Commentary: The Human Side of the Car Community
As we established earlier in the series, any form of community has to come from the people involved in it. In the car community, the car becomes a calling card for a person. It becomes a conversation piece and an entry into a comradeship between people.
If you think that a "car community" is just about the cars – think again.
Any form of community has to come from the people involved in it. In the car community, the car becomes a calling card for a person. It becomes a conversation piece and an entry into a comradeship between people.
What do these car people do beyond the meets, club hangouts, car shows and such? What about beyond just exchanging conversations on Twitter or messaging on Facebook?
In the real world, members of a car community end up finding more common ground than the automobiles themselves. Friendships take root and connections begin to grow amongst car people.
Before anyone dismiss this concept as novel, consider this happens in many communities based on common interests. There should be opportunities for human connectivity and developing friendships.
How will these opportunities manifest themselves? Since this series began, I became aware of many instances of how the love of the automobile transformed lives beyond their chosen machine. From a meeting of an automobile came a deeper calling for people to connect.
A good example was told to me by a participant in the Wednesday night meet at Sonic in Bloomington some years ago. There were stories of a couple of enthusiasts who go above and beyond the call of duty. On several occasions, they would answer the call from Facebook, a forum or another form of communication to help out one of their comrades. Even at 2:00 AM, they would be out there fixing a tire or helping out with a stranded vehicle on another issue.
Not everyone has the energy or care to help a fellow car club member or friend out in the middle of the night. Nor is it expected for someone in a car community to drive several miles to help a disabled vehicle of an acquaintance. Yet, these instances are real. They continue to be the talk of the crew.
Stories of people going above and beyond in the name of the car community are more common than one might imagine. One such story recently occurred during a Hot Rod magazine's Power Tour some years ago when a colleague and friend of mine helped out another team by towing their disabled vehicle from the back of their pickup. From Muskegon, Michigan to Saint Louis, the 1972 Chevrolet El Camino remained on a rented trailer from the back of a new Ford F-150 Raptor until the opportunity to repair the classic was available. When the tour arrived in Grand Prairie, Texas – the El Camino and all other teams arrived in running order.
In another instance, a friend and colleague that was a part of the Dodge Dart driving event in 2012 was tweeting some issues with a tail lamp on her Dodge Charger. I knew that a Chrysler dealer connection I have in Edmonton has a service advisor available via Twitter. Between the two Twitter accounts, I was able to have the Charger owner in New Hampshire connect with a service advisor in Alberta to discuss the issue. This is not about creating the connection, as it is to facilitate further relationships and fostering more communication down the line.
As it was true back in 2012. It remains true today. It continues to do so. That is why I am still part of it.
The essence of a car community is in the human factor. When our vehicles or the interest in automobiles is known, it takes people with common interest to come together. Then, it goes onto another level. Friendships, club memberships, and associations through common connections are all valid in forming a strong car community.
Does it all go wrong? Do you hear negativity within the car community? Yes, of course. Are there huge dramatic scenarios involving certain personalities that affect the car community on some level? Absolutely. Can these situations be dealt with maturely and humanely? One would certainly hope so, but considering some observations – not always.
From a personal standpoint, I am indeed part of a larger car community. Through my work as an automotive content creator, I felt privileged to participate in various functions – big and small – to build bridges amongst you and the automotive things we do. To see many different levels of car culture – from being in the trenches with other journalists to the streets – is to absorb a larger Rolodex of experiences that the average automobile owner might not be able to be involved in.
Yet, it is always the extraordinary in life that connects us with the ordinary. It makes for a full life. Car culture is exactly like that. It what makes a greater car community for all of us.
All photos by Randy Stern