By on April 13, 2014

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It’s just another day in the grand city of Lexington, Kentucky, a rose of a town in the middle of a commonwealth full of honest, hardworking, middle-class Americans. Lexington has a higher-than-average household income combined with a lower-than-average cost of living, making it a great place to be able to afford a nice car. It’s also home to over three hundred horse farms, which means one is just as likely to see an S Class rolling down Broadway as a King Ranch F-150 with a horse trailer attached to it. You won’t see many true exotics, but they love their Kentucky-built Corvettes, and some of the cleanest examples anywhere can be found here.

But on this day, there’s one car that draws more attention than any of them.

This yellow preening peacock of a ride causes random passersby to give the thumbs up, fellow drivers to ask questions at stoplights, and children to literally cheer and applaud. Depressed fortysomethings behind the wheel of CUVs and minivans costing as much or more look upon it with envy the color of bluegrass. Young women exiting fashion boutiques straighten their posture and crane their necks to get a glance at the driver. Import boy racers roll down their windows and ask to hear the engine roar.

It’s my 2013 Boss 302, and I love it.

My very first article on these virtual pages nearly two years ago dealt with my decision to trade in my Pontiac G8 GT on this very same car. The G8 was, in many ways, the dream car if one were to buy a car based on what the majority of TTAC commenters claim that they want—it was fast, capable, and virtually invisible. At best, people thought it was a BMW 5 Series, and at worst, people thought it was a larger G6. In the three plus years that I owned it, I got fewer than ten compliments on it from strangers.

Fast forward to today. It’s impossible to drive a School Bus Yellow Boss 302 and not have somebody comment on it. Trips to the grocery store are often delayed because I come back to my car to find admirers circling it. Stops at the local gas station are accompanied by longing looks from fellow petrol purchasers. Nearly every driver on the road of any car with any sporting intent wants to race at every stoplight. I had a parking lot attendant at the airport post photos of my car to Instagram. Admittedly, there are times when this is annoying.

However, given the choice between the two scenarios, I’ll take the latter every time. Although I may not want to admit it, I view my car as an extension of my own personality. It’s the second largest check I write every month—shouldn’t I be passionate about it? I take pride in the fact that I was able to buy my dream car at a relatively young age. When people compliment it, or notice it, is it so wrong to enjoy that?

The comments section of this and many other automotive blogs would seem to suggest so. “Who would buy a car based on what other people think?” is a refrain that is repeated again and again and again. Is it wise to buy a car based solely on the opinion of others, to opt for a model other than the one that you would personally prefer due to what amounts to grown-up peer pressure? Of course not. To do that would be to deny one’s own self worth.

But to pretend that we just don’t care? Come on. Be real. To act like we don’t care what the world thinks of our car is equivalent to walking out the door every day without making an attempt to match our shoes and our belts. Sure, kids and people who have no ambition do it, but grown-ups don’t. The vast majority of people in the business world dress in a way that signifies their position in life. I choose to wear Hart Schaffner Marx suits and sportscoats and Allen Edmonds shoes almost exclusively in the workplace. Why? Because it shows people around me that I am a (moderately) successful man with a sense of style. Why would I risk that professional image by walking out to the parking lot and getting into a 1996 Camry? To act as though I don’t realize my car is making a statement about me—well, that would just be an act of social unawareness.

Perhaps there’s a sense of jealousy or envy involved. If one can’t afford his or her dream car, or perhaps chooses to place other financial investments first, then maybe it’s easier to say that he or she just doesn’t care what people think rather than admit that he still lusts for that 3 series BMW that he mocks his coworker for leasing. Or to shout “DEPRECIATION” from the top of his lungs while secretly crunching numbers to see if he, too, can afford a new E class like his boss just bought.

Maybe you’re just so hipster that by buying a 1998 Impreza you’re actually caring desperately about what people think of your car—that you’re making a passive-aggressive statement with your attempted non-statement. Or, like the social coastal elite, you’re driving that hybrid so that you can humblebrag about your carbon footprint. Regardless of why you make the statement you make, you’re making a statement.

The two most recent car purchases by TTAC contributors were recounted in articles that both rank among the ten most commented posts in the site’s history. It’s truly amazing how much we seem to car about the purchases of others while simultaneously claiming that we don’t care about what others think of ours.

So I’ll admit it—I care what people think about my car. Will you?

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183 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: I Care What People Think of My Car, and So Do You...”


  • avatar

    Perhaps where you’re from, people fawn over a Boss 302, but in Houston it’s a high schooler’s car and no one cares. It takes something very special (like the 3-wheel Morgan I saw two weeks ago) to make people stop in a parking lot. Take that with a grain of salt – your surroundings matter.

    Then again, you bought a screaming yellow Boss. You’re asking for attention. Okay fine, we were all young once and I get that. Most people get older and choose less “visible” cars because our ego no longer controls us. We are comfortable in who we are and feel no need to broadcast our personalities. And then again, some of us make money and buy red convertible Ferraris. Who do you want to be?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Where Bark and I went to high school, there was a Berlinetta Boxer in the parking lot. I’m not even sure it was the most expensive car there.

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      Oh shut up with your high and mighty “maturity”.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “We are comfortable in who we are and feel no need to broadcast our personalities.”

      I think you have this backwards. I assume anyone driving a yellow mustang, lime green S5, grape ice or whatever sonic, or similarly attention grabbing car is pretty comfortable in their own skin.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      “We are comfortable in who we are and feel no need to broadcast our personalities.”

      And yet somehow “we” are either a year away from graduating or a year away from retiring.

    • 0 avatar
      lmike51b

      I’m a current and native Houstonian. I don’t see many of these. But when I do, I know I want one!

    • 0 avatar

      The reactions of others are always funny:

      Drive the Golf. No one moves over in traffic. Minivans dog you in the left lane. Folks do, however, let you into lines in traffic.

      Drive the BMW. Folks scatter from the left lane. No one comes near you. Kids in Fart Can Hondas try to race you. No one lets you into lines in traffic.

      My driving style doesn’t change much….but it is a different road depending on the car.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I’m wondering what color your G8 was? MY yellow Elva Courier got lots attention followed by “What is it?”

    • 0 avatar
      Redshift

      My 04 RX8 still somehow gets a lot of curios attention and “is that a…?” which, unfortunately probably speaks more to the success Mazda had with the car than anything else.
      I’ve even come back to people having their picture taking with it. Kind of baffles me.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I”ve had many a sports cars with different earthtone colors but my yellow Saturn Sky has people pulling out their cameras and little kids pointing.

      • 0 avatar
        talkstoanimals

        There’s no question that color has a lot to do with it. My yellow ’01 S2000 draws a shocking amount of attention and commentary. Pretty much every time I drive it something notable happens in the “attention from others” category. I’ve had young women yell compliments (as a middle-aged bald guy, that’s a particularly surprising experience…), guys swerve through traffic to ask what it is, and and found people waiting in parking lots to talk to me about it. It’s all a little baffling considering it’s a 13 year old Honda at core.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          I had to shoo away gawkers for months when I got my yellow Protege5. It was one of the first on the road, so it was a unique car plus the loud color. The questions at red lights & parking lots eventually died down, but I’m not as sure about the impact. When I run into friends whom I haven’t seen in years, they often first ask “Do you still have that little yellow car?” Whether the car was an expression of my personality or not, or if it was attempt gain attention, it became my identifying characteristic in their eyes.

          But perhaps more simply, you buy/keep things because you like them, and people really aren’t all that different. So if you like it, others probably do, too.

          While that phenomenon is basic human nature, we live in an era where many feel such a need for individuality that they glory in whatever they like that others do not because it makes them feel special & unique. This behavior overshoots the notion of liking what you like because you like it, and instead falls right back into the field of letting yourself be defined by others. (‘Being different’ is not true uniqueness because not being like someone else still depends on them for the foundation of the definition, i.e., the hipster dilemma.)

