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The Lost Art of Loving Cars

My personal views on why I hate the modern car scene, and why it’s in dire straits.

I had a very fortunate upbringing as a child.

That is, not necessarily a materialistic statement, but the background in which I was raised in, as a car enthusiast. With a father that came from a generation of tinkerers and brothers that immersed themselves in cars as much as I do, I was raised with the mantra of doing as much as you can with what you have, instead of just biting the bullet immediately and paying to replace things, spending money when you don’t necessarily have to.

The age of people being skilled mechanics as opposed to being mere parts fitters is sadly coming to a close, and it’s rather depressing. The thought of today’s car enthusiast seems to be “just buy a new one and stick it on” , when it used to be “can I fix this up and get a bit longer out of it?”. This idea of dispensability is going to be the downfall of the modern world, as more and more things that could live on aren’t given a second chance at life, and are thrown away. I guess this applies to more than just cars, but this is an automotive article so automotive it shall stay.

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You’re probably wondering, “Where the hell is he going with this?”. Well, bear with me.

This generational gap is inherently obvious at modern car shows. For this reason, if you ask me, most modern car shows are shit. I could use more harsh wording than shit, but I’ll refrain. I have zero interest in them, and I’ll tell you why. They’re all about money. It’s that mentality that kills them.

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Another advantage of having a father that is as hugely into cars as I am was being taken to car shows. Nearly every weekend in summer had some form of car gathering, and we’d nearly always be in attendance. Around this time (I’d say probably around 2003-2009) car shows and displays that I mainly would’ve attended would’ve been vintage shows, of people in their elder years showing off cars they’ve had for years, or blew all of their retirement money on. I mean, show me a 20 year old around here that has a Jaguar E-Type. See what I mean? Cars that genuinely cost a hell of a lot of money in the first place.

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These cars were primarily things from the 60s and 70s, the likes of your Mk1 Escorts and Triumphs and the sort. People who have kept these cars going through thick and thin – through rusted arches and parts scarcity, they have put their blood, sweat and tears into doing that they can to keep their babies alive, purely for the love of cars.

It’s a form of automotive love that I think seems to be lost on the today’s car generation. And you still see this today at vintage shows – no matter who they are, if you have a love of cars, they will try and find common ground and will take great pride in telling you all about their baby and how it came to be where it is now, the years of work, the dedication. Thanks to that experience, the feeling is reciprocated – they don’t care what comes through that entry gate, they’re just proud to see that whatever it is, you’re keeping it alive and taking it out to see the world.

It could be a rusted out Fiat X1/9, or a completely immaculate Peugeot 309 – whatever it is, whatever their views on them – they’re happy to see it, and are eager to find out what stories it has to tell. This means you get a hell of a lot of variety, and no two cars coming in are ever the same.

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This is where my hatred of modern shows comes in. Naturally, a lot of you are going to get upset or hot headed about what I have to say about them, but that’s okay. It just means you’re passionate. And wrong.

Since purchasing my own car back in 2013 (another story in itself, which you can read about on here somewhere), I’ve started to attend more and more car shows, sadly delving further away from the vintage shows (despite all of my cars being, well, old) and immediately you can notice a distinct difference in atmosphere. Sadly, a bad one. Harking back to what I said earlier about the generational gap between people who fix things and people who just pay to replace things immediately, the era of the modern car show is dominated by one thing: Money.

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That’s the type of comradery I like to see.

The love of cars doesn’t seem to be as important anymore. It’s gone from “God I remember those, great to see it still on the road!” to “That’s not low enough. Needs to be lower. Change those wheels.” It seems to have gone from appreciation to mainly criticism, from support to degradation. It doesn’t really matter how rare your car is, if you’ve thrown enough money at it people will love it.

Wheels that cost more than the car, airbag systems that are more technologically advanced than an entire field of vintage cars. And what’s it all for? Instagram likes? Attention? It makes you wonder if people didn’t get enough love when they were younger and feel the need to splash their cash to get attention online.

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Don’t get me wrong, there are still the dedicated out there. But I’ll get to that. Let me finish ranting first.

Another issue is advertising. You can’t go to a car show without having some new product or company rammed down your throat everywhere you look, and cars seem to only be used to advertise what was used to clean them these days. The “Ilovebass” Dubshed video consisted more of them jacking off to their own logo and their trade stands than it did of the actual cars on display. And if I had a fiver for every new “detailing company” that starts up, I could probably afford some of their damn products.

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And the people are snapping it up in hordes. Car shows are becoming huge now, as everybody strives to create the “next big show car”, and as everybody gets more and more cut throat about each other’s cars. If you stand at the likes of Dubshed (other car shows are available. Cough.) and just listen to a lot of the people walking around (Usually the ones in tracksuits and vaping…) I guarantee you every other comment will be a criticism. In fact, I’d put money on it.

I openly admit that my cars are works of shit, but you have people walking up to what are practically works of art and all they have to say is that it could be lower or it looks horrible. I know that opinions on things are all subjective and down to the individual, but it’s becoming downright toxic to be around. People are giving up on cars because they don’t think they’ll get trophies when it’s done or because they’re afraid that people won’t like it. It’s pathetic. It’s your car, build for yourself.

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Hey, that’s us.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are people out there who think otherwise. There are people who attend these shows who genuinely love their cars. The idea of slamming their Toledo and putting a set of RS6 wheels on it makes them want to get up in the morning. And that’s fantastic.

And there are people who delve into both realms – they take their beetle to the vintage show on one Sunday and then to a stance event the next – and that’s great. That’s what we need. But sadly this is the minority. And that’s not the way it should be. We need to be more open, more broad – and far less narrow minded.

Personally, I think the modern car community as a whole needs to take a step back and chill out a bit more, instead of just throwing money at a car and then walking around a hall criticising everybody else’s car – and then crying when someone does it to yours.

Sadly, I don’t think any of this is going to change any time soon because, well, money talks. The day this changes is the day I’ll have an airbag setup in my Golf. But what I will say, is to go and visit a local vintage show. Soak in the atmosphere that truly does just love cars, and not what people have done to them purely to make them different. Talk to people, learn their stories. Notice the lack of advertising and product placement.

Who knows – you might just learn something.

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