Sexy sports cars don’t simply exist to go fast, but to attract attention as well; if you have something like a supercharged Jaguar F-Type SVR at your disposal, people are going to take notice. For decades, everything from Oscar-winning films to hip-hop videos have taught us that people — and specifically those of the female persuasion — are drawn to guys who own expensive, masculine, and exotic pieces of performance machinery. But before you head out to drop your life savings on one, what if we told you that wasn’t entirely correct anymore?
A while back, Insure.com did a study on what vehicles people found most attractive when they saw someone good-looking behind the wheel. After surveying 2,000 licensed drivers aged 18 and up, and splitting the polls between men and women, but before dividing answers evenly across age groups and regions, the one-month survey came up with some interesting information (there was no mention of members of the gay and lesbian community taking part in this survey).
What they discovered was that women tend to prefer attractive men who drive black Ford pickup trucks more than any other. While country boys everywhere are cracking open a cold one to celebrate the fact that 32% of all women polled preferred guys in pickups, the Porsche fan club wasn’t all that far behind them, with a 27% female attraction score. Brand-wise, Ford had the best pull at 16%, followed by Chevrolet at 13%, and then Porsche with an 11% approval rating. When women were asked what color looked best, black took first place with a landslide at 53%, followed by silver at 16%, and red with 13%.
In order to make sure they were pointed in the right direction, Insure.com reached out to a handful of auto experts on the journalism and manufacturing side to get some additional feedback. Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor at Cars.com, weighed in.
“The findings strike me as very accurate,” he said. “Among the general public, a black pickup truck is a reflection of a masculine owner. A woman walks up to a black pickup truck and says to herself, ‘Here’s a guy who can help me move, bring me large gifts from Crate & Barrel, and do repairs around my condo.'”
On the downside, black cars are notorious for being difficult to keep clean, an issue that is emphasized by the fact that 45% of women surveyed said that a filthy vehicle was a total turn-off. A squeaky clean shine was followed by reliability, with 37% of all women admitting it was a deal breaker for them. Surprisingly, having an interesting ride only spoke to 7% of females, with just 6% admitting that having a new car was important. An expensive machine mattered to a mere 4% polled.
So expensive sports cars aren’t all that much of a magnet after all, and with the truck guys taking the upper hand, Edmunds.com automotive editor Mike Magrath and senior analyst Jessica Caldwell weighed in with their take on these findings. Magrath muses that for a lot of women, it’s more of a masculinity thing. “There’s just something about a truck, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Santa Monica or San Antonio. It’s rugged, but it’s still a guy who’s put together enough resources to buy one and keep it on the road.”
On the matter of making oneself more appealing by taking good care of a car and cleaning it regularly, Magrath agrees, saying that, “how well a car is maintained is a determinant of attractiveness. If the car is well kept, there’s a better chance the owner takes good care of him[self].”
Other turn-offs outside of a dirty ride were cigarette butts in the ashtray (23%), trash on the seats (22%), playing bad music loudly (21%), and loud exhaust notes (14%). Coincidentally, political stickers didn’t seem to bother women as much, with a 9% disapproval rating, followed by dents and dings at 6%, and tacky pine tree air fresheners at 5%.
Caldwell was quick to point out that “chick cars” can be another issue for male drivers. “I would think twice about dating a guy driving a VW Beetle, or anything labeled a chick car,” she says. “Telling your friends, ‘Yeah, my new boyfriend drives a VW Beetle,’ that would be very humiliating.”
UPS and mail trucks ranked last on the list as attractive vehicles for handsome men, which left us wondering: Who picks up ladies on a Friday night in a mail truck? Is this a thing now?
So what about owning that flashy red sports car? Since the advent of the automobile, we’ve been taught that fire-red drop-tops attract chicks, which explains why Ferris Bueller snagged his dad’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible. According to Alexandra (“Sandy”) McGill, lead color, material, and finish designer for BMW Group Designwork USA, “Not only does red quickly catch the eye, it makes the pulse quicken, blood flow faster, and increases adrenaline. Red is associated with athletics, energetic activities, and fast speed.”
But if you are a sports car guy and have no need for a truck, don’t despair. Having a slick coupe in just the right color, with a minty-fresh shine can still get you a long way, especially if you have a suit to match. So while the black Ford pickup may reign as the king of casual car dating and all around attractiveness, we’ll continue to lean toward tire-shredding performance cars — at least until a Ford Raptor lands in our lap for a full review.