        • 0 avatar
          VenomV12

          My buddy has a bunch of cars and one of them is a yellow S2000 and it gets more attention than damn near any other car out there. I don’t know what it is with the S2000, but everyone of them looks brand new, no matter how old it is. It has to be one of the best bang for your buck attention getting cars out there. If you want to get a lot of attention, not be thought of as a pr!ck *cough cough Lamborghini and Ferrari* and not spend a lot of money, then the S2000 or a Lotus Exige are the best buys out there. The S2000 was also luckily blessed with not being stamped as a chick car, which helps.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …my wife’s MX-5, school bus yellow with black racing stripes, garners noticeably more attention than my elise in a subdued and nondescript titanium: i think color indeed has a lot to do with it…

      • 0 avatar
        Redshift

        Very likely. My RX8 is blue, but a very bright one that does have some pop. A friend of mine with a silver RX in a much smaller town than I live on gets nowhere near the attention.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Agreed… our yellow MR2 Spyder gets attention everywhere we go, people stop us to ask what it is, some of the less car-aware think its some kind of exotic. I think the color has a lot to do with it.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    Great article Bark, and I agree with most of it.
    The only place I struggle is as a moderately successful man with no sense of style. So, shoes and belt you say?

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      I, too, loved this article. I think that there are people who truly don’t care what people think, however: the Beige Toyonda drivers, the appliance-car (Civirolla) drivers, and the mid ’80’s post-malaise-era metal. The people aren’t reading TTAC to begin with, so everyone here must care.

      The car is an overt, always-visible billboard for yourself and extension of your personality, even if it says, “I just can’t be bothered to care.”

      The DrWife and I loved having our bright YELLOW IROC-Z with the lumpy idle and 3.73 Posi rear-end while we were in graduate/medical school. In truth, we _did_ care what other people thought: we didn’t want to be lumped in with the entitled Dr-Children priks who got into school by a phone call, driving daddy’s recently retired 750i or S-Klasse or Stuttgart leftovers…

      Now that we can afford to drive what we want (within reason…) I drive the ultimate absent-minded professor’s car (Saab 9-5) complete with my tweedy cap and round sunglasses, while the wife has two Jeeps, the JGC Overland for everyday driving (which she swears will never leave our inventory) and a KJ in which we do our really dirty 4-wheeling and camping.

      The DrWife still has her last US Forest Service 4-wheeling permit firmly attached to the windshield of the Overland to separate herself from the poseurs in the LR’s and Escalades in the parking lot of the facilty.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I find that this article highlights a character defect that many people have; people who hold out the type of car they drive as the primary or a very important tool to impress others have unfortunately been the victims of marketing/media brainwashing, a pnd have succumbed to a level of superficiality that is rather sad.

        I drive what feels good to drive, is reliable enough for me, and is within a price range I deem prudent. I literally give no pause to stop ampnd think of how others will view me when making my vehicle purchase decisions – none, nada, zilch.

        As a general rule, and not as an exception, the wealthiest people I know drive very plain pickup trucks and cars. When I write “wealthy,” I’m talking about absolute net positive (of debt) multi millionaires (including a few who have amassed a true 8 figures of liquidity/wealth). This includes a farmer in Inlay City who grows soybeans and legumes on 3,300 acres of paid for farmland, who drives a late 90s Ford F Series pickup, and a real estate developer who owns over 4,000 apartments and drives a Buick Park Avenue.

        As a general rule, a d not as an exception, the most I de ted people I know, who are very superficial and tend to be “promoter” type personalities, drive the most expensive/exotic vehicles. MANY of these people have a professional/business lifespan of 5 to 15 years before the inevitable bankruptcy or fleeing the jurisdiction (creditors and/or law enforcement) happens. The exception here is a few highly paid physicians, such as anesthesiologists and surgeons, who may drive expensive German sedans, or genuinely successful partners at successful law firms, who may do do the same -‘but I’m not sure these types are what I’d call “wealthy” versus well-compensated, and even here, I know of at least one example of each that drives a very modest vehicle (I am related to a surgeon who drives a mid 2000s Lexus and I know a very senior partner specializing in tax law & estates & trusts at a law firm with its HQ in Boston and offices in Detroit that drives a Saturn Aura).

        As a final note, a Mustang, no matter the trim level, model year or what’s under the hood, is more closely associated with mullets or ethnic street racing where I live (and I live in S.E. Michigan), than as a symbol of status, success or financial wealth.

        This op/ed was quite lame, Bark, IMO.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          I think Bark shared a personal observation about his own views, presented it with humility, and took the risk of embarrassment by admitting to his own himan frailty. Based on the comments, he evidently struck a sympathetic chord with at least several other people.

          I respect what he’s done. I think insulting him and claiming to be above it all is piously self-serving, given that you claim to simultaneously be oblivious to the whole topic yet meticulously familiar with the self-expression aspects of everyone else’s automotive choice. To re-coin a phrase, that’s rather lame.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          >>I find that this article highlights the character defect that many people have…

          It’s called being a car enthusiast. I don’t know what you’re into, but it’s not for me to judge. And it’s the car (OEM) that impresses me the most that gets my money. So I don’t give a rat’s A$$ what people “find”. My money. My car.

          You waste lots of energy analizing the car choices of others. You probably put more thought into their choice than they did. Maybe some seek a certain lifestyle, but for me, cars are just tools. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them and want the best/biggest/baddest tools out there.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM
            You are correct a vehicle is a tool. It doesn’t matter if it is a Mustang or a pickup.

            To be able to buy the correct tool you must be a tradesman.

            So, is a yellow Mustang the correct tool?

            Like the toolkits and fishing lures we buy what is the prettiest and shiniest.

            How many guys can fish or use the tools in their garages and sheds? Very few.

            Look at pickups, how many are needed.

            Most vehicles (and fishing lures) we buy are wants, not tools and purchased by the layman, just like you.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Jack & Bark of cut from the same cloth and I doubt that I hurt Bark’s feelings.

          It wasn’t my intent to insult him but to merely express that I feel diametrically opposite than he does regarding the importance of a one’s choice of vehicle and how it should reflect on one’s sense of self worth, regardless as to now shallow some members of society are.

          I also maintain that a Mustang is not typically deemed as a status symbol, for those who are superficial, in the same manner as a MB, BMW or Jaguar, as just a few examples of vehicles typically associated with financial success by douchebags.

          If Bark is offended by what I expressed, he can tell me directly, and I doubt he is in need of a groupie section here on TTAC to protect his feelings.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            BTW, I think the title of this essay, alone, did much to pi$$ off quite a few people, myself included.

            Whether that was by carefully measured design or not, I do not know (and if it was, why would Bark want to start an essay off in such a manner?).

            I, for one, can honestly say that I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about what kind of car you drive.

            Lastly, the title is pretty much DeMuro-esque in the same vein that Doug’s apparently been milking his purchase of a used Ferrari as fodder for about 30 or so of his essays.

            Who gives a rat’s a$$?

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            “I, for one, can honestly say that I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about what kind of car you drive.

            Who gives a rat’s a$$?”

            Apparently, you do as you felt compelled to comment three times on the subject. Methinks doth protest too much.

            Great article, Bark…you hit the nail on the head although few would want to admit it.

          • 0 avatar
            Scott_314

            Deadweight, I agree with you, and this article is garbage.

            I do agree that people should spend their money on what they enjoy, otherwise we might as well hop in the grave. But for the purpose of impressing strangers… that is comically stupid.

