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What makes a car special?

Tire Tracks
Love of cars

The other day I started to think about the underlying reasons I am drawn to cars. There are a million and one other hobbies I could gravitate towards. Don’t get me wrong, I have other interests besides cars, yet the draw to these metal machines pulls the strongest.

Perhaps it is the symbolic nature of the car that intrigues me. After all, the car is the physical embodiment of freedom. With it you can come and go as you please, where you please. Being from the good ol’ USA this is one of our founding principles. If I remember my grade school social studies correctly, our forefathers made it a point to add life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the preamble of our declaration of independence. I doubt they had automobiles in mind, but it sure does sum up what a car provides us.

Maybe I am fascinated by the ingenuity of the automobile. Let’s face it, the automobile is one of the biggest achievements of mankind. The basic makeup of transportation did not advance that much until the engine came around. From chariot to buggies the driving force was mechanically passive until someone decided that iron should replace muscle and we haven’t looked back since. Just think where we would be today if it wasn’t for the innovations the automobile has brought us. It truly is a marvel of engineering.

On the other hand, the world would be dull and boring if we merely equated worth based on mechanical means alone. The automobile could have been designed solely for its intended utilitarian purpose and lacked any sense of creativity. Luckily there were those who decided to add a creative spark to the equation. Aside from the Yugo, our cars are pieces of moving art designed to stimulate our senses. Just as there are many ways to paint a landscape, there are just as many ways to show beauty in a car’s form. True art’s merit is based on how it makes you feel. No two individuals will see or “feel” a piece of art in the same way. This is how a Pacer and a Ferrari can coexist in our hobby.

There is yet another aspect of cars that may explain my fascination. The exhilarating feeling I get when I am enjoying the power and grace of a finely tuned piece of machinery. The primal need to face fear and conquer the beast. As much as I want to say it doesn’t matter – it does! There is something about the sound of a V8 announcing itself through a set of headers that puts a smile on my face. The feel of your body being planted against the seat from the g-forces and wanting more never gets old.

I almost forgot a major reason I love cars. I find working on them extremely gratifying. At least the times when things actually go as planned, and I am not swearing at the car. Even then, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finally overcome the obstacles. Working on your own cars gives you a sense of ownership and pride. You know that your machine is performing at its full potential because of the time and effort you put into it.

There are probably other reasons that most of you can add to the list. The fact that I cannot pinpoint one exact reason shows how many ways cars touch our souls. Some are adrenaline junkies and need the power. Some live for the comfort of big American land yachts. While others favor small, nimble, European cars. The hold our four-wheeled machines have on us is personal. Be it an old rusty truck, a modern sub-compact, or an Italian sports car, they all are special in different ways. As individuals we don’t really have to describe why – just be thankful and enjoy.

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