The Stickers Of Global Car Culture

Sometimes, I feel as though the world of cars lies only behind the screen of my school laptop.

I’ll admit it – for many of us, sometimes ‘global car culture’ can seem so far out of reach. The idea of one day owning a jaw-dropping showroom centrepiece, or a multi-million-dollar track monster can sometimes feel more like fleeting dream than a plan for the future.


I for one feel this way some days.
 A cashless Australian high school boy, reading articles of immaculate, era-defining machines with a sense of aspiration and fantasy. Spending hours scouring the internet for the finest parts to put on a make-believe project car, right down to the ETC readers that jingle with an engine start or the OEM pedal covers that came only with the top-spec models.


All in all however, dreams are still only dreams.


I for one am all too familiar with the excitement and anticipation of travelling to car shows and track days by bus or tram. The bewildering feeling of gawking at garage-built drift missiles that kick asphalt in your face while flying down the back straight. Or the feeling of a warm spotlight which shines, not on you, but the ‘chopped-and-dropped lead-sled’ that snarls at your feet. And walking away from all the adrenaline-fuelled action, all the awe, all the excitement – with nothing more than a five dollar souvenir.


The wave of sadness, reaching into a malnourished wallet at the end of the day, desperately fishing out scrapings of silver and gold, yearning for a little printed memento to keep the memories alive forever.


The guilt of pacing the illuminated isles of expo stalls, staring hungrily at glistening multi-piece wheels and gleaming anodised shift knobs, only to slink back home at the end of the day with a couple slivers of paper and a sense of defeat. Sometimes, when I question the idea of a ‘global car culture’, all I have to show for are these little stickers.


But the thing is, each and every one of my little multi-coloured strips is special to me. Each and every one of my glittery vinyl decals tell a magnificent tale, rich with emotion and history.
 These are my scrapes of car culture.
 This is my shred of community.


So when I see colourful bits of paper, plastered to the quarter panels, the rear windscreen, the bumper or the front fender of people’s dreams, I don’t see garish banners or obnoxious advertisement. I see war stripes. I see medals of honour. I see family.


When I see these little trinkets, stuck to the gloveboxes of cars, fixed to the A-pillars, secured to the wing mirrors,
 I think of the memories they hold.


I think of the friends they represent, who catch up every weekend to get souvlakis by the Shell garage.


I think of the track team, who etch scorching hot lap records on the other side of the world. I think of the local tuning shop, who know your car better than they know their own children.


When I see these slices of authentic car community,
 I feel the warmth and acceptance of an automotive family.


For some people, loving cars is all about the highest figures or the lowest quarter-mile time. But for me, it’s these tiny details that make me love global car culture.


Maybe someday in the future, I’ll be the one racing down those winding asphalt banks, slaloming through those plastic orange cones or riding the wall at an open day matsuri, but for right now, all I can do is collect my little coloured pieces of paper.

Michael Li
Instagram: mikl_li
Facebook: Mikel Li

How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.



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This is awesome! Great writeup and pictures Michael!


If you put it that way. We will All Live in Peace.


Great writing man!

Matthew Everingham

Nicely done, man. I knew you had something special there!


This is a great article. Honestly the best article I've read on here in a long time. Great work.


Couldn't agree more, stickers for me are collectibles, much like football (soccer) stickers were when I was a kid at school. I have stacks of them at home, some I've had for years that I'm saving for the right car.
I also get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see my own #TrackAddict stickers on cars around the UK, they've helped break down barriers and introduced me to people I otherwise probably would never have spoken to.


Does anyone else ever get sticker envy? I live in the UK so sometimes trying to get ahold of stickers from well known US or Japanese tuners with no real UK presence is frustrating. My AE86 has plenty of AE86 specific stickers in the rear side window, Garage Shapple, Nori Yaro, Hot Version, UP Garage, Juicebox, RunningFree to name a few. However, when I see Tec-Arts, Nobby Booth, Shirtstuckedin, Expert OZ etc etc stickers, I instantly try to go on the hunt before quickly realising the cost of getting them is abit too much to justify haha
I think you have a very valid point, stickers actually add to the sense of community if done right :)


Excellent writeup!! Great sense of passion!!1


Hahaha you are insane mate, mad respec


No Vinyl in that mess of stickers you've got?


Great article, stickers are like wheels especially JDM cars, they can really set a car off and give it the right look.
I've got the only two stickers anyone ever needs on my car, A Tokyo Tuner kindly supplied by Ron C and a kanji Speedhunters sticker