CAR Enthusiasts vs. DRIVING Enthusiasts - Fundamentally Different. #opinion

They both love cars - but not in the same way. Long post incoming.

In light of CT’s recent article which discussed why Alex doesn’t like the overly sensible and capable RS3 because it’s not a challenge to drive, I’ve brought this thought to the top of my mind once again.

Are driving enthusiasts and car enthusiasts really the same thing? They both love cars… or do they?

I don’t think so, and I’ll explain why.

#My take on the Driving Enthusiast

If it's not a challenge, it's boring.

I don’t think driving enthusiasts are interested in the cars themselves as much as the results the cars can achieve, whether it be the vehicle’s outright maximum potential on the racetrack or the sheer amount of involvement a car can provide. In other words, less car, more driver.

If it’s not a challenge, it’s boring. I feel like this is the primary pervasive mindset that driving enthusiasts adopt. The car is a tool used to enhance themselves, and they get a kick out of it. The car is an extension of the self and personal skill, and not a separate entity to be treated like a treasure. Driving enthusiasts could care less about why and what makes a car what it is, instead focusing purely on how the car feels to drive as a function of their own driver capability. Doing is appreciating, and driver assists are the devil. Minus the negative connotations, I would describe driving enthusiasts as control freaks. They love doing everything themselves.

In my opinion, the Dodge Viper is a perfect driving enthusiast’s car. Immensely capable, but only with a capable driver. A car without even the slightest intention to restrain itself. Everything is in the driver’s hands. This car definitely can’t do everything well, but it’s the best at what it’s built for: Literal driving insanity.

#My take on the Car Enthusiast.

Cars: Where beauty meets form, function and fun.

I think car enthusiasts are people who, more than anything, appreciate the subtle aspects of cars. Car nerds, per se. This can take a variety of forms. A car enthusiast can appreciate the beauty of a car that’s perhaps not the sharpest to drive. They can appreciate the harmonious innovation that is the a hybrid system, or the sheer capability of an unconventional rising star like the Rimac Concept 2. A driving enthusiast may feel distaste when a new automatic transmission and computer-controlled AWD system surpasses the limits of human capability, but a car enthusiast may see those innovations as a cause to celebrate. Even apart from its driver, a good car deserves to be appreciated as a separate entity, like a majestic piece of engineering art. After all, a car is where beauty meets form, function and fun, creating an unparalleled object that represents freedom.

I think a car enthusiast thinks less of “what can the car do for me?“ and more of “what can make the car itself better?“. Car enthusiasts may not necessarily be the glamorous championship race or stunt drivers, but instead, be the innovators that feel empowered to further innovate and evolve the car.

I think a great example of a car enthusiast’s car is the Acura NSX. A car that is so immensely capable no human could possibly keep up with it. It was built to perform in every measure; it can comfort you on the congested city streets, it can keep itself planted in poor weather, it can provide euphoria through the curves, and can yank your face off on the circuit. It’s smart, fast and incredibly capable. It’s built to be sophisticated yet athletic. It’s a perfect harmony of technological wizardry and engineering artistry personified on wheels. Sometimes it even outperforms its driver, and it was built to be this way.

In the end, I don’t believe any car lover is purely a driving enthusiast or a car enthusiast. I think we’re all somewhere in the middle, and always biased to one side or the other. Depending on the car or the context, possibly biased towards both ends.

However, a lot of strife within the car community can be sourced to this fundamental (imo) distinction between those “control-freak purists” and the “car nerds”. Everyone may appreciate cars for different reasons, or judge cars based on different aspects.

In the end, some might appreciate thrill, and some might appreciate beauty, and some might appreciate technology or efficiency. A bagged and slammed VIP car is just as worthy as a hardcore time-attack car, and are just as worthy as the latest ground-breaking hypercar.

In the end, I do not think car lovers can just put aside their differences and get along. They never have, and probably never will.

Good thing there are enough cars around to cater to us all. Thoughts?



Sounds like something that makes sense
Some car lovers are be mature enough to put their differences aside and get along, but most just want to go at war to show the world how much their favourite car is better than the rest

04/09/2018 - 01:20 |
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Jia the Supra Fanboy

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

In the end, fanboys are a segment of “car lover” too. Not sure how I feel about that hahaha

04/09/2018 - 02:06 |
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Chad Fischbeck (Corvette squad)

Great post! I commented on the crossfire video about Alex saying that it’s not an enthusiast car because it had an automatic and he replied that the gearbox is crap and that’s why it’s not an enthusiast car. I replied that just because a car isn’t a driver’s car doesn’t mean it can’t be appreciated by car enthusiasts. Anyways my point is, there is a lot more to a car then lap times and how it handles on a twisty road. Even if a car handles like crap you can still appreciate how it looks, sounds, how comfortable it is, or how well built it is.

