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Are Car Buffs That Don’t Like Tesla “Nostalgia Weenies”?

A question that probably doesn’t come up in many people’s minds often, but that’s still fairly interesting, is the one of why Tesla doesn’t garner more interest from many so-called “car buffs”. Given the incredible performance of offerings such as the Tesla P90D Model S, why aren’t those that otherwise worship at the high-performance automobile altar salivating?

According to a new article from Slate the answer is simple — car buffs are nostalgic sorts of people. Or, as the article put it, they’re “nostalgia weenies”. Certainly a point that makes a lot of sense — so much of car culture seems to be based around the presentation of social status, so why would someone who grew up in the 60s or 70s want something so alien seeming as the Model S?

Tesla Model S Blue

On the broader level this point reminds me of observations that I’ve read about concerning the uptake of new, novel behaviors amongst baboon populations. The simple observation being that social changes seem to generally begin with the young females, followed shortly after or concurrently with the young males; many of the older females will then adopt the behavior; and, finally, some of the older males will do so as well (apparently reluctantly). Many of the older males never actually adopt the new behaviors though, they simply hold out until they die.

That’s certainly an observation that matches up (to some degree anyways) with my observations of humans over the many decades that I’ve now been alive. I’m thinking that many of these car buffs are going to continue tinkering around with their corvettes until the day that they die.

Here’s more via the article in question:

Most love a specific marque, often because of something that happened decades before. They obsess about the history. They’ve owned half a dozen of that marque and wish they could own a dozen more. I’ve known and know Porsche nuts, BMW nuts (my hand is up), Mustang nuts, and more.

They are obsessed with all the microscopic—and obsolete—details of why their marque is better than everyone else’s. This is harmless, just like obsessing about baseball stats, and they’ll happily kibitz with car buffs who love other marques, watch stuff on other marques, ride around in one another’s cars, and generally be car nerds.

But there’s a strong thread through car nuts: What works better gets attention. People who prefer something that works poorly are really saying that they are about a specific driving experience, not real and raw performance. People who don’t like traction control aren’t interested in the fastest lap times but the purest ones, whatever that means, or in getting their car sideways in turns as they burn a few sawbucks of rubber off of their tires. People who don’t like dual-clutch automatics and paddle shifters aren’t interested in the fastest 0-60 or lap times; they are interested in slower, but more nostalgically pure, shifting. People who don’t like hybrid race cars and production supercars are saying that they don’t like better all-around performance—they just really only love things with cylinders and pistons, make of that what you will.

And people who don’t like the Tesla are mostly making s**t up that justifies their aesthetic preference for being slower.

Hah! I really like that last line — straight to the point. 🙂

(Tip of the hat to “mspohr” on the TMC forums.)

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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