Recently on The Chronicles I read a really interesting article about the state of affairs in the scene, as far as cars getting magazine coverage and the behavior of their owners. Roja’s Blog also touched on this as well with his own take. I figured I’d chime in with my feelings as well, since this is something we talk about at the shop all the time with our customers and amongst ourselves.
The process of building a project car is like any other major step you take in your life. It’s filled with ups and downs, with joy and despair, and it costs a boatload of money. But you always have to check yourself as to your motivation. The motivation should always be your passion for the car and the hobby in general. Not what magazine you can get into. Not what internet high fives you’ll get. Not what girls you think you can pull after it’s done. It’s got to be about you. When you stop doing you, and starting doing it for any other reason, you lose. You become an also-ran that at the end of the day, no one pays much attention to. Sure, you might get labelled an e-baller by bouncing from one project car to another. Or by guys who are impressed by what parts you got. But those people aren’t you’re friends, and they don’t really care about what you’re doing. They aren’t helping you at 1 AM to finish an install for that event the next day; they aren’t working those overtime hours to pay for that part you covet. They are just jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to be part of something they perceive to be cool. The irony is, the bandwagon ain’t cool. What is cool is you getting out of the project what you put in. It’s you enjoying the fruits of your labor by indulging in a hobby that you enjoy and are passionate about. You gotta love it, and if you put your best into it, you’ll get the best out of it.
We used to do the show thing for a few years with our own cars and customer cars. Until it dawned on me one day – I am not having fun anymore. Hanging out with my friends and customers was cool, talking to random people I’d meet about my car or the shop was cool…but standing around for 10 hours in the sun waiting to talk to some jadrool about my car who didn’t even understand what he was looking at, and paying $50 for that privilege, had somehow lost it’s appeal. So I stopped taking my car to these events. I’d still go and show support for our customers who like the show scene, hang out for a bit, swap stories, check out the cars. But having my car judged just didn’t register high on my importance list anymore. Instead, I re-discovered doing what I should had done with all my previous projects – just enjoying the car. It was like re-discovering the reason I got into cars in the first place. Ultimately, I care about enjoying the car I built for myself. I care that it represents my hard work, and the help of my friends and colleagues. I care that my car has turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I don’t care of it gets in a magazine. I care instead about waking up early on a weekend morning and just driving out east just to enjoy the scenary. Taking the car home with me from work just to wake up a bit earlier than normal so I can take the long way to the shop the following day. Meeting up with a bunch of fellow enthusiasts and friends over dinner and just bs’ing. Hobbies need to be fun. While I am very fortunate to have my hobby also be my career, having a built Z is not a necessity in life. When it stops being fun and your motivation starts being for outside reasons, it’s time to re-evaluate things.
When we attended our first ZDayz a few years ago, I had more fun at a car event than I had in a long time. Even though my car had some gremlins that weekend, and I didn’t even get to drive it on half the roads I wanted to, it was just awesome doing a road trip with Kwame, listening to good music, and then meeting up with friends, customers, and shops we deal with all year and just hanging out. I am already planning on things for a ZDayz trip this year. We’ve got so many local customers and friends cars that are all on schedule to be completed in the coming months, that I think this is going to be one of the best spring/summer seasons in a long time. Ultimately, that’s what is should be all about. Hanging with friends, and sharing this great hobby together.
So that’s my take on it – you gotta just have fun with the car. Build it for you, and you’ll never go wrong. A special thank you to the above mentioned blogs for getting me thinking again about this topic!