Wednesday, 26 April 2017

GUEST – How the web is changing our relationship with cars

Now the author of this piece is not a particularly nostalgic person who thinks that everything used to be better back in the "good old days". Sure, there are some old cars that give you that special feeling that the majority of new cars just cannot. But when it comes to nostalgia and cars, that is about as far as the author will go.

In fact, we probably live in the best age for car enthusiasts and 'regular' car owners alike, and it is all because of one little thing we don't consider too often when motoring is in question: the internet. It has changed (and still is changing) our relationship with cars to a far greater extent than most of us realise. James D. Burbank writes.

More car content

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Car enthusiasts who were around before the web will remember the days when you were limited to a few TV shows every week and perhaps half a dozen quality monthly publications on cars. That was it. Unless you had another car enthusiast living in your area, this was everything you could rely on when your car facts and opinions were in question.

Nowadays, the situation is much improved. Everywhere you look, you will find amazing websites and blogs that share tons of great content on cars and everything that has to do with motoring.

We are also very fortunate to live in this age of petrol fandom for all the interesting things we learn every day concerning the future of motoring. There is probably not a single petrolhead who doesn't have an opinion or two on the issue of driverless cars and the massive shift that this kind of motoring could bring, if realized on a wide scale.

It is a great new world of motoring and the information is more immediate than ever before.

It is also a more democratic world where a person does not to have a cushy job at BBC or wherever to be able to share his or her opinion on a particular car.

Smarter purchasing decisions

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Some people will say there was something almost romantic about purchasing a car thirty or forty years ago, hearing from a few people about how good it is or getting into a battle of wits with a local car salesman. In truth, it was rarely as romantic as those people will remember it.

It more often resulted in spending far too much on a car that was all wrong for you. Nowadays, things are much different and people do their research thoroughly before they commit to a purchase. This way, people know they are not wasting their money on a car that will rust away after a few rainy weeks.

For car enthusiasts who prefer older cars, being able to talk to other car owners online has made it far less likely to spend their hard-saved money on an "old classic" that will require an entire other fortune to get into shape. When we are talking parts for old cars, the internet has made this a less impossible task, for sure.

The internet has also made it harder for car dealerships and other "authorized" channels to rip off the general public. In author's home country of Australia, for instance, people are finally able to get car parts at prices that are not artificially inflated by "official" dealers. Sparesbox, an Australian startup that also offers a mobile mechanic service has revolutionized the way people Down Under buy car parts.

Without internet, this wouldn't have been possible, plain and simple.

The community

Perhaps the most beautiful thing the internet has done for car enthusiasts is that it has brought them together in a way that was impossible before. Today, an Australian petrolhead can reach out to a British auto blogger and find a whole new audience.

All of a sudden, instead of reading a profile on Lamborghini Miura in a magazine, you can talk to a guy from Devon who owns one and who is happy to share his opinions on this classic.

There is probably an endless number of forums and threads, some general others very niche, but all of them attracting enthusiasts who have something to say. It does not matter what you need to know, there will be someone out there who will be able to help you and glad to do it.

All in all, this is a great time to be a car enthusiast – you can talk to likeminded people from half the world away, you can enjoy great content all day long and no one is taking you for a ride when it comes to buying cars and parts.

What more could you want?

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