Here in the UK we spend a lot of time in our cars, and while many people just use them to get from A to B, for others they can take on a life of their own. Sometimes we like to take things to extremes.
Cars give you freedom and independence, your own personal space. They allow you to live your life, to work, socialise and travel, to have fun with your family and friends. Many people love the sheer excitement of driving. Some get their thrills from the sound and smell of awesome machinery and adore just about anything that has wheels and an engine.
A love of cars is often passed down through the generations. Maybe you recall a favourite childhood toy. Or perhaps you have fond memories of working in the garage at a young age with your father, or going on a family road trip, a game of I-Spy to while away a long journey?
So, in what ways do Brits show their quirky side through their car?
There are the cosmetic adornments; from window and bumper stickers reflecting your school, sports team or political allegiances, to body graphics, vinyl wraps or fancy paintwork, the sky’s the limit when it comes to using your creativity to make your car truly individual.
Want to go even quirkier? What about fake eyelashes for the headlamps, designer seat protectors, ornaments for the rear-view mirror or a fluffy steering wheel cover? If you’re looking to really make your car stand out, the more bonkers, the better.
When it comes to pampering your car and showing the world how much you love driving, you can really go to town with mechanical modifications. Whether you want your motor to go faster, ride and handle better, brake more efficiently or simply sound awesome, there’s a billion-pound industry made up of specialists and aftermarket parts ready to help you create your ultimate set of wheels.
A private registration plate takes personalisation a step further; you can use carefully selected letters and digits to show your name or initials, or form a significant word or acronym. Just make sure it still adheres to the legal regulations. If you’ve got a few quid to spend on a plate, ‘F1’ is believed to be the most expensive registration currently on sale, at a mere £14,700,405.
Meanwhile, accessories such as roof boxes, bike racks and in-car entertainment reveal your interests and hobbies. A ski rack or dog-friendly boot liner indicate that you’re the outdoorsy type, while a high-end sound system shows you’re serious about your music.
The ultimate way of showing how much your car means to you is to bestow it with a pet name. It could reflect your motor’s character or standout feature, or even the letters in the registration plate. An AA survey shows that 39% of drivers have named their car and made it one of the family, with Fred, Betsey, Bertie, The Beast and names starting with ‘Little’ or ‘Old’ proving among the most popular.
So, we know people love their motors. But if you take things to the extremes of Mexico’s Ernesta Hernandez Ambrosio and Jesús Juárez Vite, who set a world record by kissing a car for 76 hours, you may have gone a bit too far in your affections.
Do you talk about your car incessantly and throw a strop if someone says anything bad about it? Have you turned choosing your cabin air freshener scent into an art form? Perhaps you should watch out.
Having something we really love is healthy – but the day it takes precedence over family, friends or the other really important things in life, your passion may have got out of hand!