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You Are What You Drive?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
True or false, and why.

In an earlier time it was said that Buicks were popular with doctors, Cadillacs were favored over Lincolns by the nouveau rich, those who placed a higher priority on engineering over flash drove Chryslers, college professors liked Volvos and MGs, and counter-culture types bombed around in VW buses. More recently, the new VW Bug has been labeled a chick car, the Mazda Miata is frequently driven by girlie-men, Hummers are the ride of choice of macho guys (or macho wannabes), and, well, you get the point. Are these largely urban legends, or can you indeed improve the odds of guessing the type of person in the lane next to you by checking out the vehicle that he/she drives?


  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Stereotypes are always based on some reality. You just have to remember that only a significant minority is enough to create one, which leaves a lot of room for bad assumptions.

    Those cars tend to be good at something, but are popular for a totally different reason. Like the Miata and Mini being cute in addition to driving well, and BMWs being good cars but also prestigious.

    But yeah, I make assumptions. Especially if the car's parked and I see what kind of transmission it has. I just try to force myself to be skeptical of my first thought.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    You make a good point re the transmission...

    I'm willing to forgive a lot/not stereotype as much if the vehicle in question has a manual transmission.

    Base Mustang V6 coupes with automatics are often derided as "secretary's cars"...but if I see one with a 5 spd, it makes me forget that and think the owner is a genuine enthusiast, just on a budget. :)
  • marikamarika Member Posts: 39
    If you have the money to make a purchase from a wide variety of late model cars, well then, maybe the car you drive is a reflection of your values.

    But, if you are so tight and demanding that you can't even be bothered to purchase anything currently on the market and you drive a gift junker that does not say anything about who you are except that it is not expensive, well, maybe not.

    At least, that is the case with me. My car is old and worthless but it is fully loaded with every optional nonsense that I would never dream of buying and is a full size. It still looks very good and somewhat expensive. It is almost entirely antithetical to my value system and is one of the models that I would be least likely to purchase If I had to make a purchase.

    But, it was free, and that overrides a lot!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,681
    how I would get stereotyped, with the types of cars I have? Multiple personality disorder? :P

    Lessee, we have my...

    1985 Silverado, to satisfy my inner redneck
    2000 Intrepid, to display my conservative working stiff side, I guess? One of my buddys said it also screams "family"
    1979 New Yorker, for when I'm feeling pimpy and need to slap mah ho's
    1976 LeMans, for when I feel like putting on some gold chains, unbuttoning my shirt to show off my chest hairs (I'd have to glue some on!), and heading out to the local disco for retro saturday nite
    1967 Catalina convertible, I dunno...my inner beach bum? It's kind of a good car to take to the beach
    1968 Dart, I have no idea what personality that would reflect...back when it was primer black and had the amp in it, it looked kinda rough and thuggy
    1957 DeSoto...gawd only knows what type of personality this would reflect.

    So, multiple personality disorder? Or just a well-rounded individual? :shades:
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,139
    For car enthusiasts it's a true statement...otherwise, it might not be. A lot of varied people drive beige Camcords.

    Hmmm....what would the fintail express...that I am a low level 60s cold war spy or the descendant of 90 year old retired doctor from Beverly Hills (where the car lived when new) who is taking it out for a spin.

    The W126 expressed that I am a lower level drug runner with car-cleanliness OCD or the descendant of a 70 year old retired doctor taking the car out for a spin.

    The C43 expresses that I am...I don't really know...a MB enthusiast, yeah.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    I believe in this... Let's see..

    My Odyssey: I LOVE my family. No doubt about it.
    My Civic: I just want something that gets me from A to B cheaply and affordably.

    My Infiniti I35: hmmm... this is a tough one to put in few words... Maybe a middle aged boomer who's finally reached affluence?

    Funny how they say professors like Volvos and Saabs. I am a professor and none of my collegues drive Volvos or Saabs. I've only had 1 colleague ever own a Swedish car, and she was an Accounting professor who bought Saab after Saab. (she bought a new 2002 9-3 SE hatchback in 2002)
  • jefferygjefferyg Member Posts: 418
    I live in the Deep South and while there are some you know right off, there are others that will fool you. For instance:
    Here if you drive a Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, or Town Car you are either old, a highway patrolman, or a banker. Suburbans are always driven by soccer moms, but anyone might drive an Expedition. A really old pickup is almost always a farmer, a compact pickup is almost always a young man between 16 and 25, however, anyone is liable to get out of a newer full-sized pickup. And if you exclude work trucks, you will see about as many women as men driving F-350 King Ranch Duallies.

