Why being judgmental kills car enthusiasm

I really hate to be the guy to point this out. It's something I've wanted to express but refrained from because the moment that I do, someone will remark that I must be fun at parties or that I have my panties in a bunch. Truth is, I don't always wear panties.

I get it, we knock our friends with WRXs as being associated with people who are wannabe rally/gymkhana kids and our friends with M3s as being associated with protein supplement gym bros. We call them out in jest and take jabs at their awful choices in cars. It's all in good fun and that's what friends do. There's nothing wrong with it right?

Right, except these sentiments can translate a little differently once it transcends a close circle of car guys. We think little of how these sentiments affect the car community and how these jokes are merely jokes that cannot possibly change how car people think about other cars.

How many times have you heard of someone expressing a liking for a certain type of car only to add that they will never buy one?

The conversation usually goes something like this:

Do you like the Chevrolet Corvette?

Yeah.

Would you ever buy one?

No.

Why not?

Because they're driven by fat bald guys.

Simply put, car owners are all too often judged for what they drive and this creates PCOA.

PCOA?

You don't know what PCOA is because I just made this term up right now. It stands for Prospective Car Ownership Anxiety.

PCOA primarily describes the phenomenon that the only factor stopping someone from buying a certain car is the way they'll be perceived in one.

Let's take the above mentioned example of car, the Corvette, and expand on it a bit. It's everything most car enthusiasts want: it has a torquey V8 up front, it can be had with three pedals and a shifty thing, power goes to the rear wheels, it's not horribly unreliable, it's faster than most cars in its price range and the newest iteration offers quite a decent fit and finish build (hold the recall jokes).

And yet, of all the people who like Corvettes and can afford them, only a portion will purchase one. I've heard all the excuses: it's too fat bald guy, I'm not retired yet, it's too American, I'm not having a mid-life crisis and I'm not trying to compensate for something I lack.

Really? You're disregarding the fact it's a performance bargain and an overall well-rounded car for the reason you don't want to be associated with a certain image?

Let's go down the car owner stereotype list: Mustangs - punks, Camaros - rednecks, Porsche 911s - lawyers/dentists, Audis - assholes, BMWs - bigger assholes, Miatas - homosexuals, Priuses - fart sniffers, Lamborghinis - attention whores, Ferraris - creeps.

Nevermind that most of these are some of the best enthusiast cars around, many car enthusiasts avoid them for highly irrational reasons.

Non-enthusiasts are just as guilty of judging as enthusiasts are. I wish I can somehow point out to the masses that perhaps someone driving a 911 isn't a snob who bought it to show off his status or wealth. Perhaps a Ferrari owner isn't trying to simply use it as a tool to capture the attention of female passerbys. And maybe, maybe a Prius owner just wants to save on gas and isn't aware of some other excellent alternatives. Or maybe not. Stop yelling at me.

So let's ease up on the judging and start being honest with yourselves. If there's a car that you like but PCOA is holding you back from buying one, then realize you're probably not channeling your true enthusiasm.

newton is an Austin based Bimmerphile and gearhead. He tries to write about cars whenever he could at newton.kinja.com. Actually, you're already there. And he enjoys starting sentences with conjunctions.