04/09/2018 - 02:33 |
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Well, I fully understand what Alex means. Obviously some cars are better “enthusiast” cars than others. Some enthusiasts want a specific set characteristics, and others a whole set of different characteristics. Obviously the VIP LS400 is not going to be keeping up with the Time Attack Evo on a racetrack, just as one is a great choice for a road trip while the other will break your back, then probably break down and break your wallet.

General enthusiasts tend to only care about how a car handles in the twisties, and disregard just how bad said car can be in other situations. We’re all narrow minded, and that’s why I stated that we can’t all get along.

04/09/2018 - 03:00 |
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Forza Napoli

To be absolutely honest with you, the RS3 is one of my favorite currently available cars at the moment. It’s perfect sitting in traffic as well as throwing around some back roads. It can look formal/elegant and yet still be sporty enough and, of course, that engine note.

Yet, I’m that guy who would get a manual 2018 Mustang, for something more raw… So, I like both worlds?

04/09/2018 - 03:40 |
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Everyone likes part of both worlds. Cars and driving are inseparable, after all. Some people prefer the rawness, some people would happily give up control for more class and competence. Hence the Viper vs NSX comparison, haha.

Nothing wrong with going either way, but the issue is that people tend to fight with those who see otherwise.

04/09/2018 - 03:50 |
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I think that’s a very good distinction, but some people have elements of both. I can see the appeal in both “effortless progress” and “stripped-back” cars.

04/09/2018 - 08:51 |
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I mentioned that I think all people have elements of both, but the differences in the amount of each is what causes disagreement and conflict. I, too can see the appeal in both types. Some people can’t, though.

04/09/2018 - 22:52 |
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Great post! I am more of a car enthusiast.

04/09/2018 - 11:31 |
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Good post. Sometimes it is hard to figure out which you are though- one of my favourite cars is a Subaru WRX STI (a driving enthusiast car), another car I like a lot is the Mercedes 600 Grosser (which is fun to drive because it’s the exact opposite of the Subaru). And later this year, I plan on buying the middle ground- a BMW 530i E39 with a manual

04/09/2018 - 17:57 |
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In that case I am more of a driving enthusiast. I apprieciate history and engineering but honestly enjoy how a car feels to drive even more. If given the choice between daily driving a new mid-level performance car (like a Corvette) with an automatic or an older roadster with a stick (M Roadster or S2000, maybe even a real classic) I’d pick the latter. I prefer style and experience over innovation or status.

04/15/2018 - 15:38 |
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Jia the Supra Fanboy

In reply to by SkigE39

You seem to be a hardcore automatic hater, but this topic isn’t really about that. The new ZR1 for example will have a manual transmission, let alone the lower-spec Corvettes.

Also, why can’t a newer, more innovative vehicle offer a better driving experience than an older one? A “good” experience should be subjective, yet people love to promote what they agree with and immediately shoot down what they can’t agree with. This is especially apparent with transmissions. One part of a car, but somehow it dictates the worth of the whole car.

Drive a Mk1 Golf GTI? You’re a man of true culture.
Drive a manual FRS? You’re a true enthusiast.
Drive an automatic FRS? You’re not an enthusiast, you’re a poser.
Drive a DSG 911? Definitely a poser, with a helping of midlife crisis.
Have more fun in an automatic car than a manual? You’re either lying or stupid, you normie.

So, why are “style and experience” mutually exclusive from innovation again? What if somebody’s driving euphoria doesn’t come from being a “control freak”? Too bad for them, the “car community” will reject them. Prefer a newer car over a respected classic? Burnt at the stake.

The exclusive car community at its finest. Who even made these rules again?

Also, I’m not sure you’re that much more of a driving enthusiast, so let’s see. Roughly quoting an article written by a race car driver I read recently:
“I’ve never felt any sentimental attachment to cars my whole life, probably because I’ve been racing them my whole life.”

Nothing but another car.

So, the distinction between your non-enthusiast Prius driver and the racecar driver blurs. The car is nothing but a tool.

Do you see your cars as driving tools, or are you more sentimentally attached to them?

04/16/2018 - 07:36 |
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