    While I'm not sure that you are what you drive, I do believe that what you drive says something about who you are and what your values are.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    While I'm not sure that you are what you drive, I do believe that what you drive says something about who you are and what your values are.

    I agree.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    I think how you take care of whatever you drive says a lot more about you than the brand or model does.
  • carguy58carguy58 Member Posts: 2,303
    maturity for my mid 20's since I drive an Acura CL. At 18 years old I I owned a 1998 626. Somebody said once said to me that car is for a family. Personally I never seen the 626 as a family car.
  • jefferygjefferyg Member Posts: 418
    I'll give you that one. I'd rather have a nice, clean, well maintained Ford or Chevy any day over a ragged out BMW. Even my 96 Ranger with 240,000 miles and a host of dings and dents, squeaks and rattles is clean inside and out.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    However some are wannabe folks. Also look at Sam Walton. He had a old pick-up beat up pick-up. If I remember right it closed with bailing wire. Perhaps I'm confusing the bailing wire with the founder of Idaho Potato's ????

  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    So does that mean I'm reliable but boring? I've never had anyone call me boring, but are they just being polite?
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    LOL :) Perhaps that depends on what trim level you have. :P

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,681
    has an '03 Corolla CE (I think that's the trim level), and it's REALLY out of character for him. It's white with a gray interior...really something more in tune with my stepdad's tastes. Let's just say it's a bit clashy with my uncle's flannel shirts and gun rack!

    And I have noticed that on Sundays when he goes to his turkey shoots (that's just what they call them...they shoot paper targets and not real critters) that he does drive his truck. Maybe he's afraid all the other good ol' boys will laugh and call him names? :shades:

    My uncle has a habit of buying something else almost the moment that he gets his current ride paid off, and I think he paid off his Corolla recently. I know the car probably seems out of character for me too, but I did ask him if I could have first dibs on it when the time comes, instead of him just trading it in. It's not a car I'd want to take a long trip in, but for local running around I could deal with it.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Rockylee: "Perhaps that depends on what trim level you have."

    I interpret Rock's comment as meaning that if your Corolla is the "S" (sport) model, you're fun to be with. If it's one of the other trim levels, however, then, well, ummm, you may be a bit socially challenged, or insecure, or both...or neither...depending on whether one is indeed what one drives.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    or maybe it means that you just don't place a high emphasis on cars. Your Corolla is an appliance that gets you from A to B cheaply and reliably. I know a lot of people who own Camrys and Corollas simply because they want dependable, reliable transportation.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,139
    I think most Corolla drivers couldn't care less about how what they drive makes them appear.

    The Corolla S though...I don't get it.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    That's exactly what I was trying to interpret. ;)

    Well I can also see why alot of drivers use a car strictly as an appliance and care less about trim levels to express there character. I however couldn't imagine many people in this edmunds forum being a part of that crowd. :shades:

  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Question is what you own, versus what you'd like to own.

    For example, my wife drives a 2000 Corolla, but she really wants a small SUV, which is something a lot of women without children want to drive. Once they have children, they want a larger SUV, though many choose to be more practical and buy a minivan.

    Myself, I at the ripe age of 39, drive a 2002 Mercury Grand Marquis LSE. I had an old 94 Grand Marquis as a beater that I loved so much that I bought a newer one last September. I get crap from a lot of people for the car, but once they ride in it for a while, they love it.

    Sadly, once the children arrive, we will probably switch cars.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Good point, jsyl. Maybe "you are what you want to own" is closer to reality, in many cases and stages of life, than "you are what you drive."
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    "Maybe "you are what you want to own" is closer to reality, in many cases and stages of life, than "you are what you drive."

