“Oh, people still fix those things up?” The question I hear constantly—almost every week like clockwork. Those words, along with a short chuckle, and a headshake to imply the mere disbelief that someone would actually put money into a Honda, are almost expected at this point. It’s not that they’re necessarily trying to offend me when I answer their, “So, what do you do for a living,” question, but most simply have no idea about the import automotive subculture. Their mind is most likely littered with thoughts of their old classmates slapping a big chrome exhaust tip on the rear of a Honda along with some brightly colored stickers and a gargantuan aluminum wing. As a matter of fact, that schmohawk that zipped by and cut them off on their way to the office this morning was driving a loud, obnoxious car just like the one described. “Are those the cars from the Fast and Furious movies?” Just cut me. Cut me now.
I’ve always found the non-automotive enthusiast group (you know, the majority of the world) an odd bunch. Perhaps it’s disbelief with a splash of jealousy as I struggle to comprehend the fact that they have no problem sputtering around in a bone-stock car day in and day out. Far from their mind are any thoughts of hunting down aftermarket goodies to improve on the look or driving feel of their A-to-B machines. They don’t carry the burden of an addictive automotive nature—one that fails miserably at just leaving well enough alone. Fifteen minutes behind the wheel of a test vehicle from Honda/Acura, and I have a list of upgrades that would no doubt find its way to the car’s chassis. The list of goodies would reconfigure the car to a lower ride height with improved handling combined with an increase in power and torque, and of course, the factory wheel and tire package would look right at home tucked away in the dark recesses of my garage after being replaced. They come from a different mold, and I can respect that, though I still find it mind-boggling that they can look at the same exact car, every day, for four or five years without any urge to shape and mold. The reality is, though they may have a boring commute (in my opinion) every day, they’re probably much better off than you and me. They don’t have to worry about theft (for the most part), they don’t go into mini-cardiac arrest if an officer of the law looks in their direction while driving, and quite frankly, unless they have some extravagant hobby, their bank account most likely looks a lot more healthy than that of the average car guy.
“I’m getting too old for this sh**” — Sgt. Murtaugh
If you’re over the age of 25, you’ve not doubt asked yourself, “Am I getting too old for this?” more than once. It’s not something that pops into your head while wrenching or during a spirited driving session, but usually taps you on the shoulder when you’re about to make a large purchase for your project. Do yourself a favor and shake it off. There’s no magic age for all of this, whether you’re an import or domestic fan. In its infancy, it may have seemed that way, as there was really no guarantee that any of this would continue past the ’90s, but here we are in 2012 and it’s only gained momentum. Forty is the new 30, or maybe 30 is the new 20, I don’t know, I don’t watch Dr. Oz. All I’m saying is that if you’re a true enthusiast and you give into what society deems as the “right age,” then you may be selling yourself short.
Fire Still Burns
My point with all of this is that society’s perception isn’t going to change anytime soon. Take the nastiest, most well-built monster Honda build and show it to a civilian, and they’ll tell you it’s silly, a waste of money, or both. They’ll typically bring up the age-old argument, along with the “just leave it stock” mind-set, and they’ll never be able to comprehend what it is that sparked your interest, or what managed to maintain it over the years. The pressure to grow up, as they put it, is always going to be there, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t be giving in anytime soon. For many, whatever it was that originally sparked their interest in this culture isn’t letting up anytime soon. For myself, I was reminded of how it all started for me when I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in well over 15 years. He’d built a fourth-gen Civic in the early ’90s that was undoubtedly a catalyst for my infatuation with Hondas. I can recall literally dreaming about that car, and in a roundabout way, its one of the reasons I ended up working in this industry. It’s one of the reasons I’m able to share my thoughts with the world through this magazine. It’s one of the reasons I’ll never, ever be able to drive a stock car. It’s one of the reasons I look forward to going to work every day, sometimes continuing to work through the night at home. It’s one of the reasons I don’t mind dealing with the pressure, drama, and egos that I encounter day-in and day-out. Lifer? Yup.