Loving cars isn't really anything out of the ordinary. The vast majority of people have at least some kind of opinion about them. A Honda Civic will usually be labeled as practical. A Ferrari will usually be labeled as exotic. While they provide an obvious necessity to most of us for our day-to-day lives, there still is something magical about them.
To the engineer, they are the culmination of 300 years of hard work. The engine is beautifully crafted with the utmost precision. Every part is manufactured with care. Yet, a car never is quite perfect. There is always something that can be improved, tweaked, or reimagined all together in order to push the boundaries. By definition, an engineer is a problem solver, and the automobile provides an endless playground.
To the physicist, a car is all about managing forces and stretching boundaries. Propulsion is created by a rapid series of controlled explosions. Through a series of pistons, gears, and shafts, kinetic energy is transferred to the wheels, and eventually to the ground. With every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. The shape of a car plays an equally important role. Moving through any medium causes resistance due to friction. Sculpting the car to reduce these forces, and in some cases make them work for you, is vital.
To the artist, the car is a three-dimensional canvas. A form of expression. Cars are so ubiquitous that they are quite literally an extension of ourselves, just like our clothing. Everyone has opinions about art, and the beauty of it is that there is no right or wrong. When you are shown a painting, it's purpose is to evoke emotion. For some people, that emotion might be excitement or relatability. For others, it could even be boredom.
To me, I see the automobile as the intersection of two things I value very deeply: science and design. It cannot exist with one and not the other. A car built purely for science is not relatable, whereas a car built purely for art probably won't work. Of course, cars aren't the only thing that fall in the middle of this intersection, but when the best of these two worlds combine the result truly does feel magical.
You could even say it defines a soul.
Posted February 27, 2013