Girls and Cars

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When I received a letter from Barbie Buss, the Editor of Woman, together with a free copy of this magazine, my first through was that something must have gone badly wrong with me, physiologically. But the matter became clear when I discovered that his was to draw attention to the fact that even her journal had decided to climb on the motoring bandwagon, with a special Motoring Supplement, “Motorwoman” edited by Jean Barrett. And why not? I have been aware for a long time that man’s relationship to cars and girls is akin to the problem of the chicken and the egg—not which came first, but which takes pride of place in his affections.

Moreover, girls seem inseparable form cars these days. We had proof of that at Earls Court, even if the SMM & T does not approve! And just look at the motoring advertisements. Why, even in Motor Sport, in which I am not encouraged to publish girlie pictures, girls creep into the advertisement pages. There is that provocative cuddling, or wrestling, scene in the Motorola advertisement, a bird admiring Dunlop’s Formula “D” wheels, another listening to a Phillips car stereo, not to mention Miss Tiredcap in the AC thermostat ad. Then there are all those young women with Graham Hill in that 30/98 Vauxhall which is apparently running on Autolite plugs, mini-skirts in the Ferodo spread, and that go-girl indecently exposure in the Bradex advertisement. Koni show a couple of huggers, there’s a girl on John Britten’s page, another in the Flexy brush ad., all in Motor Sport. Clearly, girls and cars are closely related these days. I agree that a female is an excellent assessor, whether in the back of a vintage limousine or beside you in an Elan.

So Woman should get away with it. Their supplement drew as advertisers’ Airstrip, Austin/Morris, Triumph, Rootes, Lucas, Reliant, Fina and Renault. It contained a competition with a Ford Zodiac Mk. IV as first prize, and I see that dream cars recommended embrace an Austin Mini Super or a Mini Minor de luxe for a 19-year-old hairdresser, a Triumph Herald convertable for a 24-year-old secretary who has tired of her motor scooter, a four-door Ford Escort for a married woman of 27 with three kids, a Hillman Minx de Luxe for a part-time shop assistant of 35 with two kids at school and mum living with her, a Vauxhall Viva de luxe estate car for the 48-year-old married mum with three kids at home who like camping holidays, and a triumph TR6 for a newly-married of 28 who intends to keep her job in Public Relations. So there you are—and jolly clever of Ford to get themselves included without buying any advertising space . . .

Anyway, I am relieved to know they sent me Woman because of this motoring thing and not because they thought I needed to join the freedom lovers, required Murine to get rid of the red, fast, or was due for a figure-conscious winter boot, a comfipantie or an “action” pantie girdle. Or would enjoy reading Godfrey Winn. (By the way, what of poor old Renault, who took a colour-page and didn’t score a mention?). In fact, the supplement is hard on foreign cars, remarking that “Popular British models now have many more gadgets included in the price, and cheaper (foreign cars carry import tax) and, apart from Volkswagens, have a better resale value. With some foreign cars, too, servicing can be difficult sometimes, as they have fewer main dealers and spare parts depots”.

What did interest me was Dame Gladys Cooper’s piece about being taught to drive in 1923 by her Belgian chauffeur, on a Storey two-seater, who, as soon as she was taught, put him, protesting, in the dickey seat as she tore along at 30 m.p.h. Girls or cars? Cars or girls? You just never know where motoring history will strike next!—W.B.