“Is That Your Car?” – A Woman in a Porsche 911
I recently had the good fortune to drive and photograph a beautiful 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S cabriolet. The occasion? It belongs to my employer, and she knew I wanted to drive it. One small reason among a plethora of others that I have a fantastic job.
I was out photographing the 911 on the beautiful campus of Southwestern University, when I was approached by a man asking directions. I pointed him to the correct building, but he lingered a minute, ogling the Porsche.
“That car for sale?” he asked.
“No,” I replied with a slight smile.
He looked me up and down. “Is it yours?” he asked, dubiously. From his tone, it was perfectly obvious he doubted I would own a car like that.
“No,” I responded truthfully. “It’s my boss’s, but I don’t think SHE wants to sell it.”
“Well, it sure is beautiful,” he said, and drove off.
This post was originally going to be about the experience of driving this 911, of the solid, planted feeling of the all-wheel drive, the infinitesimally quick shifts of the double-clutch “automatic” transmission (known in Porsche vernacular as PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplung), the sensory pleasures of the Ruby Red metallic paint and the all-leather dash, the throaty gurgle of the quad exhaust, and the overall feeling of both sport and luxury as you cruise up the street, top down.
But the dubious man got me thinking. Maybe he assumed the Porsche wasn’t mine because I look too young to afford one. Probably, though, if I had said it was my car, he would have assumed rich daddy/boyfriend/husband bought it for me. I might assume the same thing if I were him. And that annoys me.
I mentioned this to Cindy, my employer, and she could think of several times that people have doubted this Porsche (or many of her several prior Porsches) belonged to her.
Why is that?
I blogged recently about a study done in L.A. that ranked car registrations by gender, and about the fact that men disproportionately owned more 911s and Corvettes, while women were more likely to own a Nissan Rouge or a Scion XD. Statistics like that don’t exactly help to dispel the notion that a woman who happens to be driving a 911 probably doesn’t own it. It probably belongs to her boyfriend.
I am sure there are a host of historic, economic, sociological, psychological and cultural reasons why this is so, and that no one factor dominates. For example, while this may be true in many instances, I don’t think it is accurate to say that the main reason women don’t typically own Porsches is because they’re driving the family minivan. Look at the list of L.A. cars. The top one for women is the Volkswagen Beetle, which isn’t exactly a soccer mom vehicle. In fact, there are no minivans on the list at all. So it’s more than that.
But I also don’t think it is accurate to say that women just don’t care about cars. I know a lot of women who really enjoy cars. Meet Cindy.
Cindy and I have worked together for five years, and she has owned two Porsches since I’ve known her. In fact, she has owned a total of seven Porsches so far, two 911 coupes, two Boxsters, a 911 S coupe, a 911 cabriolet, and the 911 4S cabriolet pictured here. Cindy is a Porsche-phile and, if you believe the L.A. data, a statistical aberration among female car owners. I thought you might like to hear from Cindy in her own words…
Why she’s a Porsche fan: “The look, the ‘hips,’ the rear engine, the way it feels when you accelerate through a curve. And the speed. It’s a serious sports car.”
Her favorite among the Porsches she has owned: “My next one :). Actually, the one I have now is probably my favorite. I never thought I would like an automatic transmission in a sports car – this is the first automatic I’ve had. But it is a dream to drive (even in high heels), and I could not begin to shift as fast as it does.”
What she likes best about her current Porsche: “This is the first 4S I’ve had and the all-wheel drive makes it feel so stable. I also like the PDK feature – no need to shift unless you want to play around. And the ‘Sport’ feature, which tightens the suspension while driving and will make it accelerate like a rocket even if you’re already doing 70. This one has an all-leather dash, which is really nice-looking.”
What she would change about this 911: “The windscreen, for use when the convertible top is down, is sort of clumsy. I prefer coupes over convertibles, so I don’t use it that much, but the car does look hot when the top is down.”
On women owners of sports cars: “I have had certain instances where men do not believe I am the owner of the car. You hardly ever see a woman driving a 911, so I guess they think I am driving my boyfriend’s car or some guy bought it for me, which chagrins me. I call this Sports Car Sexism. The latest incident was at a Wendy’s drive-thru; the cashier said, ‘Nice car! Is that yours?’ When I said ‘yes,’ he paused for awhile to ponder, then said, ‘No offense, but I don’t believe you.’ I just shrugged and drove off with my Frosty. There is no reason to debate anything substantive in a drive-thru.”
“The other funny thing that happens is that no one ever tries to pull alongside and race me when I’m driving. However, when a man is driving my car and I’m riding in the passenger seat, there always seems to be some young guy pulling alongside in a souped-up Chevy or Mustang, egging us on to race. This must be a guy thing. I am thinking no guy ever challenges me to race because they don’t want to be beaten by a girl in a fast car OR they think I wouldn’t know how to race anyway. For the record, if anyone ever does challenge me to race, I wouldn’t do it because I’m a safe driver. But the satisfaction of having this car is that I know I could race them…and WIN. 🙂 ”
A parting thought: “This goes out to husbands/boyfriends: if you are concerned about your wife driving a Porsche and getting too much attention from guys or cops, don’t worry about that at all. I could be pumping gas in a bikini and the guy in the truck next to me wouldn’t notice – they only have eyes for the car. Every guy at the gas station checks out my car, especially the red brake calipers and the wheels. I’m invisible. They probably think it is not my car anyway!”
Many thanks to Cindy for her time and generosity in sharing her Porsche with us. And for bucking the alleged trends of female car ownership! Here are a few more photos of her beautiful car. I’ll let them do the talking.