Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Subaru tribe?

What constitutes a community? Definitions vary, but surely common interests, along with geography, can play a role.

I attended my first Nebraska Subaru Owners' Club meet over the weekend. There were over 40 Subarus present, most of them turbocharged Imprezas. (Mine was the only Outback.) Naturally, I neglected to bring my camera. But this video, I think, captures the spirit of the local Subaru community:

My wife (who happens to drive a Honda) is skeptical about the notion of a Subaru community, and even more so about the notion of a Subaru culture. ("Soon you'll be your own race," she muttered sarcastically.) But obviously many of us enjoy associating with like-minded people, be it for a leisurely cruise, a spirited drive, or a day at the track. (All three of which were features of my weekend.) Some of us make a point of waving at other Subaru drivers, or, more interestingly, of parking next to other Subarus. To improve our chances of meeting the other drivers? So the cars themselves can "hang out together"? Just because they look good together? I preferentially park next to other Subarus, but even I can't tell you why. Maybe Susan's right, and it's sheer madness—albeit a harmless, shared, community-minded madness. Like many other groups, Subaru enthusiasts have their own terminology which, while serving primarily as shorthand, also distinguish insiders from outsiders: As someone put it recently, "Every group has its Muggles."

I think some car brands (Subaru, Jeep, arguably Volkswagen) inspire a sense of group identity, while other companies (Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet) are perhaps too big, too anonymous to do so. (Though individual offerings from these companies, the Chevrolet Corvette for example, may have their own followings.) For many drivers, a car is just a car. But for others, a car makes itself so useful that it seems to take on a personality of its own, becomes familiar in the full meaning of that word.

Why I'm choosing to write about this, I'm not sure. Perhaps this is just the blogging equivalent of a slow news week. But a weekend of motoring has me musing on the nature of community and the origins of tribalism, so I'd be glad to hear some thoughts from readers.


Chas S. Clifton said...

I don't know about brands -- well, maybe Jeep ;-) -- but I have long held that certain models become "cult cars," meaning that parts and service for them can be found for far longer than other models.

Examples might be the Ford Model T, the 1955-57 Chevrolets, VW Bugs, all the quarter-ton Jeeps -- whether M-series, CJ-series, YJ, and TJ -- and so on.

Subarus are big in Colorado too, but here it's Outbacks and Foresters. Those 'rus in the video would not make it up my driveway without living bits behind.

WVL rhequet -- a net game played with enthymemes and proofs.

Chas S. Clifton said...

um, "leaving bits behind."

Cathy said...

My Impreza (and I bought it in Loveland CO) is 10 and going strong. The other day (for it's BD) it got a big sister - an outback. The Impreza has been great - but we need more room for 4 dogs.

Mark Churchill said...

Congrats on the Outback. I had occasion to drive my first Impreza last weekend (hired car while I was out of town) and liked it: very low center of gravity, excellent handling on the twisties. But that same factor would work against it as a daily driver in my "real life"; as Chas points out, there are a lot of places (my kind of places) where the Impreza simply isn't as capable as the Outback.