By on June 18, 2012

 

Brian writes:

Hi Sajeev,

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.

Sajeev Answers:

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!

Send your queries to [email protected] Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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66 Comments on “Piston Slap: Gender-based Automotive Discrimination?...”


  • avatar
    mikedt

    If it’s got a big engine and/or burns a lot of gas, then it’s manly. Everything else qualifies as girly.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Nope. More like woman are smart and avoid any brands with reliability issues. Check out the link:

      truecar.com/2012/05/10/10-most-popular-cars-for-moms/

      From this list, you can see that women do not prefer Detroit products.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    As far as this goes, I have a theory.

    An SUV is a lady one or a man one based on the following criteria according to me: Is it truck-based, or just a jacked up car.

    i.e. The newer exploders are not manly, because they are morphing into more of a crossover in function and losing their off-roading pretensions. A proper SUV is truck-based, with a longitudinal powertrain, and hopefully body-on-frame design in order to be manly. once you move to a transvere motor, your vehicle moves to CUV territory, and is therefore not manly anymore.

    By this criteria, You need a Tahoe or equivalent for a large SUV. if you are going smaller, a Toyota 4runner, or Nissan Xterra is a proper SUV. In the Jeep lineup, that means that “proper” consists of Wrangler, and GC.

    If image is that important to you though OP, I would go for the 4runner with some sort of SR5 package. Those things are bad-ass.

    And pickups are always considered manly. Convertibles are generally considere girly (though I will argue that as an S2000 owner). And any car that you can say “because racecar,” though you will still always have trouble with convincing people your NA Miata is manly even with a rollbar and harnesses and a fire-breathing turbo setup putting out 250whp (9:1 lb/hp ratio FTW). And then they’ll call you poor too because you’re racing a miata and not a corvette.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I see more women driving Tahoe’s and Suburbans nowadays. I think BOF and RWD is not enough nowadays. Also, doesn’t the Wrangler now come in a 2WD flavor? Definitely NOT manly to be rocking a 2WD jeep.

      Here would be what I would consider to make a truck manly. Size doesn’t really count.

      1. Does it have Leather – NOT MANLY
      2. Does it have Vinyl – VERY MANLY
      3. If Cloth, does it look like an Indian Blanket? – EVERY BIT AS MANLY AS THE VINYL
      4. Have you slept in it in the Woods? Very Manly
      5. Have you slept in a tent mounted on top of it? CLINT EASTWOOD MANLY
      6. Inline 6 motor? – Oh so Manly!
      7. 4X4? Possibly Manly
      8. 4X4? is controlled via a Transfercase with a big honkin lever and a couple of speeds at a minum and Locks – MANLY
      9. 4X4? is full time and works like your Meterosexual neighbor’s Imprezza – NOT MANLY
      10. 4X4? has solid axles out front and Back – VERY MANLY
      11. Said Solid axles are of the Full Float Variety? – Chuck Norris Manly.
      12. All of the above with a Diesel? – Chuck Norris and Bear Grylls invite you to their Super Bowl BBQ Manly
      13. All that plus a manual trans and Diff Locks? – Hank Williams Junior personally shows up at the above BBQ to sing the old Monday Night Football theme and brings the beer manly

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Best post ever. If they did Comment of the day here, this would be the nominee.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_Miata

        As a counterpoint I offer my wife’s former car, a 1967 Land Rover 109 Station Wagon that still had it’s original paint job forty years later (worn through to the aluminum in places) – aside from Diesel engine, it fits all of your criteria, including the inline 6. My wife bought it because she thought it was “cute” – just goes to show one man’s manly is another woman’s cuddle toy.

        And yes, I drove my Miata while she owned the Land Rover – what’s it to you?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        I second the nomination.

      • 0 avatar
        xantia10000

        Haha nice test. But I think a Jetta SportWagen TDI with the VW V-Tex (pleather) passes some of your criteria :)

      • 0 avatar
        phargophil

        YEE-HAW!! I knew it!! My ’81 Eagle Kammback is manly!!

        (Great post!)

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I see more women driving Tahoe’s and Suburbans nowadays. I think BOF and RWD is not enough nowadays. Also, doesn’t the Wrangler now come in a 2WD flavor? Definitely NOT manly to be rocking a 2WD jeep.