            Bark’s Boss 302 is basically useless (the power goes unused, so it is useless) and a depreciating waste of money. In that sense it is among the stupidest cars to own. And I am one of those that do say “nice car” to people like Bark, usually followed with a thought to myself of “dumbass”. So I hope it makes him feel better.

            By the way Bark you could get ten times the compliments with a $8,000 project car. And the kudos would be far more honest, from far more interesting people. And if impressing hookers is your thing, it will work for that too.

            What else? I’m 34, and I could pay cash for a Boss 302, today. No inherited money, not even a lawyer or doctor, no six figure salaries. Just living within our means, hoping to retire comfortably and give our daughter a good life with a variety of adventures, not a life of her parents owning nice cars.

            So why am I on this site? Because liking cars can go many ways. I like efficiency, manuals, turbos, Formula 1, electric cars, fast cars, slow cars, the new Honda Fit, the Chrysler 300 SRT. Even the Boss 302, even though it’s stupid.

            My Blue Toyota Corolla XRS has gotten a bunch of compliments. It’s not my dream car by any means but it’s a manual and gets me around.

        • 0 avatar

          > I find that this article highlights a character defect that many people have; …victims of marketing/media brainwashing, a pnd have succumbed to a level of superficiality that is rather sad.

          Succumb implies rising above in the first place; there’s little evidence that’s true for humans in the first place. It’s the point of marketing/PR to exploit basic instincts.

          Putting on a display for social reasons (eg “legal authority”) is natural even if easy to ridicule. The landscape wouldn’t be very interesting if everyone chose the same practical means.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Kentucky must be boring if this car is envied… and yellow was the 1990’s poser color.

    no offense, but this is a 2000 version of “Dukes of Hazard”.. nothing else.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I thought the Best And Brightest all wanted a brown Diesel Station Wagon but I digress……

    This concept is really interesting because I drive such odd ball cars and yes , I really love them and I like it when folks ask me what the hell that thing is and so on….

    I also am old and experienced enough to love the throaty roar of an uncorked American V-ate doing it’s thing although I don’t ever want to own another one as I have to feed and fix whatever it is I’m driving .

    As a Journeyman Mechanic I dress conservatively and neatly but almost never flashy nor suits unless SWMBO asks me to , there’s a fine line here .

    As always good writing and your concept has merit , I look forward to seeing what the replies say .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the flip side to this is people like sam walton who had a Panther and the guy who started Ikea who has a 240GL wagon

    they OBVIOUSLY dont care what people think

    i find it funny how the author doesnt mention one of the most important things… what the car does for you

    obviously the way it drives is important

    i’m of the opinion i’d drive a van if it had the acceleration and handling of a medium rwd sedan

    sometimes the way a car drives isnt that important… as witnessed by the BMW 316, Mercedes CLA etc. its all about the badge and kerb appeal

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Sure they do – being super rich and driving a Panther or an old Volvo is making a statement just as much as driving a Ferrari. It’s just a different statement. Though really, isn’t a Town Car pretty much THE old rich white guy from Nebraska car? It’s not like he’s driving an ex-cop car with 400K on it.

      And your belt is supposed to match your shoes?? I kid, I kid!

      Took my Triumph Spitfire out for the first time this year yesterday. Got lots of comments and waves, as usual. Feels good! I get lots of comments on the Abarth too. Women comment on my BMW wagon, mostly on the unusual color combination of Tasman Green on Chestnut leather. The Rover mostly attracts sympathy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “i find it funny how the author doesnt mention one of the most important things… what the car does for you”

      Gee, I thought the whole article was about how this car makes the author feel good because people notice and comment on it. Everyone likes to hear nice things about their car.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      I had a boss who drove an absolute “how does that heap run?”. I think it was all about his technical chops keeping it maintained, because I think his kids had more impressive cars.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I confess that I’m not fully hip with current young guy fashion, but Hart, Shaffner & Marx and Alan Edmonds don’t exactly correlate with a yellow Boss 302. Maybe more an R32, I think.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Nothing wrong with taking pride in your car. My cars are always clean and well-maintained. I no more like to drive a dirty car then leave the house in dirty clothes. Just like my clothes, my car is an extension of who I am and how I present myself to the world. Good article

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      +1 ^! But where I live what catches people’s attention is a nice truck. What gets my attention is another Tundra.

      Everyone should take pride in their car because those who don’t, don’t deserve them. (Like the Armor-All commercial where the Caddy is taken away from the guy who neglected it)

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Nice! Isn’t this every car nut’s fantasy about the most fitting punishment for the owner who doesn’t care?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          LOL! I believe it is. Or maybe just a tinge of jealousy.

          I don’t fantasize about things I can’t have, can’t afford or that otherwise are out of my reach, but there was ONE car that I wanted my wife to be seen in (at that time) and it was a 1992 Lincoln Towncar Executive in Sandalwood.

          It took a lot of sacrifice, but we bought one and it was a babied car! I took care of it with kid-gloves. Every Sunday after Chruch was dedicated to cleaning and prepping that car for the next week.

          It served my wife well and I can’t help but think that the car contributed to her real estate sales because nothing spells success like success. And that car spelled success!

          But today, in today’s real world, where my wife drives a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4 and I drive a 2wd Tundra 5.7 SR5 pickup truck, my hope is to be able to buy a 2015 or 2016 Tundra 5.7 CrewMax 4×4 in White with Red&Blue pinstripes down the sides (even if I have to do that myself.

      • 0 avatar
        Redshift

        They should have their car taken away for using armour-all.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          In my area, Armor-All protects better from the sun, wind and dust storms than anything else, including dry-rot from the arid desert climate.

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            From what I saw when I lived in Vegas, Armor-All was a guarantee your dash would crack within about two years of when you started using it. And it would be slimy feeling for that entire two years. A friend of mine’s dash and door panels were shot long before two years was up, but my identical POS truck’s (Both ’77 Dodges)dash and door panels were still in good shape. I used a damp washcloth and nothing else, as I still do today. I’ve never had a cracked dash or anything else.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          Armour-all is garbage. Never use anything on your car that has silicone in it. If you want to protect the rubber and plastic parts use 303 Aerospace Protectant.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Its YELLOW! Of course its gonna get noticed.

    I don’t get off on running down other peoples’ cars, but the damn thing is YELLOW!

    In the real world, any Mustang I see gets at least a half second of attention because the man (almost always male) is at the very least an enthusiast and I have seen some of the coolest mods (exhaust, lights, engine mods) on these vehicles. I run an auto repair shop and see 50-60 different cars every work day and I will always take a glance at a Stang the comes in for repairs.

    As for caring what people think about my ride, sure. I bought a 2011 Crown Victoria LX last year with the oft-seen Hertz option package. Everyone who asks me about it is amazed on how good shape it is in. When I tell them its a 2011 they are like,”oh, I didn’t think you could by them that new”…

    You see, almost every Panther you come up on in these parts either is “urbanized” or is driven by a seventy-something year old and hasn’t been washed since the Clinton Menstruation.

    Love the car, BTW.

  • avatar

    I confess that when I bought a just launched Fiat Siena back in 1997 (a completely new model, mine was one of the first) and people looked and stared and some even asked questions (the police stopped me to specifically check the car out once) it was intriguing, slightly rewarding, but vaguely unsettling. I think it’s up to the individual to resist the hype and mediatic and social pressures to be a pawn in the game though. Do what feels right to you and rest easy as to others.

    As to clothes, I think it’s an industry that depends on making others even more into tools. In this case however, sometimes I’ll wear my retro Soviet Union national team jersey, emblazoned CCCP in bold letters against bright red. I like to think I’m doing so not as a passive aggressive thing, but rather as an ironic, post modern statement as to society’s current state of affairs.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    “But to pretend that we just don’t care? Come on. Be real. To act like we don’t care what the world thinks of our car is equivalent to walking out the door every day without making an attempt to match our shoes and our belts.”

