Hi. Swade here.
I’d like to introduce a friend of mine, the guy who’s penned this article. His name is Gavin and as you’ll read below, he has a condition. Don’t be judgemental, though, because there’s a really good chance you have it too, in one form or another.
Gavin will be sharing his automotive passion on this site every now and then. Please make him welcome.[hr] [dropcap]S[/dropcap]omeone called me a car fanatic the other day and at first I thought “that’s okay”. But then it hit me – was that an insult or not? Am I fanatical about automotive machinery? Am I an enthusiast or do I fall under another category altogether? Which bucket do I fall into, and does it even matter?
I assume a number of you reading this have already placed yourself in one pile or the other. You may or may not have given it much thought but your placement within the right set of white lines (in the correct lane, so to speak) can mean a lot in the pseudo world of motoring. It’s a make-or-break assessment of just how deep both you and the outside world perceive your devotion to automobilia actually is.
Firstly, I must point out that hybrid versions of fanatical, enthusiastic and otherwise dedicated car lovers exist, but I won’t cover that complication here today. Instead, I will focus on the clear cut cases.
I’m pleased to report that I have not been arrested in any protest outside Holden’s headquarters, trying to persuade the faceless American management team to rethink its obviously silly decision to make a business more profitable by reducing costs and removing old practises that don’t stack up financially.
A Fanatic would protest. They would stand proud in the rain, sleet, sun, wind and snow (i.e. typical Melbourne day) to show the world that someone cares about the fact that an Australian icon is dying.
I, on the other hand, could not be bothered. Like most people, I know all too well that the decision was made ages ago and that the pinstriped suits are just keeping their own jobs and careers safe, so not a lot will change even if I did rug-up and sleep out front of Holden HQ.
So, I am therefore – and thankfully – not a fanatic.
Of course, if you are a fanatic then that’s absolutely okay. It takes all sorts to make up a world. (that’s me trying to stop a protest forming outside my residence. Please don’t.).
If we’re not fanatics then by default, we must be enthusiasts. Or are we?
I’ll attempt to define the Enthusiast with the same Holden scenario we examined for the Fanatic, if that’s OK with you.
An enthusiast might don his perfect condition 1996 Holden Race Team shirt, cap and jacket (stored in a special wardrobe in chronological order), dust off his collection of Bathurst 1:18 scale race cars (richer enthusiasts have life size versions), straighten his ‘limited edition’ one-of-seven-million-and-still-in-production King Of The Mountain print (the one with a terrible hand drawn image of Peter Brock that makes him look like he was infected with a zombie virus) and cry about the demise of his beloved Holden over a BBQ with his mates where they would toast the Kingswood/Torana/Gemini – or whatever car they lost their virginity in back in the 1980’s.
I didn’t do that, either. Hence I don’t think I can be referred to as an Enthusiast.
(And having possibly already maligned fanatics and now enthusiasts, I expect some of you are googling my address and sending a murder of your colleagues to take me out….. again – please don’t. My affliction, and maybe yours, is something that many sane-minded people would deem even worse)
It would seem, based on this, that we who are left must congregate elsewhere. “There is another”, as Obi Wan said to Yoda. Or was it the other way round? I’m not sure but I’m quite sure a Star Wars enthusiast can tell me.
I don’t subscribe to, nor would I partake in, any of the things mentioned previously and yet I know there is still something going on in my mind. What does that make me? If you have now joined my queue, what banner do WE fall under? If we are not rampant feverish protestors or obsessive compulsive members of a cult, then we must be afflicted with a condition only talked about in whispers within darkened rooms, away from those that need not know.
We can only be the dreaded oft-not-mentioned band of brothers (a unisex term covering both sexes, so no nasty sexist replies please) that are deemed “the automotive addict”.
Yes, addicted to motoring. We suck up, consume and worst of all, store and willingly regurgitate copious amounts of automotive mumbo jumbo.
I know, I know, some of this mumbo jumbo is good stuff, like knowing where Arch Motors stamped the chassis numbers on a Lotus/Caterham 7 chassis frame, or that a 1990’s Rover Mini subframe will bolt straight into a 1963 Mini.
But on top of the ‘good’ stuff is the pathetic stuff that comprises the addicts’ never-ending need for more. The condition is typified by a slightly sick ‘I know more than you’ syndrome.
We do this silently, secretly, only ever letting other recognised addicts see the depths of our condition by spewing forth volumes of detailed, needless car information. It’s stuff that means a lot to you and it will most likely come to mean a lot to the other addicts you meet, too. The nature of the addict compels them to store any previously unknown information into their own knowledge base so as to inflict it upon someone else at another time.
This addiction to motoring is not easily seen. We look like normal humans, doing regular day-to-day things, until…..
There comes a time, maybe just a fleeting moment, where the veil of secrecy is lifted ever so slightly. It can be with non-addicted humans and if so then it normally goes unnoticed and life carries on. But lift the oil sodden veil a bit too much and the un-autoised folk will start to wonder.
It may not happen straight away, but at some stage they will remember your burst of information about the car that starred in the Back To The Future movies.
Your quickened voice, the growing look of angst as you explained that the car was not a Ferrari, it was a Delorean. And it had more than just a touch of Lotus DNA with its steel backbone chassis and fiberglass body. They may even remember all the detail you explained to them, like how the stainless steel panels were glued onto the fibreglass body as an outer skin only.
At the very least, they will remember that the outburst happened and they will watch for more as they build their case against you prior to a formal intervention.
The veil is more easily lifted when the audience is safely recognised as other automobile-ish humanoids, but it will not go up straight away. No sir.
In the first instance you need to find what the pack is made up of. Is this a fanatical gathering and if so, what are you doing there? Is it an enthusiast swarm? You may have to determine if you can relate to whatever they are devoted to. Do you have data stored on their particular marque and best case, do you know more than them? To determine the latter, you must engage in initial small talk, leading gradually to important addiction-focused discussions where you bait the enthusiast with snippets of information, await their reply and then lift the veil just a little more and throw out a curly one.
It’s called Addiction Chess and it goes a bit like this:
Such a comment could be met with a “Yeah? Didn’t know that”.
Result – BING, you now know you are the superior addict and can either play with these underlings or leave. It would depend on how you felt at the time.
However, if the reply was “Well, not all of them, they went back to steel doors, boot and bonnet a few years after production” ….
Result – Bzzzz. This is your first indication that you face a worthy adversary that has a deeper-than-normal level of information.
This is where it gets interesting. You see, now it’s all based on your respective addiction severity.
If you know that the alloy panels were dropped in October of 1964, which is when Ford did a small upgrade and added flow-through ventilation and that any car with alloy panels after that date were only added by the factory as an extra cost option and did not appear on many more cars after that, or added later in life from spare parts or from another car….*breathe*…..then you now have the option to reply based on this knowledge.
You can lift the veil in one hit, or play the game of chess and see where it leads you. The slower chess option is more enjoyable, of course, and can reveal a lot of information not known previously. All good to store away for another time.
So yes…. I am addicted to motoring. I admit it.
I don’t follow one marque, although I have more data stored on some marques than others (based on my personal taste and wanting to know more about interesting types of cars). I seek out information and enjoying learning more. I’m happy to converse with all who are interested, knowing that over time the veil will be lifted, though rarely – if ever – fully. You’ve got to save the pot of gold for that last move in that important auto chess game, sometime, somewhere in the future.
Where do you fall into?
… and if you are a fanatic then I do apologise sincerely and profusely – Hoping again that I got away with that. Fingers crossed.