Wisdom > Car Life

My lifelong love affair with cars

For the author, the automobile is more than just a means of transportation

The author works to fuel his passion. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Cars are not my hobby. A hobby is something you do or attend to on the side. Cars are very much front and center for me. I have a day job (I run my own business), but in practice, my day job pays the bills and affords me the luxury to indulge in my one true passion: cars and everything around it.

The author has met many friends and legends either in person or in the metal. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Through cars, I have met a great many like-minded people who have become fantastic friends. Cars have allowed me to travel all over the world, too. Around Asia, the Americas, Europe, and even Africa numerous times.

And in doing so, they have allowed me to see just how small and insignificant I am, yet also how God has made me just as an important small and integral piece of a whole that mysteriously and miraculously works like clockwork, without fail.

Cars have allowed me to experience different cultures, see how others live, and learn that despite being a vast place, the world is much smaller than we think it is, and we are much more interconnected to one another than we realize. Let’s all get along with each other, peacefully and respectfully.

The author's therapy comes from modifying his own vehicles. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Custom car culture and the project car lifestyle, in particular, are very dear and very close to my heart. I have my own project cars I tend to: my A80 Toyota Supra, my two orphaned Audis (orphaned because they are simply under my long-term care, but are very much mine anyway)—the B6 S4 Avant and the 8X A1 Sportback—plus a recently acquired Mazda BT-50 workhorse.

Seems excessive to own multiple cars, with which I agree. But sometimes, these cars just call out to me seemingly begging to be cared for, nursed back to good health, and modified for the new age. Crucially, since the custom car culture is vast, these cars allow me to connect with and understand more people from different walks of life.

As motoring journalists, part of our job is to help deliver proper news to the end consumers and the car nuts alike. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Or so I tell myself. I admittedly spend a little too much on my ‘toys’ according to my family. But I tell them that some people play golf, some people like to dress up fancy-schmancy, some like to party, some eat aplenty, and some travel freely. I spend on my cars. It’s like therapy for me.

Sadly, there are two big problems facing cars and car culture. First is bigotry toward different segments of the automotive and even the mobility landscape as a whole (particularly toward new car owners, small car owners, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians). Second is misinformation or proliferation of fake news.

Filipinos are fools for the loudest voice and are too lazy to vet their information. A quick scan through social media will yield a variety of self-proclaimed experts who continually spew out erroneous, false, and downright dangerous information, much to the bane of motorists seeking accurate and factual information. Mob mentality still rules here.

But there is hope. We are undergoing an era of change, a shift in attitude. In the near future, cars will become less important for daily journeys as work-from-home becomes more prevalent, public transportation improves, and more people ride bicycles or even walk to get around.

Then the problems associated with cars—and the risk they bring (pollution, accidents, and overall congestion)—will be diminished. Then maybe, just maybe, cars and driving will be elevated to a truly pleasurable experience, free from traffic.

There is more to cars than just driving around in different places. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

Cars and driving allow us to be free. To travel, to roam, to seek out the unknown, to experience the joy of a proper journey, and to enjoy our project cars on our favorite stretch of road (or in the safety of a racetrack). Let’s all do so together. With much peace, respect and understanding.

As for me, I’m saving up for that next car part, that next modification, that next tune, and ultimately, my next project car. That’s how it is, and that’s how it will always be. See you on the road, and drive safe. Make sure to honk and wave if you see me and my projects drive by.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.