      Here would be what I would consider to make a truck manly. Size doesn’t really count.

      1. Does it have Leather – NOT MANLY
      2. Does it have Vinyl – VERY MANLY
      3. If Cloth, does it look like an Indian Blanket? – EVERY BIT AS MANLY AS THE VINYL
      4. Have you slept in it in the Woods? Very Manly
      5. Have you slept in a tent mounted on top of it? CLINT EASTWOOD MANLY
      6. Inline 6 motor? – Oh so Manly!
      7. 4X4? Possibly Manly
      8. 4X4? is controlled via a Transfercase with a big honkin lever and a couple of speeds at a minum and Locks – MANLY
      9. 4X4? is full time and works like your Meterosexual neighbor’s Imprezza – NOT MANLY
      10. 4X4? has solid axles out front and Back – VERY MANLY
      11. Said Solid axles are of the Full Float Variety? – Chuck Norris Manly.
      12. All of the above with a Diesel? – Chuck Norris and Bear Grylls invite you to their Super Bowl BBQ Manly
      13. All that plus a manual trans and Diff Locks? – Hank Williams Junior personally shows up at the above BBQ to sing the old Monday Night Football theme and brings the beer manly

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      My sister just got a lifted V10 powered Dodge pickup. This is the same sister who has finger nails long enough to considered knives by the TSA and wears heels that are lifted as much as the truck. You just can’t declare any car a “man’s car” or “woman’s car”. It’s all about the individual.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I guess I don’t find any part of a BOF SUV manly, because the VAST majority of the time the only thing I see these vehicles doing is driving to the grocery store or to McDonald’s. Very, very rarely are any of these things towing anything, and half the time when they are, they’re towing something way too big for the vehicle they have.

      I once saw a guy tow a 20′ boat on a late 80’s F-150. He was doing 50 in a 65 (where everybody does 70-80), and I’m guessing it wasn’t because of lack of will to go that speed. ;)

  • avatar
    redav

    It might be good to just publish the top/bottom 10 cars per sales demographics. For example, the Bug would probably be one of the highest for women (something like 60% of buyers are women). I honestly have no idea what is the highest for the other side.

    I do know that automakers dread the perception of a female-oriented car, because like being a tom-boy, it’s more socially acceptable for a women to drive a ‘man’s car’ than a man to drive a ‘woman’s car.’

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      redav,

      I’d like to see the top/bottom 10 by gender also, but I have to question how that data is gathered. My wife and I have our vehicles titled in both of our names, but I found that which name was “first” on the list often determined whose car it was in the eyes of the DMVs, and honestly the order was fairly random.

      That said, I had heard somewhere that upwards of 80% of Ford Edge buyers were women. My bro-in-law’s wife has one. It’s girly primarily that it appears to address women’s stereotypical insecurities without being a lick more practical than a Focus Wagon (or maybe a Taurus).

      I’ve known two guys in recent years that drove Miatas. One guy drives his as a more fiscally prudent and practical alternative to daily-driving his Tundra or his Cobra. The other guy drove a Miata when his hairdresser wife needed their CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I’ve seen such a list–the VW EOS, Tiguan and (new) Beetle all skew very heavily toward female ownership.

      Even worrying about this = not very manly. Drive what suits your needs. Given that there are (as far as I know) few if any cars still sold in the US without power steering and brakes, there isn’t much out there that requires brute strength to drive.

      (Said as a straight male driver of a Subaru Outback wagon (with cargo-compartment dog gate), fully aware of the demographic skew of Subaru wagons with dog gates.)

  • avatar
    poggi

    My wife drove a ’04 WRX and loved it. When trading, she leaned toward a Subaru Legacy or Outback. After several test drives, I asked her what she really wanted. She said she really loved her WRX; so, she now drives a 2012 WRX 5-door. I wouldn’t perceive it to be a “girly” car. Feels pretty “manly” to me.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    If the car isn’t pink and doesn’t have a bud vase on the dash, it isn’t a “girly” car. Buy whatever suits you, but if your wife isn’t happy, you’re not going to be happy, either. Just remember that bit of truth, no matter how manly you are.

