They say boys usually end up in one of two categories growing up - dinosaurs or cars, I was neither. I never really cared for being or things I was never going to see (for those of you unaware, dinosaurs are extinct) and felt that knowing the difference between a V6 and a V8 engine made no difference in my childhood or adulthood. To this day, I still can't name anything beyond the names of car companies and have no clue how a S Class is different from a C Class Benz (I'm not even sure if those are real classes, or if Benzes function as classes). It's probably not surprising that I didn't get my license until my first year in college, and I proudly was driven around by my friends during lunch and for hangouts and for a majority of senior year by my girlfriend at the time (that Jetta basically functioned as my first car).
This is not a result of my upbringing - my dad is very into cars and so is my brother, to the point where his current favorite pastime activity (much to the dismay of my mother) is a car video game that I don't know the name of. He spends hours on that game, flipping through the various cars on the screen and showing me which one has better drift, the one with deep history and the ones that cost the most. I don't even know how he knows all these car facts considering we rarely talk about cars in the family and it doesn't seem like he brought any car class rubrics home from his first week back at school (if schools shut down one more time because of COVID, I will propose moving to Texas or Florida). What amazes me even more is that this interest in the four wheeled vehicle even exists - I can't fathom being interested enough in an artificial creation that serves no concrete purpose other than getting someone from point A to point B. Obsession with the build of the car, being a part of car "gangs" (outside of the community aspect, which I thoroughly respect) and merely having conversations about cars continues to surprise me and confirm the fact that people, by nature, are innately very different.
For those that know the two cars I've owned and driven in the past, the previous two paragraphs will probably yell hypocrisy, as I have not had the most traditional of cars when you imagine a 24 year old male who doesn't care about cars and didn't have a license until he was 18 (factor in the me being a Korean American in Orange County since demographics dictates what cars you're allowed to drive, and this only gets more severe). My first car was a Dodge Challenger (that's the extent to which I know how to describe that car, no idea what the engine is like) - I have somewhat of an excuse for this one as there happened to be a massive promotion for Dodge right around the time I got my license and I needed a car to commute to my internship in the summer after my freshman year. The two distinct things I remember about that car is its awfully tight packed back row seats (more like a storage space with leg room) and the flat tire I got four days in while backing into a streetside parking spot. Of course, as someone who innately loves attention, it didn't hurt that the outside frame of that car seemed very sportscar esque, with many of my also knowledgeable in the car world friends calling it the batmobile. On a practicality standpoint, it was very hard for me to give people rides with the limited backspace, it ate up gas like no other (at least the prices weren't very high as this was before the Joe days), and parking was very difficult given how wide the frame was. Did I thoroughly enjoy the looks I got when I got out of the car? Of course. Could I have felt OK driving a prius instead and investing the leftover money into my ROTH IRA from gas savings? Definitely.
My second (and current) car doesn't really make my case any better, as I drive a Fiat Spider Abarth (I don't even know if that's the correct way to say it) which is (apparently) a Miyata with a Fiat aesthetic. It's even more tightly packed than the Challenger, also having only two doors but no back seats - come to think of it, I've never driven a car with four doors. This car was supposed to be a Father's Day Gift, but my dad ended up getting another car through his company and my return to Irvine was faster than expected. I'm not going to lie - having a convertible is a great feeling and whoever said the happiness that comes from material possessions declines is a liar, every time I drive this car with the top down I get a thrill. Similarly to the Challenger, it's always a fun time to get out of the car or inside of it with people staring - compared to the Challenger, I'm sure the looks associated with the Abarth are more on the lines of "how is that car so small" and "what is that." I even had occurrences where diehard car fans have stopped me in the parking lot to ask if it was the Abarth and interrogate me on the engine specs and other terms I've never heard of regarding cars, to all of which they were disappointed to hear "I don't know." It's ironic that I have probably driven two cars that typically are in the garages of those that enjoy cars, which I don't identify myself with.
In association with car thoughts, I actually do enjoy driving for driving itself. I'm definitely too chicken to race or speed on the 405, but there's something relaxing and satisfying with the very action of driving. I don't mind driving for others either - this could partly be my control freak thing as well as me being very skeptical of others' driving skills - and always prefer to do so if possible. This has always been limited by the cars I've driven and many people (not surprisingly) prefer to not have me drive as they'd rather have their legs stretch out comfortably. I think all I can ask for (and care for) from a car is low gas prices, minimal repair issues, and some level of attention seeking, all of which seem to be not that hard to do even if you know nothing about cars. That's why I'm super excited for the Cybertruck I pre-ordered.