Commentary: For The Love of Enthusiasm

We all have different definitions what "automotive enthusiasm" means to us.

I have heard many arguments being volleyed across the car community on whether such a car should be "built not bought." There had been rumblings of "hate" and disrespect towards someone's own ride over another and which vehicles should be allowed at specific meets or not. It has been a tightrope that I had been walking on where everyone's got an opinion, a definition or some sort of snarky opinion about one person and his/her ride or another.

If one has an idea about what enthusiasm entails and its requirements, I am certain this article would go well over 3,000 words. But, your attention span does not need to be overloaded with dozens of so-called definitions right now.

I am a curious person by nature. That curiosity was prompted by a last minute decision to head to MN C&C on the first Saturday morning of August. I had issues with crowds, but I felt OK enough to go. The reason to was for a huge unveiling of two specially customized Porsche 911s that were crafted by RWB and its guru Akira Nakai. RAUH-Welt Begriff is a well-known and respected Porsche customizer out of Japan. Their creations are considered works of art, with wide bodies, increased performance and optimal handling. They only use air-cooled models – the 930 and 964, along with the 993 – for a palette of add-ons that make these 911s very special for their owners.

While there are fans and customers that appreciate and enjoy Nakai-san's creations, RWB has also received their fair share of criticism. There are those who believe that a Porsche 911 should be pure – without embellishments and greater build to challenge their value on the classic market. Others feel that certain builds completely ruin the character of the vehicle to the point that their owners are further ridiculed for buying a "garage queen" as part of a collection – never to be driven. Critics have ranged from known publications covering the automotive industry to the casual observer on the street.

There are further arguments both for and against such builds. They also spawn more debates that border on targeting the builder, their owners, any association with the builder or car community and so forth. On a level, these criticisms are done by first sight and observation. The basis of these critiques might be of some surface information rather than understanding the background, the justification and the intended use of their vehicles.

First off, one must understand that Porsche is an automaker that allows other custom builders to use the car as a canvas for creative pursuits. When I think of the 911, I always think of RUF as one such builder of custom Porsches – highly respected buy the teams at Stuttgart and have great access to spur on ideas on how to do their builds. RUF is not alone in enabling custom builds of an owner's Porsche – and other products across the automotive sphere.

Also, keep in mind that RWBs are builds that are individually specified with an owner's car in mind. Nakai-san and his team does the building. They also allow additional artisans to add more flavor to the build. This is why enthusiasts either love or hate RWB's creations. This is why it is difficult to form an opinion without fully understanding the justification behind a specific owner's want of an RWB or any build on their vehicles.

To ease some people's minds – I did talk to the two owners. One already indicated to me that he will be driving his RWB. In fact, both RWB Minnesota Porsches participated in this year's Crown Rally, the charity run between the Twin Cities and Chicago. Considering about 1,000 miles was put on each RWB car, the idea of "collecting the build and garaging it" absolutely does not apply here.

This is not about the RWB Minnesota builds that were showcased at MN C&C, Hot Import Nights at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, and other car meets and events taking place in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The larger debate is on how to define the notion of universal automotive enthusiasm. Those who are in the midst of this debate have been sparring over what could be considered a street fight with assault rifles.

This is not a clear cut debate, mind you. It takes many different forms with opinions made by those respected in the car community and others who think they should be. There is a fundamental point that seems to be discerning, because it appears that everyone has some idea on how the car community should be without giving any thought to what the community as a whole want. This runs counter to the idea that the car community – moreover, any community – should base the idea of automotive enthusiasm as being inclusive, educational and engaged.

Ask ourselves some questions. How should we respond to those who ask whether stock cars should be allowed at an event? Is it a stock machine that is desirable for consumers and enthusiasts alike? Would you turn away a new Ford Mustang GT350R because the owner waited all their life to get one at a meet where everyone built their own modifications and such? Would you approach someone who is trying their best with limited funds to get their vehicle "right" in terms of performance, handling and sonic atmosphere without throwing their nose in the air and talking down to said person?

