There's a culture that we often see in the modified car scene that maintains that unless you have [insert turbo car here] with [insert cool list of JDM mods here] that you are somewhat a second rate citizen.. It's a culture that we believe is unhealthy and not serving anyone well, except for the egos of the elitist minority who feel that their way of modifying cars is the only way it should be done. And to further compound the elitist regime, to truly qualify yourself as being passionate about cars, you need to spend all your money on [insert cool expensive JDM product here].
The assertion made here is that someones depth of passion is directly related to the depth of their wallet. Not only is it an offensive and grotesque attitude, it couldn't be further from the truth. As we posted recently: Passion is not about brands and parts and money. These things distort passion. It's about a relationship, in this case with the car.
Over the years we've been fortunate enough to have the unique opportunity to meet tens of thousands of people from all over the world who are into cars. All different ages, cultures and styles of modification. From local meets in Australia, through to meeting up with people in developed countries as well as third world countries. During our explorations of car scenes in different cultures, we started seeing a pattern emerging that was global. An over arching expression of pride and passion, irrespective of what kind of car we were looking at. We saw it with beat up cars in Indonesia. We saw it in Fiji. Canada, UK, USA, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and while randomly meeting fans in rural parts of Australia while on road trips. It didn't matter what country we were in or what the age, sex or religion. It didn't matter what brand, year or budget was used because cars are the great equaliser. People just wanted to show us their car without prejudice or judgement because they were proud of it, and they knew that if they were proud of their car, we would be proud of them for building it. They were proud of it because it was theirs. It may not have been the car they lay in bed at night and dreamed about as a kid, but life, money, health and circumstance had led them down a different path. But there was still pride there and there was definitely passion.
We've met many parents who have brought their children to MCM meets. 8 year old kids who work on cars with their dad in the garage on the weekend. We've met quadriplegics who live and breathe for anything automotive. We have people travel from interstate on public transport to attend MCM meets. They literally walk from the closest bus stop because they don't own a car. We've had photos from fans in Afghanistan who have saved up to buy a MCM sticker and then many months later we receive an email with a picture of them with a huge beaming smile proudly sitting next to a rusted out ride with their new sticker attached. We've met people with a variety of disabilities whose carers bring them to meets and tell us that cars are the only thing that they seem to respond to. So are they somehow less passionate then the guys with the fat wallets? In our experience the most passionate people on the planet are often the ones that can't afford their dream cars and dream parts so they need to be resourceful. They are buying what they can afford and looking up to their community for advice and some guidance. At this point we just refer to them as "kids" and laugh at them. Are we going to tell them that unless they have stanced EVO, that they have no place being a car enthusiast? Are we going to laugh at them behind their back because they didn't save up and buy a $4000 JDM exhaust?
So what is a successful car in our opinion? Well it comes from creating something that serves its purpose. JET200 is an extreme Silvia built by our mate Andrew who helped us with our 180SX build. It's an iconic car which is an absolute monster. It's been on hundreds of magazine shoots and destroyed just as many super cars at the track. If we tallied the time, cost and parts of this Silvia, there would literally be enough money to buy a house. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and the same amount of sweat and passion spent by Andrew and his mates. Is it better than our Turbo Daihatsu Cuore? As a Time Attack car sure it is. Is it better at getting the shopping? No because its not registrable. So we need to define what a car is designed for, before we decide how successful it's been at achieving that. "…if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." -Einstein
This culture of brand snobbery within the car scene exists on a scale similar to that of designer clothing. Sure its partly created by marketing and hype by the spinners of the agencies working for some of the big brands, but its mostly cultivated on forums and Facebook. If you post up your car and it has "fake wheels" or parts from China instead of Japan you are relegated to the second rate citizen without real passion, because "if you had real passion you'd work harder to buy better wheels". Really? What if I wanted to work harder to pay my mums medical bills? Or work harder to pay for my education, or my kids food? Or work harder just to survive? You work at the bank and I'm at high school so how am I meant to afford the same cars and parts as you? Why do I need $2000 rims on my $800 car? Am I not as passionate as you now? Just because my air filter is not a real brand?
So lets look at authenticity for a minute. I think it would be a fair position to claim a holistic view of authenticity of everything you buy and consume, if you are growing your own food and making your own clothes from the wool of a sheep you have at your free-range bio-dynamic off the grid farm. Nearly everything we eat is fake. It's made more consumable, and cheaper by modification. Watermelons mixed with cucumbers so they have no seeds. Genetically modified foods. Packaged precooked meals and "fresh juice" in a carton that has a use by date of 2 years! It's all cheap, modified, carbon copies of the original. So we're fine to eat it? But put a "fake" wheel or filter on your car and you've got no passion apparently. This is preposterous. I'm not claiming that packaged food is better or worse then organic food because each is just serving its purpose. Send a fresh apple in the mail to Africa and it would never get there. Send a can of stewed apple and it can be eaten years later. Which is better? Neither. They are each perfectly doing what they were designed to do. Do you know how old the "fresh" apples are from the super market? Old. Really old! Sometimes up to a year old. But you have to wonder, next time someone posts a picture of their dinner on Facebook, should we ridicule them if the beetroot on their burger is from a can? Certainly to be a true and passionate member of society they should be eating the real thing as grown without fertiliser on an organic farm, not some fake and cheaper copy. Right?
So why is it that some people are projecting an elitist attitude because their way of modifying a car should be a blanket philosophy that everyone on the planet should follow? Because they are misguided, generally insecure and have somehow forgotten that cars are for EVERYBODY. I can tell you that it takes more courage to turn up to a car meet in your mums Yaris than it takes to turn up in [insert cool JDM ride here].
The problem with this "we are more passionate than you" attitude is that it expresses an element of exclusivity within the car scene. "You can be a respected part of this community if your car is modified like this". Its horribly derogatory and demonstrated a sad, close minded attitude. We believe the car scene should be the opposite and we should be promoting inclusivity. It's what MCM has been about since the beginning and its why we regularly return to cheap "consumer" cars.
There will always be rivalry of course and this is good. (My album title "The Sea Brings Rivalry" is literally about imported cars) Marty has his preferences and I have mine and we treat our differences like friendly rival sporting teams, rather than this dark, oppressive Orwellian regime of conforming to the internets standards of modifying your car.
So what is our personal attitude towards building cars? You buy and build what you can with the money you have. You do your best to make it serve its purpose. You buy a Haynes manual and learn everything you can. You become a member of forums and meets that promote a positive and diverse range of views. Make mistakes. They are yours for the taking. They are valuable. There's lot of them waiting for you. And they are necessary. Be prepared for people telling you that your car is crap and that you did it wrong. And then decide whether you should listen to them or not. Sometimes their advice will be sound. Other times you'll realise they are just incredibly insecure and conservative about the decisions that they themselves have made and if they can convince you that their way is the "right" way, they'll feel better about themselves.
Ultimately, you need to follow your own compass and respect that other people are at a different stage, and on a different path.
Learn. Do. Read. Break. Fix. Explore. Save. Repeat until upgrade.
Unlike lavish boats and mansions by the sea, cars and their modification are not for the wealthy minority, they're for everyone, and thats why we love them.