For many of us, our cars are just as essential to our daily lives as the air we breathe (especially the California car culture). Contractors need their work trucks, traveling salesmen need their compacts (sedans if they’re lucky), and you gotta get to work, every day – right?
I’ve been involved with cars (in one way, shape, or form) pretty much my entire life. Muscle cars and GT Le Mans cars really float it for me, and although I do like to poke fun at Stance Nation every now and then, it’s done out of love. That’s what the California car culture is all about. The hotrod/tuner wars will never really end (and the banter is always fun), but truth be told, I’ve come to have a little guilty-pleasure of an infatuation with the furious little rockets. (The real rockets – not bone-stock Si Civics, with their cold-air intakes, wings, and tow hooks.)
Ruining The Culture
But that pretty much segways this into my main point; the thing that’s ruining Californa car culture. Not the tuners. In fact, they do a good job keeping the muscle car guys on their toes! But the desire to fake it (with whatever we drive) seems more prolific than ever.
Maybe it’s just me. But we are living in a world where there’s a guy out there selling a 2001 Mercury Cougar, with a 2008 Bugatti Veyron body kit wrapped around it (because somewhere, there’s a guy out there who will actually buy a 2001 Mercury Cougar, with a 2008 Bugatti Veyron body kit).
Not that there’s anything wrong with the Mercatti Couyron. If that’s what you want to do, cool. It’s your Mercatti Couyron. But am I the only one who thinks it’s just a little bit funny that someone is trying to fake a $1.3 million hypercar – with a $1,300 jalopy? Califonia car culture loves this stuff!
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If you look over at import trends, the gargantuan wing is making a comeback. Does it look cool? Sure! The thing looks like it should also be able to rip a hole in the sound barrier! But if a Buick LeSabre can endanger your street cred, maybe the wing needs to go? (Or does the motor just need to grow?)
Muscle car guys do it too – we can’t pretend we don’t! Pro Street had its heyday decades ago (it’s still a big part of California car culture), but we all still see the big-block trailer queen out there, never having earned a single time slip. But that double-Lysholm, twin-screw supercharger setup looks pretty mean scraping on the rafters every time it pulls out of the garage, doesn’t it?
California car culture does have its highlights, and our top-tier builders are second-to-none. But we seem to fixate more heavily on the image we project, rather than acquisition of measurable gains. The injection-molded sticky-vents we like to slap on the side of our Expedition fenders are probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life. If there’s one sure-fire way to shout from the rooftops that you’re a bad manager of your disposable income, it’s in the accessories aisle at your local Autozone.
Now, if that’s your thing, by all means – knock yourself out. I’m not here to shoot anything down. But is the true spirit of hot rodding fading away in favor of an impulse buy aisle and a bolt-on mail order? Is this really California car culture today?
Everybody my dad knew had a basic tool kit for all the essentials and kept a rag tucked in the engine compartment – just in case. I grew up tuning carburetors (with wildly inconsistent results, I must add), but I still did. I swapped my Nova’s inline for a V-8, modified the suspension, tossed a rack and pinion in there, and had a blast with that car.
I was poor and scrapped together everything I could to make that build happen. Most of the time, everything worked out OK. There are more subtle features and custom touches on the Nova than 98% of anybody would ever notice, but the guys that do notice would probably get a laugh out of it.
Who are you? Are you an Autozone accessory warrior? Or do you port and polish your cylinder heads on your workbench?