining ‘it’ for us who’ve been around longer. Well they can’t afford a BRZ, so they drive a base model Impreza. They can’t afford a Tomei exhaust so they grab a cherry bomb from CT. They can’t afford new paint so they rattle can it. They have never installed a cold air intake before and they don’t do it perfectly. We shouldn’t be criticizing them, we should be helping them, and teaching them. Mainly because we have ALL been them. We don’t want to make them feel like shit for not having the cleanest ride, we want them to stay excited for this industry because we wan’t this industry to keep on blooming.
I’m not experienced by any means, I’ve not been taught in a classroom setting, I DO things that are dumb and can 100% be done a better way. I’m learning and I’m always going to be learning, but I am at the point where I can definitely have a few words to say to the younger generation, or for those of you who are scared to jump into the deep end of car enthusiasm.
I’ve always loved loud cars and trucks growing up. Tractor pulls, the local speedway, then with the internet and DMCC: drifting. My first was an e30 that lasted a whole week. My second car was an auto S14 that was in my ownership for 2 years. I used to get slack for that car being auto, but I loved it all the same. It was before the Silvia could be imported over into Canada as well, so it was an extra kind of cool back then. It remained mostly stock aside from an exhaust and audio system. That all changed when I got a WRX and started attending Subaru meets…
TIP #1: Attend car shows and car meets. A community is the best kind of engagement. I met all kinds of Subaru enthusiasts with different cars and different levels of skill. Everyone was super nice, had stories to share, had advice to give, and for the most part didn’t knock on anyone else’s cars. There’s always going to be one or two bad apples but you’re bound to meet some good people and make some helpful friendships. There are also bound to be people there who are at the same ‘stage’ of enthusiast you are, and as long as you aren’t boasting knowledge you obtained from reading threads on the internet, or claiming to know things you don’t, you should be fine. Don’t act like a know-it-all, don’t act like a dick, respect goes both ways.
TIP #2: Don’t worry about the validation from others. Build your car how you want it, how you like it. If you want vertical doors, save up and get that kit you’ve been dying to have. If you want underglow, order it up. If you want a bozo pipe, find a shop who can understand what you’re asking for haha. There are of course legal and illegal modifications you can do, and you have to understand that you might get flack from the authority for having some on your car. This leads me to tip 3.
TIP #3: Ask someone more experienced if you don’t know. This is where people get mad on forums, questions that have been repeatedly answered over and over. Don’t just ask right away without doing any actual research or digging yourself. Put time into researching it. Chances are someone has already asked the same question on a local or international forum. Google is your friend, and so are those who attend car meets, shows, and track days. We, as the older generation who are responding to these ‘silly’ questions should just keep in the back of our minds that we used to be them. Be polite.
TIP #4: Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on a modification. This was me to a tee with my WRX. I for some reason didn’t want to do anything too drastic to reduce the resale value of my car. I used plasti-dip on interior pieces so I could peel the paint off and have it revert to stock. It held me back on some of my creative ideas for my car. It sucked. Bottom line is, cars are money pits. Most of the time they are plummeting in value. Sure you can hold onto a pristine S13 Coupe all your life, keep it stock and period correct, if that’s what you want to do. Just don’t be afraid to drive it, or to satisfy the urge to make it faster with an engine or turbo swap. That’s just one of my personal pet peeves: cars are meant to be driven. It’s also fun to tinker and change things on your car!
TIP #5: Do it yourself. Some tasks are going to seem too hard to accomplish on your own. You never know until you try however, and with what we have access to on the internet it’s never been easier. People make youtube walk-throughs for a lot of things now, forums have discussed things at length, magazines and blogs have also beaten certain methods and subjects over the head. Some things you may not even have to look up. You are just confronted with a problem and you and your buddy have to find a solution. Try, fail, learn, try again, fail, learn, try again, pass with some flaws, return later and fix flaws, smile and pat yourself on the back. You learn the most by doing and failure helps you understand how things work better. It most definitely increases the value of success. It also builds a deeper connection with your pride and joy. For instance, you could take your car to a shop and pay them to do an engine swap for you. Or you can jump face first into the waters of the unknown and try and swim for the first time on your own. Sure, you might swallow some water, get seaweed tangled in your toes, but the water turns from cold to refreshing and when you come up for that breath of air it’s never been so nice. You value and respect your car so much more when you hear your engine sputter to life after you’ve been working on it for months. You can’t help but be some kinda proud of the task you overcame, even though it didn’t turn out very pretty or professional.
TIP #6: Don’t let doubt or others stop you. I’ve been lucky in the fact that no one has really confronted me and told me I can’t do something with my car. I’ve had someone tell me to remove aero from my car because he thought it looked dumb (I thought him saying that made him look dumb), but I’ve never really had anyone say “you can’t do that”. I have however told myself that I “can’t do that”. Self-doubt can eat at you but you have to not let that hold you back. Take a chance, try it out, and you might surprise yourself with what you can do.