What Makes A Chick Car A Chick Car?
My first response to that headline was: Stop it.
No, seriously, just stop it. Is this notion even still a thing? That there are “dude” cars and “chick” cars? As if your car gave a damn about who was driving it? As if you need your vehicle to properly identify your gender? It’s all well and good for Cosmo or Maxim and the unwashed masses to ascribe sexuality to vehicles, but you really ought to question your status as a car guy if this concept actually means anything to you. I’m talking to you, Chet. Can I call you Chet? Good.
The lists of "chick cars every guy should avoid" pop up all the time, and they always include a similar set of usual suspects: the Volkswagen Beetle and Cabriolet, the Mazda Miata, the Ford Ranger, the Dodge Neon, the Jeep Liberty. It’s not just the clickbait sites that do it—even Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s Car Talk site is guilty.
And every one of these lists is BS. Seriously, of the most-often repeated cars on the “chick car” lists, I’ve owned four of them, and enjoyed them immensely. I can also confirm that I suffered no crises of masculinity while driving them, nor did my girlfriends think any less of me. You know what real car enthusiasts do? They drive what they want to drive. I’m not going to "Buy American" because the UAW tells me to and I’m certainly not going to forego the joy that is a Miata because a magazine tells me it’s insufficiently manly. Shut your piehole, Chet, I’ve got corners to carve.
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So where did this stupid idea come from? It’s hard to say. It’s true that there have been cars marketed toward women, in ways that have reached hilarious heights of ridiculousness (I’m looking at you, 1955-56 Dodge La Femme), but marketing direction doesn’t seem to be the defining factor. Usually it has to do with the level of cuteness a car displays, but even that’s not a hard line, because the Mini Cooper is plenty cute and I don’t hear many people referring to them as effeminate.
“Oh,” Chet says, “but that’s because the Mini Cooper has balls,” thinking no doubt of the high-powered John Cooper Works models. Big deal. The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR,, 1998-2005 Mazdaspeed Miata and Neon ACR are and were equally impressive performance-wise, and that doesn’t seem to keep the "chick car" accusations at bay.
It’s true that there have been cars marketed toward women, in ways that have reached hilarious heights of ridiculousness (I’m looking at you, [1955-56 Dodge La Femme).
I once had a muscle car fanatic gibbering in terror and amazement after a demonstration of high-speed cornering capability in my bone-stock Miata, and there is nothing manlier than making another grown man pee himself in fear (he also later spun his Mustang GT into the ditch attempting to replicate the Miata’s cornering capability).
The Liberty and Ranger are each impressive performers in their own ways, the Ranger being one of the toughest, most versatile small trucks ever and the Liberty offering capable off-road ability in spite of its un-manly cute face.
Shut up, Chet, the Jeep Liberty CRD was an amazing off-roader straight out of the box and it would leave a Hummer H2 for dead on the Rubicon. We are not debating that fact.
Some lunk somewhere doesn’t get it, doesn't like it, announces that it’s Not Manly, and a bunch of other gorillas take up the chant.
It’s not about sales, either. In 2012 Autoguide.com posted a list of the top 10 cars with the highest percentage of female buyers, and it contained but one so-called “chick car,” the Beetle.
The rest—the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and number-one Volvo S40 among others—are just a mix of cars that nobody’s ascribed any gender to, and one of them, the Nissan Juke, is the basis for one of the wildest and “manliest” vehicles going, the 2011 Nissan Juke-R.
What it boils down to is schoolyard name-calling, really. It’s the bullies’ fault. It’s your fault, Chet. For some folks, it’s not enough to just acknowledge that they don’t like something—it has to be wrong. It has to be gay. It has to be girly. That’s all it is. Some lunk somewhere doesn’t get it, doesn’t like it, announces that it’s Not Manly, and a bunch of other gorillas take up the chant. And it sticks. What is this, seventh grade?
Witness the Ford Mustang’s evolution from a stylish compact that was actually aimed at the predominantly female population of secretaries and office women when it was introduced for 1965. The car that practically defined the term “chick car” went on to become one of the seminal muscle cars, the sort of car that every red-blooded American male ought to covet (unless he’s a Chevy or Mopar guy, of course). Chick car stigma overcome. Why? Because the trogs decided that they liked it, that’s why.
Seriously, there’s no such thing as a “chick car.” The only effect a Volkswagen Beetle is going to have on your masculinity is that it’s difficult (but not impossible) to get it on in the back seat. Insisting that there is a distinction smacks of an immature, “Eww, girls are gross” attitude at best, and of toxic misogyny at worst. So cut it out, Chet. Be secure enough to drive what you want, and let everyone else do the same, okay? Thanks.