    Wifey drives a 2002 CR-V, I drive a 2004 Impala and both of us drive a granite gray 2007 MX5 Sport 5 speed.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    You could look into an Impala – big cabin, big trunk, and big V6. It has cop car looks and cheap enough that you could buy some outfits from the Village People for an even more manly look.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    My advice would be to stand naked in front of a mirror and check whether or not your genitals are on the outside; then go out and buy whichever car suits your needs and budget.

    Seriously, nobody who matters will give a second thought as to what car you drive.

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      I agree. What if you like a pink new Beetle convertible? Does it somehow affect your gender in any way? I think it’s macho and manly if you have enough confidence to buy and drive whatever it is that you fancy. Screw everyone else! In this subject women typically have the right attitude. Would a women shy away from getting a certain car because it might be considered too macho? I think not. It’s usually men who seem to feel less secure with his masculinity.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        I don’t think that a Beetle convertible of any colour is the sort of car that anyone actually needs.

        Having said that though, if I saw a bloke driving one, I would assume that it was the property of a female friend or relative.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        How much of what we own or bought today have anything to do with ‘needs’? I bet most things are bought because of ‘want’.

  • avatar
    njd

    Guys who feel the need to judge everyone else’s cars as manly/girly have small penis syndrome. I mean really, how completely insecure do you have to be (and how little do you have to know about cars) to actually think that something like a Miata is a girls car and something like a Challenger is a man’s car?

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Every since acquiring my 4Runner last May it’s amazing how much bigger my testiclay have become. In all seriousness though, this kind of thinking will drive you crazy. No matter the vehicle you get there’s always something that comes along that is more masculine, faster, more luxurious etc. etc. The important thing is what matters to you and forget about what other people think.

  • avatar
    DeadFlorist

    All new cars are girly. They scream, “I have no wrenching skills, so I’m going to pay out the nose for transport.” You want something reliable there, Nancy? Pull your tampon out and win a rust bucket Studebaker pickup in a poker game or take a varmint-chewed DeSoto in trade for performing a Manly Task, such drilling a well or satisfying a lonely lady. MacGyver it into running condition with a set of vice grips, some birch bark, and your steely resolve. Throw some straw in back of the pickup or an old horse blanket on the bare back seat springs of the DeSoto for the kids. Beat them if they complain. They’ll thank you later when they don’t become Miata-driving commie peter puffers.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Like many classification systems, classifications along gender lines are not always easy to define. The simple reason is that gender is a constantly shifting notion that changes across time and place. What counted as masculine or feminine during the war of 1812 was likely very different from what might count as masculine and feminine today. In addition, what counts as masculine and feminine may vary not only across time, but across regions, groups, and classes as well. Thus what counts as masculine within one region, group, or class may differ dramatically from the expectations of another region, group, or class (e.g. France vs. Iran vs. Japan vs. Finland vs. U.S., East Coast vs. West Coast vs. Mid-West, Suburbia vs. ‘the Hood,’ and so on). This is even further complicated by the fact that gender boundaries (like many real-life boundaries) tend to be blurred, and may only be vivid at the extremes.

    Put simply, what one person may envy another may scorn. If you’re really fixated on the stares of others (as you confess to be), then you need to first identify the group you want to be identified with, and then drive whatever they want to drive. I personally don’t think this is a good basis for choosing a vehicle (or much of anything, for that matter), but I’m not the one writing the letter.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    One car a lot of people seem to think is girly is the Fiat 500, however, it seems as many men drive one as women, or close to it.

    The same seems to hold true whether here in N. America or in Europe.

    That said, I’ve never prescribed to the notion of what’s manly nor what’s girly to be honest. I drive what I drive as long as I love it, I’m happy and that’s what matters in the end.

    I’ve seen guys who drive the New Beetle. Now, SOME cars get the reputation as being more Gay/Lesbian than others due to how many who actually buy them. The late 90’s Legacy Outback wagons tended to be popular with many Lesbian as it’s big enough to carry their large dogs everywhere and still be practical for anything else.

    Dykes are known for driving battered older trucks, such as Rangers and the like but really, I think what makes some cars appear more girly is the overall design aesthetic, some have much softer lines that can be perceived as more feminine though that may not necessarily make it a girly car per se.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    There’s a segment of the population who cares what others think, and that’s ok. For the OP, I think the real question is whether the quest for envious stares is really whether you have narcissistic tendencies or not. Self awareness is not a bad thing.