This is just scratching the surface. There are some variances to consider, however. It is understood that some car clubs have memberships that are paid with a focus on a certain brand or model. It is also understood that some groups have an emphasis on certain build types or activities – such as motorsports. Yet, when a group or club is undefined in their vision of enthusiasm, vehicular loyalty and actually welcomes everyone to their events and Facebook page, then there should be an expectation where there is no acrimony or trolling allowed. Therefore, everyone can feel comfortable with being in that group or club.

In reality, this does not happen. That is a sad fact about the car community.

It does bring up a fundamental question. Why can't we allow owners to enjoy their vehicles and share that joy with us? The "we" I am referring to are those who view social media and real life in a skewed manner – where virtual society is dictated by so-called rules of engagement once posted on a Facebook page.

How hard is it to engage with others without judgment? It should not be hard, really. One thing I was told before I dove into the deep end of the Twin Cities car community was to be interested in everyone's rides, especially when you go ahead and interact with its owner. Furthermore, I was advised to simply do not act like a know-it-all, a snob, a negative personality – and so forth – when doing so. Sounds like common sense to me.

It brings up something that is essential to you. In a car community, there are two parts of the whole – the vehicle and its owner. While we have the responsibility to reach out to other enthusiasts and car folks, the flipside of the coin is how an enthusiast or car owner carries themselves in these situation. Many times, I approached people to compliment or talk about their car, only to get a cold reception. I get that some do not want to talk to the media, but if I was just a curious car person and get spurned off – it is in my nature to remember to not engage with said person.

It is how you present yourself that will win you friends and fans – not just your vehicle.

Lastly, consider the wisdom our parents may have told us at a young age. "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all." Again, this sounds like good common sense to me.

If there is one word I have for working with and around the car community, it would be "respect." Respect the builds and the creativity our fellow enthusiasts have been working on or are trying to complete. Respect the choices that we made in the vehicles we choose to drive. Respect those who want to be a part of the car community, and are seeking connection with it. Respect the businesses that support the car community. Respect those of us who support it through our creative endeavors – photographers, bloggers, artisans, etc. Respect those who come together from all walks of life – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, social status, behavioral health condition – because that we all come together for a common interest and appreciation of the automobile.

And, please respect those who presented their RWB rides at MN C&C and on the Crown Rally.

If it means anything – respect does go a long way. It is stress-free, healthy and could induce happiness. Take it from someone who let an unhealthy amount of stress from the car community and my vocation take over my physical and emotional well-being: Hospitalizations are pretty damn expensive, even with insurance.

This is a lot to swallow, but I would like to see a better car community. One where we can open up the cliques, let go of the Attitude, tea and shade. One where the appreciation of the automobile and the people who try their best to become a part of it can be a collective of good people, instead of lumps of intolerable people.

Sure, I'm asking for utopia. It takes small steps towards achieving such. It also takes letting go of the negative energy that permeates on social media. This is again scratching the surface.

Whether you are a purist or a lover of audaciously customized vehicles – there is room in this car community for everyone.

All photos by Randy Stern

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  1. Respect is earned, not given. The world where everything is respected, and nothing is critiqued, is a sad world filled with mediocrity. It's a place where no one excels, or loses and one knows the difference between just fine and great. I pity the malaise this utopia you speak of would bring. May the dissension forever speak its mind in whatever form it may take, even if the majority sees nothing but an emperor in full dress.

  2. There are often reasons that aren't always known by all. There are usually reasons for negativity towards a group or person. Before criticizing such social media "negativity", I'd emplore you to ask "why is this happening". There are often very good reasons. I agree with you that the car community should be all inclusive, some feel they are too good for that. While that same group threatens and extorts money out of small businesses. If the business doesn't "pay", the threats start. Is this what we want in our car community? There are reasons why some get more heat, usually they bring it on themselves by thinking they are above all.

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