Q&AHow to understand the culture of cars in America?
Fan Ben Asked 2 years

Why some Americans are interested in the old cars such as a 1962 Cadillac. This is a important part for American life?

Fan Ben replied 2 years ago

Maybe I should use “in American life ” not the “for “

2 Answers
Best Answer
Paul Staff answered 2 years

This is a great question. As an American, and also as an American who lives in America (sorry for using the word America so much (HA! I did it again)), I’m hadn’t thought of this question until I began teaching with Cloud English. I remember the very first student I taught asked me almost immediately if I had a car. Thinking this was a bit of an odd question (because in America EVERYONE has a car), I quickly answer yes, and we moved on with our class. The question stuck with me a bit, though, and I asked him why he asked me this the next time we met. I remember him telling me the rules of car use and ownership in China, and being completely surprises at the restrictions. I went on to tell him the following:
Growing up, my family at one time had 5 people living in the same house. My mother had her own car. My father had his own car. My eldest brother had his own car, my other older brother (Luke) had his own car, and I also had my own car. We had 5 cars in for one family. This seems like a bit much doesn’t it? Truthfully, it’s very common for each person of a driving age to have his or her own car to drive wherever and whenever they please. Teenagers turning 16 often “expect” to receive their very own car as a birthday present. Cars are given to high school or college graduates. Cars are handed down (give to) from parents to children or grandparents to grand children. 
As Luke mentioned, cars are very much a “status symbol” in The States. What I mean by “status symbol” is that if a person has a nice shiny new car, they are perceived to have plenty of money. If someone is driving an old car with bad paint and a noisy engine, someone might unfortunately think that person doesn’t have very much money. I’m not saying this is a good thing. But oftentimes it is the truth. I actually just bought a new car last week. Did I absolutely need it? That’s a good question. I had a car that took me where I needed to go. It was about 10 years old, it’s paint was falling off and it was a bit noisy, but it worked. However, I still purchased a new one. Now when people see me driving up in my new car they say, “Hey nice car,” the moment they see me. Isn’t that odd? 
Great question, and I hope my answer helped. 

PaulPaul Staff replied 2 years ago

You’re welcome. I’m happy my answer helped. I think “status symbol” is a good way to think about it.

Fan Ben replied 2 years ago

Thanks for your answer,Sir. I can understand what you meant. Maybe status symbol is a reasonable interpretation for this question(I guess). In China,most people spent more money on education and housing. I think it’s the same as people buy a new car in America. Anyway,that would be a big help for me to understand American culture! Thanks!

iamuwajimaya Staff answered 2 years

This is a great question. My answer is only a guess, but I can certainly say that there is a prevalent car culture in the USA. Cars are a central part of American life. We drive our cars everywhere (because we don’t have that many trains and buses), so our identity, what we think about ourselves, is often defined / made by the things we have, particularly cars. Because cars have been so important in the USA for so long, we have a long history of car models and brands, so modern cars as well as old cars are popular. Some people think classic cars are the best-looking cars, and keep one for that reason alone, just as you would buy a painting for you wall. 

Take my grandfather as an example. He loves cars. He will often go out and buy an old car, then spend years working on it to make it look and work like new. There is something really unique about the style of the cars made when he was a young man, I guess his interest in rebuilding cars comes from a desire to remember those times, to have something in perfect condition, to bring a bit of the past into the present. Just as our taste in music is usually formed early in life, the American taste in cars might be the same. 

In countries where cars are relatively new (popular in the last 20 years), there hasn’t been time for this sort of thing to develop, and also, in China, old cars aren’t allowed on the road. 

Fan Ben replied 2 years ago

Thanks for your answer,Sir .I realized that car is a important part of Americans life. Now, I know about American more.

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