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The Great Date Car Debate: Top 10 date cars from his perspective--and hers

Tue, 31 May 2011

Here at AutoWeek, we've seen plenty of top 10 lists for date cars over the past few years. They all seem to have one thing in common: They're written by male bloggers whose most recent date was with a two-liter of Mountain Dew and a PlayStation 3.

Since we have both men and women on our editorial staff, we decided to get a read on the subject of date cars from an actual representative sample of the dating pool. After the dust settled, here's what associate editor Jake Lingeman picked to impress his dates, and fellow associate editor Julie Alvin told us what those cars say to the ladies.

The baseline: Jake Lingeman picks up his prospective girlfriends in a 1963 Pontiac Star Chief. Julie Alvin's boyfriend drives a 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe Sport, and she thinks it's sexy.

Porsche 911 Turbo

Porsche 911 Turbo

Proposition: The Porsche 911 Turbo is ridiculously fast, very expensive and its smooth shape and lines are pleasing to the eye. Add to that a good navigation system and front-row valet parking, and you have the perfect car for date night. The 911 says I appreciate the finer things in life and I'm not afraid to show it.

Rebuttal: This guy is all about appearances. He might appreciate the 500-hp engine but he mostly appreciates the compliments he gets from girls and the stares from strangers. He wouldn't take me camping, he wears too much hair gel, and he orders the most expensive bottle of wine at dinner just because he can. I'd prefer a guy who would let me split the bill.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Proposition: The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a smooth, quiet ride, a good stereo system and some entertainment capabilities to default to in case the night goes badly. It says I'm the outdoorsy type, but I can still dress up for a night on the town. Also, it has lots of back-seat space.

Rebuttal: I like this—it says he is stylish but rugged, that he appreciates both quality and functionality. He's not driving this to get attention. He's driving it because it comfortably gets him from point A to point B, even if point A is the office and point B is his favorite fly-fishing spot.

BMW 1-series

BMW 1-series

Proposition: The diminutive 1-series has plenty of room (for two) and a cute shape to boot. It's easy to drive, easy to park and it doesn't cost so much money that you look like you're showing off. It's also not that bad on gas, so you can claim to care about the environment, whether that's true or not.

Rebuttal: This could either say “I'm a middle-age doctor/lawyer” or “I'm a frat boy who just got my first finance job out of college and this is where my first six months' pay went.” While not the most creative choice, it does say that he has enough disposable income to get a good, solid car, but he doesn't feel the need to be overly ostentatious about it.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Proposition: Nothing compares with the look of the gullwing Mercedes SLS. There probably won't be a lot of rolling with the doors open, unless the date is to a car show, but walking around to pop the passenger door is a good move. The SLS says I'm rich, I'm an enthusiast and I don't care about being the flashiest guy on the street.

Rebuttal: This is ultraflashy but at least it has some personality, a more unique pick than the Porsche. He's probably a true car fanatic and has been eyeing this thing since it came out. I would like to take a spin in this, preferably with the doors open.

Acura USA
Acura NSX

1995 Acura NSX

Proposition: The lean and low NSX is a sports car through and through. Covered in blood-red paint, it looks sexy even by today's standards. The Acura NSX says I have eclectic tastes and if it takes a little longer to get what I want, I'm OK with the wait.

Rebuttal: This. Is. Cheesy. This guy works out too much, drinks protein shakes, shops at Armani Exchange and went to see Fast and Furious 5 on opening night in the theater. He belongs on the Jersey Shore Season 3, not in my driveway.

Mini Cooper

Proposition: The Mini gets a classic look to hide its aggressive demeanor. It's good on gas, when you're gentle, and relatively inexpensive to own. The Mini has the utility for a road trip but can tear up the track at a couple's autocross. It says I'm well-researched and I can get everything I want in the same package.

Rebuttal: Don't get me wrong, I love this car. But I would rather be the one driving it than the one being picked up in it. Did he borrow his mom's ride to take me out on a date? Does he live with his mom?

Land Rover
Range Rover

1985 Land Rover Range Rover

Proposition: The classic Land Rover Range Rover isn't very reliable or exceptionally good-looking. What it does have is style to spare, especially in British Racing Green. It says I can get my hands dirty but I still wear skinny jeans when I want to be trendy. The date might include hipster bars, poetry slams and perhaps a game of kickball in Williamsburg.

Rebuttal: Jake is way off—Williamsburg hipsters ride fixed-gear Schwinns, not Range Rovers. I like this pick. Yes, it's a gas-guzzler, but, as someone who is price-conscious, I appreciate the fact that he went used. And he's not a hipster; he's a well-groomed but laidback prep-school kid. He went to Colgate, his family has a place on Martha's Vineyard, and he spent some time following Phish. Also, his pants have whales on them.

1977 Pontiac Trans-Am Special Edition

Proposition: If it worked for Burt Reynolds on Sally Field, then there's no reason it shouldn't work on date night. The 6.6-liter black-and-gold special has the T-tops to let the wind in, but not enough to mess up her feathered look. It says I let my mustache grow long and my chest hair grow longer. Also, where we're going, no smokeys will stop us.

Rebuttal: I would expect that this guy has an interesting life story and an interesting story about how he acquired that car. He has his own sense of style, and I appreciate that. Also, you have to love the T-tops on this car.

Lincoln Continental

1964 Lincoln Continental

Proposition: The Lincoln Continental could handle a double, triple or even quadruple date. But you definitely don't want to pull up with six more people in the car. The Continental says I value style over all, especially fuel economy. A date could include a trip to the local bad neighborhood, where the street-dwellers cower in fear of a drive-by shooting.

Rebuttal: I want to have a conversation with this guy—I feel like he would make me laugh. He's quirky, he's not stuffy and he doesn't cater to prevailing ideas of how to impress a girl. He'd prefer back roads to freeways and would have very specific tastes. We would either really get along or really butt heads.

1966 Ford Mustang Convertible

Proposition: As we move backward into the 20th century, the '66 Mustang emphasized style, performance and a bit of aural pleasure from its 289-cubic-inch V8 and dual exhausts. The 'Stang says I appreciate the classics and don't mind the smell of gasoline and oil on my clothes. Expect a date to a drive-in movie or maybe a trip to A&W.

Rebuttal: This guy sought out this car, refurbished it himself, and reads car manuals before bed. I love this thing, especially in cherry red. I'd like to take a top-down trip to the beach in this. Let's hope he won't scold me for scuffing the seats.

So, what did we learn? Besides the fact that Jake and Julie aren't automotively compatible, we've revealed one of the great truths about cars and people--beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Perhaps, then, the car you drive is one of the best indicators of potential romance. If you pull up in a ride you truly love and your date is thrilled to climb in, you're off to a good start.

By Jake Lingeman & Julie Alvin