Story and Photos Mike Spicer
Being a car nut is pretty much stamped on your DNA from birth. As you grow, it becomes reinforced through key memories that stay with you for a lifetime. I remember attending demolition derbies with my father as well as going to car museums and shows as a kid. This exposure solidified my automotive infatuation and set the tone for being a car nut.
At most car events, kids are in tow and often given the opportunity to sit in a driver seat. You can’t always pinpoint which experiences will stick with a person for life, but no matter how big or small, these moments can have a profound impact.
Oftentimes car nuts have early roots in scale model building. I spent many an hour choosing which ones to build and putting them together. Learning how a car works and what a valve cover is came from these kits and helped educated me.
Every generation uses automobiles differently to express themselves. While some might not “get it” and think particular modifications are crazy, self-expression is very important. Often young car nuts work on a pretty tight budget. Whether it’s poking holes in mufflers to get that race car sound or lowering your suspension an inch off the ground, cool is in the eye of the beholder.
Attending local Cars and Coffee shows or Radwood events are a great way to see a mix of inspired personalized cars. Expect the unexpected as influences come from every direction and you never know what you’ll see next. The modifications may not be ground breaking but often implemented on a genre of cars you would not expect.
The ArtCenter College of Design has a satellite studio located in the Petersen Automotive Museum (Los Angeles, CA). Design students do their classwork while interacting with museum attendees. It was fascinating to see current design trends in use on projects. Technology changes guide extremely different creation parameters, and audiences today have access to detailed information thus are more informed. The result is a very high demand for quality.
Another great resource is the McPherson College for Automotive Restoration located in Kansas. This is the only place in the country where you can get a four-year bachelor degree in restoration technology. I met Amanda Gutierrez VP and Abigayle Morgan from there on a 1,000 mile tour as they campaigned their bright red Porsche 356. Talking with them, I learned what a great resource it is.
It may be a different chapter, but the story hasn’t changed. While every generation interprets the world of four-wheeled transportation in their own way, the common thread is the celebration by car nuts regardless of age.