Where is the American Automotive Love Affair Heading?
I have a deep sinking feeling in my stomach as I type this. Today’s youth are hopeless when it comes to automotive enjoyment it seems, the reason I say this is because I just got through reading a thread (9 pages long) on an internet automotive forum I belong to that was just about cruising. The first post reads:
“I first saw signs forbidding “cruising” in Hollywood a few years back. I took a split second to think of what the sign was exactly forbidding, and it was explained to me that it involved driving up and down the same street. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why this appealed to anyone. It seems monumentally anticlimactic and boring. Perhaps it is something people did before my generation (I’m 25)? Can someone who has done this explain the appeal?”
What is cruising you ask? If you must ask that question you ARE NOT at the right URL, but I digress. Tthe definition of cruising is to travel without destination or purpose; to go about the streets at random but on the lookout for possible developments. Ok so now we have a basic understanding of what cruising is. What? You still don’t get it? Let me break it down into regular car guy terms. Cruising to me is a hot summer night when you are young, single and free, with a car that you enjoy showing off or simply just a car you like looking at, modifying, or driving. Some of the fondest automotive memories I have are from cruising “The Fe” (pronounced fay) in a piece of suburbia called Olathe, Kansas. The Fe was a 4 lane strip of asphalt with its fair share of stop lights, fast food restaurants and other young people just driving aimlessly until they found a party to go to, or a cute girl (or guy) to exchange numbers with. In my eyes it’s one of the cornerstones of auto history in Americans love affair with cars.
Back in the muscle car days it was a way to show off a weekends hard work work installing a new cam, or to show off that fresh coat of wax. It was a time of sub 1 dollar gas, drive in movies and burger stands. If I’m not painting a good enough picture, do yourself a favor and watch the movie American Graffiti; this flick embodies what cruising is all about and what the muscle car sub culture was a half century ago. This was a more innocent time in automotive culture as well. No one 50 years ago had heard of hypermiling or hybrids. It was purely about a badass car with the horsepower and looks to boot. It was about getting home from work or school on a summers Friday eve and throwing a fresh coat of wax on your cherry red Chevelle then getting behind the wheel with no place to go just so the world could see and the fellow car enthusiasts could crane their necks in awe. From the way baby boomers describe it, it was a better time.
So I painted an elaborate picture of what cruising is right? If not please go back to YouTube to watch cat videos or whatever it is that you use the internet for. The reason I wanted to type this was to make people that did enjoy cruising smile with a hint of nostalgia, or maybe it’s to make younger people understand that cruising is the best rolling car show a hot summer night can offer. In this day and age gas prices dictate our travels and warrant any excess driving a faux paux. I understand that we need to conserve as much as possible for my kids and your kids. There are many ways to do that but that is a whole other conversation for another day. Today’s youth, whom are car enthusiasts are going to miss out on something that was a coming of age rite of passage if you will. Hell the reason we have a 662 horsepower Ford Mustang coming out in 2013 is loosely due to cruising and being the fastest, best sounding car on “The Fe” or whatever boulevard the pony car wars hailed from. If we didn’t have this automotive history there would be no Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes etc etc. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be fast cars, because there would be but they would have a different feeling and style. I feel like I’m getting a little long winded here so I will make my point. Why make a fast, shiny, bright red, loud, beautiful car that guzzles gas and has 2 useable seats? To commute to work? To take the family to the lake for the weekend? The answer to these questions are no (duh). The reason is all historical, these machines came from the automotive art form we call cruising. So there you have it. We need to keep this history alive. Whether you have a lowered Honda, a cammed mustang, an Audi S4 that’s track ready, a lifted truck and on and on and on…. Go for an aimless drive, go burn some gas, leave a light and hit redline in all its high revving glory. GO CRUISE and RELIVE your adolescence or live your current adolescence to the fullest. Just do it in the name of automotive roots, history and enjoy the drive.
Your amateur auto blogger,