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article details
Author Shawn Church
Categories Off Topic, All Honda/Acura
Create Date July 29, 2002 22:12
Last Update November 08, 2002 15:36
Becoming a true enthusiast
I consider myself a car enthusiast first and a Honda enthusiast second. Fortunately for me Honda tends to produce cars that meet my needs better than anyone else in my price range. But as a car enthusiast, I pride myself on trying to keep an open mind (see my recent G35 vs. TL-S comparo post). And in order to keep an open mind, you must stay informed on what's happening in your area of interest.

To keep myself informed I tend to spend a lot of time at the magazine rack of my local newsstand. The employees there know me pretty well (I recently advised one on the purchase of a new car) and they let me read through just about anything I want. I purchase a few magazines each month to make sure they stay in business. I try to read as much as I possibly can, even picking up the foreign rags that I can't fully translate (although I've picked up a fair amount of German and French in my years).

Every now and then, when chewing my way through the shelves, a particular headline catches my eye. Good editorial and graphic design work I guess. Recently, I spotted a bold tag that said something along the lines of "Import Killer - 780 hp from 7.4 liters!". The headline was, of course, attached to a magazine which focuses on aftermarket development of domestic cars. I, of course, read the article and was impressed to find that an engine developer had put together a turbocharged 7.4 liter V8 pushrod engine pumping out nearly 800 hp on the engine dyno. That's quite an accomplishment, especially if its designed for daily driving with off-the-shelf parts (can't say whether or not that's the case).

But, marring the significant accomplishment of the engine developer was the pervasive "anti-import" sentiment expressed throughout the article by the writer. Discussions of how "import" guys brag about 100 hp/liter and how this engine beat that with pushrods and 2-valves. I felt this sort of writing was unnecessary for several reasons. First of all, it has nothing to do with the engine or the accomplishments of its builder. Isn't 800 hp on pump gas a significant enough premise for an article? Second of all, the writer was either ignorant in his comparison, or deliberately neglected to include a simple fact - the import guys are getting 100 hp/liter naturally aspirated, from production engines - not from a turbo'd aftermarket engine (which in most cases now are approaching an easy 150-200 hp/liter in street trim). Never mind that hp/liter is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, whether you like imports or domestics. Hp/liter doesn't make you go, power to weight does.

But, I'm not here to pick on this particular magazine or the writer of the article. I just used them as an example of an attitude that I see more and more in the automotive enthusiast world - and that includes import/compact focused sources too. Rivalries certainly aren't new. Ford vs. Chevy seems to have been an issue for time immemorial. And similar rivalries, although to a lesser extent, exist all around the world. But I feel that, in recent years, the enthusiast media has helped to perpetuate the "versus" attitude that has simply gone all out of control.

And why do the media put such provocative attitudes on display in their media vehicles? Simply put, it sells. Controversy usually does, but it's the easy way out. I know it turns me off to see it artificially created or overhyped, and I know I'm not alone. But there are plenty of people who seem to firmly embrace the "my car rules and everyone else's sucks" attitude. You see it all the time in posts that describe a competitive car as a "POS", or some other witty adjective. Sure, its human nature to defend your decisions as correct, but too often we seem to do this by seeking fault in the choices of others.

So, what are we to do? I don't have all the answers, as the problem is bigger than any of us. But, we can do a few things. First, start with your own attitude. When you criticize someone else's car, what is your basis? Have you driven it? When you say another car is slow, what's the criteria? Is it 0.2 seconds slower to 60 mph than your car? Is that really slow? Next, don't encourage mis-informed behavior from others. Don't give into the mob mentality. I know its tough, and we've all been guilty of it one time or another. And finally, support the magazines that try to take an unbiased viewpoint. There are a few out there that do a pretty good job. Hot Rod magazine on the domestic side does a pretty good job, even if they get ripped by their readers for giving the imports any credit at all. On the import/compact side, Sport Compact Car is pretty reasonable too.

I've met a lot of true car enthusiasts over the years. You can find them everywhere, but I usually find them at the track, or maybe on the dyno. They're on the Internet, but they seem to keep a lower profile to avoid the rampant immaturity that seems to pervade enthusiast sites. Here's to hoping that we can all bring out the true enthusiast in ourselves without having to resort to name calling and meaningless generalizations.

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Subject Thread Originator Replies Last Post
  True enthusiasts agree!
92civicVX 0
  Lets Talk About NASCAR
ZeAliOuS 19
  Toyota & GM
abc 0
  Us vs. Them
Mr-914 3
  A true enthusiast
TonyEX 11
  7.4L 780hp TURBO is NOT a great feat (n/t)
iNteGRaz92 1
  People are tribal and unaware of it...
quadlamp 0
  The Joy of Driving...
LeadFoot 1
  I just wanna thank you for wrinting articles like this one.
danielgr 2
  Very true
shy_hilo_guy31 0
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