    Personally, I’m firmly in the NPD category and love driving high status cars and being the best dressed because I never have to lose face; it’s like comparing phalluses when yours is the longest. Games are best played when you know you’ll never lose.

    If you want car that’s going to give you that feeling of joy, it’s best to allocate your resources towards cars that give you that bang for the money, for the longest period of time possible. The gender question is just a distraction.

    Have a go:
    http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm

  • avatar
    mitchw

    There’s no car like an older Miata to bring out the sexual insecurities/misogyny of the All-Butch-American-Male, or that will get women’s heads to turn, their bodies to twist.

    Ask me how I know.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      One thing I love about Miatas is that they’ve somehow remained a best-kept-secret, despite being the world’s best-selling 2 seat convertible and most-tracked car. I hope it stays this way, because I love that there’s a pile of gently-driven-on-Sunday examples for me to buy up cheap and have reliable fun with. Insurance is low because the ricer boys think they’re gay, and most people who buy them don’t run them hard.

      It’s always fun when someone makes comments about mine being girly and then I mention how I bolted on the springs/shocks/sways/chassis braces myself to improve handling on track days. Guys who brag about how manly their cars are really hate to admit that they pay someone else to change their oil…

      Oh, and girls really do like riding in it on a sunny day with the top down.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Surprisingly enough people say the same thing about my S2k, with which I do the same.

        Plus the wife very much does love some top-down driving. And she especially likes riding shotgun for autocross runs.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      I still think the first gen Miatas are the best of the bunch, along with the first gen Civics, Accords and Rabbits.

      If I were old enough when the last three were still new, I’d have had one of them as a driver.

      Then I’d have had a first gen Acura Integra when they were new as I WAS old enough to have purchased one (though not monied enough to buy one when new).

      Instead, I ended up finally having my Civic, a second gen hatchback through most of the ’90’s and now drive an ’03 Mazda P5 that I bought back in January to replace my dying truck.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    About the closest dividing line that I can imagine is the form vs. function question. Manly makes function precendent, girly chooses form. For example, in Brian’s case a Flex is manly since it puts function ahead of form. The girly view is that it looks too much like a classic station wagon, and no matter how functional it might be it offends the girly sensibility. This form vs. function issue also holds true for the previous post about pickups and convertibles.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    There’s a hierarchy of sorts, where cars are valued differently. Like in real life where masculinity always are valued to be on top. Like how white males are valued differently to black males, or even white females. That means what white males want, everybody else on the ladder wants. And that’s why women covet masculine cars.

    Masculine -> Better
    Girly/Gay -> Worse
    Mommymobile -> Don’t touch with a ten foot pole.

    So, women wants masculine cars, just because they are masculine. Because who wants to be considered “a little girl” only driving around in girly cars? It’s gotten to the silly point where femininity is valued so little an entire niche of cars have been erased on girly issues. I’m talking about the emasculated mommymobile, the station wagon and the minivan. Nobody touches that with a ten foot pole. Perhaps they are afraid of cooties or something…

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      We just had a minivan as a rental. I loved it. My wife was mortified by thefact that someone she knows might have seen her driving a minivan.

      We will very much own a crossover when we have kids based on this 2 week experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        The only beef with minivans I have now is that they are no longer “mini”. I saw a new Oddessey parked a WalMart a few days ago and just the width made me think of some of those 60s Lincolns and Mercuries that were barely legal on US roads because of sheer width.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Drive what suits your needs, Man.

    I get annoyed that certain people won’t drive certain vehicles because of connotation. Women who won’t drive minivans or station wagons because of some negative stereotype they have, so they want SUVs and CUVs that generally are not as space efficent or fuel efficent as the alternative vehicles.

    Or conversely men who drive around in empty pickup trucks when something else would better suit their needs. Men who critcize Miatas as “gay.” Get over it people.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    About 20 years ago I was sitting around talking with my new boss (ex-Air Force guy) and the discusion turned to this very same topic. He stated that while stationed in Japan there was a engine mechanic that carried a purple lunch box everyday to work. After a couple smartarse comments about it, he calmly stood up and said that the little lunch box was a gift from his 4 year daughter and that he was secure enough in his sexuality to carry it. And that he was proud that she got him a useful gift for work. That shut everybody up!
    Point is – don’t judge.

