I love my car. I recently purchased a used BMW. It’s manual, e46 body, black-on-black, an absolutely beautiful car. It’s not new, not even close. But for the first time in my life, I am overcome with automotive pride. I look back every time I press the lock button.
This sensation has made me wonder, what is it about a car that gives me that feeling? Why do some people have the drive (no pun intended) to purchase a vehicle for reasons that others would deem impractical? How does someone become a petrolhead/gearhead?
Whether we realize it or not, our choice in vehicles defines us. Automotive manufacturers are launching new models, variations, options, colors, and styles just to appeal to the needs of each driver in the world. This year alone, there were 265 different vehicle models offered in the Unites States. A large leap from the Ford Model T era. On the other side, the average age of cars on the road has also hit an all-time high of over 11 years (I am tipping the scale on that one with my 14year old Bimmer).
The motivation to buy a vehicle (whether new or used) changes from person to person. Excluding the obvious car crash / insurance write-off, we usually buy a new vehicle for one of two reasons: vanity or convenience.
I’ll start with vanity. This encompasses all the “good” feelings that cause us to buy a car… How the car looks. How we look in the car. The feeling you get when changing from 2nd to 3rd gear. That epic sound system. Cue the racing stripes. I absolutely agree with buying a car for vanity reasons. Gearheads and Petrolheads will buy all sorts of unreliable cars because of the way that car makes them feel… See: Alfa Romeo. Auto manufacturers pray on this weakness by releasing “sport models” for their vehicles which include all the cosmetic enhancements (but no engine tuning!) Fancier M-Package rims, an AMG badge on the back, a rear spoiler on your Optima… You’re so vain, you probably think this car is about you.
On the other side of the spectrum is convenience. I have always wondered what it feels like to be this person. To buy a new car for all the so-called practical reasons. This purchase driver covers the statement: “I need a minivan because my family is too large.”, as well as the “I need a pick-up truck because I have my own construction business.” They will pick paint colors available on the lot and focus on resale value. This person may find themselves uttering the words “I don’t care how fast it goes or how pretty it is… what is the MPG?” (It actually hurt me to type that… ) Some vanity-buyers will begrudgingly turn into convenience-buyers as they grow older, minus the mid-life crisis crowd. (See: New BMW Z4 in the garage) While many car enthusiasts may loathe this type of person, we probably should be a little envious as we throw dollar after dollar into our money pits.
Hopefully this post has you thinking about your car-buying motivation. I am off to Road Atlanta this weekend to hang out with all the other Petrolheads/Gearheads! 🙂