    I agree with this statement. I *wish* that I was currently driving a new Mustang GT like my buddy. However, my buddy will *wish* that he had put as much money into his retirement accounts as I currently do when we both reach the age of 55 instead of having paid a $650/month car payment and gaining very little equity on a 30 year mortgage like he is currently doing.
  • prosaprosa Member Posts: 280
    Well I drive a 2006 Subaru Forester, which would make me a lesbian, but for the fact that I'm a man ;)
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    In my case (Mustang), it's a mixed bag at best.

    I like to think it makes me look like a cool, Steve Mcqueen sort, but I know it's also one of the conveyances of choice for the "hot-headed road jerk" set (esp. once your model is no longer the current one...think about what you envision when you see a 1980s Fox Body Mustang with the 4 inch cowl hood and primer-color body parts...) :(

    Still, not as bad as a Camaro or a Firebird I suppose... :P
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    My girlfriend and I have:

    2005 Buick LaCrosse CXL
    2002 Cadillac Seville STS
    2001 Chevrolet Impala base model
    1989 Cadillac Brougham
    1988 Buick Electra Park Avenue

    As far as I feel, it says nothing more than we like GM cars - especially Buicks and Cadillacs. We are not older people. I'm 40 and she's 39.
  • habitat1habitat1 Member Posts: 4,282
    Forget this "you are what you'd like to own" bipolarism.

    If you choose to be prudent and buy a car that you can comfortably afford rather than stretch your budget - that says something about you. Positive in my opinion. No one ever jumped off a bridge or had a heart attack because they had too little personal debt or saved too much.
  • habitat1habitat1 Member Posts: 4,282
    "As far as I feel, it says nothing more than we like GM cars - especially Buicks and Cadillacs. We are not older people. I'm 40 and she's 39."

    You ought to send that post to GM. I'm sure they could use a little Holiday Cheer, given their current condition. ;)
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    "If you choose to be prudent and buy a car that you can comfortably afford rather than stretch your budget - that says something about you."

    w00t, I'm a miser.

    You're right, because then what you drive is the result of your decision-making process. The only problem is that we were trying to make assumptions about people just based on one sight of their car. Which, of course, doesn't work.

    Incidentally, I saw a Miata and a 3-series convertible with hardtops this weekend, and my immediate reaction was "they must be more serious about driving." Dunno why, but there it was.
  • nwngnwng Member Posts: 663
    to shuffle my kids and their little friends around. do I have a choice? :cry:
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Are they that large?
  • smalltownsmalltown Member Posts: 75
    I drive a 2005 Kia Spectra5, my wife has a 2001 Honda CRV, my son inherited my 2002 Hyundai Accent. Demographic info.: Age 56, Ph.D., small town Midwest.

    What I would like is Chevy Tornado/Montana being sold in the Latin American countries.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,681
    is that Tornado/Montana thingie? At a quick glance it makes me think of the Ute that they sell in Australia, the one that's on the Commodore/Monaro/GTO platform. I'm sure the Tornado is smaller though. Is it built on the Cobalt platform, maybe?
  • smalltownsmalltown Member Posts: 75
    It is 175 in. long, 65 in. wide, with a 5 1/2 ft. bed, extended cab, FWD. Perfect for driving in the snow belt, hauling yard waste, bringing home garden supplies, etc. I don't tow. Anything really big and heavy, I'd hire someone to do.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    Those Utes are pretty cool, and hugely popular down under...do you think the U.S. is ready for the Ford Ranchero II or the new Chevy El Camino though? :confuse:
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Same here, but I have an Ody because... well... because I wanted a van I guess.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    Minivan dads who want to look cool can always soup them up. I've seen Odysseys lowered, with rims, tint, and spoiler. They have enough power already, but an exhaust and intake would change the sound and an anti-sway bar in the rear would limit roll. Works best on white ones.
  • 1racefan1racefan Member Posts: 932
    "Minivan dads who want to look cool can always soup them up. I've seen Odysseys lowered, with rims, tint, and spoiler. They have enough power already, but an exhaust and intake would change the sound and an anti-sway bar in the rear would limit roll."

