Don’t Judge a Driver By Their Car

Story By: Tryphena Wardlaw

To the unknowing eye, Brad Smith’s 2008 SRT8 Jeep Grand Cherokee may just seem like an average Jeep. However, the sport utility vehicle (SUV) worth approximately $55,000 packs a whopping 420 horsepower with the help of a V8 HEMI 6.1 Liter engine. Smith, a senior real estate and finance major, said that he chose his car because at first sight it is a Jeep, but there is a lot more to it.

A truck-load more.

With the number of students who drive cars worth more than the average yearly tuition of $46,000, Chapman’s parking structures sometimes can be likened to an imported car dealership.

Click Here to Join Chapman’s Auto Club

Just like any other passion, Chapman Auto Club students and car enthusiasts alike have an entirely different appreciation for the cars in Chapman’s parking garages.

“I think at the end of the day, as long as the person is buying the car for the sake of the car, and they are buying it for themselves and not to impress somebody else, then they truly do have a passion for cars,” said Smith. “You’ve got to know it, to know what it’s about.

Brad Smith (left) with Ryan Cohen (right) and their Jeeps.
Brad Smith (left) with Ryan Cohen (right) and their Jeeps.

To the unknowing, a person who drives a car, worth roughly year of tuition or more, to school may seem to be purely privileged or ‘stuck-up.’

But then, maybe they just have a passion for cars.

“I feel like everybody thinks that people who drive M3s are douchebags. I have always loved high-precision, well-designed things and it makes me happy,” said Brett Swan, a sophomore computer information systems major

Swan feels that the correlation between drivers and their cars can often be unfair and that is not the car that makes someone a jerk. He also thinks that Chapman’s car community needs to be more active and meet up more to share in the appreciation of nice cars.

“There’s a lot more than meets the eye, and that’s kinda who I like to be, kind of low-key,” said Smith about his Jeep. “Part of the reason I love my car is because it’s not flashy, and I don’t try to be flashy as a person, so I think in that way it emulates who I am as a person.”

Ryan Cohen, a senior public relations and advertising major, also owns a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a large amount of umph under the hood. Cohen’s passion for cars has developed into a photography business. Cohen has put a lot of work into his car and as a result, his car helps to identify himself.

“I respect whether people build their cars or buy their cars. If they buy it and they know what they bought and they respect the fact that they have a car that’s what it is, I respect the hell out of that,” said Cohen. “I also really respect people that can take a car, build it to what they want it to be.”

Andreas Hoelting’s Porsche Boxter Spyder in Malibu, California. Photo courtesy of Hoelting.
Andreas Hoelting’s Porsche Boxter Spyder in Malibu, California. Photo courtesy of Hoelting.

Click Here to Learn More About Cohen’s Photography Page

Andreas Hoelting, president of the Chapman Auto Club and car enthusiast, was given a Porsche Boxster Spyder for his last two years at the university. The 2014 automatic went for upwards of $50,000.

“Ever since I was younger I’ve been a massive car enthusiast, my parents would always give me hot wheels and model cars that I played with. I guess now the models just got a little bigger,” laughs Hoelting Brendan Parks, a sophomore business and accounting major, also shares a love for a good car, especially his Porsche Boxter. He thinks that the Chapman community could benefit from learning to appreciate a nice car.“You don’t see too many of these exotic looking cars, so when you see one it’s definitely something you should appreciate,” he said.

Drew Strohl, a senior economics major, drives a BMW 335i that he has modified to create his dream car that looks and sounds its best at all times.

 “There are definitely some kids who judge us [car enthusiasts] for having such nice cars for our age but it’s our passion. It’s worth the money that we put into it,” said Strohl.

Strohl invites anyone that has a similar passion for cars to join Chapman Auto Club and go on drives with the group.

“I love the car community and being able to meet such different and interesting people. You can be very young and connect with much older people because they share the same passions. There’s much to learn from them and they love telling stories,” said Hoelting.


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Chapman Auto Club currently has 192 members on the Facebook page, all car enthusiasts are welcome. The members group plans meetups and share in their passion for cars.

Check out Cohen’s photography page and all of the gorgeous cars he has had the privilege of shooting.


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