4 Surefire Ways to Become an Automotive Enthusiast


CarGurus is a wonderful resource for shoppers looking to find great deals from great dealers, but sometimes we wonder whether we’re serving the automotive enthusiast community as well as we could. Sure, we’ve got plenty of data connected to market values, used-car rankings, and new-car reviews, but how can we help drivers, new or seasoned, looking to bury themselves deep within the rich world of car culture? For some of you, this glimpse down the path toward gearheadedness will sound painfully obvious. For the uninitiated, we hope it acts as a roadmap as you earn your stripes (your C4 Corvette Grand Sport racing stripes, that is).

Spout the Emotional Merits of Manual Transmissions
Automatic transmissions are now found in the vast majority of cars driving along U.S. highways, so while you’ll probably end up with an automatic, learning to heap praise on the manual is paramount to achieving automotive enthusiast status. The manual is a dying art. A once valuable skill, it’s now increasingly relegated to the “what if we need to rent a car in Europe” section in the automotive pyramid of necessity. Driving a manual transmission is the hallmark of an enthusiast, and no one can progress past the airy, columned entrance of the pantheon of gearheads without mastering the skill. Impossible to manage with an automatic (and inconceivable with the devil’s gearbox—the Continuously Variable Transmission), a stick-shift allows you, as the driver, to engage with your car, gain greater control, and become one with the powertrain.

Buy an Aftermarket Air Filter (or at least the bumper sticker)
Nothing says “I’ve got nitrous oxide in my blood and a gas tank for a brain” quite like modifying your car. Approaching a new “build” can be daunting, however, and deciding where to start can make or break the experience. Do you tint your headlights (because who needs those, anyway?) or move right on ahead with a cold-air intake for your Jetta? Well, if we can offer some advice, follow the lead of Egypt’s ancient pyramid builders and start small. A simple air filter replacement won’t take more than a few minutes and can provide anywhere from “negligible” to “noticeable” horsepower gains. Plus, the accompanying bumper sticker will help show off your car’s latest mod.

Refuse to Drive Non-Brown Cars
Listen, we get it. It’s fine. Your silver Corolla was literally all the dealer had in stock, and you needed a car. But under no other circumstances would you have settled for any color other than brown. It’s the perfect color for any automotive enthusiast: it hides all the mud and dirt from your weekend rallies, it doesn’t attract unwanted attention (we all know the cops have a thing for the red ones), and it provides the same level of warmth and comfort as your trusty family accountant’s suit—a shade somewhere between milk chocolate and raw umber. There’s no denying it: every gearhead worth their weight in lugnuts drives a brown car.

Ignore Practicality When Researching Your Next Purchase
Crossovers are consuming shoppers left and right these days, and it’s up to would-be enthusiasts like you to slow the onslaught of practicality. Forget cargo space. Forget third-row seats. Fuel economy—who needs it? Gas is cheap. All-wheel drive is just marketing—rear-wheel is what you really want. Auto enthusiasts might consider a good wagon, but they also won’t be turning their noses up at a cherry Mazda RX-7 (oil consumption is good for the enthusiast’s soul) or a fox-bodied Mustang (going 300 miles on a tank of gas is overrated, anyway). Your car might not be the best choice for runs to Wegmans or picking up the kids from soccer practice, but we’re sure your friends and family will understand.

Do you consider yourself an automotive enthusiast?

-Matt Smith

Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

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