    Yeah...you can definitely add this one to my "Wouldn't be caught dead in" list.
  • lemmerlemmer Member Posts: 2,689
    Very Bad Idea. Clearly Not Cool.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    Yeah, I gotta agree with the 1racefan and lemmer..for me, doing that to a minivan could possibly be the only thing worse than owning a regular one... ;)
  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    But think of the possibilities! You could fill it with plasma screens! Or fishtanks!
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    :blush: In all fairness though, I have to admit I do like how some minivans have a sorta musclecar "rake" to them (back jacked up higher than the front). Seems to improve the looks a little, and probably helps with handling...or maybe I just miss the 1970s... ;)
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    No way. Not for me. I'll take my plain Mesa Beige Odyssey EX anyday over one that has been "tricked out" with chrome rims, 55 inch DVD screens, or a katrillion whatt stereo.
  • jefferygjefferyg Member Posts: 418
    But think of the possibilities! You could fill it with plasma screens! Or fishtanks!

    But then where are the kids going to ride? On the luggage rack?

    Seriously though, if my wife told me she'd rather have a van than the SUV we're currently drivng, the Odyssey would be at the top of my list. We have a couple of friends who own them, and I could see going on vacation in it or driving the family to church on Sunday. Day to day I can drive my old pickup.

    But what the Ody says to me is that you've probably got kids and quality is important to you. Granted I have heard of a few problems with the Ody, but if our friend Barbara's van can survive her kids, it's tougher than that Dodge Ram from Twister.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    Remember when they used to trick-out vans back in the '70s with high-performance engines, wild, colorful graphics and murals, porthole windows, and a waterbed in the back? There's even a commercial that says, "Respect the van. Many families were started in one."

    It's a shame to see that Pops was such a swingin' dude with his 'Fro, gold chains, Eleganza duds, platform shoes, and Chess King leather coat back in the '70s driving his flashy disco van with three foxy babes in the back. Today, we see him as balding, potbellied, bespectacled, emasculated shell driving his dull soccermommy minivan to pick up Moms at the Whole Foods today.
  • lemmerlemmer Member Posts: 2,689
    If a custom van is good enough for B.A. Baracus, it is good enough for me.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    The Sienna is also a great road trip car from what I've seen.

    Almost any minivan will make a decent car for a road trip. Roomy interior, plenty of creature comforts (DVD entertainment anyone?) and somewhat decent fuel economy.
  • dandersen2dandersen2 Member Posts: 8
    A car does not say as much about us as we wish it does. Automobiles are a fashion industry, so if we buy what appeals to us, yes it says something (provided we choose our cars. Not all do) Some people pay more attention to what they wear than others and some pay more attention to what they drive.

    We like cars for how the drive, hold stuff etc. We also like cars for how they make us feel and because we like to think of ourselves as someone who owns an XXX. That's the fashion side of cars as identity.

    Some of us buy into that more than others.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Member Posts: 7,704
    who doesn't choose their own car?

    The teenager who has a car that is given to them by their parents could be used as an example, I suppose.

    Most people, the vast majority, choose their own rig. Unless, of course, you're talking about husband and wife battling over which car they should buy. Most couples have more than one car, but a battle could ensue over who should get the new rig they (or one of them) want. ;)

    2021 Kia Soul LX 6-speed stick

  • carlisimocarlisimo Member Posts: 1,280
    It's like taking sides. If you buy a sport compact, you're telling other sport compact guys "I am one of you. Respect me, and by my friend. Our numbers give us strength."

    Meanwhile you tell others "I am grouping myself together with others of like mind. Driving is not to us what it is to you. We are special. So ha!"

    Something like that. That's why so many people scoff at the idea of buying a minivan. They don't want to be perceived as... what they really are. Because we all wish we were part of something more exciting, even if we go along with what's practical and what authority figures tell us we should do (get a job, get married, buy a house, have 2.5 kids, save up for their college and your retirement).

    Most people belong to a couple of groups they're responsible to (workplace and family), and if they're lucky, recreational groups (sports fans, poker friends, etc). Buy a niche vehicle, and for two hours a day you belong to another recreational group. You don't know any of your groupmates, but for the time you're commuting you're not an office employee, nor a dad; you're an enthusiast. "Look at me I'm not a cog in the machine at the moment!"
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    ...I went to the Philadelphia Auto Show and all the people were fawning over the exotics, Mercedes and Lexus, and Hummer. Most of these people couldn't afford these cars short of a massive inheritance or hitting the Powerball. I prefer to keep my automotive fantasies grounded in reality.
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