I've never really been able to put my finger on the foundation, the very heart and soul of what we do and why we do it. There's no specific event in my past that led me to being involved with Hondas, other than jumping behind the wheel of a friend's modified '91 Integra, ripping down the street and instantly thinking to myself, "I'm hooked." That was many, many years ago, and even to this day, I'm still smitten with all things Honda related. Taking a moment to view the landscape over the last five years or so has led me to wonder why some people are even here. Involvement with this community has a number of positives, but it also brings about drama, trash talking, and absolute hatred from every anti-Honda goon on the web; yet still, people choose to jump in and enjoy the ride.
I just want to be different...exactly like those guys over there
Everyone wants to stand out, no matter how much they might deny it. You put time, effort, and of course, stacks of money into a car, and you want it to be appreciated, not disregarded as run of the mill. There's a few ways to stand out, with some being very difficult, and others being far too easy.
On the difficult side, there are custom fabrication options, high-dollar parts that the average enthusiast can't afford, and clever planning that can sometimes lead to something new and completely outside of the box.
So what about the easy side of things? We've all experienced the virtual takeover as the wide wheel and aggressive stance movement has blanketed the globe. Log onto any forum, any import automotive blog, or social media site and you'll find, whether you like it or not, pages of low offset wheels, stickered and haggard fenders, along with maxed-out negative camber. Entire websites, clothing lines, and Internet superstars have hatched from all of the madness. Whether it's your cup of tea or not, it gets attention. Whether that attention is good or bad doesn't seem to matter much to those at the forefront. Nor does it matter to those just entering the import world, interested in getting noticed in short order. Sure, it's all been done before, but every time a new one comes along, it sees twice as many fans as it does detractors. The end result being, you guessed it, a ton of attention.
While I don't like the trend for my personal builds, I understand the fascination. There is no other way to garner so much attention for so little money. Low cost suspension, wheels, a little homegrown fender massaging and BOOM! You too can make it onto your favorite stance blog. Never mind about wasting time with swaps, decent handling, or other silly stuff, like U-turns or tire safety (that was sarcasm--build your car any way you like, just be safe).
Again, I have to wonder what it is that draws people to our bubble, even if only for a short amount of time. I hear incessant complaining that Honda needs to make a rear-wheel-drive turbo option, that the Prelude should have been rear-wheel drive, and that "brand x" has left them in the dust since they've lost sight of what the enthusiast really wants and needs. Here's a little wake-up call for you: Honda never intended to offer a car that would hang with a Mustang during an impromptu street encounter. They never secretly planned for us to rip out a gas-friendly 1.5L engine in order to swap a 2.4 or even 3.5L powerplant. They never expected a creature comforts-deprived, budget-friendly hatchback to rocket down the quarter-mile in just a hair above the 8-second mark, and they certainly never set out to have their economy-minded vehicles running circles around cars that cost 10 times as much at your local road course.
So what gives?
Maybe it's the multiplatform, modular chassis that fills their heads with almost limitless possibilities. Almost Lego-like, the ability to pluck various suspension, engine, and even interior bits from different Honda models in order to build your own version of the perfect Honda isn't very difficult at all. Perhaps it's the low entry cost to get into just about any Honda model (within reason, of course). Cheap start-up means more money to throw at modifications--something any car fiend can appreciate. It could even be the fact that this community is big and strong enough to have get-togethers organized that cater specifically to our favorite brand, like the Eibach Meet, and blockbusters like Honda Day in the East. Let's not forget that you don't see too many niche magazines, directed at one vehicle brand, like the one you happen to be holding right now. Whatever it is, I hope the new guys/girls take the time to really look around our little corner of the automotive neighborhood-there's so much more to what we do than just shock value wheel setups and stickered fenders.