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Why do you like that thing?
Trying to explain my eclectic taste in vehicles
‘Fondness’ has two distinct meanings: in modern times it usually refers to a strong like for something and historically it also described naivety or foolishness.
There is an interplay between these two meanings when we consider our own passions. It is hard to pin down why someone supports a certain sports team, is a fan of particular musicians or likes a specific type of car. A degree of fondness in both senses of the word seems to just develop over time.
I’ve always liked British cars, especially those that were enjoyed by many. The sporty MGB and the minimalist Mini both appeal to me. In different ways they mobilised the masses with their own unique character. While there are still so many of them around I would be willing to bet if you asked any proud owner they would tell you theirs is particularly special. And that’s where the magic lies: the fact that as rational humans certain things appeal to some of us, perhaps against any sound reasoning.
A sprinkling of this madness exists in us all. But dig a bit deeper and you will probably find for many of us there is some personal logic behind our fondness for a particular thing too.
To me a ‘run-of-the-mill’ classic British car epitomises a combination of aspiration and attainability that is intoxicating. The idea that a hard working individual can one day enjoy such a luxury is hopeful. I will never forget the first car I bought with my hard earned money which was a Rover 25, nor the first classic I bought since which was an MG Midget. Those milestones were meaningful, and the lower values compared to more expensive brands meant they were a luxury within my reach.
It’s not just classic British cars that appeal to me though. Those that do appeal tend to have a common theme. I’ve never understood why people will be loyal to only one brand or a particular geographical grouping. Consider German cars: They have a reputation for being well engineered but each make has its own identity different from one another. That’s why I find Volkswagen more appealing than Mercedes or Audi. The ‘people's car’ is an emotive idea and it is part of the brand’s history.
Owning a VW you should be aware of its origins. Adolf Hitler was involved in the development of the Beetle and Eduardo Weber, the founder of the company that made the carburettor in my Polo, was a fascist. But it could be argued that the millions of Beetles and Weber carbs made since have achieved the exact opposite of these individuals’ oppressive goals by mobilising all people regardless of their background. In addition VW wouldn’t exist were it not for British intervention after World War Two. In some sense ‘the Volkswagen’ can be seen as a subversive symbol of liberation.
Things are never as black and white as they seem. Not all Volkswagens pull off the same ‘peoples car’ ethos as an original Beetle or an early Golf. And in fact some of the British cars I like are as much Japanese as they are British.
So clearly for me the fondness springs from my own interpretation of the ideas and identity behind the cars themselves, rather than tribal loyalty to a particular brand.
That said there’s always something more than this quasi-logical reasoning at play that determines why we prefer one thing to another. Exploring that is interesting and why I enjoy attending car shows. It might sound strange to some but there is a buzz to be had from finding cars that appeal to you as an enthusiast. But if you are like me, and go to events to get your fix, you should count yourself lucky if one of the cars you’re particularly fond of is also the one you drive back at the end of the day.
Whatever our preferences may be and regardless of why we have them, the people and things that we’re fond are a big part of what sustains us.