The two most watched car youtubers on the net do not hesitate to curl a little metal plates. Because they know the car cult is not dead … it’s still rolling.
They pass speed bumps at 170 kilometers per hour, turn a Fiat Multipla (rumored to be the ugliest car ever marketed) into an ultra-tuned race car or test the rarest and most incredible vehicles on the market … all in a good mood and schoolboy humor. “They” are Sylvain and Pierre, two YouTubers who run the Vilebrequin channel and have 1.83 million subscribers. Very little known by the mainstream media, the channel and its society, yet a real societal phenomenon totally against the current.
Vilebrequin, an ultra-dedicated web community
Vehicle enthusiasts or car / motorcycle journalists making videos to tell about their passion, it’s as old as the venerable Turbo program that was first aired on the M6 in 1987. But Vilebrequin is changing the game. In addition to being the most watched French YouTube channel dedicated to cars, it is the one with the most engaged web community today. In April 2022, the two friends celebrated their chain’s four years by filling the Grand Rex (seats were sold out in less than two hours). In November 2020, the videographers launched crowdfunding to raise 50,000 euros. The sum should just make it possible to modify the Fiat Multipla so that it gets an engine of 1,000 horsepower. In five days, they will collect 500,000 euros and finish the kitten with more than 1.1 million euros. But followers do not just donate money or watch their videos. They also dedicate a cult to the channel by creating memes on the largest current French-speaking neurchi (more than 156,000 members). (As a reminder, neurchis are private groups where the community creates entertaining content but also political content around a particular theme and aesthetics, ed.).
The reasons for success
It’s enough to dive a few minutes into their videos to understand what attracts in Vilebrequin. The duo maintains a totally pleasing and unrestrained relationship with the car. Starting in 2017, the channel grew slowly until April 2018, when they released the video that would make them successful. We learn how a 105er reacts when it takes a speed bump at 170 kilometers per hour. (Spoiler: wrong). This concept, quite close to what we could see on the Jackass show, brought them more than 350,000 subscribers in the following year. From there, they will develop the concept. They do not hesitate to modify or torture cars to expose them to stupid challenges: test the famous resistance of the panes of glass by shooting at them, spit the disgusting diesel out of an old tank to admire the smoke flag, drive with two grams of alcohol in the blood or brag with losing their driver’s license due to speeding in a convoy of luxury cars. Contrary to (literally) the road surveillance policy practiced in France, Vilebrequin brings a form of catharsis to their entire community.
The car culture has a bright future ahead of it
For Justin Poncet, the founder of the institute SCIENTIFIC OPINION who knows this society well for having studied his neurchi, Vilebrequin gathers in his society the French equivalent of the American “petrol heads”. This subculture, totally fascinated by engines and cars, is well represented in the media across the Atlantic with cult shows like Pimp my ride on MTV, or more recently Cars Masters or Street Customs. “For many people in France, the car is a cultural object across classes and across communities,” explains Justin Poncet. On Twitter, we are not at all aware of this reality, because it’s more about commuting (the art of commuting) or cycling. But on the YouTube channel as well as on Facebook we can see the impact of this culture.While they are trying to sell us the ecological transition and trying to make the internal combustion engine disappear, this community shows that the car is much more than a limitation in the travel logic , but a real pleasure if it will be hard to regret. ”
To be convinced of this, just look at the other YouTube channels operating in the car passion niche. The GMK channel (1.6 million subscribers) is full of sports driving. Thierry Vigneau Boiserie, (1.17 million subscribers) also deals with mechanical torture by sending his cars into walls.
As for Movie Car central (a smaller Youtube account with 309,000 subscribers), the concept is pretty simple: buy and recreate legendary cars from cinema and TV like Batmobile or K2000. In short, the love of things that go vroom vroom is far from dead. He’s still driving.