  • avatar
    spartan_mike

    Four letters: HEMI

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    I will admit that most,but,not all folks that comment about my 1991 Miata BRG are women. When cleaned up and shiny it is a good looking little car. Since I am 70 years old driving what is to them a toy car I am as non threatening as you can get and still be male. Since they think my car looks nice they feel comfortable enough to stop and ask about it. That is rare these days, and for good reason. I get to spread the Miata gospel and meet people I otherwise wouldn’t. I have owned 500 HP fire breathers and Bug Eye Sprites. All have been enjoyable in their own way. The size of the car doesn’t indicate the size of your balls.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Exactly. Girly cars also make the best chick magnets. Drive an M3 or GT500 and you’ll just get 12 year old boys leaving finger prints all over it. It does seem like more new Miatas are piloted women and guys patiently wait until they hit the used car market.

      I know it’s a silly game we play, branding one car girly or gay, as well as calling lifted 4X4s penile enhancements, but yeah, why not? It’s all in good fun.

      People judge, it’s what we’re good at. In caveman days, judging others correctly meant survival. A wolf could be your new hunting companion or it could kill you.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Being a man means not asking questions like this one.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    What would Vanilla Dude say?

  • avatar
    carguy

    Masculinity isn’t derived from associating with particular brands or modes of transportation. If you’re a good father to your children and a good husband to your wife then you have passed the test of manliness with flying colors. If you think you need a jacked up truck or muscle car (or are contemplating some tribal tattoos) to make yourself feel a little more secure then I would urge you to engage in a little deeper analysis of that compulsion before acting on it.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    I agree with the “drive your own thing” crowd. However, there are a few vehicles that are classically male:

    1. Black-on-black large Cadillac sedans (no coupes, no wagons, and no CTS, dammit)
    2. Black-on-black Tahoes
    3. Stripper, base, dark grey F150s of any year with a huge tow package

    Notice I didn’t mention sports cars; they beg the question. Richy-rich Euro sedans are too fussy.

    Large Cadillac sedans, driven fast and polite, always get respect. Ditto the Tahoe and F150. You can walk up to any of them in a 7-11 parking lot and no punk kids will be resting their hand on them. If they are, stare them in the face with dead eyes until they move.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    My test is how closely it resembles a suppository. Lots of painful edges (e.g., Chevy Z71)? Manly. Ovoid beluga curves (e.g., RX300, SC430)? Girly.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/most-manly-cars/

    the numbers don’t lie. too bad very few of those are under $50k.

    I’d wonder what the numbers for cars like WRX/STi’s, EVO’s, 500 Abarths, Civic Si’s, and Mazdaspeed3’s are. Same for the upcoming Focus ST once it starts selling.

  • avatar
    George B

    For family vehicles, dark colors, can haul stuff, and sort of boxy looking is more masculine than light colors, small cargo area, and excessive curves. A dark brown Ford Flex is more masculine looking than a light blue Toyota Rav-4, for example. Any car becomes significantly more masculine if you use it to haul anything with its own internal combustion engine, even if its just a lawn mower. Man points go up for any vehicle like a pickup truck or a Jeep that looks at home out in the country with mud on it. Man points go down if a truck is too nice to get dirty.

  • avatar
    Yoss

    “Call me shallow, but I covet the envious stares of others on the road.”

    If you want something that stands out on the road (in a good way) it’s got to be something you don’t see everyday. I don’t think twice about most modern trucks, sports, or muscle cars when I encounter them on the street. They blend into the known traffic scenery. If it’s simply about being noticed your best bet is getting something fairly exotic or a classic. Everybody notices that, not just the car guys. Obviously that classic isn’t going to be a terribly practical daily driver though. Drive whatever suits your needs on a daily basis and get yourself an eye magnet for the weekend.

    I get thumbs up, comments, and sales inquiries pretty regularly on my old truck and it’s not even anything terribly special. Just a 76 Ford F100 in nice shape. The burnt orange paint with the faintly ridiculous Explorer stripe package probably do extra duty to get peoples’ attention though.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Parenthood has taught me that this question doesn’t matter.

    I look manly carrying a diaper bag and my wife’s purse, because I’m literally carrying the load for my family. And because my manliness is self evident.

    I guess this question mattered to me once, back when I was a boy.

