Trade Shows, conventions, stores, web-stores, clubs, and so many others things ……all dedicated to the automobile.  The 2nd largest trade-show in the world is dedicated to the automotive aftermarket industry. If you doubt us, visit the SEMA Show website and I trust you will start to get a better understanding of the passion that drives the industry.    


It is hard to find a small town in the US that does not have some sort of car show or auto club.  WHY?  

What is it about the automobile that makes it such a strong part of our culture?  Why is it a multi-billion dollar industry? 


I would say that it has been this way since the 1950’s when the drive in became a popular hangout and teens.         

  • Cars=$$$$
  • Cars=Culture
  • Cars=Status
  • Cars=Identity


Some of the most iconic movies of all time are built around or about automobiles.  Actors…….their popularity can grow and become synonymous with a car. 

Can you imagine Bond, James Bond in clunker Renault?  NOOOOOOO WAY. He is known for a stylish sports car that is most likely convertible. It has to fit his style right?  


How about Magnum PI?  It is impossible to imagine Tom Selleck cruising around Oahu in anything except his Ferrari 308.  


Today, people have stumbled into a celebrity status because of their passion for cars and trucks through reality TV.  The reality TV craze has made the large personality become a celebrity. These shows center around remolding cars, refurbishing cars, or restoring cars. They can now demand huge money in the advertising field and also allows them to demand top dollar for their car related appearances.  If the interest wasn’t there, these shows wouldn’t exist, but they can be found all over the cable providers guide. The same self made celebrities make appearances at automotive parts and suppliers events for premium money.    


Why So Important! 


The automotive aftermarket industry is a multi-billion dollar business.  So, it begs the question…… Why do we love our vehicles so much and are willing to spend so much money on them?    


  • Is it style? 
  • Is it status?
  • Is it image?
  • Is it cool?
  • Is it freedom? 


I say freedom!!


I think you can answer yes to all of these!  But I think freedom is probably one of the most important reasons because of our culture in the US.  



What is the one thing a teenager most anticipates when turning 16?   No, I am not talking about sex! It is a driver’s license.  That little piece of plastic represents growth and change on their way to adulthood and freedom.  All the things that come with growing up, the driver’s license is one of the first steps on that path.  


Who remembers the day they got their driver’s license? 

I do and I remember it well! November 13th, 1992. My favorite Aunt drove me to the BMV for the test.  I passed it and got my picture taken. She took me home where I was able to get into my car and drive myself to school.  It was playoff football time that day and we were still in the state tournament with a game the following day. Practice followed school and then game film.  

Finally….. It was time to head to the parking lot and drive myself home.  Freedom was a few steps away and couldn’t wait to get rolling down the road.  I hit the lot and found the way to my 1979 Chevy Camaro ( four shades of primer, a little red, and some black, with no nose piece) in double time.   Stereo will be cranked! Window will be down (even though it was cold and raining). Freedom has arrived! Got in the car, took a breath, put the keys in, nothing!  

CRUSHED!   Wouldn’t start.  Wouldn’t even turn over.  No, radio Dead! I was devastated and wondered what I did to deserve this result.  How could this happen on the day I received my license?   


Not the start I was looking forward to!  The alternator had gone out. I still got my freedom that night, it now took a couple extra hours to actually get to it. 


The seed had already been planted.  I wanted more. Freedom with that driver’s license is a huge milestone in a young person’s life.  For me, the desire to have the license represented the freedom that was coming with becoming a young man.  Dates, hanging with buddies did not have to be carted around by my mom now. The desire to attempt to impress a member of the opposite sex with my maturity because i have my own car.   


I think this is a very big reason why we, as a culture, love our cars so much and we have such a personal connection to them.  Almost, like they become an extension of ourselves.


There is no denying this passion exists.  It is there and the money tells us that it is there.  Money may drive the force, but personal feelings create the force to be “driven”.  We love our cars and trucks. We spend a lot of time in them and we take care of them.    If the interest wasn’t there, it would be a multi-billion dollar industry that makes new millionaires every day.


If anyone doubts the interest that we have in cars and trucks, go talk to the people at a car show.  Ask them what drives their interest and passion. Why do they invest the time and money into something?  You will be likely to get a variety of answers, but if you trace back the items they bring up, I bet you will be able to detect a theme that goes back to when they got their license.      


Stay tuned next week as we recap the Top 10 most iconic cars rolls in TV and film.