According to this post by Joel Spolsky from March 2011:
We are trying to attract professional vehicle maintenance experts to a site which, like Stack Overflow, has deep, highly technical conversation.
But other related sites don't follow this restriction. There's a new proposal for Motorcyles which is "for motorcycle and scooter experts and enthusiasts." Bicycles is for "people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles" - and whaddya know, it's a healthy site.
I'm trying to participate actively but the truth is - the 4 questions I've asked so far are pretty much all the technical questions I can think of from the last two years of ownership. And I love cars.
According to the Area 51 Stats:
- We have a lot of visitors (people interested in cars?), but not very many questions
- We've answered 94% of questions
My interpretation is that we have enough mechanically-inclined users who can provide answers, but we're not getting enough questions because frankly people don't have technical questions about their cars that often (unless their cars are British-made).
I understand the original intent of this site, but it seems like most of the discussion took place over a year ago.
I think there are plenty of objective non-technical questions that if allowed would encourage people to participate more. Off the top of my head, how can you identify a real Shelby Cobra from a replica, and what are visible differences between a 1956 and 1957 Corvette? These are still questions that would require "expert" knowledge.
There was an Autos proposal that was deleted a while back, and currently there is a Cars proposal in the definition stage, so clearly there is interest. But why create a second site which will just divide the attention of users interested in cars, when we can just broaden the definition of this one?