    Wow, never stopped to think about that. Luckily my Timberland steel toes do match my Timberland belt so no fashion faux pas there. Must say it was amusing to see the valet guy’s face at the W Hotel yesterday as he returned my battered & sun scorched 4Runner. I’d deliberately left the A/C turned off too as I’d hate him to realize it blows as cold as any S-Class.

    I’m sure there’s a statement in there somewhere?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” I’d deliberately left the A/C turned off too as I’d hate him to realize it blows as cold as any S-Class. ”

      I’d say you thought a lot about it, to the point of making sure that even the valet noticed your car if only for the fact that the S-Class equivalent A/C was turned off.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Here in the western part of Silicon Valley, where the median home price is $1.5M, you’ll need a lot more than a Boss 302 to turn heads. I see Ferraris, Lambos, and R8s every week. The parking garage at work has more exotic metal in it than most car shows. 911s are a dime a dozen; even a GT3 won’t get you a second look.

    My goal is to buy a new Boxster S in the next year or two. In Kentucky, I’m sure it would turn heads; around here, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      911s get an OK glance, but I have nothing to say or ask the Porsche guy. Best to avoid eye contact altogether. And most of the general pop don’t know exactly what they’re looking at. Is it the poorman’s 911 or ???

      The Boss 302 draws attention for it’s the track edition, ballz out factory hot rod, based on an everyday secretary’s car, but praised by critics and magazine hot-shoes that normally scoff at Mustangs. It’s instantly recognizable, but not from seeing them in real life. Fairly rare car. So it’s gonna get a lot of attention, but not necessarily from the same crowd that would break their neck for a Porsche/Ferrari.

      That shade of yellow is nostalgic Boss 302 and in the ‘puke’ family. Not even close to a screaming shade of yellow. But the Boss 302 wouldn’t be the 1st choice of an attention whore. But I’m a huge fan of the hard to find, factory Hot Rod’d “limited editions” of everyday cars and trucks. Jaw dropping is 4-eyed Saleen and Mclarens (based on early ’80s Mustang 5.0s). Aftermarket, I know. But still.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I have had several people drive like insane lunatics to catch up to me to ask me about my 2010 Hemi Orange Challenger R/T. It’s crazy, but true. A friend of mine has a 2012 “granite” grey one with red stripes, and he gets the “nice car” thing once in a while, but nothing like the attention my car gets. I see people gawking at it all the time, old, young, it doesn’t matter. Most people love it. A friend of mine’s wife hates the orange with a passion, she says, “Only thing worse would be yellow!”. She doesn’t know it yet, but he is looking for a yellow one, either a 2010 R/T or a 2012 SRT. His TorRed 2009 R/T hasn’t been the same since he was hit by an old guy who shouldn’t have even been driving, so he’s looking for another one.

    • 0 avatar
      the_yeti

      Don’t forget Teslas, Teslas as far as the eye can see.

      My Regal GS gets comments in the city, but only because no on knows what the hell it is. Valets are shocked when they realize it has a third pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      I’m not sure that the price dictates the taste. The tract house in Mountain View my cousins grew up in sold several years ago for $1.2 million. This house wouldn’t bring $200,000 in the foothills of the coast range here in Oregon. I don’t even know what the point is, except that demand exceeds supply in the lower Bay Area. The car is yellow. I believe that says more about the correspondent than the model choice.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Demand exceeds supply everywhere in the Bay Area. Palo Alto has shacks near the Caltrain tracks that can probably sell for near $1 million. It’s ridiculous. I don’t think it improves much as you head up the peninsula towards SF. Marin isn’t cheap either. Even the East Bay is seeing rents and home values skyrocket as people are priced out of other areas.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The worst part is when your family from the midwest comes out to see your new million dollar house and you show them a house smaller then the mid-century split you were raised in…ouch!

          • 0 avatar
            Master Baiter

            That’s why it’s insane when DC politicians imply that a family making $250K/year is somehow rich. When 3X your salary buys a 1600 square foot 3BR ranch, you’re not rich. You’re living similarly to the blue collar family that bought that house for $20K in 1965.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      If you have a 911, S Class, Range Rover or Bentley GT in South Florida, you may as well be invisible. Quite frankly there is so much money down there and so many exotic cars that if you are buying one of those cars solely to get attention, you are pretty much wasting your money. You may as well buy a Honda Accord or Toyota Prius to be honest.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      That says less about the desire to reflect one’s personality on the outside with the car you drive, and more about the sheer conspicuous-consumption-burn-out that the Valley fuels better than any other ZIP in the country. I am much more likely to shout out to the guy driving the bright yellow mustang with a grin plastered ear-to-ear than the sour-faced aging housewife in the default-spec Conti.

      It’s the same with watches – I would much rather talk with the guy who asks about my vintage Spaceview than the guy showing off his new Richard Mille.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    My wagon just screams, “I don’t care what you think”. Of course, the subtext is, ” I want you to think I don’t care.” We all really care on some level.

    Primarily though, it had the best seats I could find in my budget.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Bark, you’re right. And Landcrusher, you’re right too. As it pertains to me, at least.

      I remember several years back when I was looking for a big sedan, new (middlebrow) or used (rather fancy). I thought seriously about getting the Lexus LS430. It was an awesome car that blew me away on a test drive with its utter competence and quality. In the end, RWD in the Snow Belt was the deal-breaker. But I have to admit I also felt the pull of social influences: What would people think of me that I was pretentious and stodgy enough to drive a big Lexus?

      The car I ended up buying was AWD, but also an obscure model with no strong brand image. I not only was more comfortable that way, but in my own mind’s eye I felt… smarter. Silly, I know, but there’s a reality here.

      John DeLorean was right about one thing: Autos are a fashion business. If you stripped the nameplates from all the cars available for sale, most of us (me included) wouldn’t be willing to pay nearly as much, because all the emotional freight that comes with the name would be missing. How different really is a motorized tin can that says “Impala LTZ” from a motorized tin can that says “Lexus ES350” from a motorized tin can that says “Maserati Ghibli”? Less than we like to think, I’d humbly submit.

  • avatar

    Back when I had my ’88 Country Squire, I got flashed a heart (thumbs arched at the top, hands completing the heart shape) from a pedestrian in Columbus, OH.

    I’ve also gotten at least one ‘thumbs up’ for the purple turbine rims on my ’91 Grand Marquis. (they came with the car, and I’m man enough to rock them and not give a damn what people think)

    It’s an ego boost when people go out of their way to compliment you on your sense of style, be it shoes, suit, car, or beard. Like a star on twitter or such, if you’ve brightened someone’s day just by being who you are, it’s a nice boost to the old self-esteem when that’s acknowledged.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I have the same exact car as you, Bark. Your original article was actually inspiration for me to buy it. But here in the NY tri state area – it really only gets attention from Mustang guys – and there aren’t a huge amount of them. If I take it to a show – it usually has a crowd and gets a trophy, even though its stock. I don’t think there are as many American car fans up here though.

    The Pinzgauer I used to drive got a lot more attention. That was a vehicle that caused crowds anywhere it went. I’v had people follow me miles to my destination to talk to me about it. If I knew I was in a rush to do anything, I did not drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      DDayJ

      That’s because Pinzgauers are sweet!

