Women and Muscle Cars: An Uneasy Alliance
"Well Arnie? Who do you spend more time with, huh? Me or HER?"
- Leigh Cabot, from the Stephen King novel "Christine."
Women and muscle cars. What picture does that conjure in your mind? A V8 supergirl? Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 Seconds?
A particular snapshot sticks in mine. Sitting at a set of traffic lights years back, a black VB
Commodore bouncing up and down next to me, thumping like a Harley. Gradually, the thumping gets erratic, coughs and stops. In one fluid motion, taking no more than 30 seconds, the bloke at the wheel pops the bonnet, the well dressed and quite good looking girl in the passenger's seat opens the glovebox, gets out a screwdriver, hops out, opens the bonnet, turns something on the carbie, yells "right", the car starts, the bonnet slams, she gets back in and they drive off.
... and all I could think was - "Where do I get myself one of those??" Unfortunately, the girl in MY passenger's seat fixed me with a steely glare and said "Don't even THINK about it..."
As car enthusiasts, I'm sure we can all appreciate how much time and effort goes in to our hobby. We listen with awe as other blokey blokes reel off how many hundred hours they spent getting the fins on their '57 Chev dead straight before sending it to the paint shop. Men who've spent so long under bonnets that they can tell by ear whether that XC is running the Thermoquad or a 4 barrel Holley. Men who spend hours in private turmoil over whether they want the 6A-L or the Digital 6. Men who buy Valentines Day presents on the 14th, after a split second decision whether to go service station roses or a box of choccies.
I freely admit that I just don't see the problem with this. Unfortunately, members of the fairer sex are on to us. Like Arnie's overly demanding spouse in Christine, they demand "quality time." They can't comprehend how we define a romantic night out as a sit-down meal at Harry's Diner. They question the social usefulness of a trip to the wreckers on a Saturday morning in the never-ending quest for a straight GS bonnet.
Historically, altogether too much focus has been put on what our girlfriends and wives have to “put up with.” Really, it is US
that should be righteously aggrieved. How many of us have been disheartened by our significant other's "yes, that's nice dear", when we excitedly proclaim that she's not dropping a cylinder any more. This lack of interest shows a callous disregard for our feelings, from the same class of people who think themselves perfectly justified to interrogate us at length as to whether we prefer the violet skirt or the mauve skirt, when we'd really prefer neither.
Some are even openly hostile towards both our hobby and our pride and joy. Someone who shall remain nameless is in the habit of referring to my vehicle as “that thing”, and has on occasion insisted on it being parked a block away from a party so as to not draw attention to our arrival and exit. But how would she react if I told her that the outfit she was wearing drew too much attention? I can only imagine.
The elusive and much sought-after “Performance Car Girlfriend,” as seen in the anecdote at the beginning of this piece may be a viable solution. A short investigation has revealed some confusion as to whether these creatures occur naturally or must be trained in to the role. For those not willing to attempt to mould one from an ordinary girlfriend, it has been observed that Torana drivers seem to have an ever-ready supply.
Unfortunately, this struggle is age-old, and is unlikely to be overcome by compromise or argument, reason or emotion. As our girlfriends and wives complain about our worked XE, our mothers complained about our father's FJ's, our grandmothers complained about our grandfather's A-models and so on, from the present day right back through the mists of time to the invention of the wheel. The best we can do is simply accept it as a burden of our hobby, and compromise when the annoying noise from the left hand side of the car (the one that isn't the overtightened wheel bearing) becomes too much to bear.
Of course, it is important not to generalise. I recall a particularly spirited piece of driving along a very straight country road with my best mate and his girlfriend in the car. Being the brave soul that I am, I was too scared to look down at the speedo. Said mate in the front passenger's seat can't get his white knuckles off the arm rest and centre console to look. Unexpectedly, his girlfriend in the back seat pops her seatbelt off and climbs forward over the centre console and reads the dial for me. And tells me to keep going. No, you can't have her phone number...
Some may say that my account of this social phenomenon is somewhat biased. In consideration of this, I extend an open invitation for females or female-sympathisers to post a reply.