In the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy, What Women Want, a man suddenly gains the power to hear what women are thinking. Not having seen the movie (I was single in 2000 and thus excused from seeing chick flicks), I can't tell you what women wanted eight years ago. But, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can tell you what they want today, from cologne to clothes to cars. Spoiler alert: owners of the 1987 Dodge Ram D150 might want to stop reading right now.
A new Web site, www.hertaste.com, aims to illuminate the female perspective for clueless men by recruiting a panel of women to rate certain products. Since I already know everything about lady-killing wardrobe and scents - silk shirts and Drakkar Noir all the way - I'm most interested in the automotive opinions. So, I submitted a selection of cars to a panel of women to see what they'd think. I threw in a few new cars that I personally covet, along with a selection of older cars that I've actually owned myself. The time has come to find out whether girls liked me for me . . . or if they were just pretending so they could be seen in my '85 Chevy Camaro IROC-Z.
My panel consisted of fourteen women of varying ages, races, and backgrounds. The only thing they have in common is that they're all hot. Because if I cared about the opinions of unattractive people, I'd watch the end of each episode of 60 Minutes.
Products are rated on a scale of one to five stars, and my early vehicles did not fare well. Of the IROC, a woman named Ekta said, "It looks a bit dated, and the guy who owns it either can't afford a better car or lives in the past." Molly opined, "It would be great . . . if it was still the 1980s. If you want a classic, go back to the '60s. If you want something hot, get it new." I was despairing for the IROC until I read the evaluation from Joanna, who wrote, "This car has always reminded me of a bad boy. You know what they say - good girls always love the bad boys." Hey, Joanna, wanna stay out past curfew and shoot bottle rockets at cars? Yeah? Well, too bad. I'm busy.
As for my dad's 1987 Ram - my high-school transportation during those times when the IROC was incapacitated by troublesome transmission mounts or a snowflake on the road - Molly said, "Are you taking me to a hoedown in this? If not, I'm not getting in." Other comments included, "Looks very outdated," and "Nothing attractive about this one. Kills the environment and kills your wallet with gas nowadays." That hurts, Joanna. Either you like bad boys or you don't, OK? And I'll have you know that the Ram had the slant six and a one-barrel carb with a four-speed. After the rear end exploded and the junkyard replacement turned out to have an axle ratio appropriate for the Mulsanne straight, that sucker probably got 15 or 16 mpg. In 1994, that was, like, a Toyota Prius.
Moving along chronologically, my '87 Jeep Cherokee fared somewhat better. The general consensus seems to be that the Cherokee is a classic and a sign of an outdoorsy type. I jacked mine up soon after buying it in 1995, when I was in an off-roading phase that lasted roughly until the rear driveshaft, tired of its excessive angle, sheared a U-joint and dropped onto the pavement on Route 1. The Hertaste panel included a few dissenting votes, but the typical comments included, "Perfect for the guy who loves adventure and the outdoors," and "I love the old boxy Jeeps." Evidently, by 1996 my automotive taste was improving.
That is, until I bought the Saab. This surprised me, but the ladies were awfully down on my 1991 Saab 9000 Turbo, a less-than-reliable ride that was nonetheless an idiosyncratic, cool choice of transportation - or so I thought. The girls don't see it that way. Farhana said, "Saabs were so cool in the early '90s, huh?" proving that you can be sarcastic in fewer than ten words. Joanna wrote, "Carpooling with the parents?" while Molly said, "Bad choice." Thankfully, Celeste came to the rescue with a keen assessment: "A good solid car for me. It's nice, yet the age makes it more everyday than some of the sportier options. I would totally respect someone who has one of these just because there's no flash value involved." Celeste, you understand me in a way that Joanna never will.
Jumping ahead a couple decades, I've got three recent favorites that I'd suggest to car-shopping bachelors of a certain means: the Nissan GT-R, the BMW 135i, and the Audi RS4 Cabriolet. I was curious to see what the women would make of this trio. For instance, I love the GT-R, but would the females associate it with a midlife crisis or extreme The Fast and The Furious geekiness?
The GT-R fared well, actually, with a four-star rating and comments like, "Nissan makes some really good sports cars. I wish I wasn't so girly and actually knew more about it," and simply, "Hot car." So, you might attract women with a GT-R. But based on my experience, you'll probably attract far more men. Plan accordingly.
I recently drove an RS4 Cabriolet, and when my brother-in-law spied the "V8" badge on the fender, he asked, "This thing's got a V-8?" Yep, I said. Same one as the R8 - 420 hp. "It's still a girl car," he replied. Then I opened the Hertaste comments page on the RS4 and saw that Molly wrote, "This looks like so much fun, but it's kind of a girl's car." Still, the RS4 Cab garnered ten five-star votes.
Likewise, the 135i earned eight five-star ratings, along with comments like, "Love it for a girl; too small for a guy," and "To me, this is a woman's car." So even with a twin-turbo six or a screaming V-8, you still might have an effeminate car, but that's OK as long as it's new and German? I'm confused.
Several years ago, on my first date with my future wife, I picked her up in a Subaru Impreza WRX. That went well. The second date, I picked her up in a Toyota Sienna, despite her declaring, "You're not picking me up in a minivan." The third date - well, the point is, there was a third date, even after the minivan. So maybe your car isn't as big a deal as you think. As Celeste wrote, "I respect any man who can get himself from point A to point B and isn't afraid to ride the bus sometimes." And, given most of my former cars, I respect any woman who isn't afraid to take a ride in a tow truck once in a while.
Visit Ezra's Cars at Hertaste.com to see what the women had to say.