It’s what non-car people don’t get. They see all cars as a just ton-and-a-half, two tones of wire, glass, metal rubber. That’s all they see. People like you and I know, we have an unshakable belief that cars are living entities. You can develop a relationship with your car. And that’s what non-car people don’t get.
– Jeremy Clarkson
If you have watched a couple of car ads, you have probably noticed that most of them are male-oriented. Did you ever stop to ask why? Cars have been a gender-specific icon in modern culture for a long time. When you think about it for a little, you will see the logic behind it. Have you ever heard a group of women talking about cars? Probably not. But a group of men? Well, they can go on and on about engine characteristics, design, horsepower, etc. Men often view their cars as the extension of themselves, and this love story has roots in history, upbringing, chemistry, finance, and possession.
Cars were originally a male affair
In the late 19th and early 20th century, when the first automobiles appeared on the streets, men were the first drivers. While this wasn’t an ideal era for women, there was more to this than prejudice and stereotyping. The cars back then were difficult to manage, and the muddy roads weren’t exactly helpful. A couple of decades later, it became easier to own a car, especially in the US, where the automobile manufacturing reached unexpected heights.
The most “masculine” toys
While currently, we have some debate about the need for gender-neutral toys, this wasn’t always the case. It was always normal and desirable to give boys toy cars as birthday and Christmas gifts. But we can’t really say that this social influence leads to the development of this fascinating relationship between men and cars. It is believed that little boys love interacting with moving objects because their brain is good at spatial navigation.
The urge for control
So, your boss is giving you a hard time at work? You just had a fight with your girlfriend? The cash flow is miserable these days? All of these things are difficult to control. But cars? They are meant to go in any direction you choose, and at any speed you decide. This trait is irresistible to men.
A status symbol
Material possessions have always been considered the evidence of someone’s status. This goes back to the tribal communities where men used their goods to show off their superiority in the tribe. A car is more than something to brag about; it speaks about your profession, your earnings, and thus also about how hardworking you are. It is no wonder that “sexy” automobiles tend to attract attention, from women, business partners, and other men.
You are what you drive
While ladies may tend to dress to impress, gentlemen often drive to impress. Show us the car, and we’ll tell you all about the man who operates it. Or else, how would we know that men behind sports cars’ wheels truly love driving for the sake of driving. The ones who choose an SUV, regardless whether it is large or small 4WD, are all about being in charge. Choosing a specific automaker also says a lot about a man. Driving German cars has to do with the need for precise handling and reliability. Going for an American company like Ford speaks about history, patriotism, and great performance that can’t be matched.
Striving for perfection
The world in which we are living in is, in many ways, imperfect. This includes people, relationships, politics, and everything else. With cars, men have the chance to do something about it. You can’t get your wife to like Star Wars as much as you, but you can equip your ’62 Chevy Impala with mirror-chromed air cleaners and purple metal-flake engine blocks. Or you can upholster the interior in crushed velour. The possibilities are endless.
The romanticized life on the road
The long-distance driving is often celebrated in the literature (e.g., Jack Kerouac, Ian Fleming, and Stephen King) as a way to clear your thoughts and achieve a Zen state of mind. A lot of men prefer driving on the open road to de-stress TO, let’s say, hiking through the woods. It is relaxing; it gives a sense of control, and most importantly, it is a symbol of escape. Some people tend to oversimplify or even ridicule the relationship between men and their cars, but that relationship runs deep. It’s a cultural phenomenon, an unbreakable bond, and in some complex, but understandable way, a love that will never end.