The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe


I was born with an interesting mix. A fascination in how things work, a great love for finesse and a desperate death wish. It should come as no surprise that I have wanted to race cars since before I was 5 feet tall. Maybe some of you can remember the days of the Pinewood Derby where you were given a block of wood and had to make it into a car. I would buy like 3 and try to cut it to the shape of my favorite cars, knowing they were aerodynamic.

By the time I was old enough to drive. My love of cars had developed quite a bit and getting to drive on a daily basis felt a little like having sex for the first time. Only I knew what to do and it lasted more than 5 minutes.

There is so much about cars, the feel of the handling, the smell of the car, the grease that gets on your hands when you change a part or the relief you get when you realize the coolant leak was only a hose.

All of this is great, but when I tell people I love cars this is who they think I am:

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

Which is totally untrue. Real car people generally are against texting and driving butI think I speak for quite a few of us when I say that holding a phone to your ear shouldn't be illegal considering most of us drive with one hand anyway, but that's irrelevant.

The person you're thinking of when you hear about a kid interested in cars comes from a car guys natural enemy. Some people call them fools, some people call them poor, many consider them to be lying pieces of shit but we car guys have a singular word to describe the disgrace to our passion I'm about to show you: Ricer


The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

Oh my god! can you believe he actually paid money for that exhaust! He just wants his car to be loud, it won't even sound good!

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

Eww gross! He why would he make his car look like the tyres are about to fall off!

If you're gonna spend money on rims why get THAT!

What's up with that wing! Doesn't that guy know that a rear wing on a front wheel drive car will cause his car to have LESS grip with the road! The whole point of a wing in the first place!!! Then there's this guy on the bottom. He has a rally tow hitch and the camber on his wheels are sticking way too far out. Not to mention who would go rally racing in tyres like that!

You see, these people have a different mentality than we do. This is what they aspire to be:

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe
The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe
The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

I'm not gonna lie, these are some beautiful cars. They showed off some of the most creative design choices during the time they were released. These cars are art. But infuriatingly, most "car guys" don't see them as masterpieces. They see them as status symbols and literally don't see any other point to them. They know that it's much easier to pick up a girl an a super car than in your moms mini-van with apple juice in you spilled in the cup holder 14 years ago.

There is so much more to cars than this and I'll tell you something right now, many car guys wouldn't really want one of these cars. Most don't aspire to having one. It's because owning one doesn't appeal very much to us. Of course we all have our acceptions. (i'll go over a few at the end)

These are the kinds of cars we would kill to own:

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

BMW E36 M3 That may sound like a marketing gimmick to you but the Germans would be very upset to hear you say that. They's be all like "DUCHEL VOOKT!!!" or something. That's right, all those letters and numbers mean something and it's all for organization. Have you ever wondered why BMW always names their cars a number? 318, 335, 525, 540?

The first number is the type of BMW and the last two are the engine size. 525i means 5 series model with a 2.5 litre engine, which by the way happens to be a relatively unique engine compared to most cars. We car guys find an inline 6 cylinder engine capable of hurling a full sized car at speeds in excess of 150 mph very exciting. Room for your friends, more space in the trunk than many others. Handling said to be the benchmark for all other sport scars. The BMW's have something for everyone.

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

This is a cheap car to buy and maintain, if it's not enough speed for you, there's an endless ammount of resources, the sky really is the limit with a Miata. Girls tend to like this car too as it's . . . well, it's adorable! These cars can last forever and are generally awesome. Some people will tell you this car is even more fun to drive than the BMW not for speed, but just for the way the steering responds and how the weight of the car is distributed.

This vehicle puts an emphasis on the experience that goes with driving. People get confused by how much it's loved. It's not particularly fast, the transmission isn't anything very special, the design is modest and it's inexpensive. This car is loved because of how well made it is and you would really have to drive one to understand.

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

Ahh! Yes, this is a car with attractive rims and tyres that suit where it is. This car is clearly within it's element. And still has room in the trunk to fit anything you can think off and all your buddies. notice how modest the wing in the back is? This car not only costs less than a Porsche, it is faster than many porches as that is this car's current competitor.

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

This is a Subaru WRX. This car is cool because you can survive being wraped around a tree in it and once you've removed the branches from inside your rims and such, you'll be able to go on with your day like nothing happened. That's how tough these cars are and it's amazing! This car also does a better job than any car I can think of (other than a reliant robin) at holding it's value.

