Is Your Car Who You Are?

Some people claim you are what you drive.  But is that true?  After all, a lot of people also claim that you are what you eat, and I eat a lot of pork chops.  Does that make me a pig?  Please be nice in how you answer that.

Be that as it may, there is little doubt that millions of Americans love their cars and identify with them.  In fact, they believe that what they drive says a lot about them.  And because they often feel like their cars are family members, they try to take good care of them.  Now a new survey from Shell, created to help publicize the introduction of V-Power gasoline, has taken a unique and sometimes sideways look at how Americans view their cars.  And the results are surprising, amusing and maybe a little frightening.

When asked to compare their cars to a character from the popular sitcom "Friends," nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed likened their car to dull but dependable Ross Gellar.  Some 12 percent said their car reminded them of Rachel Green, because it's stylish and classic, and a solid 10 percent cited a resemblance to Monica Gellar Bing, because it's neat and in control.   As to the other "Friends" characters, obviously they are not as car-like.  Only seven percent of respondents said their car recalled the free-spirited and pleasantly ditzy Phoebe Buffay, and only six percent said their vehicle reminded them of the sexy Joey Tribbiani or the witty Chandler Bing.

Although many people told the survey they enjoy washing their own car, others wouldn't mind a little extra help when it comes to car-cleaning chores. And just as it's nice to have help with household cleaning duties, many Americans wouldn't mind tapping the resources of a famous housekeeper to assist with day-to-day car care. When asked which famous housekeeper they'd hire to handle their car-cleaning duties, women indicated that they'd be most likely to hire Alice from "The Brady Bunch" (22 percent) or Tony, the handsome housekeeper from "Who's the Boss" (22 percent). Men were more likely to turn to Geoffrey, the butler from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (23 percent), to keep their automobile looking good.

When focus shifts from washing to driving, Americans get revved up at the thought of slipping behind the wheel of a famous TV or movie car. When asked which famous car they'd most like to drive, the largest percentage (27 percent) of survey respondents said they'd take the wheel of David Hasselhoff's Firebird K.I.T.T. from "Knight Rider," while 21 percent preferred the Batmobile from the movie and television show "Batman." The General Lee from the television show "The Dukes of Hazzard" was the lust-object for 20 percent, while Herbie the Love Bug from the movie "The Love Bug" garnered 10 percent.  Well behind the leaders were Greased Lightning from the movie "Grease" (seven percent) and the Ectomobile from the movie "Ghostbusters" (two percent).

The "Shell V-Power Consumer Car Care Survey" was conducted in May 2004 by Focus Research, Inc.  It was conducted by telephone with a random sampling of 1,032 Americans 18 years of age or older.

Driving Today contributor Luigi Fraschini is based in Cleveland.  His fantasy ride is the early Sixties Corvette from the classic television show "Route 66."