COTD: The Gearhead’s Guide

Cars are supposed to bring us together, yet too often gearheads are at each other's throats about what they drive and what they like. We want to change that.

Reader pauljones has composed a brief guide for you and gearheads you know. It gives them an idea of what's important and what's not. That just because someone planes or trains or toys or trucks doesn't mean that he or she is wrong. That to be a true gearhead means to be an omnivore, to keep an open mind, and to embrace what is different.


Follow its tenets so we can band together as a car culture. As gas gets pricier, the climate changes, and kids continue to drift away from auto ownership, it's only going to get harder from here.

I would say that the biggest misconception about gearheads is not held by the outside world, but by gearheads themselves. In fact, I would argue that true "gearheads" are actually a rare breed these days, and have been predominantly replaced by pseudo-macho dipshits who think that the kind of car one drives determines one's value as a gearhead and as an individual. You see this all the time these days, and quite frequently here on Jalopnik. References to "beige Camrys" or "shitty GM," etc. are all common fare here on Jalopnik and elsewhere.

You see, the biggest misconception is about what it means to be a gearhead; there seems to be this ever-present notion that in order to be a gearhead, you must drive a manual transmission, a Miata, an E30 3-series, or any of a number of other moronically meaningless little metrics. And we take those moronically meaningless little metrics and use them as moronic excuses to judge people by. And yet, of all the masses of jackass comments that continue to parrot such moronically meaningless little metrics, I would be willing to bet that few, if any of them, have done something as simple as removing their car's intake manifold or have the kind of nerdy, enthusiastic knowledge of a car that would qualify them as a gearhead. Nevertheless, they still find it suitable to assume that others are inferior to them simply because they do not share some moronic, ill-thought-out belief like "Camry drivers are beige fags."

You want to know the biggest misconception about gearheads? It's the misconception that many so-called "gearheads" have they are somehow superior to others because of what they drive (or, as the case frequently is, claim that they drive), and because of that, they are entitled to judge others. The problem isn't what non-gearheads think of us as a whole. The problem is what gearheads as a whole these days think of themselves and anyone else that doesn't agree with them.

Being a gearhead, ironically, has comparatively little to do with cars. Sure, gearheads love cars. Gearheads love to work on cars and drive them and tinker with them. But a gearhead is just as happy doing the same with anything from a set of powertools up to a boat or a train. A gearhead simply enjoys tinkering with mechanical things, whether or not they have any real talent for it. They just have fun trying, and are too busy having fun to care what other people think of them. They're having too much fun doing what they do, because that's what they love to do, and that's the best thing in the world for them; though they don't assume that's the case for everyone, and they don't presume to judge others who feel differently.

That's something that seems to be missing these days, and has led to the biggest misconception about gearheads: that those who think they are gearheads are somehow better than non-gearheads because of something as stupid and shallow as what they drive.

So let's clear up that misconception once and for all: We're gearheads.

That doesn't mean that we're particularly talented. That doesn't mean that we're special. That doesn't mean that we're better than anyone else. That doesn't mean that we have the right to pass judgment on others. That doesn't mean that there is nothing more to life than cars or whatnot. It simply means that we love all sorts of mechanical things, from power tools to cars to trains to airplanes; sometimes because it's fast, sometimes because it's slow, and sometimes just for a single curve. It means that we love to tinker with things. It means that we love nerding out on cars, trains, or anything mechanically-related.

That's it. End of story.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's ease up on the general douchiness that has become an apparent staple of many (though not all) modern "gearheads" and get back to what we love, huh?


Photo Credit: Jalopnik, BMW, Mazda, William Warby (gears)

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