These cars aren't about showing off, they send a message that says "I'll do me the best I can" They all offer some level of practicality to them. These are the types of cars that you start to develop an unhealthy relationship with after a couple years of ownership. It's not the looks exactly that get us its the details. It's a little like Wine tasting. Some people can drink wine and describe the sophistication and explain all the flavors, while some people wouldn't know the difference between a bottle of 1815 Cognac and a bottle of white cooking wine.

So what kinds of super cars do car guys like? We like super cars that have won historic races, ones with amazing top speeds while staying street legal, ones that have something special to offer in engineering. Cars also earn points for being low cost and practical! Here are a few examples:

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

I'm not really that into this company so this might be the wrong model but they all look roughly the same to me so if you wnt to fact check me this is the Koenigsegg CCXR

My bud fell in love with this car after seing a video put out by the company (or someone) driving this thing at over a hundred miles an hour and violently spinning the steering wheel side to side. The car maintained perfect grip with the road barely even a sound from the tyres. This is a very well made car.

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

The 2015 Nissan GT-R with the Track pack was used to set the a lap time of 7:08.69 at the worlds most challenging race track Nurburgring the Norchlife variation of the track is about 13 miles long. This happens to be one of my favorites. They actually used bigger bolts around the wheels in order to reduce vibrations and improve rigidity. The wing on this car will produce 220 pounds of force pushing down on the rear wheels once it hits 186 mph. (Which improves traction since it is an all wheel drive car)

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe

This is my favorite car. It's not practical at all but it does have the most American story behind it ever! 1963 was the year that Henry Ford II wanted to buy out Ferrari in order to improve the companies image. Millions of dollars later, negotiations took a south turn and Henry basically said, "Fuck you, we can do better anyway!" Ford had a company help them develop a new car, Chasis coming from a English company called Lola. A specialist in mid-engine cars from aston martin was called in to help and the car was a complete disaster for the first few years. It had all sorts of failures and problems but the car showed promise and with Farrari dominating the 24 hours of Le Mans race for years in a row, something had to be done.

All GT40's were given to none other than Carroll Shelby the mastermind behind the beloved Mustang. The founder of Mclaren was also involved by the way. It took Shelby a little over a year to come up with his version of the GT40 MKII which was an Americanly oversized 7 litre V8 (It would go on to be the base for the engine put into the ford pickup trucks) In 1966 this car won a 1-2-3 finish meaning that first, second and third place was won by GT40's. They won for so many years in a row, New rules had to be set that were kind of directed specifically at Ford's car.

There is so much to love in cars and there is a lot of emotion that goes into them. So the next time someone strikes you as a car guy, maybe he's not a reckless asshole, maybe he's a cultured person with a love for finer things . . . and a death wish.

The Difference Between a Gearhead And a Car Guy Wannabe
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  • mikemx55
    Quite an expensive collection you put in there.
    A car guy should be the one that works on cars, and knows a lot about the mechanics and systems in detail.

    The wannabes are the ones on the internet looking at specs and memorising them, without ever even knowing what oil smells like.

    (And changing an air filter doesn't make anyone a car guy/girl)
    • mikemx55

      I'm more of the first type by the way.. and yeah, I don't prefer the super expensive models as you stated.

    • Well I somewhat agree. I do all my own repairs, I've changed a few lower control arms if you catch my DRIFT haha!

      But there are plenty of people who don't really know the smell of oil too well and will modestly admit it who understand the important bits of how a car works. As car guys, it's easy to fall into this trap where we see expensive cars as the enemy and I think that once you start changing your opinions because your afraid of being like someone who isn't genuine, cars can lose their magic.

      I did try to outline the difference between a gearhead's idea of a super car v. s someone else

    • mikemx55

      holy shit, I fucked up, I'm the second kind of guy.

      And yeah, I also admire some of the super car beasts.

    • Show All
  • DarkHumorRUs
    I really like cars, but I'm only good at driving them and researching them.

    I don't really have the patience to learn every single way to troubleshoot or replace everything, unless I have to. I probably wouldn't have the patience to modify a car unless I really, really wanted to.
    Every time I have to look up a car problem on a forum, I have no fucking idea how some of those people know every single thing there is to know about the mechanical workings of every car.

    I also don't have money to do much with cars, and the car I own isn't something to be modified.
    If I could buy some good driver's cars or sports cars then yeah, I'd spend a lot more time modifying and stuff I guess.

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