On Campus

A car is an occasion

Many people wonder why one would love cars. In fact, when I reveal that I am a huge gearhead, I frequently receive a skeptical laugh, followed by an, “Oh wait, you’re serious.” So in this column, I will try to explain how I fell in love with automobiles, and why you might, too.

My father drove us everywhere. Canada? We drove there. Texas? Been there, done that. Barbados? He would find a way. I spent hours in the backseat of whatever car we rode in, reading books, sleeping, eating, and talking to my dad as he drove. Sometimes he would sit me on his lap and let me steer the car as he managed the throttle and brakes. I fondly remember the excitement I would feel every time we got a new car. I would ask how fast it could go, judge its seat comfort and technological capabilities, and give my take on the styling all before I turned 10.

I could not wait to get my license, so I went and got the next best thing: remote control cars. I raced them around abandoned parking lots, crashed them into trees, and powered them through all sorts of mud and sludge. Hotwheels cars soon cluttered the wooden floors of my house. My bedroom door was, and is to this day, plastered with cutouts of supercars and rare classics. The walls of my bedroom have 30 copies of my favorite magazine, Automobile, nailed onto them. Even now, the unused piano in our living room serves as a parking lot for my elite selection of Hotwheels.

My television viewing consisted of only one show: Top Gear. The British car show is hosted by three rather childish car fanatics who made writing reviews about cars their lives’ work. I laughed at the hosts and ogled and swooned at the exotics that they showed on the screen. I memorized statistics of my favorite cars the same way a fan of a sport might for all their favorite players. I knew the horsepower of all the cars you could possibly name, as well as the types of transmissions, top speeds, 0 to 60 times, and even tire widths. I admit that it was a lonely journey: I found very few friends along the way who shared my interests, and the ones I did find were often adults.

Before landing a spot as a columnist for The Vanguard, I tried my hand at motor journalism for my aforementioned favorite magazine. I sent in an email giving my hot take on the just revealed Ford GT, and I got published! It gave me hope and inspiration to apply for this column. Who knows, I may even go after a job in automotive journalism someday.

Soon after I was published, I was closing in on my license and, in doing so, had to attend arduous and awful driving school. There I learned what a steering wheel was, what to do at a red light, and how to use a handbrake. Transformative.

However, it was but a stepping stone to one of the greatest freedoms offered to humankind. Sitting in a dismal Toyota with a stony-faced former police officer evaluating my parallel parking, I passed the test and was licensed. The dream was attained, and in the Saab that I have fawned over in my other columns, I finally got to put the pedal to the metal.

Perhaps, even with all of this personal history, you still wonder why I turn into a 5-year-old every time I see a Lamborghini, or why I crane my neck to look outside the windows during class when I hear the roar of an engine on Gerry’s Landing Road. And I don’t blame you if you wonder why a car can be considered anything but a dreary form of transportation. Perhaps I am totally insane, and my adoration is without any logic or law.

Everyone is entitled to their own niche hobbies. I encourage you to try out the gas pedal in your car more often, though. Turn down the tunes and listen to the exhaust note. Toss the car through a series of corners. Go for a road trip—make it an occasion. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with your car the way I have with mine. And when you finally come to your senses, when you finally learn to love cars as much as I do, be sure to tell me all about it.

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