I already wrote about cars as appliances or objects, but I found this earlier germ of the idea in my drafts:
There’s an in-betweenish bracket where prestige, social signaling, or bells and whistles count a bit more. The Prius and Tesla are social signals. Some folks get a Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. for the prestige more than the bells and whistles.
The weird thing about e.g. BMW, Porsche, or Ferrari is how much enthusiasts know about them. The history, the construction, the internal model numbers, the stories. I suspect you can tell a prestige BMW owner from an enthusiast BMW owner if they can tell you the internal model number of their car.
My first thought, when I came across this, was this is a pretty good bit of projection and rationalization on my part ;) But it’s not hard to look into the fandom of any of those ostensibly-prestige brands like BMW or Porsche and find communities that refer to BMWs not as 3- or 5-series but as E90s or E34s (mine is an F30) and Porsches as 986 or 996 instead of the 911 marketing number. So I’m at least a little right about this!
I will never experience driving the majority of cars out there. I may never know how an old BMW compares to a newer one or properly hear an old Ferrari V-12. I can partake of the enthusiasm about their history, engineering, and idiosyncrasies. That’s the big attraction for me: the stories.