By on June 11, 2020

1987 Shelby CSX (P), Image: Shelby Automobiles

“Huh, I wouldn’t have figured you for a [insert make and model here] driver.”

“You don’t seem like the type to drive a…”

You get the idea. The personality we project in polite social and work settings might not be the primal being that emerges when no one’s around. There’s a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in all of us, and it sometimes manifests itself in what we drive. All too often, of course, the mundane reality of personal finances keep even these urges under wraps.

But not always.

Meek and mild men sometimes leave their accounting or insurance job to hit up something fierce for the drive home. Hardcore types who parkour their way out of the office complex while saying “bruh” at every opportunity might end up sliding behind the wheel of a minivan or sensible compact crossover. Something your grandmother would drive.

Of course, kindly five-foot tall grandmothers, my own included, might cause double takes wherever they go by preferring Mopar muscle over something that’s expected of them.

An environmental type who talks of fighting climate change and banning single-use plastics, who microwaves tofu and soy-based meals in the office kitchen, might just go home in an F-150 or Silverado at the end of the day. No Prius in sight. That thrifty hybrid, however, might just be the personal property of someone who scoffs at such overt virtuousness.

What we drive reflects one side of us. It’s not the entirety of who we are, but it’s a part of it — and sometimes that proves jarring to those who think they’ve got us pegged. Have you ever thrown co-workers or casual acquaintances off-balance with your daily driver? Do tell.

[Image: Shelby Automobiles]

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40 Comments on “QOTD: Do You Fit the Profile?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Of course, kindly five-foot tall grandmothers, my own included, might cause double takes wherever they go by preferring Mopar muscle over something that’s expected of them.”

    Nice, lifted directly from Jan & Dean’s “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”

    To answer your question, no, I generally drive cars that suite me and my needs. When I venture away from that philosophy and cater to my ego I generally end up with a car I’m not happy with. However, this does NOT apply to hobby cars where we are allowed to let our auto freak flag fly :)

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      https://youtu.be/40x3x1B7O_o

      “Little Old Slappy from Pasadena” – the Animaniacs take on the subject.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      My somewhat elderly mother used to like blowing people away in her ’64 Riviera and later her ’70 Toronado, so I guess I come by my love of somewhat high powered coupes naturally. But yeah, as a somewhat mild mannered guy, those who do not know me are sometimes surprised that I drive sporty cars.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’ve been saying all along that a person’s preferred car represents their personality; what they drive tends to represent their lifestyle. Let’s put it another way.

    Most people drive what they do to meet their needs, not their wants. Given the freedom to drive what they want, they’d probably drive something significantly more adventurous than they do. All these crossovers today are ‘rat race’ cars, meeting the day-to-day need of families that tend to offer little in the way of enjoyment in their lives but ensures they have the capability to serve their transportation needs. Oh, these people may pay a little more for comfort and ‘features’ but these aren’t the kinds of cars that say, “I like to explore,” or “I’m really a fun person, once you get to know me.” Of course, some of those people want to say, “I’m a Big Shot” and try to drive something way, WAY out of their means while there are those who say, “I’m just a simple person with few but specific needs and don’t want ostentation.”

    My own desires in a vehicle are quite remote from the common view. I drive what I do simply because what I want isn’t available. I don’t need something with four full doors and I don’t want something with four full doors. I don’t need something twenty feet long, seven feet long and seven feet tall when shorter, narrower and lower with an open bed can meet the need far more readily. What I have meets the need but is far too large for what I wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Vulpine – “Most people drive what they do to meet their needs, not their wants.”

      I’d have to disagree for the most part. If people bought what they needed minivans would be outselling pickup trucks. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s are all over the place and most of them will never see a tight trail. The same argument gets floated for pickup truck sales. Even I would say that many pickup buyers don’t need a pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Lou_BC: Minivans are still popular, they’ve just changed their names with the 3-row versions. But you have touched on another issue–people don’t like to be seen as the same as everyone else… when minivans were new they were highly popular and flat replaced the low-slung station wagons. The so-called CUV is still little more than a tall station wagon–with a short cargo floor. If you want a long cargo floor, you have to buy a pickup or a “full-sized” SUV.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Despite getting dangerously close to being on this planet for 50 years now I don’t fit the stereotypical Corvette owner profile… yet I drive a C7. Its only the 3rd American made vehicle I’ve owned, the other 2 being pickups including my 10 year old Dodge Dakota. I’ve basically owned nothing but small Japanese vehicles my whole life including 4 Hondas and 2 Nissans. Most people are shocked when they find out I drive a ‘Vette as I’m sure LL Cool J radio is not a common C7 radio preset.

    Interesting tidbit: back in ’96 I test drove an Eclipse GS-T (see Japanese again) and the salesman left the wife & I alone for a bit. Quickly my wife scanned the paperwork on his desk for insights and noticed a marketing sheet that had an “owner profile” – and we fit it perfectly. It was kind of scary how much they knew about us: marital status, tax bracket, college education level, housing preferences, number of children, etc. Turns out we were the ideal Eclipse buyer… and sure enough two days later we bought that car. So sometimes the mold does fit.

