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I don’t know how to change my own oil or fix a spare tire, but I know my share about cars.

Cars are art. The way they look, how they sound and how much they cost all contribute to how other people view them. People get impressions from cars, and those impressions extend to the individuals driving them.

If I see a Mercedes, I’m going to think the driver has either a lot of money or a lot of debt. If I see a hybrid vehicle, I’m going to assume the person who bought it is concerned about the Earth, since there’s really no other reason to drive something so slow and ugly.

If I see a Toyota Camry, I’m not going to think anything at all. Clearly any person who drives a car that boring doesn’t see cars as art, but simply as transportation devices. Well, I might think one thing: I’d bet a person who buys a Camry really likes vanilla ice cream.

And it’s not a sexist thing. The assumptions I have about cars and the people who drive them don’t change based on the gender of the person at the wheel. For instance, trucks are manly vehicles, even when women drive them. Not that a woman who drives a truck is less feminine, of course, but there’s a lot more “yang,” or masculinity affiliated with a truck than “yin,” or femininity. There’s no way to get around the fact that, because of its cost, look and sound, it gives off an impression.

The opposite is true, as well. The Volkswagen Beetle has very little “yang” about it. Whether a man or a woman is at the wheel, my assumption based on how the car sounds, looks and costs is that it’s a feminine vehicle. If a man is driving it – or any other Volkswagen, for that matter – I’m probably going to assume that he is either homosexual or “metrosexual.” If a woman is behind the wheel, I’m going to assume she’s “cutesy,” “girly,” and probably has a lot of stuffed animals around her house.

It’s not a sexist thing – it’s just gender roles that vary from one society to another. I’m not saying it’s right, fair or just. I’m not saying that the assumptions made about people based on their cars are always – or even usually – accurate. But the fact that other people are going to get ideas about a person based on his or her wheels is a fact of life. After all, I don’t see many yuppies in Volkswagen buses or hippies in BMWs.