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Tag Archives: ladies and cars

The Man Card and the Minivan

Recently, the Chicago Tribune printed an editorial about “Chrysler’s manly minivan.” In it, Chrysler’s vague rumblings about introducing a new contender, a man van, in the minivan category are discussed and dissed.

Here’s the rationale:
-It’s not macho enough.
-It’s not sporty enough.
-It’s not ballsy enough.

Never mind that SUVs effectively replaced minivans as the way to shuttle the family around. Never mind that with today’s technology Chrysler stands a good chance of producing a more fuel economic vehicle in this size vehicle class.

I guess this is why I’m into cars on the wrench-turning side of things rather than sitting down at the drawing board. I’m just too dang practical.

The minivan seems forever cast as the vehicle of soccer moms and even though it’s the 21st century this is the conversation we’re having.

I’m a proud VW owner but my Beetle is often referred to as a “girl car.” In my case, it’s true. The yellow Beetle is just so dang chipper I always have to do a double take whenever I see a man behind the wheel of one. But I wouldn’t classify the Beetle as an outright “girl car.”

It is compact but does petite stature necessitate such a designation? What about the MINI Cooper then? Or any other compact with aerodynamic design?

When I worked as a reporter in Georgia my co-worker and friend, Michael, also had a Beetle for which he received a trunkload of flak from our city point of contact. He went as far as to suggest revocation of Michael’s Man Card because of his “girl car.” To which Michael responded by driving to city hall in his 2001 Mustang Bullitt GT and promptly ending any future Beetle sass.

If Chrysler wants to roll out a minivan that appeals to the mass male market then there’s nothing a Ninja Mechanic to do to stop them. I’d just rather stereotypes and other unrealistic expectations not play such a large role in determining what a buyer wants.

Bring on the man van with a hemi I guess.

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Blinker fluid and a can of torque

While eating lunch yesterday with a new friend, the subject of cars and do-it-yourself maintenance came up.

She retold a story of how a couple of her guy friends offered to help her with her car and instructed her to go to the parts store and ask for muffler bearings and a can of torque. I started smiling even before she reached the inevitable punchline at the counter where the clerk explained that they carried no such items. It wasn’t her naiveté that made me grin, but that I have my own story of fictional tools of the trade.

For me it’s blinker fluid. The guys at the bus garage would give me a hard time about whether or not I’d remembered to refill the blinker fluid on the buses when I signed off on the inspection sheet. I’d grin and nod that I’d topped it off. Or if I was feeling ornery I’d insist that it wasn’t on my repair order.

The fact is though that a lot of car owners have similar experiences when it comes to parts and heeding the advice of someone who knows your car better than you do.

I wonder if there’s any other industry where this sort of amateur ribaldry passes as genuinely helpful?

I mean in this scenario from webcomic artist, Randall Munroe, you get the humor but it still makes you twitch.

So the medical field is out.

Don’t even begin to try to fake someone out when it comes to their food. It worked in the deli in “When Harry Met Sally” … but outside of fiction, fake-outs and food are taboo.

What makes me wonder, is why is it that men tend to do this to women? I don’t think the meaning behind it is deliberately offensive, or harmful, but it is. Being made to feel the fool really doesn’t garner a greater affection toward the topic where you’ve spectacularly embarrassed yourself. Maybe this is what makes the automotive field so inaccessible to ladies?

So here’s my resolution. Some how or another, I’m going to make a can of torque to keep in my dream garage for times when you need a little extra umfh.

And then, when I go and build my someday-project car, I’ll have space under the hood just for blinker fluid.