In the 1950s, Chrysler came up with a less-than-brilliant idea: they would develop a version of their standard Dodge sedan that would, they thought, appeal to women. I once described it thusly:
The Dodge La Femme was as capable as any top-line Dodge of that era, but it was glitzed up with Detroit men’s ideas of girliness, with “accessories” such as a rain hat, bag and umbrella, which stored behind the front seat. The La Femme moved a mere 2500 copies in two years, or about as many workaday Dodges as fell off the transporter on the way to the dealership.
The La Femme, however, doesn’t quite meet the contemporary definition of a “chick car,” which is a non-gender-specific vehicle bought predominantly by women because allegedly men won’t drive it, or at least won’t want to be seen in it. Associate Blowhard Donald Pittenger has an interesting piece on the subject which, like most bloviation on the subject (including this), really doesn’t answer the question of how they got to be chick cars in the first place.
David W. Boles’ Urban Semiotic offers a definition and ten candidates:
[W]hen we say “Chick Cars” we mean these are cars women should drive and no self-respecting man should be caught dead driving or even riding shotgun because these cars have feminine curves, engaging personalities and bleed XX chromosomes.
Never seen a Corvette or a Lamborghini do that. (Then again, apart from videotape, I’ve never seen a Lamborghini do anything.) One of the cars he mentions is the Nissan Maxima, presumably a blow to my self-respect, since Gwendolyn, an Infiniti I30, was the Maxima’s snootier sister back in the day.
One of Mr Pittenger’s commenters notes:
Ford has been trying to market the entire Mercury lineup as a “chick brand” in a possibly last-ditch attempt to keep Mercury from going the way of Oldsmobile and Plymouth. There have been quite a few Mercury ads on television in recent months, and unlike most car ads they don’t feature the vehicles being driven at high speeds (hence no “Professional Driver Closed Course” disclaimers). In addition, the on-camera announcer in the Mercury ads is a woman, and she has the attractive-but-not-stunning looks that have been shown to appeal to women.
Steve Miller would be appalled:
You know that gal I love
I stole her from a friend
Fool got lucky stole her back again
Because she knowed he had a Mercury
Cruise up and down this road
Up and down this road
Well, she knowed he had a Mercury
And she cruise up and down this road
I should point out here that the women I tend to fall for generally ignore these considerations; a salon staffer performing a routine pedicure has no way of knowing that this particular right foot, strappy sandal notwithstanding, is solid lead up to about here and can punch the loud pedal with considerable vigor.