Surveys Show Americans Take a Personal Shine to Their Cars

Article excerpt

There are those who love their cars, and those who really, really love their cars. Auto amour is out of control.

It's all in the numbers: 84 percent of us say we downright "love" our cars, 72 percent say cars reflect personalities, 53 percent keep photos of our cars handy and 45 percent say a car is more important than a spouse.

This is all according to a new survey of 500 people by Ohio-based Progressive Insurance, which also found that 17 percent of the men polled planned to buy their cars a gift for Valentine's Day and 37 percent of the women named their cars.

But wait. In another survey of 2,000 car owners, Goodyear found that 62 percent talked to their cars, 15 percent thought their cars were a "member of the family," and 90 percent had done something special to "pamper" their cars in the past year.

Some 38 percent confessed they would rather kiss their cars than their mothers-in-law.

At least they didn't want to marry their cars, though. Last year, a young man in Kentucky tried to marry his 1996 Mustang GT, and listed his prospective bride's father as "Henry Ford" and her blood type as "10-W-40."

Officials refused on the grounds that only men and women can marry under state law, even though the would-be groom implored, "In California they are doing same-sex marriages. Why can't we do the good-old-boy thing and marry our cars and trucks?"

He could have driven to Nevada, where Las Vegas' Little White Chapel features a drive-through lane for couples who are really in a hurry. In November, a group of Los Angeles auto aficionados held a "Blessing of the Cars," performed by a Catholic priest. Though organizers claimed it was not "a religious event," they were onto something. The Catholic church recognizes not one but three patron saints of motorists: Christopher, Elijah the Prophet and Francis of Rome.

A few people have been buried in their cars. Some bury their cars when they have a final breakdown - most recently an "Art Car" lover who had adorned his ride with hand-painted decorations and doodads. When it failed, he buried it in pieces, to the strains of a jazz band.

Generally speaking, say some psychologists, "we are what we drive." A British psychological study of 1,000 drivers found that car color reflects personality - more than clothes or home environment. People driving red cars, the survey found, were outgoing, ambitious, impulsive and easily bored. Black is the color of choice for ambitious workaholics who jockey for position on the roads, while those driving blue or silver cars are one-eighth less likely to be depressed than other drivers.

Which portends well for humanity. Last month, chemical giant DuPont announced that the most popular auto color in North America, Asia and Europe was silver - followed by white, black, medium green and medium blue. …