The classic VW Beetle was the catalyst, my automotive ground zero, where my love of classic cars all started.
The year was 2005. I was nine years old. According to my Mom, I have loved cars since I was very young, but this is my earliest automotive memory. The moment when I came into car consciousness. The movie was Herbie: Fully Loaded. The instant I saw that shape, it was all over. It was a car that looked like nothing else I had ever seen, like some sort of spaceship! The very idea that someone could own and drive something like that was mind blowing.
I grew up in the early to mid 2000’s where cars had mostly looked long, blobby, and over all very dull, especially to the mind of a young car enthusiast. My Mom had a gold Ford Taurus just like the one you see above. It was a fine vehicle, but it didn’t get the mind racing like that little Bug could. As soon as I got to school the next day, I went right to the library to start learning all I could about it, devouring book after book on the subject until I had read them all in a week. It was as if I couldn’t get enough!
Now I understand why that’s the case. People on the Autism Spectrum, especially those with Asperger’s Syndrome have minds that become “hooked” on various subjects almost to the point of obsession. They, like me, are unable to think of anything else until they are satisfied they have learned enough to jump to a new subject. Often times, it’s because they have seen or heard something that sparked curiosity. Once they are able to break away from whatever they are hooked on, they often have vast stores of information that may be of interest only to themselves.
Growing up, I have had to learn how to work around my mental peculiarities and move forward in different social situations. Josh, who you see in the background of the opening photo of this piece, has had to patiently wait while I stop to take pictures many times on our walks around town and has often had to make me aware of my surroundings, pointing out no trespassing signs and the like, because I will be so focused on getting pictures of whatever car I have snapped to like a hungry shark.
I didn’t intend this article to turn out the way it did, being an exploration of life with autism, but in a way, it and the VW Beetle are what shaped my automotive interests to this day.