I was given the opportunity to attend the Atlanta International Auto Show last week, and being a car lover, I couldn’t pass it up. I could also not pass up the opportunity to drive a Fiat 124 Spider while at the show.
The 124 is Fiat’s revival of its midsize sedan from the late 60’s and 70’s, but the new rendition shares nothing in common with the Italian box of 50 years ago. In fact, they couldn’t be more different.
The 124 Spider is a small, convertible roadster built with the underpinnings of a Mazda Miata. Because of that, some have started taking to calling the 124 the “Fiata.”
Since I love to drive every car on the road at least once, and the fact that if the new 124 was anything like the Miata I was going to love it, I jumped at the opportunity to get behind the wheel for a test drive. When I shared this excitement with a friend of mine, he seemed confused.
“But it’s a girl’s car,” he said.
He brings up an interesting notion. Can a car really be a girl’s car? And if so, what makes it a girl’s car? Surely no one looks at a toaster and thinks it’s geared toward women, so why do we do the same to cars?
I began polling friends, asking them what would constitute a girl’s car and to give me some examples, if that is, they even believe such a thing exists.
Many respondents said the model of car is irrelevant, it’s the personal touches (somehow feminine, I suppose) that are the deciding factors. Color was also a popular response, stating women prefer brightly colored cars whereas guys typically like more neutral colors. I also had a few responses that the styling of the car influenced its “girlishness” or not — if a car has a “face” like a Mazda 3, which looks like it’s happy to see you every time you pass one by, it’s more feminine.
But perhaps the most common answer was the amount of girls who drove a car. Basically, the more female drivers a car has, the more of “girl’s” car it is. I don’t buy that. If that were the case, the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Honda Accord and Ford F-150 would all be considered girl’s cars because they are the best-selling cars in the United States. They’re not girl’s cars. Boring, absolutely, but not girl’s cars.
The most common examples of a girl’s car given was the VW Beetle, the Ford Mustang, the Mini Cooper, the Smart Fortwo and the Mazda Miata, which again, is essentially the 124 Spider’s Japanese cousin.
Even after hearing these opinions, I still wasn’t convinced there was such thing as a girl’s car. But maybe I would find out after driving the Fiat.
My co-pilot for the drive was Kristine, who was so friendly and breathtakingly gorgeous that by the time I was up for my test drive, the Fiat’s interior was covered in a thick layer of drool from the guys who went before me.
As I took the wheel and Kristine and I set off, I asked her if she believed there was such thing as a girl’s car.
“I’ve seen guys who drive brightly colored VW Beetles and Miatas and other cars that people believe are girly, but I guess you could make a car girly with personalization,” she said, in one fell swoop hitting all the talking points that were brought up when I polled my friends. “But I don’t think there is such thing as a girl’s car. Even if there is, if you like a car, who cares if it’s supposedly a girl’s or guy’s car,” she added.
After I attempted to wipe away the drool pool in my lap and remembered I was married, I told Kristine I couldn’t agree more.
And in the end, this 250-pound, bearded, sports-loving man would be thrilled to go out and purchase a 124 Spider, “girl” car or not.