Nature vs. Nurture

As I sat here at my desk on this past Sunday afternoon, exploring the new VWvortex site, I began to think about why exactly I am obsessed with all things automotive. Why do I spend so much time reading various car web sites and participating in their discussion forums? Why do I have a large bookcase that is full of car magazines, and why is there another three-foot stack on the floor beside it? Why is there a derelict Nissan 240SX sitting in my driveway that hasn’t been driven for a year that I still can’t part with? And why do parts for said car litter the basement?

Just where did this enthusiasm for cars come from? No one else in my family is like me in this respect, so I didn’t get it from my father or an uncle or brother. I never was around anyone who was obsessed with cars when I was younger. How the hell did I get into this?

I would guess that a lot of it dates back to 1989, when my family and I visited close relatives in Uruguay. I was nine years old at the time. The automotive landscape is vastly different than it is here, and I took notice of that. It was interesting to see so many cars and trucks that were so different from what I was used to seeing.

A similar thing happened in 1991, when my family and I moved to Monterey, California for a year. I had never lived in a community where there was so much money. And money means nice cars. I now saw Porsches and Ferraris on a daily basis, and Corvettes, Mercedes and BMWs were so commonplace that they were almost boring. It was simply amazing to see and touch a Ferrari F40 in the flesh after I had spent so much time “driving” one in Test Drive 2 on the Mac SE we had at home (alas, I never saw a Porsche 959, the other uber-exotic featured in that game).

But that still doesn’t explain why. And upon further investigation, it turns out that my enthusiasm for cars dates back much further.

My father tells me that when I was four or five, there was a car that caught my eye and I asked him what it was. It turned out to be an RX-7. “When I get older, I want to own one of those,” is what I told him. It would seem my taste in cars was nothing to sneeze at even then.

I still remember a day in the spring of 1983 when I was sitting on the balcony of my family’s apartment, eagerly anticipating my father coming home from the university where he worked and studied. The reason I was waiting was because he wasn’t just coming home from a day of work – he was stopping at the Mazda dealership to pick up a brand new, shiny-red GLC sedan. I can still remember that car pulling up to the curb, and my mother and I going downstairs to check it out.

I was three years old at the time and that car fascinated me for some reason. Maybe because it was brand new, maybe because it meant we didn’t have to travel around in our pitifully unreliable ’74 Corolla anymore, maybe because it was just so red and shiny. Or maybe because it was… a car.

I can’t explain my love for the automobile. It isn’t logical. It doesn’t seem to come from anywhere. Thus, I must presume that I was born with it. And for that, I am grateful. Cars rock, and I can’t imagine ever not being interested in them, not having something to say about them, or not having something to learn about them. And chances are, if you’ll forgive the presumption, you feel the same way.

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