Attracting Attention
Does the car, not the clothes, make the man?

By Jeffrey Fazio
Special Sections Writer

“Does the male parade his charms with so much pomp and rivalry for no purpose? Are we not justified in believing that the female exerts a choice ... ? It is not probable that she consciously deliberates; but she is ... attracted by the most beautiful, or melodious, or gallant males.”

Charles Darwin
speaking on the attraction between peahens and peacocks


They say that clothes make the man. I beg to differ. It’s definitely the car that makes the man, at least when it comes to attracting the opposite sex.

Just like peacocks flaunting their vast array of brightly colored feathers in hopes of attracting the peahen, so too, do human males strut their stuff in fancy and flashy automobiles to attract the eye of their female counterparts. That’s not to say that every guy with a fancy car is trying to attract women, nor is it trying to say that all women are attracted to flashy cars. But it does happen. A lot of women are attracted to sexy cars and who could blame them?

As proof to my premise, I offer my experiences with two cars that I own. The first is a 1987 Chevy Sprint, a small compact with a hatch that delivers well over 35 miles per gallon. The second car is a 1991 Toyota MR2, a two-seater sports car complete with T-tops.

I have owned the MR2 for four years now. In that time, I met three women that I eventually dated while driving that car. That’s right, by simply driving the MR2, I found myself in an intriguing conversation with an attractive member of the opposite sex who was, only moments before, a complete stranger.

Over those same years, I was also lucky enough to have dated three other women that also owned 1991 MR2s. And yes, I met them because we happened to drive the same car. A good-looking woman driving an MR2 couldn’t get any more attractive to me, not even if she stuffed her pockets with magnets.

Now, in comparison, I have owned the Sprint five years, giving it a full 12 months of seniority on the MR2. That must be worth something, right? A lingering look, maybe? In the 12 months the Sprint was alone, plus the four years coupled with MR2 ownership, it has yet to even attract even a single glance from a woman. Can you imagine the odds?

Surely, at one point or another, a woman might have stepped off a curb and in a moment of sheer surprise turned her attention, for the slightest nanosecond, to my little Sprint approaching her. However, that has not been the case. Not once did the Sprint ever attract the eye of a woman.

So why is that? Is it because women like fast cars? If so, then the Sprint should be getting all of the attention. It is, after all, faster than my MR2. Not only is the Sprint faster than the MR2, it also gets better gas mileage, is cheaper to maintain, less stressful to own, cheaper on the insurance and a much better choice in bad weather.

So why are women seemingly more attracted to the MR2? Like the peacock’s feathers, the MR2 is flashier, more ostentatious and just flat out sexier. It grabs their attention and sometimes it actually manages to keep it.

So why are women really attracted to the guy in the nice car?

“The simple explanation would be that it’s about money and status, but a more romantic hypothesis would be that it is a knight-in-shining-armor phenomenon,” explained Dr. David A. Arena, assistant professor of graduate counseling psychology for Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, who teaches at DeSales University in Center Valley, Lehigh County. “By this I mean the common folklore that every woman has a fantasy of being swept off their feet by a shining knight on a white steed — the dream would be quickly dashed if that steed turned out to be a Ford Pinto.”

“In the past, driving a sports car was a ‘guy thing,’ but if you look at NASCAR statistics, more and more fans are women and the number of women race car drivers is growing,” said Dr. Margaret Herrick, a psychologist and associate professor of counseling at Kutztown University, “I think that women now see themselves in the driver’s seat and are attracted to the independence, freedom, and adventure that a sports car promises. They may be looking more at the car than the guy!”

The irony in this story is that my current girlfriend is not into cars at all. In fact, she seems to have a much greater appreciation for my Sprint than she does for the MR2. I’m working on that.