I took a stroll down four-banger lane the other day, internet window car shopping (which has probably consumed at least 20% of my waking hours as a human being – pretty sad, huh?) at Honda-Tech’s vehicle classified forum. The majority of the listings were for late 90’s/early 2000’s Civics and Integras, with the occasional odd BMW or Miata.
The price range of the vehicles available for sale made me realize what a car snob I had become. Most of these cars were cheaper than a supercharger upgrade for my current ride.
One particular model I saw populate a few ‘for sale’ threads hit me in the feels harder than a Korean mom hits her children after they fail to receive admission to an Ivy League University: The 1999-2000 Honda Civic Si (EM1 chassis code).
You see, the first car CarCrazyDan ever called his own was a 1999 Flamenco Black Pearl Honda Civic Si. Its B16A2 motor produced a dyno-destroying 111 ft/lbs of torque (at the CRANK, not the wheel) and its aftermarket clutch would chirp so hard between the 1-2 shift that the Air Spencer CS-X3 on the dash would embarrassingly break apart every time I ‘spanked’ it, but I was still immensely proud of the little 1.6 that could (I told everyone my engine was a factory-freak to gain street cred).
I even had vanity plates that read ‘MYFLYSI.’
Thinking of the FlySi sent me into a lurid daydream, recalling fondly the good old days of Counter-Strike, ‘black-out’ themed Sadie Hawkins dances (which were basically warehouse raves but the school administration had no idea) and tubular jeans. Sadly, I was soon snapped back to the present by a comment from a friend who saw what I was browsing, “You don’t need that, you need 6speedonline.”
A surge of dopamine hit my brain as I typed in the url: 6speedonline.com. I was going to see some exotic car snuff.
6speedonline is a little different than Honda-Tech. It’s like going from Bargain Tree to that one crazy ass wing of South Coast Plaza where you don’t go into any store because you (and the employees) know you can’t afford the cheapest thing in there.
A 996/997 911 Porsche is the equivalent of a Civic/Integra on Honda-Tech. Only at an average asking price of $50k, it’s 10x more.
As per usual I began calculating how I could finance such cars and if I could afford to maintain them properly. The answer is always no but hey, as a middle-class car nut I’m entitled to have grandeurs of disillusion from time to time.
Then the inspiration for this article crept into my conscience. What really is the difference between a $5000 Civic and a $50,000 Porsche? Oh, sure, the legendary 911 from Stuttgart is iconic, has a motorsports pedigree and all that other Porsche-phile racket, but really, what’s that extra $45k get you?
Before I answer that, I’ll have to give a brief primer on Tony Montana’s favorite little friend: benzoylmethylecgonine aka cocaine. It’s a crystalline tropane alkaloid commonly abused by the upper-class of society. There’s a reason why our powdery acquaintance tends to frequent the more established social circles: it’s expensive.
Now, CarCrazyDan lives a straight life, so don’t get him wrong, but he heard from a friend that basically, it makes you feel like the shit.
“So people pay good money to feel like the shit for 20 minutes or so…..what does that have to do with cars?”
The price difference between a decade old, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive import and a late model P-car is essentially spent massaging the driver’s ego. It makes him feel like he just did a huge line of Columbia’s finest export every time he hops behind the wheel. And it doesn’t only apply to expensive cars, the same can be said for expensive designer goods or premium liquor.
You say, man, that’s a lot of benjamins for an ego boost. Well you know what, tell that to Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen…..or your toupee sporting neighbor with the brand new 981 Boxster who ignores you when you give him a thumbs up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against Porsche and I, too, like most other car enthusiasts in their early 20’s/late 30’s dream of owning a brand new 911. But even if I never do, I’ll always remind myself what Honda-Tech taught me:
To respect all car guys regardless of what they drive. It’s about the passion, not the price tag.
Featured image – “IMG_3360” by Kalvin Chan licensed by CC 2.0