Touch the Cars

Illustration for article titled Touch the Cars
Image: Matt Brown

Cars are things, and we treat them too gently. Cars are not meant to sit in climate controlled basements with soft covers on them. Cars were built to be driven, built to be experienced, and built to be touched. We’ve all seen the little decal on decades old hot rods saying “look all you want, but don’t touch”, and that’s always rubbed me the wrong way. Last week Kristen Lee ranted at people to kindly refrain from putting hands on the automobiles. In response to both of those things, I’m going to make a decal with a quote cribbed from one of my long-time friends, “Go ahead and sit in it. It ain’t the fuckin’ Mona Lisa.”


Your fingers are soft and pliable. Cars are made of metal and leather, carbon and chrome. Get your grubby mitts all up in there. You won’t hurt anything. Small children experience things by shoving them in their mouths and getting their tiny little hands full up with brand new stuff to feel. We should never lose that childlike wonder, and we should always look for new experiences for our phalanges. I want to know what a Bugatti Type 35 feels like. I want to know what a McLaren F1 LM feels like. Touch the cars.

Of course, people will see this as disrespectful, because you shouldn’t touch things that aren’t yours, or you don’t have permission to touch. I would argue the opposite. It is disrespectful to the car if you own it and won’t let other people touch it, feel it, experience it. Cars are part of our shared experience as automotive enthusiasts. Make an enthusiast’s day by letting them touch your car.

I touch cars a lot. My own and those of other people. I’ve been a mechanic, I’ve been a parts guy, and I occasionally drive cars borrowed from others for entertainment/writing review purposes. When I know I’m going to be around expensive cars, I do the responsible thing and make sure I won’t accidentally hurt them. I keep my camera tethered to my hand instead of on a strap about my neck. I wear a rubber wedding band instead of a metal one. I wear pants/shorts with a drawstring rather than a large metal belt buckle and sans metal pocket rivets.

Don’t act like your car’s existence is a favor to the world. Don’t worry so much about what bad things could happen if you share your things with the world. Instead, focus on how awesome it feels when someone is excited by your car. Focus on how wide their smile is when you encourage them to step inside and play vroom vroom at the steering wheel for a second.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a lot of cars and I encourage you to touch them. If I’ve known you for more than five minutes, I’ll usually toss you the keys, too. What’s the worst that could happen? Touch the fucking cars.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.


Kristen Lee