THE BLOG

Automobiles: The Great Equalizer

06/24/2015 02:24 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016

There's an inherent beauty in the way an automobile works. It's like the ultimate exercise in teamwork. The rapid succession of small explosions taking place under the hood, combined with speed and the required safety equipment, shouldn't add up to a pleasant experience, but it does.

Variety of Enthusiasts

The same might be said of automotive enthusiasts. By "enthusiast," I don't mean just some guy polishing an old muscle car; the term is really a lot broader. For one thing, it's not just guys, and the particular vehicles that enthusiasts are enthusiastic about can range from a 1960s era, V8-powered Buick muscle car to a modern Toyota pickup to an all-electric Ford Focus.

Think about someone you know who drives a car such as a Toyota Prius or a Nissan LEAF and won't shut up about, for example, how little gas they use or how far they went on a single charge. Guess what: Those people are enthusiasts, too; they're just interested in a slightly different aspect of the automotive world than many of us. Plus, we need these people. It's this variety that will help shape the future and get all of us enthusiastic about the next big thing.

And that variety is really amazing in today's world. In going to old and new car shows alike, it's obvious that the automobile is a great equalizer in so many ways.

Go to some weekend car show or a big, splashy new automobile show, and you'll see this being played out. I can't count how many times I've been in a long conversation with someone who's the polar opposite of me in every possible way -- but the conversation started because of a car.

Making Connections

Regardless of your political affiliation, gender or race, a '65 Buick Riviera is still beautiful from every angle, a modern VW Golf TDI is still an amazing car for the money, and all of us think the idea of self-driving cars is just a little sketchy. No one group or ideology has a lock on the need for family-friendly features, towing, great fuel economy, low price or high performance -- those things cut across all groups. What you "are" just doesn't matter.

But the equalizing power of the automobile goes beyond that. Have you ever heard one of those rags-to-riches stories where the guy or girl works his or her way up from the very bottom of a real estate office, theater company or bank? Affordable access to reliable, personal transportation helps make that possible. Outside of urban centers like New York and San Francisco, the car is the tool that puts hard-working nobodies on even footing with CEOs and wealthy entrepreneurs. Showing potential homes to a sizable client list in Boston or hitting every imaginable audition in LA would be virtually impossible without access to affordable, reliable personal transportation.

Sure, one car may have cushier seats, a slicker look or more horsepower, but armed with nothing more than a basic car and an iron will, the average Joe can work his way up to almost any level of success.

In a world that seems intent on fostering division, sometimes a seemingly meaningless conversation about a simple automobile can go a long way toward relating to others and perhaps seeing the world as just a little more harmonious than the day before.