A cynic’s guide to mentoring the next generation
Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Low Class Yuppie,” a new column by Midwest malcontent and stand-up comedian Cameron VanDerHorst. In recognition of Cam’s reputation for pushing the limits, I’ve taken the pace car off these columns, so to speak. Some of what he writes may be offensive. Some may be funny. Some may be both! In any event, you’ve been warned — Jack Baruth
The powers that be at Hagerty have foolishly decided to give me my own weekly column. Welcome to hell. I decided to begin my tenure here with some information that will hopefully be useful to younger car enthusiasts, whose tastes and expectations for the hobby have been shaped by social media in the same way mine were shaped by magazines and forums. Your twenties are a weird time. You don’t really know who you are yet, and you’re still kind of figuring everything out. Worst of all, you’re surrounded by countless other dumb idiots who are just like you. I’ve been there. It sucks. It’s okay, I’m here to help (with the car stuff, at least).
Let’s say you’ve got $5000, $10,000, or even $15,000 to spend on a project car or weekend toy. Yeah, we know: You’re a REAL CAR ENTHUSIAST™, a serious, hardcore racer who only cares about performance. We know this, because you alternate between calling your current car a “race car” or a “shitbox.” Calling mild street cars “race cars” and solid project cars/nice late-model vehicles “shitboxes” is funny, and also, an entire personality. Anyways, at the end of the day, you want the most performance for your hard-earned/borrowed-at-an-insane-interest-rate money. Here’s my advice.
Whatever you do, DON’T buy an inexpensive used domestic performance car that’s in good shape. As we all know from the Internet, American cars can never, ever be cool, for some reason. Instead, spend more to get less with a beat, three-owner, 100,000 mile German car, or a slower, but trendier Japanese car. American cars are uncool because they are shitty. While Japanese and European cars are also shitty, they are shitty in ways that are inherently cooler, or something.
I know that this sounds counterintuitive to our “most performance per dollar” goal, but the fact of the matter is, if you buy a used Mustang, F-Body, or, God forbid, a Corvette, nobody will think that you are wealthy for owning a luxury car, or that you make late-night deliveries for your dad’s tofu shop.
After all, if you drive one of the three aforementioned American cars, you will crash into crowds, while having a mullet and wearing New Balance sneakers and tan cargo shorts. That’ll buff out! All of these jokes are funny and original. Save them to your clipboard so that you can brainlessly copy-paste them, over and over, every time an American performance car comes up in an online conversation. Combine this with calling your own car a race car or a shitbox, and everyone will know how much of a Carlinesque comedy master you are! You’ll get a Comedy Central special in no time with a unique perspective like yours.
Know this: All American cars still handle like cars from the 1970s and, despite the massive aftermarket support for platforms like the C5 Corvette and SN95 Mustang, it is IMPOSSIBLE to make them handle any better than an E90 335i with worn control arm bushings or a rusted-out Miata on Maxpeedingrods coilovers from eBay. Who cares how powerful these cars are? Remember, you’ll catch ’em in the corners! All American cars corner at 5 miles per hour before violently flipping over and bursting into flames!
The reason all American cars handle so poorly is that most of them have solid rear axles. Driving a solid axle car is basically like driving a pickup truck. In fact, if you describe a solid rear axle as “stone age pickup truck technology,” people will instantly know how intelligent you are. It is physically impossible to make a car with a solid rear axle handle well, despite the fact that dozens of Necronomicon-sized catalogs of inexpensive aftermarket suspension parts exist to improve these vehicles.
In short, solid axles are dumb and for hillbillies. Solid axle cars CAN NOT handle well, unless it’s a cartoon hatchback from that one show. In that case, said car is worth roughly two times the cost of a clean C5 Corvette Z06, which does not have a solid rear axle, but instead uses (yuck) LEAF SPRINGS. That’s like a pickup truck, too! Saying as much is in no way reductive or ignorant. Many pickup trucks use transverse-mounted composite leaf springs that double as antiroll bars!
One way in which American cars are not bad is the engines, which is good, because engine swaps are dead easy. They’re quite simple. Trivial, even – especially when you mix engine and platform manufacturers. That’s why so many people talk casually about engine swaps. Actually carrying out a quality engine swap is just like a video game. It can usually be done in a weekend with hand tools, electrical tape, bubblegum, and absolutely no money or fabrication skills whatsoever. Try it!
Swapping an American V-8 engine into your Japanese or German car is a good option, especially for drifting. Who needs skill, technique, and talent to drift when you have a ton of horsepower to break the rear end loose for you? That’s how Takumi beat the Takahashi brothers on that show you love so much.
You know what’s even better than swapping a powerful engine with great aftermarket support into a good platform? Talking about swapping in an engine that’s objectively worse than stock for no reason besides how weird and unique it would be. It’s a great idea to ruin your car to “piss off the purists.” Wealthy, successful people with nice things care about what other people do with their own possessions. It’s totally worth wasting money and time to potentially ruin the day of a cartoon villain that you invented in your head, trust me. Your asinine swap will absolutely get completed one day and your car will definitely NOT sit on jackstands at your parents’ house for a decade after you knock up some e-girl you met on Discord.
Also, tell everyone that you don’t care about anyone’s opinion and that you’re “daring to be different,” even though you’re just trying to impress people on the Internet by following the same trends as everyone else. Anyone who offers advice or criticism that you don’t like is a hater or a troll, regardless of their level of experience or expertise. All builds should be respected at all costs. ESPECIALLY the stupid/dangerous ones, because they are daring to be different and pissing off the purists.
Remember to tell people how zany and wacky you are for loving cars that are not high-dollar exotic sports cars. Make sure that they know that, given the choice between a mid-priced sports car/“normal” car/unusually well-preserved old economy car and a Ferrari or Lamborghini, you’d pick the “not conventionally lusted-after” option. That will impress people and let them know that you are more of a car person than them, even though you don’t care about anyone else’s opinion. Not liking conventionally desirable cars is also a personality.
On that note, you should let the world know how you feel with stickers. People really want to know that you’re a lonely sadboi without a girlfriend, that you rub your nub to Japanese cartoons, and, most importantly, they want to know your Instagram handle, where they can find more pictures of the car they’re already looking at right now. Hopefully they will give you a hit of dopamine by following you. Remember, you don’t care what anybody else thinks, right? That’s why you want them to follow your eBay and Plasti-dip build and give you the thumby-uppies that make you feel good.
I know it’s a lot to take in, but I hope that all of this information helps you enjoy the car hobby to the max!
… There. That should keep SN95s, 3rd/fourth-gen F-bodies, and C4/C5 Corvettes reasonably affordable for a few more years, right? Anyways, I can’t WAIT to read the comments and find out who the exception is, even though I didn’t specifically call anyone out, and wasn’t referring to anyone in particular! Remember to let me know how different you are, and that you’re Not Like The Other Car Enthusiasts™! Shine on, you crazy diamonds! See you next week!
Cam VanDerHorst is a stand-up comedian and lifelong car enthusiast from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He currently owns three German cars, three Japanese cars, and five American cars. He likes almost all of them but acknowledges that they are all kind of bad, too.