From the Outside: Loosely Car-Related Talk

My name's Seth. I've been writing about cars for, oh...three months. Before, it was all point A to point B, for me. Transportation. That changed when Ehrlich Motorwerks asked me to write for them. As intimidated as I was to write in a field so full of passionate people with passionate opinions, it was obvious I wasn't going to find another work environment with a Maserati right outside my office (or a 911, for that matter).

So I took the job, and here we are. Specifically, "here" is a new column we're going to run semi-regularly, and it's about my introduction to the Car World. I feel like a kid at Best Buy, standing under the huge TV screens they have in the back of the store.

Everything is huge and bright and shiny. My eyes are watering, and I don't know Panasonic from Sony, but I really like all of these moving pictures and how the speakers blast noise into ears.

That's about exactly what I felt my first time in a 911, with the air-cooled whining in the back, feeling the torque kick me back into my seat even as it shot us forward....but we'll get there.

From the Outside:

Source: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Source: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

I said I never thought about cars before working here, but that isn't quite true. I've always been a fan of Jerry Seinfeld's everyday comedy, and I've watched a lot of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

I liked watching masters of comedy talk about what they thought was funny, the people they looked up to just starting out. At their core, comedians are writers, and I thought it was inspiring to watch people I grew up watching (and still watch) talk about how they did what they did, and really enjoying themselves while they did it.

What I like about CCGC is the the same thing I've come to appreciate about the Car World. When you boil everything down, the show is about people appreciating something that inspires them. It's just what they do.

Source: Comedians in Cars Getting

Source: Comedians in Cars Getting

Almost every car guy/enthusiast/whatever I know really, really likes cars, and they talk about how they caught the bug or have a problem. The self-deprecation is kind of a bummer, when you think about it. Why is celebrating what inspires you called a disease or a problem? We do this with art, and it's no big deal. Working hard to make your business run? No problem. But spend some time working on your car, and someone might say, "Isn't there a better way to spend your time?"

It's another way to say that to be too interested and knowledgeable is to be a nerd, and to be a nerd is a bad thing. Which really means, to be too invested is a bad thing.

Which is unfortunate. Can we think of some names that have been too invested? Easy: Enzo Ferrari. Ferry Porsche. Giovanni Bertone. I think those names speak for themselves.

These are names that I now know because I tried to invest in what exactly this Car World thing is all about. And I got it a little. But I didn't fully understand until one of our garage Wizards took me out to drive a 911, and I couldn't stop smiling the entire time. I had never felt a car accelerate fast enough to slam me back into the seat, or with seating built to keep me from sliding around.

And the air-cooled engine, man. Nothing sounds like an air-cooled. It's amazing. It's what I've been hearing in all of these car chase movies without ever knowing it. I had never heard anything like it before outside of fiction.

And it doesn’t stop there. I’ve read about Paul Braq and Enzo Ferrari and Ferry Porsche and Ayrton Senna. There’s a history here. And sure, it is sometimes one of pedigree. But more often, it’s a history of passion and of design, thoughtfulness, and engineering. I mean, who cares about how a door sounds when you shut it?

These guys do. And that’s cool. And it’s fun to say that that is cool, and it’s fun to notice what’s on the road out there.

It’s fun for the old timers I meet to talk about what used to be on the road and how, “Back in the day, we used to mix kerosene and jet fuel, and put THAT in our cars." They chuckle. "Nothing burns that clean anymore, especially not this ethanol crap..." 

Now I get it. A little, anyways. And the Car World is a good place to be. Thanks for having me.