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
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.
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?