The car hobby is a cross section of people from all over the world, but they unite under the banner known as car guys.

Car guys don’t see the world the same way as non-car guys, so here’s an invitation to non-car guys to learn how car guys see the world.

Jerry Sutherland

The first thing you have to understand is this—car guys see everything as a potential project and the potential project range is infinite.

In other words, car guys can build a car project around a license plate, because if they find a license plate from 1967, they’ll buy it and start looking for a car built in 1967 to finish the project. If that sounds weird, you’ll probably never be a car guy–but car guys would definitely see the logic behind building a car because you found an old license plate.

Most car projects start with something bigger like a whole car, but inspiration is a huge part of the car guy world. That’s why non-car guys can never see the magic in a project vehicle. To them, it’s a mass of rusty metal—not a ’58 Pontiac.

Logically that ’58 Pontiac should never be saved because it’s an outdated relic in 2023, but that old tech doesn’t make the Pontiac not worth saving. Otherwise, we’d put condos where the Great Pyramid is in Giza, Egypt–or a hotel where the Tower of London sits.

Color is also a big deal with car guys, and you’ll see it in many forms because a custom paint job means just as much as original paint or sun-faded paint means to other car guys. It’s a complicated world.

One camp may favor new paint over original paint, but all camps are part of the big tent known as the car hobby. In both cases, car guys will understand the ‘why’ part because freedom of choice is part of the hobby.

They may understand the reasons behind different choices in paint, but car guys may not agree on the ‘why‘ part. It’s kind of like being a Boston Red Sox fan instead of a New York Yankees fan because both camps like MLB—they just hate the other guy’s team. 

Cost is another odd piece of the car hobby puzzle. Car guys will go through hardcore negotiations over several years to get a good price on a vintage car, but they’ll willingly buck up big dollars for new period-correct tires–for the same car.

Car guys will never question the price of a specialty tool, or the cost of red paint, but an increase in the price of their cable bill will put them on Level 1 negotiating–the kind you see at high corporate mergers. A brand-new five-figure engine block is simply a cost in the car guy game, but if a local car guy has the correct wheel covers for sale, he’s going to be in for a bigger fight than every political debate has had in the history of elections.

Basically, you can sum up how car guys see the world in one sentence They are an amazing mix of vision, optimism, talent and sheer stubbornness. 

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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