    • 0 avatar
      jeano

      I was driving my 65 fastback Mustang through town yesterday and the local guy who roars through our small town all day with his red Boss Mustang tried to flag me down. I didn’t stop and feel like a bit of a dick for that, but I didn’t restore the car to get attention. I drive it because it’s beautiful to me in a way that no later Mustang could ever be.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This story reminds me of the latest old money trend of driving old Jeep Wagoneers. In their quest to be above it all by driving a car that most anyone could afford they end up making a huger statement. I guess it’s similar to the Hipster quest for that innocuous car that makes a statement by making no statement. It doesn’t always take a lot of money to drive an impressive car, but driving the “right” car can be most impressive

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Maybe there’s more to rich people driving ordinary cars that happen to be old, maybe the market is lacking. Everything if focused on fuel efficiency and few automakers offer a cheap fun option for consumers. Especially in the case of the wagoneer, there is literally nothing like it availible today.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I understand what you’re saying but I think the old Jeep represents more of a shabby-chic, family heirloom kind of thing then a feature to feature comp-shop result, but I could be wrong that old-time go anywhere 4X4 9-passenger hauler with it’s high-end Forest Ranger panache has it’s appeal

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    “full of honest, hardworking, middle-class Americans”

    What is that? A political statement? I know of many dishonest, lazy, middle-class Americans. Many union workers fall into this description.

    Wellesley, Newport Beach, and Upper East Side Manhattan are “full of honest, hardworking, upper-class Americans” What do you think about that one? That is my political statement. And, many of them drive newer Toyota and Honda vehicles while looking down at a yellow Boss 302. Personally, I would be worried about the mental stability of a yellow Boss 302 owner. Of course, many also drive Range Rovers, Audis, Land Cruisers, and the rest of the high end euro stuff. They also look down on the Boss 302.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Good Lord, how in the world did you turn an introspective column about self-perceptions of Mustang ownership into yet another union-bashing thread?

      Is there some kind of award for this? If so, can we send you over to the Drudge Report site to pick it up?

      Seriously, are you at least getting the $5 or $10 spiff people reportedly get from Koch Brothers front groups for making spurious right-wingnut posts like this, or are you really just this brainwashed?

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      You win the award for derpiest comment of the day. Go back to your Fox News and leave rational discussion to us, Rush.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      jimmyy, do I detect just a touch of defensiveness? Maybe even a slight bit of mental instability? Should we be worried?

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Ouch. Must be a lot of anguish to be a leftie, with all that income inequality, unequal pay, and global warming to worry about.

      In addition, no one cares about their car anymore. That was so pre-internet. That is why Toyota and Honda are so very popular among higher end zip codes on the east and west coast. If you need a car to prop up your image, they something bigger is wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        jimmyy, I take it you don’t think “income inequality, unequal pay and global warming” are anything “to worry about.”

        Granted, it’s a little odd to choose those three topics randomly as the presumed examples of what a “lefty” worries about (what, no whales?). But beyond that, the fact you don’t consider inequality or global warming to be worrisome says enough about you that I don’t see the need to say any more.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …. That is why Toyota and Honda are so very popular among higher end zip codes on the east and west coast…..

        What delusion are you under? Any Toyota or Honda in the wealthy neighborhoods in these parts is used for the train station so the Range Rover can be available for the wife. If you think high end communities treasure those cars you have a lot more wrong with you than your posts would lead one to believe. And, glad there is no Boss in your house. To quote: “what a waste of machinery” that would be.

    • 0 avatar

      Jimmyy, I’m guessing you’ve never been to Kentucky.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    X

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    As to you Bark, on a military base you see such a huge variety of stuff that typically only a few things really grab attention. Examples include the expensive (GT-R or Ferrari), interesting custom work (slammed 80s BMW wagon with green rims or VIP style mid 90s S-class), or the downright weird (1956 Edsel sedan, or Saab 9-4X or Fisker Karma)

  • avatar

    Here in Lexington Massachusetts, a rose of a town with a much higher than average cost of living (where I saw two Teslas on the road yesterday) your boss would not draw positive attention from most people. I don’t think those Teslas draw much attention, either. One Harvard professor and his wife in my neighborhood have a couple of downmarket Hyundais, although late-model BMWs, Mazdas, Subarus, and suchlike are more common. My 80-year old neighbor Helen does have a Miata, but she has it because she loves driving it, and I don’t think she gives a damn about impressing anyone (although she impresses me with her love of driving the thing).

    I grew up mostly in Lexington, and I went to Tufts for a year and a half, where my father was chairman of the econ department. One day I was driving around the campus in his 6-year old ’68 Ford Falcon wagon, a car which was already a beater when he had bought it three years earlier. I came upon a friend and we started talking. “Is this the Dave-Mobile?” says my friend, sounding impressed. No, I said, it belongs to my father. His tone changing to one of incredulity, he says, “you mean the head of the economics department drives around in THIS???!” From the tone, it was clear that he’d left the words “piece of sh*t” off of the end of that sentence.

    My father just didn’t give a damn about what people thought of his car.

    My brother doesn’t either. He loves his Prius, but there are some creases in the sheet metal that he has no intention of getting fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      David, when my mother was alive and still driving, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you the name of the maker of any car she was then driving. She saw the status implications of a car to be equivalent to that of the brand of cleanser she used. My father was much the same. So they mostly let me choose the cars we bought, an arrangement I as a teenager much appreciated.

      • 0 avatar

        My best laugh of the day!

        My mother DID care about the car (and she always drove the family’s nicer car). I did choose two of their cars when I was a teenager, within their low budgets for cars. The first of these was a ’62 Chevy II, in 1966, which ended up being my father’s car, and the second was a brand new 1970 Plymouth Valiant, which my mother drove for probably about 10 of its 16 years. Here’s a story about all that:

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/beating-the-one-brand-blues-circa-1960/

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    Great article, M(B)ark! It’s exactly what I’ve been saying for a long time – that most people care about the image of the car (even though it may be a “non-image”).

    And I have no problem admitting that since I stopped driving a hot-rodded 1988 Chevy Caprice in NYC Taxi livery (and with rumbly exhaust and a hot cam), I really miss the attention. I’m driving a ’98 Town Car now, and I feel just a little bit invisible in it – and Town Car isn’t exactly a common car where I live (Czech Republic). It even gets some glances, and some compliments at gas stations or parking lots.

    But people don’t take pictures of it, I don’t get 10 people a day making comments on it… it’s kinda boring.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I somehow managed to see a TR6, a Packard Super Eight, and a Nissan GT-R yesterday in my semi-rural small town, that was WEIRD.

    As for my car? I’m hoping the customized 1995 Thunderbird I’m probably buying will give me a slightly better image than an awkward Buick with front end damage does.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Back in October 2006 my wife (then fiance) were in Ukiah, CA for a weekend. We drove up in my then-new 2006 V6 Mustang.

    I was either going in or coming out of a coffee shop when a Rastafarian asked me if that was my new Mustang. I said yes, and without missing a beat he said “That’s some tough f*ckin’ steel.”

    That was the best compliment I ever got for a car until my three-year-old daughter told me my new Dart was pretty.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I definitely care, I wouldn’t own the cars I do if I didn’t and I certainly wouldn’t take my Impala to car shows if I didn’t.
    It’s funny though, when I drive my GTO I assume everyone who sees me instantly thinks I’m an a-hole, even when I’m sitting in traffic at a red light. There are certain cars that most folks have preconceived notions about.
    And when I drive my Legacy wagon I assume I am completely invisible until I take off surprisingly fast. Then they think I’m an a-hole.
    So, apparently, I want people to think I’m an a-hole.
    I’m really a very nice guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I had a E39 530i that was probably the finest sedan I ever had, but was never comfortable with the image good and bad

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Few cars seem to carry the baggage of premium Germans, maybe BMW in particular. It doesn’t change my purchasing decisions, but it is something I am aware of.

