Along with the beginning of the car, the genesis of a new human culture came about. This culture was not within the walls of a city or the boundary of a country, this culture was universal. And when the Ford Model T brought about mass automobile production, the car enthusiast was born.
Car enthusiasts immediately fell in love with the beauty, the essence, the freedom that the car provided. They fell in love with the sensation of driving cars, which eventually brought along the sports car in the 1920’s due to more people tossing their chauffers out on the side of the road, and driving the cars for themselves.
In the earliest years, car enthusiasts remained undisturbed and were left alone to enjoy everything one can love about a car. For years this was the case. Auto racing emerged and allowed enthusiasts to push their cars to the limits and come together as one community to share their passion for the automobile. More cars made specifically for the enjoyment of driving stepped onto the scene. Car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche emerged from the rubble left behind from World War II.
But now it seems, the car enthusiast is being hunted like whales during the height of whaling in the late 19th century. It really began in the 80s, when the demand for more economically friendly cars became a priority for many manufacturers. However, even still, great cars were being made, with the Mazda MX-5 coming along in 1989, and cars like the RX-7 and NSX Type R in the 90s (excuse my use of Japanese cars as my main example, they’re just really cool). However, when the fear of Y2K diminished, Al Gore popularized the issue of global warning, and gas prices hit an all-time high, the people spoke, and demanded safer, greener, and more fuel-efficient cars.
In the 2000s, the issue really took off, with cars like the Honda Fit and the dreaded Toyota Prius unfortunately being unveiled to the world. These cars represented the opposite of almost everything that a car nut loves about cars. With poor looks and equally as poor handling and fun factor, cars like these caught on with people around the world concerned specifically with something that can go the distance on one tank of fuel and give the earth a warm hug at the same time.
This, consequently, fueled the fire inside the hearts of green people as they began to wage war against the notorious gas guzzler. Gas guzzler taxes are now enforced on cars that don’t reach a certain mpg, causing many car enthusiasts to cower in fear at the thought of paying extra money because of their beloved cars. And because of that, other car nuts are deprived of the opportunity to see great cars on the road.
And now, with the news of the for gearheads by gearheads channel of SPEEDTV being transformed to Fox Sports 1, the last line of defense is being threatened. When the thrill of driving cars first became popular, the next thing car lovers of the time wanted to do was race them. SPEED channel, for years, was the home for car nuts and fans of motorsport in the United States. Airing programs centered on Formula 1 and NASCAR to car history shows and automotive maintenance programs, SPEEDTV provided practically everything that a gearhead loves. But, with Fox transforming the channel into a ball and bat sports network, the future of motorsport and overall car television in the U.S. is uncertain.
While this may be the case for the U.S., car culture lovers around the world should remain threatened. There is a high possibility that things like this could happen worldwide, thus demonstrating the reason why car enthusiasts are an endangered species. And if you were to look past the loss of auto racing on television and look at the roads today, you’ll most likely notice that most people who own cars could honestly care less about their cars.
In today’s world, the philosophy of a car’s sole purpose being to transport you from one place to the next has transformed to doing it as safely as possible, and as efficiently as possible. This may sound all fine and dandy, but if you look at the ways manufacturers and buyers are responding, you’ll notice that this is a serious problem for car lovers everywhere. As a result, car enthusiasts have to hang on to the cars they love, wear their passion with pride, and try to find some sort of way to find motorsport.
What enthusiasts in the U.S. must do, is campaign for a television channel dedicated to the culture of cars. Enthusiasts around the world must campaign for manufacturers to produce more cars like the BRZ. Manufacturers must bring back cars like the great Japanese sports cars I mentioned before, cars that are incredibly fun but also affordable. Cars that revive the thrill of driving that people around the world fell in love with when cars began to catch on in the 1920’s. These cars don’t have to lose any of the safety features or miles per gallon, but they do have to gain fun factor and a population that realizes how great cars and driving is.
Car enthusiasts are an endangered species and will disappear if something isn’t done soon. What we need is racing to watch on TV to watch great cars on great tracks. What we need is cars that drive great and are available for everyone. What we need, then, is worldwide recognition of why cars are great. #longlivecars –B.C.