Hot cars and burning rubber

As a teenager growing up in the hills of Shelton, I was obsessed with driving a hot car and I mean a real muscle car like a Camaro, a Gran Torino or a Corvette. But unfortunately my ways and means didn’t match my aspirations and I usually found myself cruising around town in hand-me-down clunkers that burned oil and rattled from bumper to bumper.

Teenagers and men trapped in eternal adolescence have always believed hot cars attract chicks. But now, however, new scientific research shatters that theory, which existed since the ancient Romans raced around the Coliseum in flashy chariots, trying to pick up puellae. (For those of you who didn’t struggle through four years of Latin, that means “girls.”)

This groundbreaking study proves that girls dig guys who drive Priuses and are suspicious of guys with fast cars. Forget all the girls in bikinis at the auto shows, because 56% of women think men who own hot cars are arrogant or show-offs while 17% consider them insecure, according to a Harris poll commissioned by the dating site AnastasiaDate.

This survey also found that 46% of the women polled said the auto a man drives reflects his self-image and 32% said a car is an indication of the kind of family man he will be. Sedans rate higher than sports cars, which led the pollsters to conclude that “women prefer a man who drives a sensible car because it reflects his level of stability.”

Nevertheless, 10% of women would date a guy who drove an exotic import even if he wasn’t physically attractive and 21% found a man more appealing after they saw his car.

What’s happening to America when a car is no longer a sign of status and sexiness? Porsche sales are going to plummet, and the Oldsmobile will rise again.

I guess it turns out that I was a trendsetter. My father kept his cars for at least 200,000 miles and then passed them on to me, which meant I inherited junks with oil leaks, rattling mufflers, faulty brakes, and other assorted malfunctions. Some had bad body rot, so I couldn’t let anyone sit in the backseat or they’d fall through the floor.

My first car was a 1960 white Ford Fairlane with three on the column. This was before “four on the floor” became fashionable. Unfortunately, it needed a new battery and every time I turned the car off, I had to park it on a hill and roll it down to jump-start the engine.

One inauspicious night, my date had to push the car while I sat inside, waiting to pop the clutch. But the old Ford wouldn’t turn over, so I had to recruit strangers from the local bar to help us push it back up the hill again. Jumper cables would have been easier.

After that date, I couldn’t understand why the girl never answered my phone calls — until I saw her cruising around town with a guy who drove a red Fiat Spyder.

Next I inherited a white 1963 Pontiac LeMans from my uncle, with an automatic transmission like the Prius which used a lever on the dashboard to change gears. It served me well but wasn’t cool enough to lure girls away from guys with Corvettes.

After that, I got a Land Rover — not the suburban SUV model you often see making the trek to Starbucks but rather the one they drive on African safaris with a spare tire on the hood. Unfortunately, the only girls I attracted were the ones who went big-game hunting on spring break. Then I bought a canary yellow van. When I had a date, it was like picking up the girl in a school bus.

Cars and women didn’t mix well for me until I met my wife, who drove a Ford Gran Torino, just like Starsky and Hutch, which makes me think I was attracted to girls with hot cars. Now, however, she drives a Prius, which is the best auto around if you want to save money for your kid’s college education, retirement or a down payment on a Ferrari.

Joe Pisani may be reached at