        When I bought my E39, I was prepared for mostly negative reactions. I was pleasantly surprised to receive mostly compliments on it. Now I am in an E46 that no one notices one way or another. Even still, I mostly expect negative judgement every time I find myself having to tell someone what I drive.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Yeah, just try and say “I drive a BMW” without any inflection, it’s hard. You can’t even say “My car? It’s the Sterlinggrau sedan over there… No, next to the Titansilber sedan.”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I had an a-hole car once. The ’87 Monte Carlo SS I had in high school. Louder mufflers, burgundy with the tape stripe package. Nothing seemed to infuriate old men doing yard work than that car. I’d constantly get “SLOW DOWN!!11” yelled at me as I drove by, even at of below the speed limit.

      I did a test one day just to see if these guys were actaully going all vigilante on everyone. While driving down a nearby street at the speed limit one day (35mph), some old guy guy shouts at me while shaking his rake over his head to slow down. I circle the block, go back home and get the beige 1990 Taurus. I blast back down past the old guy at 60mph, he doesn’t even flinch.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Mmmmm, checkmate.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll be honest with you, whether I have been driving a Firebird WS6, a Lucerne, an Audi A6, or a Tundra; and whether I have been in $800 shoes, a $3000 dollar watch, and a Borelli shirt or $25 shoes a $15 watch and a Kmart shirt has never seemed to make any difference in my job or among the general public in the way people treat me. Even at places like car dealers where snap judgments are supposed to dictate the entire affair.

    So either I’m oblivious, people don’t really care that much, or I have a natural feature about me that is so strong that it overwhelms everything else.

    I personally think it is a confidence of the wearer/driver type of thing.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’m kitting up my CRV (not a dream car, just a useful car) with jdm-style bits as we speak. I used to have a Ford Sierra with flames on it, a couple of twinwinged XR4i’s. Subtle can go ****itself :P
    My previous lowered crv managed to get some attention with it’s blacked out headlights too, but it was hardly the school-bus yellow Boss screaming for attention.
    I’d buy an orange ’69 Charger anyday if I could get my hands on that much money, allthough a flamed ’55 Chebby with a supercharger sticking out of the hood, or a Mad Max interceptor replica (with working supercharger) would work just as well, but I like to think it’s because I hate driving boring, ugly cars…
    Then again, I don’t spend money on clothes, or shoes, or sunglasses ( I think my SO does, because my worn out clothes tend to dissappear or get replaced). My car IS my suit.

  • avatar
    robc123

    good for the writer, using a proxy to connect with people.

    its a boss, not that much money, probably fun to drive with the sound.
    But if you are striving to be noticed, every second sentence begins with “my Ferrari…” then you are buying for the wrong reasons. Its justification, its social proof and that’s hollow.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Not that much money? Aren’t they around $40k?

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> Not that much money? Aren’t they around $40k?

        I checked autotrader.com and had no trouble finding 3 low mileage examples in that price range. So, yes, you are correct.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Money is relative. $40,000 is quite a bit to me, but Jack and friends mean compared to Porsche/Corvette/M-class BMW/AMG Mercedes/Exotic Car. So if you are comparing the performance of a Boss 302 to other cars with similar performance yes, it is “not that expensive.”

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    I really like the new model mustang. Decidedly more sophisticated. I has the stuff I like, V8, rwd, stick. But I can’t help but imagine all the rednecks, Hoosiers, meatheads and general dbags I’d be associating myself with. Has that stigma fully transferred to audis yet? Are mustangs safe yet?

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      If you like the Mustang, don’t worry about it. There are negative stereotypes for almost every car out there.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        Agreed…I get the stink eye from the Birkenstock & Patchouli crowd when I drive my Raptor, I’m sure they’re thinking that it runs on baby seal eyes.

        But everyone else gives me a thumbs up!

  • avatar
    FourWheelPeel

    Interesting article and comments! It seems that what a car represents to each owner is influenced by many variables. For example, if you are a salesperson such as a Realtor and you show up in an ’87 Accord with blue smoke pouring out of the exhaust you may not make a good impression on potential buyers. They might ask themselves, “Is the Realtor too poor to buy a nicer car? Does that mean they are bad at their job? Should we try a different Realtor?”

    In contrast, if you work in a factory, you may have more freedom to choose a vehicle than the Realtor I mentioned above. For the factory worker, his vehicle does not have to send messages that speak to his ability to sell you something. His car can be an extension of his personality – it could be a flat-black 2000 Mustang with 5% tint and a very loud exhaust.

    Other influences on car purchases include whether you live in a city, have a safe place to keep it, enjoy driving or not, etc. This is truly a complicated topic…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The way I see it, a fair share of car owners do care what you think of their cars considering the mods and custom touches you see so often, even I have a few on my Volvo (albeit practical ones).

    I do care what people think though, thats why when I get the money, I often spend more of it touching up bits of age as opposed to ripping
    the interior out altogether, adding spoilers, Buick holes, etc etc.

    Running a crappy rust bucket everywhere is only good if you want to be the next dimwit like Corbin, the ZFG twit.

    I’m sure that deep down other car buffs do care about public perception, why else do they always flaunt their “upgrades”?, their Limted Signature Edition stick-swapped Marauders?

  • avatar
    stuki

    A bit of projection there?

    At one point, I did care at least a smidgen about what others though about my car. But even then, only as pertains to other Car Guys. Now, much as I try to work up some excitement, I can’t in good faith say I care much, even about what I think about my car. In fact, I have to go out and drive it a bit today, since it’s been sitting for 3 weeks and I don’t want it to seize. It’s mainly a nuisance.

    My bikes I care at least a little more about. It’s kind of cool to have a bike that many other bikers want to talk about.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My 1967 Mustang Convertible never gets as much attention as I thought that it would, but then that’s not the reason I assumed care of it. It was a family heirloom and there was much sentimental value in it.

    However, it has still gotten more attention than any other car I’ve owned. Usually once a month I’ll get a “nice Mustang” when stopping to pick up a 12 pack and generally about once a month when stopping to fill up (usually I drive it enough to do that once a week in nice weather) I’ll get some old timer telling me about the one they had.

    The once that made me laugh though was while sitting at a stop light about a block off of Route 66 in Gallup, NM. A teenage male passenger leaned out the window of a Dodge Avenger to tell me I had (and I quote): “A nice a$$ old Mustang.”

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      My Jeep CJ2A (’47) gets quite a bit of attention, particularly, I think, because its not restored or pristine, it’s got battle scars like a Jeep should.

      My wife’s ’87 MB 560SL gets a lot of attention, and questions from bystanders.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ PrincipleDan.. It is a very cool car, and you should be proud of it.

      Up here in the rust belt. A 67 Mustang drop top, would gather a crowd wherever you went.

      My Mustang convert is 41 years newer. I keep it meticulously maintained,and detailed. I get more compliments with the Mustang than I ever got with my Camaro 2SS. Driving my 6cyl Mustang, makes me feel good. I love it, and in my mind, its a very cool car.

      Thats what makes us all “car people” eh?

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      I literally just stayed at a hotel in Gallup last week on the way to Vegas, I was never so thankful as to wake up alive, not robbed, car still there and not deaf from the trains that passed by every 5 minutes.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Radical is the word. The other word is façade.

    The more radical the more the looks.

    Radical implies individuality, like this yellow Mustang.

    Is the message look at me I’m cool (I think)?

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    If you drive this in Sweden you are probably a 60 yo male who want to be a teenager again.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I love cars and trucks and find that nice people and jerks drive every model, style and category. It is great fun to talk to people who love their cars to see the thought and passion that went into the decision to buy and maintain. Prestige? Meh, unless it is for your business.

    Judging a person simply because he/she drives X? Not so much.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’m annoyed by attention from passersby, particularly car-ignorant ones. It inevitably leads to awkward conversations, even if they like the car.