    However I think most people get the whole Telsa crowd wrong. My experience with them is they are ex-German owners that want a fast, quiet, luxury car with style. Environmentalism is not why they bought a Tesla at all. The ones I’ve met are self-made CEOs types that are hard working and demanding.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Man, that bit about fitting the demographic is scary. And that was 25 years ago, imagine what they know now! “

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Indeed. I used to work in marketing and rule #1 is know your customer. Back in the early 80s my company managed mailing lists, even then you could sort down to the neighborhood level with decent accuracy to find like-minded individuals. There is a reason Amazon and Google dominate these days – they own all that data now.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I never know how to react when someone says something like: “That car seems very you.”

    I’ve only heard that about my 2010 Highlander and my 2018 Regal TourX.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I would totally rock the CUV all around town, all the time, but since I have to choose just one, it’s the fullsize pickup 24/7. And there’s nothing better for long distance runs.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’ve owned a number of sport and sporty cars over the years – even if I drive a Subaru Forester now. Other than an occasional “nice car” remark, my rides haven’t seemed to shock anybody. However, when people learn that I also ride a motorcycle, that tends to illicit quite a bit of surprise. It is actually still surprising to me how many people seem a bit threatened by that these days. How conservative (small c) and risk-adverse we have become as a society.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I just sort of have a bucket list of vehicles and/or vehicles with certain attributes and check them off as I go along. However if I had to just keep any one car I have owned, It’d be my 15 F150 XLT. It just does everything well.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m that guy: a climate-denier who mostly votes R, who has an EV (my second), a hybrid, and a minivan in the driveway. I don’t want to pollute, but I don’t think CO2 is a pollutant. I support the 2nd Amendment, but don’t want a gun.

    My Trumpie friends have looked askance at me ever since I got my first EV in 2012. It helps that I like fire-breathing cars, too, and that I don’t care what anybody drives.

    I’m 6’6″, but I prefer compact cars as daily drivers.

    I’ll wave the flag, but I haven’t bought a US-branded car in almost 15 years.

    We are a people of contradictions and inconsistencies. Profiles and stereotypes are useful, but often wrong, and need to be checked a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ^^ Snowflake ^^

      That’s ok, I’m a Democrat who likes big V8s and 4X4 trucks :)

      Takes all kinds, I guess

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I’m a truck guy and some of those steriotypes are there and some aren’t.

        I used to sit firmly on the right side of the political spectrum but have shifted centrist and to the left.

        I believe that climate change does exist but have never bought a car in my life.

        I’ve hunted and have gone out target shooting with friends but I’m not a hardcore gun type.

        I have dogs and none of them are rabid pitbulls, rotti’s etc. A labrador retriever and a newfoundlander probably fit the “truck guy” stereotype.

        I love motorcycles but have zero interest in anything with a Harley Davidson logo on it. Too heavy, old, slow, and lethargic. (I don’t want a bike that reminds me of me…LOL)

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision

          I have a 2010 F-150 XLT SCab; a 2013 Equinox; a 2007 CTS-V; and a 2000 GMC Silverado. The GMC is the oldest kid’s first truck ( I just bought it and am about to tear into it ); the Equinox is Wifey’s car; the F-150 is what I use in the Albertan Winters; and the V is what I use in the Albertan Summers. I must admit that the Equinox – that runs Winter tires all year ’round – is utterly amazing in the snow – way better than my truck. My Caddy kills all of them in acceleration and handling, mind. I don’t know what profile I’m supposed to fit but I likely don’t.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Poor old Shelby. I can see it in his eyes, “Please someone just shoot me…”

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Nah, having recently watched the documentary on Ol’ Shel on Netflix, he was happy for the money and to keep his name out there. Ever the salesman/promoter, he sought recognition more than anything. Especially in this era, where performance anything was rare.

      With no CSX Shadow (or Shelby if he hadn’t had a heart transplant) you could argue that Viper and some of the other stuff we’ve come to know and love wouldn’t have come to pass. I’m not saying Viper was his idea, but I think his blessing of that car gave Chrysler a lot of credit and reason to continue early on.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +1 gearhead77 – I’m pretty much blanket in favor of any performance version of any mass market car, and the CSX Shadow falls under that umbrella. And I’m pourin’ one out for the fact that up until very recently Ford was selling souped up versions of the Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta at US dealerships.

        I also think there’s some cognitive dissonance (granted, not necessarily from the same individuals) when enthusiast sites slather praise on ’60s muscle cars while mocking ’80s performance cars.

        Not incidentally though, I enjoy DenverMike’s and PrincipalDan’s comments and realize there’s more than a bit of levity here. I laughed out loud when I read “The dangers of being friends with Lee Iaccoca.”

