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August 5, 2011

Drawn to Magnetism

by drivingfarce

I was explaining the virtues of driving my 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel (aka “The Rabbi”, then later “The Whistle Pig”) and was greeted with a rather interesting response: “You’ll never get a wife in a car like that!” I found this a particularly shallow and unnecessary observation on his part. Of course I wouldn’t. I knew that. I had no plans of bird-dogging chicks at the local strip mall with this thing. No illusions of females swooning at the sharp turbine whistle emitted by the side-exit exhaust. The mismatched hatch would not make them weak in the knees. That isn’t why I found that car so appealing.

What drew me to it was it’s simplicity, the pureness of the driving experience, the excellent fuel economy (better than today’s uber-complex hybrids), and the fact that the $175 purchase price seemed relatively affordable. (Truth be told, the previous owner’s girlfriend told him to make the decision between her or the car, thus the quick sale and low, low price.) Yes, it is ugly, rough, and will mark its territory with the predictability and dedication of a terrier in a public park. I love the directness of the manual steering, the boost-induced giggles of a self-installed turbo system, and the honesty of its reluctance to get going on a cold winter morning. It has character. It is a bit special.

Fond memories of that car got me thinking (just a touch, I promise!). What car could a woman drive that would capture my attention? And am I really that shallow? Perhaps, but I tend to think that a car says more than a bit about the person driving it. Not the simple statements of “I’m rich!” or “I like vanilla!” (Okay, I must admit that I do judge an ice cream company on their vanilla.) but the deeper, more defining traits and flaws in character. So, I have compiled a list of cars and the reasons that have (or certainly would) draw me in to attempt to strike up a conversation with the female behind the wheel. The proverbial moth drawn to the flame front.

10. Chevrolet Impala SS (1994-1996) I admired Chevy’s ability to make an unattractive car into a very desirable package with just a few subtle tweaks. Understated, yet just sinister enough to let you know it’s not your normal Caprice. To me, it says “I may not be a complete knock-out at first glance, but look closer and you’ll see there’s something quite special about me.”

9. Alfa Romeo GTA coupe (1965-1969) Small and lightweight, but spirited handling that more than makes up for its lack of sheer power. “I am petite, fit, and feisty. I appreciate a steady hand and room to allow me to be myself.”

8. Mini Cooper S (2001-2007) Sprightly, tiny, and more fun than a ferret in a barrel full of sock monkeys. A kart for the daily commute with a million different ways to personalize it.  It says either “I’m unique and like nothing more than a good time.” or, in my case “I’m your sister.”

7. Dodge Aries K (1981-1989) Everything that was wrong with the American automobile in one crude, bland package. “I am cheap, unreliable, and like to blow off steam at the most inopportune moments. By the way, Walmart has a sale on lawn chairs.” (I’ll admit, unless it was absolutely showroom-mint, I’d back away slowly from this girl.)

6. Chevrolet Impala (1965-1970) Granted, I’ve always preferred the coupes. But my grandparents had a ‘68 sedan, painted in the typical GM color that my friend Gordon has forever dubbed “Geriatric Blue.” It had a subtle 327 that could shove it down the road in a very satisfying manner. “Nevermind the trunk, I’ve got a simple beauty and know how to handle myself if it ever comes to it.”

5. BMW 750iL (1987-1994) It’s got a long wheelbase and an even longer firing order. I’ve always wanted a V12, and the Germans seem to do them best. Cruise all day long at 155mph and arrive completely fresh. “I expect lasting quality in everything I own. Oh, and I have extremely long legs.”

4. Jeep Grand Wagoneer (1984-1991) The full-sized SUV that others were judged by. It is big, thirsty, relatively refined, yet fully capable off-road. Under-appreciated, except by those in the know. “I like what I like and can handle myself just fine, thank you. Now hand me that hatchet.”

3. BMW 2002tii (1972-1974) Lightweight, simple, and can out-handle most anything in the right hands. Italian spirit with a cool-headed German approach. “My unique, timeless beauty may be understated, but I will entertain you every day for the next 40 years.” (Highly desirable, in my opinion.)

2. Lancia Fulvia Coupe (1974-1976) Small and wildly entertaining with its tiny V4 engine driving the front wheels. So much wrong with it and yet so much right. And there is just something about the barking wail of a good V4. “I am unique, temperamental, and have a great voice. Just be ready to spend money on me.”

1. Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel (1976-1984) Nothing attracts a moth like another moth. Bonus points for turbo install. “I am funky and value other things in life more than material possessions. I’m also a heavy smoker.”

I think I can safely say I was never interested in attracting girls with my cars. While my cars will announce my presence before I ever get a chance to, I always wanted the ladies to want me, not my wheels. I don’t know if I ever convinced the person who uttered that rude observation to me. My only reply to him was “I want my woman to love me in spite of my car, not because of it.”

My father was silent as he walked away.

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