    The manliest car on the planet is the mininvan. It’s practical. It’s not vain. And it’s good for taking care of your family. That’s about as manly as you can get. A vehicle that’s purchased for other reasons might be a lot of fun, but it sure ain’t manly.

    I’ll happily drive a any car (including a “chick car”) any day of the week — just so long as it helps me take care of my family. Guys who are obsessed with the trappings of manliness are missing the point.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Nice letter..

    Some commenters are kidding themselves here. Oh drive what you want – sure good advice. That doesn’t mean a CR-V is manly. Taking care of your family is manly. Sure it is – but again doesn’t mean driving a volkswagen bug that your sister gave you will make you seem manly. People will see your car and think its your wifes.

    To answer the OP question what makes a car seem manly if we PERCIEVE it to be a car that men drive. It doesn’t really matter if they do or do not. The rule of thumb is the more likely a man is the driver the more manly the vehicle is in our perception.

    A Miata is a good example. It’s actually one of the most raced cars in the world. Alot of men drive Miata’s and whenever this comes up they will defend themselves as not being a gay hairdresser. It doesn’t matter most people WRONGLY guess that Miata’s are driven by hairdressers.

    If you think about this a bit you will see how well my test works. Most people percieve that truckers are men – especially truckers that driving manually shifted 18 wheelers. So that’s manly vehicle. Are there some female truckers who drive such a vehicle. Probably but the number is ver small.

    Jeeps. Why are Jeeps more manly then say CR-Vs. Because people really do drive Jeep Wranglers with guns strapped on them in remote parts of Africa. These Jeeps used like Jeep vehicles give a kinda halo effect to the brand making it seem a BIT More manly.

    Aggressive sports cars are another example (say the new viper) sure some women like cars but men tend to LOVE cars. Therefore men are more likely to drive aggressive expensive sports cars – or at least we think they are. And this is why a stick shift Boss mustang has more manly credibliity then a v6 auto. Which one is more likely to be driven by a man in our mind?

    Work trucks – again big pickup trucks we percieve them to be driven mostly by men – and so these are seen as manly.

    Dodge Chargers – cool aggressive looking cars often driven by aggresive cops (or so we think) therefore they are manly.

    It’s not really a question of form over function. No one really needs a 1971 Chevelle SS. But plenty of men have them. It’s a if you had to guess is this car driven by a man or woman?

    The answer to that question determines a vehicles maniless.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Ignore us, except for the mechanics, and buy want you want. Blazing your own path is the ultimate in manliness. For single guys buy something expensive. You’ll be on the razor’s edge of he’s rich or he’s a douche.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sometimes I worry that my cars make me look poor, so I’ve taken to wearing a top hat and monocle.

    I also keep fancy mustards in the glove box.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    What makes a car Effeminate or not for me is styling, generally a car with less style with look manly while something like the Juke is clearly meant for the blonde female.

    At the same time though I try not to judge people on their cars, more so on their driving.

    But if anyones going to get a car to haul their kids in they should buy a wood-trimmed station wagon, for me nothing says “A Successful Dad” more than that.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Anymore, there are very few manly vehicles. If you built it or rebuilt t, you win. If you can afford a six figure car, the stares will be yours (along with hate and derision from losers who likely will never be able to even buy one one, nevertheless afford one and a few guys who won, see above, but still have bad attitudes).

    The problem is that women are now members of whatever club they want to join, and I don’t mind that if they are fun and easy on the eyes. So, there are chic cars, and everything else. What used to be the ultimate Mom car has now become mostly male driven because women don’t want to be seen in wagons anymore.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I think Ryoku has hit the nail on the proverbial head. Successful dads are family men. And nothing is more family oriented and manly than a station wagon. Sadly these don’t really exist anymore.

    Isn’t there a Caravan that is supposed to be “manly” R/T version I think.

  • avatar
    adame24

    About 10 years ago I helped a woman in her 70s carry her shopping bags to her car at the job I had then. She just spent about $3000 on cashmere sweaters so I knew she had money. As I’m walking to her car I’m expecting a luxury car, like S Class or 7 series. She drove a brand new at the time e39 M5. Those only came with manuel transmissions. So she was not just driving it because she liked the color or the wheels. This to me was a masculine car and granny drove it.

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