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The dangers of being friends with Lee Iaccoca.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I fit the Chrysler demographic perfectly. I’m plain white trash.

    With a degree and money.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My daily is a 17 VW Golf with a 5 speed. No one flinches when I tell them this. And I’ve had it for nearly 3 years, I like the car and find it very capable. I have had only two problems: both headlights had a bad seal and collected water, they were replaced under warranty. And my lumbar support lever keeps falling off. The only thing I wish is that I had bought the GTI, but the Golf is nearly paid for. I’m kind of bored with it now, but trading in is not an option with so much uncertainty right now in terms of income. Maybe I’ll get a light tune and some upgrades to keep it interesting.

    Also, had I spent the other 6k on a GTI, I likely wouldn’t have set aside the money to buy the 89 Mustang GT convertible I bought last year. I’m not a musclehead by any stretch, but I can appreciate the Mustang for what it is and in all generations. I sat in an 87 or 88 GT convertible while my Dad was shopping for a new Ranger and I’ve always wanted one. I bought mine with 69k 97% rust free from the original owner last year who hadn’t driven it in 10 years.

    I don’t fit the “Foxbody” community demo either. I’m not looking to Coyote swap it or tune it to 500 whp. It’s largely original and I’m keeping it that way, with some minor upgrades as I go. These cars were (and are) great for cheap speed, but some folks still think there’s nothing better than these cars.

  • avatar
    Fred

    The Lotus dealer was at Walnut Creek Ferrari and they were always friendly to me. I’d come in to buy some parts and look at all the classics they had. I’m kind of scruffy hippy looking dude and I wondered why they talked to me. They said you never know, you may be a dope farmer with a suitcase of cash.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I don’t think anyone’s been surprised by the models we’ve driven, but they’ve often been surprised by the manual transmissions–especially the one in our old Mazda5 microvan!

  • avatar
    relton

    I so little fit the profile of a BMW owner that the local dealership refused to sell me one back in 2007. No kidding, the salesman wouldn’t even unlock a 335i coupe to let me sit in it, much less take if for a test drive.

    Fortunately there were other BMW dealers who ignored the profile. ow I’m on my 3rd BMW.

    I had sort of the same experience at the Bentley dealer, until the owner of the dealership decided to ignore the profile and gave me a test drive ina new Continental GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      When I was younger my older sister had a Rolls Royce. For fun I would dress in my grubbiest clothes and take that Roller through drive-thrus and stop at convenience stores to buy a 6-pack and a pack of Luckys just to enjoy some of the reactions. Priceless

  • avatar
    jack4x

    My wife will usually get a few surprised looks (and a few propositions) when she happens to be driving the Viper.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t worry about the profile or stereotype of what people believe I should drive. I drive what I like and that meets my needs. I buy vehicles that I can afford to pay cash for and if that bothers some then it is their problem. Typically those who are more concerned about what they drive and what others drive usually cannot afford what they drive.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Four door with a manual kind of guy here. Out of the eight of the cars I’ve owned, that describes three of them, which is not too bad a record.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @JimC2: Of 15 vehicles off the top of my head, only 5 were manuals and the rest automatics. My Mitsubishi and Ford Ranger compact pickups were 5-speeds, along with a Jeep JKU Wrangler, Saturn Vue and a VW Fastback Sedan way back in ’78. Note that while three of them were truck-based, that wasn’t the reason for their purchase as manuals. Like you, I enjoy rowing my own gears but honestly as you get older you get tired of the constant shifting when you’re driving in town. They’re much more fun when you’re able to sport around a bit and the Wrangler was the best one of the bunch for that.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Once at an auto show a lady said I looked good behind the wheel of a Nitro. I assume she was a Dodge plant.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Subscribed .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Sweet .

    I enjoy reading about what others like .

    When I was young I swore I’d always row my own and never have a slushbox, the moto crashes kinda put a crimp into that idea but the 2001 Ford Ranger with 2.5 and 5 speed manual box is giving me some fun after all these years sans a clutch pedal .

    Agreed : most who drive what they drive because they think it looks cool or to impress others rarely enjoy whatever it is they have at the moment .

    I laugh when guys tell me “I got this ride to pick up chicks !” those guys usually couldn’t get laid with a $100 bill tied to their dicks .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Gotten some raised eyebrows when I take my helmet off and they see they guy on the crotch-rocket is an old bastard.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I once owned a Chrysler 5th Avenue and 427 Cobra replica at the same time. Still have the Cobra but have a minivan now. I like the older BMWs but I also use my turn signals. I have a Yamaha XT600 for a bike.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I like the performance of sports car but not the brashness of them.

    Ideally I like boring looking sleepers but those are becoming hard to find. Something like a Ford Fusion Sport that’s been debadged would be ideal for me.

    I gave the Mustang to my wife, who likes her cars flashy. And took over her sleepy silver Infiniti M35x. I’m a lot happier now without having the “Mustang Tax”.

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