There is a global surplus of people willing to judge you according to what you drive. We’re not so sure anyone should be listening.
Apparently, all our possessions say something about us. Buying avocados means you’re middle-class. Owning a cat is a sign you’re a hipster. Aged forty-plus and own flip-flops? You’ve given up on fashion.
And then, of course, there’s your car. Google ‘What does your car say about you?’ and you’ll get article after article, revealing how your car reflects your social station, personality or eligibility. For your dubious pleasure, here are a few examples:
- In the ever-reliable Daily Mail, ‘etiquette expert’ William Hanson informs us that Volvos are driven by ‘Geography teachers and suspect individuals.’ Renaults fare no better, as these are ‘the car equivalent of a Boots meal deal for lunch.’ And brace yourself Audi owners, because according to Mr Hanson, these are ‘generally owned by incredibly bad and boorish drivers.’ Nice.
- Boorishness obviously varies from country to country. In the US, Daniel Reedy of The Odyssey Online, warns BMW drivers that, ‘everyone hates you when you are driving your expensive-but-boring sedan, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off everyone in your path.’ But that’s perhaps better than owning a Prius, which would simply make you ‘a laughing stock.’
- Over at the Telegraph, Erin Baker is happy to conclude that Saab owners should be avoided by any woman seeking a life-partner — seeing as they are owned by ‘smug dentists and architects.’ If that sounds harsh, pity the poor Rover 75 driver who (unless he is over 70) ‘clearly finds the word “ironic” a hysterical lifestyle statement.’
What everyday folks think of your car
Journalists, bloggers and opinion-makers are one thing — but what about more common perceptions? Car Gurus recently commissioned research into the sorts of personality that was associated with particular car brands. Their survey of around 2,000 adults produced some interesting results:
- BMW – flashy
- Land Rover – affluent
- Jaguar, Mercedes, Audi – successful
- Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen – practical
- Mini, Fiat – young
The manufacturers wade in
Of all the groups eager to make an association between car and personal style, it’s the manufacturers themselves who top the list. When was the last time you saw a car ad that headlined on fuel economy or practicality? Car manufacturers want us to make associations between their brand and personal style — bluntly, it makes their product easier to differentiate in a crowded marketplace. So car ads are short on technical details and long on style, individuality and ‘spirit’. Just a few weeks back, we blogged that Skoda saw their target owner as having ‘an individual self-confidence, optimism, and a spirit that sets them apart from the predictable.’
Should anyone be listening to all this?
As an indicator of personality, style or anything else, we’re not sure that car choice is reliable. We know ultra-considerate Audi drivers, humble Saab owners and elderly Fiat drivers. That’s the thing about stereotypes — they get it wrong so often. Also, not everyone views their car as an extension of their personal brand. We reckon that for every one person who chose their car for its perceived image, there’s another who couldn’t give a monkey’s.
Not everything you buy announces something about you to the world. You can buy an avocado because it tastes nice, own a cat because it’s a good companion, and wear flip-flops because they’re convenient (without giving up on fashion). And you can choose a car because it has good fuel economy, great boot space or simply because it does the job.