When we went to Las Vegas earlier this year, we met Klaus Rasch. Klaus is the mastermind behind race-deZert.com und introduced us to the wide world of Desert Racing. In the meantime Klaus became a very good friend and we often share thoughts about the differences between "Motorkultur" in Germany and "Motor Culture" in the States. It is good to discuss those topics with somebody who understands how both cultures are working.
Klaus just passed me some thoughts he hacked together on his iPad last night, after he just had survived the Oktoberfest. I think his thoughts are definitely worth to share, although they are truly some kind of alarmingly for us Germans. We invented Motorkultur, but act kinda philistine and passionless. Hmm, I think Germany is well known for its cultural background, but what happened to its wheeled culture? Is it too dirty? Embarrassing? Traumatized? It is time for a change. Life is too short for ugly cars.
Enough said. Let me hand over to Klaus.
There is no motor culture in Germany. Obviously a bolt and somewhat false statement but let me explain my thought process further.
I live in Southern California for the last 17 years but grew up in Germany. I'm currently spending the last three weeks in the old Vaterland and get reminded of one of the reasons I left this place nearly two decades ago. The automobile.
Gas costs 3-4 times more then currently in the US. Car registration is based on it environmental impact. The TÜV makes it impossible to keep an older car in operation. It appears that 98% of all cars on the streets are built within the last ten years. New exotic sports cars are rare on the streets. Speed limits are set unrealistically low at some places.
How is all this possible when after all Germany invented the car, they make without a doubt the best cars money can buy? Every major innovation in the automotive world can be traced back to right here. How can they come up with all this go-fast stuff but not have it embraced by it's citizens. Yes the Autobahn in principle has no speed limit and it's perfectly legal to open up going 250km/h in between all the 80km/h construction zones. Yes the roads are far smoother then many roads I have seen all over the planet but how come so many people drive such boring cars?
Kids don't tune their cars and meet every Friday in every city for a little show & tell street racing? There are no local drag strips or local stock car race tracks where you can race on a budget. Nobody lifts their trucks or lowers their sports car nor installs the latest in wheels, paints or decals their car in search of the latest craze. Cars are small 1.x liter 4 cylinder machines mixed up with the 3.0TDI station wagon in between. All bone stock, silver or black and look like they are fresh of the showroom floor. Boring.
I know that there is car culture. I read the German car blogs and magazines. Car culture is not dead it's just hidden, not out in the open. What I like to see is American muscle cars, fast Audi, BMW and Porsche products on the street all the time utilizing all gears, spinning wheels and making noise. Low riders scraping the pavement, Asian imports fast and furious style and Italian sports cars cruising the streets.
There is little public imagination in car culture but then those few that do express their love for the car in public do it well. A revolution is needed that makes me believe that "Fahrvergnügen" is truly a German word.