    My silver G8 GXP is perfect in that respect. Gearheads know what it is and will approach me and compliment me on it. The general public doesn’t pay it the slightest mind unless it’s at WOT and the engine is roaring.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    Cars are a class statement, more than anything else they tell others why we’re important and why you should care about what I say. In different areas those statements are made by different kinds of cars. It seems many of the comments begin to equate the car decisions with class and moral identities. If not the most common is ‘You’re trying to be young’ which is a mild insult but why does it matter? Maybe I want to feel young, maybe that suits my identity? Why does saying that to somebody else bring joy to you?

    These are the questions that come to mind when I read this stuff because we’re never satisfied in letting an individual have their say, we have to have our say on their say and then try to create a comparison wrapped up in class and morality. I say drive what you love, it isn’t my place to judge you on it. That Boss 302 does make you look cool in my view but my view on your car decision along with 3.50 will get you a coffee at Starbucks.

  • avatar

    I want to be different, just like everyone else.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Well, doesn’t the sheer number of comments on this post validate Bark’s thesis?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I passionately care what others think of me.

    That’s why only Carhartt and Camry will do.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    I am in the midst of the most fascinating vehicle related social experiment I could ever have imagined, and it’s completely (somewhat) accidental.

    Here is my current stable:

    Car #1: 2008 Toyota Prius
    Purpose: daily driver. eat up all the commuter miles

    Car #2: 2006 Hummer H2
    Purpose: Weekend driver. “For the kids”

    I cannot begin to tell all of you the differences in how I am treated, both on and off the highway, in these 2 cars.

    I almost believe there is a best selling novel hidden beneath the layers of experiences I have had driving these 2 cars.

    Stay tuned.
    PS – after having owned 20+ cars the past 15 years (German, Japanese, American) I believe the Prius is the best car I have ever owned. I would recommend it to anyone. No matter your age or lifestyle.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    You lost me when you said men care whether or not their shoes match their belt.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    Yellow does get the attention as others have pointed out, not for me but to each their own.
    For me since everything looks about the same on the road today so I focus on the extra bits. What kind of racks are they using, what kind of road or mountain bikes on the racks. Or what kind of trailer are they pulling and what are those big boy toys that are in that trailer?

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Where I live (the “Gold coast” of Long Island where the jaguar, Aston Martin, and Ferrari dealerships are) nobody would even realize it’s a Boss 302 (imports seem to be the rule here with myself probably being the only person who would actually buy a Mustang) and the few that did would think you’re having a midlife crisis but didn’t want to drop the money the neighbors did on a Ferrari. And frankly here whenever I see someone in a Ferrari I just assume they’re a toolbag Wall Street bankster (which they invariably are). The car guys around here are either people who actually modify affordable sports cars for track days in Connecticut or Jersey or guys tuning their turbo BMWs for absurd power to get groceries with. None of them would care about a boss 302 and they usually give me shit when I bring up that I’m thinking about the new Mustang GT if the weight isn’t too bad.

    But honestly, what was the point of this article. I don’t think anybody really cares about you owning a Mustang except yourself. Drive what you enjoy, it’s just seems sad to drive something because you think people think it’s cool.

    On a side note, the car I got the most thumbs ups from and random car dirt love notes with was a stock chubby hatchback EP3 Civic Si. And I also once had a crowd gather once to ask me…about my Toyota Camry LE. Sure, the crowd was averaging maybe 72 years old from a group leaving their 50th college reunion but hey it was a crowd. Point is, don’t let it get to your head, people love all sorts of cars and buy whatever you want, you’ll probably get some cool questions no matter what you drive.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    Virtually everyone cares what other people think, if they tell you they don’t they are liars. Also, everyone spends money somewhere. Just because you see some super rich guy driving a regular car does not mean he is not spending a lot of money elsewhere, trust me he is. If you spend over $50K on a car, you care what people think and you are trying to impress them, if you tell me you are not I will call you a liar to your face. I drive an S Class and I drive it for pretty much one reason, most people can’t. That is about 90% of the reason anyone buys a Porsche 911, S Class, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari etc or buys a large home, expensive watch etc etc.

    The color of the car also has a lot to do with it. Park a bright yellow Lotus Exige in the parking lot next to a black Lamborghini Aventador and you will have 10 times the amount of people flocking to the Lotus. An Exige in yellow or electric blue will pretty much get more attention than anything else ever on the road.

    I know guys that drive F-150s everyday and that is all most people see them in, but they own airplane hangar sized buildings full of collector cars that virtually no one knows they have. One guy I know drives an Escalade or a Corvette here in town and that is all anyone who did not know him well would think he owned, but he also has a house in Florida and a building down there full of Ferraris, Lamborghini’s, Vipers and other expensive cars.

    If people truly did not care about what people thought about them or their stuff, they would just quit work, sell off most of everything, buy a small 1500 sq.ft house and an old beater car and that would be the end of it.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Perception is 9/10s of reality, as they say.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Out of the handful of guys I know that have similar collections, most of them barely drive the things because they fear the judgments people will make. They care about what people think so they *don’t* drive certain fancy cars to certain places. Basically the opposite of what pretenders tend to do.

      The other guy out of that handful just doesn’t give a f*ck and flaunts it.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I can genuinely tell you I don’t care what someone thinks about my car. I will drive a car in any condition as long as the features, reliability, MPG suite me and I like the car. I have owned a couple cars that friends and family liked but I traded off in short order because they annoyed me. My 1970 Bonneville and 1989 S-10 are two of many.

    You want proof? As a single 21 year old male, I owned a 1983 Subaru Station wagon. A few years later I owned a 1983 Toyota Van 5spd. Theu suited me, but I didn’t get many dates because of my “ride.” I did find one girl that dug the van. I ended up marrying her though what she thought of the van never had a lot to do with why we got married.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The most conspicuous daily driver I ever had was my 2013 Charger R/T with the Track Pack, so chrome 20s, blacked out grille, big badging. Bright white with red interior. That car got a lot of compiments from random people. It was nice to have people compliment my taste, but there really wasn’t much to talk about other than, “is it fast?”. the car had no story.

    The rest of my daily drivers don’t stand out. i drive a lot of different cars and they aren’t making a statement. When I rotate in an older, clean car like an old Caprice, it really only sparks a conversation with the nice fellas at Belle Tire who classify GM B-bodies as “boxes” or “bubbles”.

    My old cars are the extension of me. ’63 Thunderbird. ’76 Charger SE. ’71 Superbee. I made (am making) these cars to be what I want them to be through restoriation/customization. If people were to judge me by my rides, these would be the ones to look at. What they say about me to given people, I’m not really sure. What I wuold hope people think is that I take some pride in my rides and am not afraid to drive something different. A lot of younger people just stop to ask what kind of cars they are. They have stories that I’m happy to share.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I can freely admit it, I do care what others think about my car choices. It isn’t the first or second reason I choose a car, but it is most definitely #3 or #4 on the list.

    And to those of you who are bragging about how you don’t care what others think are full of it. Choosing to drive a beater pickup when you can afford so much more is just as much of a statement as the guy who chooses to drive a Lambo because others cannot afford it. Driving around in a jacked up Jeep to distinguish yourself from the Range Rover drivers you associate with is a statement. Driving a silver or grey Audi or BMW because it is understated and doesn’t attract attention says as much about you as Bark picking a yellow Mustang says about him.

    Some cars are considered status symbols, and others are like anti-status symbols. If you are putting any effort or thought into explaining your ride of choice, then you care. I know many people who truly do not care about their cars. Those people do not read TTAC or any other car website. If you are here reading, and especially if you are a regular commented, then whether you admit it or not, you care.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point about anti-status symbols. I’d rather the non-name brand shirt or the non-luxury brand car given the choice of two otherwise identical products. I pride myself on being the anti-Bark, in other words.

