Aristotle and the Young Mechanic

It’s part of the charm of a subculture to find so much passion in the details.  The small touches, executed with what is obviously a deep love and care, gives a look and a lifestyle a special coherence.  Boosted with careful attention and a sense of style, small details can make something absolutely pop.  Any hot rod aficionado will find their own way into the realm of complicated choices when they have to find discount vintage tires for the first time.  This is when the search for the authentic needs to meet with the economically feasible, and that’s the point where style can give way to form.  In the best scenarios, however, it’s possible to find a place where they both actually marry, and this can innovate the style for the rest of the subculture.

There are those who have argued that the current crop of celebrities, of which Ashton Kucher is by now almost a grandfather, is not sophisticated enough to capture enough detail to offer any real depth.  However, it’s also pretty clear that the argument against any generation for their lack of substance is a very traditional one.  Aristotle argued that kids today just weren’t as respectful as his generation, and it’s been that way for over 2,400 years since then.

One big distinction between now and then is, of course, the way the methods of transportation have changed.  Although the time that the automobile set its rubber to the road of history is relatively short, it has changed things utterly.  In terms of Aristotle’s thoughts on the youth of today, however, the attitudes of young people probably have not changed all that much.  In car culture, there are those of a generation or two ago who will certainly make a good case that the kids of today don’t know as much as they did, and don’t have the same attention to detail or appreciation for finer points of modification.

It might be true to say that buying wheels at is not the same thing as scouring the junkyards in other days.  It is much easier.  Even the youngest mechanic will say that it’s different now, and that there are more accessories, and more convenient means of acquiring them.  At the same time, these considerations actually only make more room to focus on details in other areas.  Skimping on tires is never a good idea, and in street racing, new definitely has advantages over vintage.  But this means there’s more room to find the perfect rear view mirror, the right color for pin-striping, or more time to talk to other enthusiasts and share trade secrets.  This means time to share wisdom and experience, passed from one generation to another, a cycle that never goes out of style.

Mike Brenner is a car collector with a degree in philosophy.  He enjoys writing about both philosophical thought and automotive topics for racing websites and educational blogs.

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