The Camry is supposedly the antithesis of what enthusiasts want in a car: an appliance, a beigemobile. However, out of the more than six million monthly Jalopnik readers, there is a good chance that some of them are Camry drivers. Are they enthusiasts too? I would say so.
Before I stumbled upon Jalopnik after reading Alex Roy’s The Driver, I dabbled in a few online car communities hoping to interact with other folks who shared my passion. What I found, for the most part, were forums and comment sections filled with keyboard racers and know- it-alls whose only goal was to convince the world that they were the smartest, fastest, and coolest. Practically every conversation was an escalating pissing contest that inevitably culminated in childish insults. I had pretty much given up on online auto communities.
Then I found this place and later joined the reader community known as Oppositelock. The requirements for this club were simple, but unspoken -“Do you like cars?” Fast ones, slow ones, weird ones, even if you didn’t know that much about cars, it didn’t matter. If you were into cars or even car related things, you were welcome. What you drove took a back seat to what you loved. Sure, there was ribbing and shit-talking, but it all seemed in good fun.
Except for the Camry drivers, it seemed. Don’t get me wrong, the whole “grounded to the ground” campaign certainly deserved ridicule. But there is this strange sociological phenomenon that happens when a bunch of like-minded individuals come together. They collectively feel the need to establish some type of moral, physical, or intellectual superiority over another group. In our case, it’s the “Drive Free or Die” manual gearbox brown diesel Miata wagon drivers vs. the mindless sheeple that buy Camrys.
Let’s get something straight though: just because a car is not cool doesn’t mean it’s a bad car. We all know that the inverse of that is true, as there are many cars that by any objective measures are terrible, but we love them anyway.
Choosing what car to buy is much more complicated than picking something that reflects our position as an enthusiast. For most of us, a vehicle is a tool that has to serve several purposes, and so everyone approaches this equation with a different set of priorities. Performance, features, comfort, reliability and cost all must be balanced out to find a car that will work best for that specific buyer and their circumstances. It also has to get you around or it’s not much good.
When I started my auto consulting business I had one goal: to give buyers more confidence in their purchase. I wanted to address the two biggest concerns from a lot of car buyers, namely, “Did I get a good deal and did I buy the right car?”
The getting a good deal part is not that complicated. It takes skill, diligence and can be time-consuming, but once you have an understanding on how the dealers operate, the process is pretty much the same from dealership to dealership. The challenge was helping people choose the right car. This was a major purchase that they are going to have to live with for a long time. I didn’t want them thinking a year or two down the road, “Should I have bought something else?”
I learned very early on not to impose my enthusiast tendencies onto someone else’s purchase. My job was to find the best car for them, not me. There are people that think it’s strange that I spent almost $30,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback with cloth seats and a manual transmission. And many of you think it’s strange that someone would choose a Camry over all the amazing new and used options out there.
But it all comes down to how that buyer approaches their purchase, and it might just be possible that the best option for them is a Camry.
Let’s face it: you could do a lot worse than a sensible, extremely reliable family sedan.
Choosing a Camry over a used Maserati for the same price doesn’t make someone any less of a Jalop. It doesn’t diminish their enthusiasm for cool cars. Maybe they will buy something more interesting later, maybe not. Perhaps they have already owned some neat rides in their lifetime and at this stage of the game, the circumstances call for something more sensible.
And besides, what if they have that Camry in their garage next to the used Maserati that serves as the weekend toy, or the old project car that’s constantly a work in progress? You never know what people’s priorities are until you ask.
With the infusion of more consumer-oriented car buying articles and Buyer’s Guides, our readership has grown. This is a good thing. I’m not saying that you should purchase or even like the Camry, or any other car that you deem “uncool.” You don’t have to drive it. The important thing to remember is that Jalopnik is an inclusive car community rather than an exclusive one and that someone’s choice of vehicle whether it be a Camry, Prius, or PT Cruiser doesn’t disqualify them as a valued member.
If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.