The cars that drive us

Reading Time: 3 minutes It doesn’t matter so much what the car is that we drive. We find a way to love them regardless.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
I was driving with my mom last week and during the drive we started talking about the days when my presence in the passenger seat wasn’t so rare. She’d drop me off at work and pick me up eight hours later, or I would beg for a ride home from my high school. It was a time when I didn’t have my own car to get me to work, school or to hang out with my friends. I was the kid who showed up to my friends in a white Town and Country minivan.

Those days of dependence ended when my stepfather bought a car for me to use. I’m sure he made the purchase more for my mom’s sake, but it helped me tremendously.

I can’t really say whether I liked the car because it got me to work or if the 1992 Mazda Protegé was finally my ticket to independence. It was old and beat up, the headliner was torn to shreds and the paint was nearly nonexistent, but that didn’t matter to me — I loved that car. I took pride in it, kept it clean and enjoyed every time I sat in it. I have since gotten a better-paying job as an automotive technician and have bought my own vehicle that I love even more than my old Protegé. During my job as an auto technician, I have noticed that, when it comes to cars, everyone carries an attitude similar to mine.

We love our cars despite the year, make or model. It doesn’t make a difference if the car was given to us, if we are in debt up to our eyeballs or if we saved up for 10 years to buy it. It doesn’t matter if it starts with the touch of a button or if it requires a prayer to a higher power to merely crank.

I started to realize the love people have for their cars when I got my aforementioned job. Some customers are shy or awkward to talk to, but if I ask a question about their vehicle, they suddenly have so much to talk about. Just like a romantic relationship, there is a story involved. You just have to ask the right questions.

How long have you had the car? Where did you get it? Why this model rather than that one? Everyone likes to talk about their vehicle the same way their grandmother likes to talk about them: Each car has accomplishments and no matter what you say, this car is better than the others. I have worked on countless cars that push well over 300-400 horsepower. Every time I work on a car with that kind of power I ask the owner if they will give me a quick spin in the empty lots behind the building, and every single time I ask, the driver smiles and tells me to hop in. Not once have I been told no.

This happens because our vehicles are an extension of us. Have you ever had a friend ask how your day is going, except you felt that it wasn’t a traditional “How are you?” but that he or she genuinely cared this time? That’s what happens when we ask someone what they like most about their Nissan Cube, even if you think it’s disgusting.

Our love for our own transportation stems from the fact that, generally speaking, they are there for us. Our cars start when we tell them to and they go where we want them to go. Cars are our property. Maybe its the fact that no matter how low life gets, we always have a roof over our head, unless you have a 1999 Mustang and your ragtop is broken.

Maybe I am reading way too far into this. My sister loves her car because it’s red, my brother loves his car because it’s a Subaru with a symmetrical all-wheel drive system and my girlfriend loves hers because her gauge cluster lights up blue at night and she thinks she looks cute in it. I can’t argue with the latter.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s hard to deny that there is something about our cars that allow us to take pride in them, or maybe there’s something about our cars that simply drives us.

Kevin Olsen writes a sports column at Utah Valley University and can be reached at (801) 471-8895 or [email protected]