I've never had my own car. I did grow up in the (chicago) suburbs, but I also went to boarding school for high school. So unlike my New Yorker friends who still don't have driver's licenses now in their mid-20s, I did get one when I was 15, but I also never had my own car since they were banned on my campus. So....oil changes? tire pressure? car insurance? Totally clueless. But I can say...driving by myself in my (parent's) car were definitely the best moments in my young life.
I don't think I can feel freer than when I am by myself, in a car, cruising down a highway. I literally become overwhelmed with possibility. I can go ANYWHERE I WANT! Which, ironically, is what my native New Yorker friends believe about the MTA, which I think is a huge load of bullshit. You can't go anywhere you want...you have to go where the MTA goes! Which is an impressive amount of places for a public transportation system, yes, but you're still subject to the MTA's whims and follies, which are vast and many.
I hear a lot about car culture/traffic/smog and LA, but I don't completely buy it. I think partially because I need my personal space...I have that invisible box around me. If a stranger enters it I immediately freeze up and am ready to retaliate at any second if they decide to accidentally brush against me. I've been in traffic for 2 hours when it should have taken 30 minutes many times in Chicago, and it never got on my nerves. But then again--I never had to drive in 2 hours of traffic to go to and from work everyday, either.