Flashes of irritation at non-believers: a true devotee will feel a real anger at those who cannot describe their car beyond its colour and, perhaps, its brand. The correct response to “what car have you got” is not “a little blue one”. It is “a Citroen Saxo Westcoast with the 1.4I 8V 55 kW 75BHP engine, top speed of 109 mph and overambitious stickers which clearly denote that I have never had a lasting relationship.”
The anger will only be felt briefly but may be visibly displayed on the face of the petrolhead.
…the innards of a car…
A real desire to pretend to know all about the innards of a car and to prove this knowledge. At the merest sign of a car-related issue the petrolhead will scurry from his social seclusion to provide uninformed, and largely unhelpful conjecture about what is wrong with the car.
Knowledge, to the petrolhead, must also be demonstrated by practical endeavours. However, the intelligence of people who actually design and build cars has meant that almost any interesting parts of a car are now sealed off far from the meddling eyes. This, amongst the spawn of petrolheads, has resulted in preposterous adornments, exhausts and weird wheels – true signs of engineering prowess.
…must revere James May…
As with any religion, idolatry is a key part. A petrolhead must revere James May and worship Jeremy Clarkson while shunning Richard Hammond for his lack of interest and populist tendencies. Ayrton Senna is commonly viewed by many sects as the messiah and anyone related to speed cameras, roadworks or other safety measures as the spawn of a demonic beast.
The cars themselves must also be viewed with a religious devotion. Petrolheads are excommunicated if they do not ogle Aston Martins, fantasise about Ferrari or Ducati curves and experience mild tumescence at the sound of a revving V8.
…become your interest, hobby, lifestyle,
Overall, you will be aware that you are a petrolhead because it will have become your interest, hobby, lifestyle, sexual orientation, religion and way of life. There are two approaches: a petrolhead can renounce his ways, develop a healthier interest and work on a new cold-turkey lifestyle.
The other option is to prepare early, buy a flat cap and join an obscure motoring club where you can engage with like-minded addicts.