Sparking a Drive: Car Enthusiasts in 2023

Corey Carmichael
4 min readJul 1, 2023

Over the past few years, dialog in the United States has had a focus on car ownership. Many bring up issues of global warming, noise pollution, public transport, safety. How do these issues get solved and are they really issues at all? This is such a mundane outlook on something that brings joy and freedom to millions world-wide.

Based on the popularity of services like Carvana or even Uber, automobiles are being seen as just a means to an end. And believe me, I’m not trying to be “old man yells at cloud”. I love the straightforward approach of buying a car without dealing with a salesman. Rideshares are easier alternatives to taxi’s. I use them when traveling all the time. This creates a problem.

Car enthusiasts are a dying breed. More and more kids are growing up without the intention of ever owning a car, much less modifying or maintaining said car (although I’ll save that topic for my next article). I’m willing to entertain that this isn’t a bad thing either, but there is a bit of sadness nonetheless.

What it means to be a car enthusiast

A common practice is to ask children what they want to be when they grow up. The answer constantly changes as they get older and experience life. I know my first answer was an architect, but that was short lived. Something that never changed though; I wanted to drive a VW Beetle to work. I couldn’t tell you what it was at the time that spoke to me. Was it the simplistic, beautiful shape? The sound of the tiny flat four? The fact that it was a go-kart for the road probably had a lot to do with it.

Growing up in the 90’s, I witnessed the McLaren F1 break speed records, and automotive legends like Carroll Shelby bring the Dodge Viper to life. I watched the Viper race an F-16 on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. These only increased my interest in cars the older I got.

There’s sentimental values behind these machines that many may not see. I grew up with my grandfather taking me to car shows, usually while trying to convince me that classic GM vehicles were superior to most other vehicles. On top of all the time I got to spend with him, we bonded and shared a passion for simply being around cars. Unfortunately, I missed out on being able to save a lot of the cars he had throughout his lifetime, I’m currently rebuilding his 83 GMC 1500 and I have plans that I know he’d hate.

The Current State of Cars

EVs are the big thing right now. I’ve had my share of experiences with them, and I understand the purposes they serve. Tesla’s certainly have an appeal, from their beginnings of Lotus designed roadsters to their controversial Cybertruck. The lack of real maintenance apart from brakes and tires is certainly a draw for many. And while the impressive acceleration of all the available torque is a ton of fun, EVs as a whole just don’t have the same spark of joy or connection a lot of internal combustion cars do.

Are EVs the answer to the world’s problems? I don’t know. I’m not convinced just yet. Let’s look at Porsche. As a part of VW, the largest automotive manufacturer, Porsche has created a carbon neutral gasoline. Brands like Toyota are still dabbling in hydrogen fuel. Again, old man yelling at cloud, I genuinely hope they find a way to give these newer cars a “soul”.

A Car Enthusiast in the Future

Many gear heads grew up watching Top Gear. A show that revolved around 3 friends experiencing what many of us could only dream of: driving million dollar hypercars across incredible landscapes and driving $500 hunks of metal that should’ve gone into a scrap yard. The latter many of use have experience with. As that show lost its hosts, viewing numbers dwindled lower and lower, which seems to reflect the shrinking number of enthusiasts out there.

But hop on YouTube and there may be more of us out there than it seems. There’s Tavarish, who is rebuilding a viral, flooded McLaren P1 after Hurricane Ian ripped it from a garage. Mike, over at Stanceworks, has built one of the most beautifully controversial Ferrari’s on the internet. Across the pond, Mat Armstrong is rebuilding and modifying cars from all price points. There’s a ton more collecting millions of views and it’s great to witness.

No one wants to see something they have a passion for die. Get out and support your local car shows and automotive events. If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can visit Caffeine and Octane on the first Sunday of every month. It’s one of the largest car shows in the southeast. Looking for something more off-road focused, try Skottles and Bottles (they’re usually using their show to support local charities). Interested in something around speed? Road Atlanta has incredible events year-round. Maybe you’ve never experienced a car apart from your daily commuter. Porsche Experience Center will coach you and let you feel the thrill being the wheel and may just spark a new passion.

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