      /me is a professional who buys clothes at REI and Costco, and would rather have a healthy Vanguard account balance than some metal on my wrist.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        That’s funny — the last time I was in an REI, I was annoyed by how much of their merchandise was name-brand or overtly douchey. ($200 “Namaste” yoga outfits for dudes, anyone?) And it’s interesting you mention Costco by name, rather than Walmart, Target, or even just anonymously “a discount store” — they’re the “respectable” big box store.

        In other words, you’re not the anti-Bark, you’re the hipster Bark. A bright yellow Ford is far too mainstream; better to buy overpriced, free-trade organic cotton hiking gear, to be washed in cold water and line dried to save energy, of course, to be work exclusively on car trips to and from the local coffee shop.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Everyone pretty much falls into the snob, hipster, meathead, or trash category.

        • 0 avatar

          REI does indeed sell a variety of wares. I am not of the yoga suit-plastered-with-namaste ilk, so my stuff is REI generic branded gear whenever possible.

          Costco is basically the only big box retailer that I go to. Although I agree about its different demographics than, say, Walmart, I go there for cheap plain white T shirts, organic chicken breasts, and bulk Tillamook cheese.

          I don’t wear those brand labels (e.g. organic chicken) on my chest–that’s the distinction.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            But you make a point of mentioning them. What’s the difference?

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            I have to agree with @Darkwing. You mentioning organic chicken and Tillamook cheese (WTH??) is no different than Bark mentiong Allen Edmunds shoes or Jack mentioning whatever watch is currently the tastefully obscure yet not-too-too-expensive watch of choice.

            It’s not a slam on you. You just have a different set of priorities and that projects an image, same as Bark and his Mustang.

          • 0 avatar

            > organic chicken and Tillamook cheese

            With food it’s cheap and goes inside so any significant difference is functionally worthwhile as opposed to a watch I don’t even use to tell time.

            Personally I don’t even bother with anything other free range chicken if the effort of cooking is involved since the alternative tastes like crap in comparison.

            Btw, Tillamook isn’t really fancy dairy, just decent quality for value.

          • 0 avatar

            Like I wrote, the difference is that I don’t wear these choices on my wrist, on my chest, or display them as I drive down the street. It’s, true: I do try to project an anti-Bark image, as it were. Such is the way of my social stratum in a place like Seattle.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    I believe what you drive, as well as any other possession you have, says something about you. My great uncle owned an old Dodge station wagon his whole life yet was never married or had any kids. He just wasn’t a car guy – I am.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    My favorite is the yellow car with the badly-bleached yellow-haired girl driving it.

    As an added bonus, you could park said yellow Mustang next to your yellow Hummer, and “like, totally match!”.

    I’m just joking. Drive what you want to drive and deal with other people’s perceptions. Biases are normal and part of life.

    Good times.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I chose the car I chose because of how it looks to me- but the car stands out and it gets a lot of attention. It wasn’t my intention to get my ego stroked through my car, but it was a happy consequence. I get what Bark’s saying.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    It is funny, I could drive around in my G37 and it is a fantastic car that almost gets no looks. I jump in my Sky Red Line, and it just is ridiculous. 100% stock on the outside and I’m constantly getting people looking at the car. I get the occasional: “What is it?” as well. I admit, I sort of enjoy it.

    Performance wise, no one tries to mess with me because I don’t think anyone really knows the specs of the car or if it is even fast.

    Anyways, great article.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    There’s something about a Mustang — even a very expensive Mustang — that people respond to as “democratic” (lower case “D”). Back when I owned an ’87 GT, I noticed that people always felt free to approach me, like I was “one of the guys,” a not altogether bad thing, IMHO.

    Other cars, especially the Germans, don’t send out that vibe. Drive a Kraut-mobile and most people assume you are unapproachable, maybe a snot.

    As far as what people think of you because you drive a yellow Boss 302 . . . well, I’m not gonna’ go there!

  • avatar
    cojo88

    Junior year of college I traded in my 1994 Dodge Stealth for a 1999 Ford Windstar.

    Very different statement vehicles, but still statements.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’ve had a few beatery cars that would probably all suggest roughly the same thing about me – ’91 Escort (a baby blue and rust-colored sedan that looked like it belonged to someone’s aunt), ’97 Cavalier, and ’04 Accent. I figure they basically all suggest I lack money, or at least have bigger financial priorities. I’m okay with that, it’s pretty much the truth, and the people I like don’t much care about that. And I liked that the Ford was nimble and fun and capable of snap oversteer (and also that I got it for $100). I appreciated that the Cavalier had a stick, and as a coupe with a sunroof, it was sort of pleasant and airy inside. Neither were exceptionally good cars, but they worked for me at the time and I liked them, dammed what it says about me. I can’t stand the Accent on its own lack of merit.

    Likewise, my motorcycle is an old 250 cruiser, something that’d be at home in an MSF course. I have it because it was free and I want go ride. Strangely enough, I’ve gotten one or two compliments on it (one from a guy on a 250 Ninja, which is slightly closer to what I would’ve ended up with if I had to buy it), and it’s a nice fuzzy feeling, but does no more to keep me on it than the odd question why I’d ride something so slow/old/dorky (which, hey, you buy me what you think I should ride and we can talk).

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    Let’s clarify something. It’s true, the kind of car that you choose does say something about you. So does the kind of shirt you where. But that’s not the discussion. The discussion is if you CARE what it says, what others think. I do not. In fact, this day in age, you would be hard pressed to find a person that does.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      @troyoh

      Totally agree. If it is for your business, yes. If you are trying to get laid, yes. Otherwise, I’m not seeing it at all. I don’t blame people for craving the attention of strangers, but I have no desire for it whatsoever.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    This is pretty interesting. The Verano T is basically invisible. People who know its mine, generally have never heard of or taken notice of the Verano. They only look at it closely because again, its my new car, but otherwise never would.

    People especially have no idea what the dual exhausts and very subtle “T” badge mean.

    In the long run though this stealth is probably going to serve me well.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    It’s nice to have looks from time to time. A yellow Boss 302 will grab attention there in KY. In Chicago $150K+ exotics won’t get looks like years back. If you want eyes glued on your ride in Chicago you’ll have to spin a Bugatti Veyron with a mirrored paint finish!

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    Interesting topic and article .. but too much author’s ‘“promoter” type personality attitude’ in it ..

    ..
    Boss Mustang – cool car , nice street-weapon , ..
    but in yellow ?!? :) .. (..or that famous ‘gay-bue\'(a lot of car-mags tested 660+bhp Shelby monster .. in ..that gay-blue .. :)

    PS:

    Nowadays car-brands got ‘hipster-crazy’ and they paint their cars in some ‘shmancy-fancy’ colours (..i.e : Aston Vanquish in gay-blue, or Jaguar F-type in ‘crazy orange: ?!?.. that are ‘british cars’, so where’s elegant Racing-Green ?!?..)

  • avatar
    Udo

    I don’t read that he’s trying to impress anyone in the traditional sense of car=money, but that he enjoys other’s reaction to it. I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with that.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I’m conflicted about this. When I was shopping for a car, I wanted something nice, but not too nice. Stylish, but not in way that called attention.

    I bought a black Maxima.

    People get out of the way. It doesn’t draw much attention from cops. And when I was more consistent about waxing it, it drew compliments.

    Good enough, I think, but since I don’t use the back seats much, I’m sorely tempted to go for a hot-rod FD RX7 for the next car. I suspect that’ll draw a bit more attention.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “To act like we don’t care what the world thinks of our car is equivalent to walking out the door every day without making an attempt to match our shoes and our belts. Sure, kids and people who have no ambition do it, but grown-ups don’t.”

    It’s not an act. If it were, I’d have washed my car within the last six months. I truly do not care what anyone thinks of my car. I also have zero ambition; no desire at all to grow up. So replace “act like we don’t” with “not” and you’ve nailed it.

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