Reading davesaddiction's recent post got me thinking on the meaning life, the universe, and more importantly, on being a car enthusiast who owns a relatively ordinary car.
My daily driver is a 2003 Mazda 6 Luxury Sedan: 2.3L four cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission. While it holds up its own against its competitors, and could even be regarded as the "enthusiast's choice" amongst its contemporaries, there's no escaping the fact that it is first and foremost a practical mid-size family sedan. And while it's coming on for eleven years of age, it's not even close to old enough to be considered a classic car.
I have been into cars since before I can remember, and as a child could name almost every car on the street. These days I regularly annoy my wife by identifying cars in photos that are just barely shown, and my daily routine includes perusing a substantial volume of automotive blog posts. However, every so often while reading about others with their Miatas, E30s and WRXs, I wonder if I have sold out - if I'm not a real enthusiast, if having other life priorities other than owning a more enthusiast-oriented car make me a sell-out.
However, I don't thing there can be a single set of actions or requirements that define the car enthusiast. For some, it's owning that special car to which they give generously of their time and money. Others, for reasons of age, circumstances or necessity don't even own a car, yet still have that same affinity with motorised four-wheeled vehicles that us enthusiasts understand so well. Car enthusiasts express their passion in different ways. For me, I keep my car as clean and well-maintained as I can. There is nothing I find more enjoyable than a long drive on a twisty road through the hills, and I spend a not-insignificant portion of my life absorbing every bit of automotive writing that I possibly can. I find joy in my expansive car knowledge, and get excited when I see a new model for the first time. Whenever I become aware of a car I know little about, I can't help but extract knowledge from the internet until the gap is filled.
I regularly toy with the idea of buying another car to be my "enthusiast" car. Currently, I just don't have the space, but I think think it is an almost certainty in the future. Thankfully my wife has resigned herself to accepting this when the time comes. So yes, sometimes I long to own a car that is more sporting, or older, or more rare, or just more interesting. However, I have no shortage of ways in which I can express my passion for cars. While I may own a more exciting car one day, in the meantime the Mazda is car I still enjoy driving and owning, and for me it is a car I love, and I don't think I'm any less of a car enthusiast for it.