Love reading TTAC – thanks for all the entertainment. Responding to your request for more stupid questions, I have one ripe for pontification.
I am a (male) small business owner with two small children and I’m looking for a new vehicle. I’m a big guy and with all the stuff kids have, I can’t get something too small. Nevertheless, in my search I’ve been toying lately with this question: What makes a car “manly/masculine” or “girly/feminine”? I understand that a two ton hunk of metal cannot in itself take on gender-specific characteristics, but there are definitely cars that women tend to call “cute” and cars that men tend to look at as “awesome”. Can anyone really look me in the eye and tell me that a VW Jetta or a small SUV strikes them as “manly”?
But picking such a car before hearing the reactions almost seems counter-intuitive. At first glance you may think that mustang coupes would be “manly”, but lately it seems that more women are buying them than men. SUVs are supposed to be big and tough, but more women use them for carpool duty than for off-road or towing duty. Same problem with trucks these days or, for that matter, just about any other segment. All the online lists of “manly” cars seem to detail special trims of expensive, ostentatious, or otherwise impractical vehicles with twice the horsepower I need. Below the 50k mark, are there any “manly” somewhat normal family-capable cars out there? Does a car have to have some exclusivity to it (i.e. either by price, customization, or a limited edition)? Is it a matter of power/engine/trim (i.e. Audi A4 vs. S4)? Color choice (interior/exterior)? Does size REALLY matter?
Are there elements of car design that tend to appeal more to men than women (or vice versa)?
I know, the answer can largely be in the eye of the beholder, and I’m interested in your opinion. Call me shallow, but I covet the envious stares of others on the road.
Fantastic question! It’s rather stupid, but guess who’s also feelin’ stupid???
Rarely have I coveted the “envious stares of others on the road”, which is probably why I have little desire for access to automaker’s press fleets. But I see your point: I referred to my Ford Ranger as a “truck” at the last Houston LeMons race and Murilee Martin said, “that doesn’t count as a truck, we’re in Texas!”
Murilee has a point, and so do you. Manly-Womanly cars exist at every price point: a used up Crown Vic Police Interceptor is worth as much a fully depreciated, neglected New Beetle at a car auction. You can buy a TRD-fettled Toyota truck for the price of a loaded Miata. A trophy wife’s Mercedes SL is on par with a fancyboy’s M5.
To use your own words, some men like “cute” just as much as women. Some women love “awesome” as much as men. I’ve seen many women enjoying HUMMER branded SUVs (see how I avoided the double entrende there?) and I know several men who drive Miatas. And those men are far from the racing, corner devouring type, mind you. Need I say more?
This is America, a place where people are free to enjoy just about anything they’d like! I take pleasure in making fun of people for their automotive choices, but I usually go beyond the gender thing. It’s more fun to make the tree-hugger-Prius joke, the old-man-Corvette joke, the overcompensating-Ed-Hardy-Aston-Martin joke…or the overcompensating-lifted-4×4-but-dirt-free-spotless-pickup joke.
And if that offended your delicate sensibilities, just remember we have a lot more serious problems in the world. Hate crimes, mass killings, finger-pointing in Washington, etc…the list just goes on and on.
Have fun with this one, Best and Brightest!
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