“Are You Going Somewhere Nice This Easter?”

I passed a Ferrari California the other day. It looked OK to me, but that just goes to show how wrong I am.

Ferrari California - image : dailyautofix.com
Ferrari California – image : dailyautofix.com

On paper this car seems the ideal Ferrari for anyone who isn’t a trackday nutjob or doesn’t need the extra space that an FF, sorry GTC4 Lusso, provides for an extra set of golf clubs. It’s pretty fast, it handles as well as most driver’s limits require, it makes the requisite sound, and you have the choice of tin roof or open air. Nevertheless, you bought one at your peril knowing that this was a Hairdresser’s Car.

That term is well-established in the pub bore’s lexicon. The moment I first heard it mentioned it needed no further explanation. There are two types of hairdresser – male or female. The women are all stupid and the men are all gay … and stupid too, probably. Naturally, no petrolhead is either of these things. They all go to barbers (except the two women petrolheads) and barbers are deeply manly – the most effete thing they do is to sing in close harmony with three of their workmates.

So, it’s obvious that a Hairdresser’s Car is not to be taken seriously. Certain things make a petrolhead suspicious of a car with sporting pretensions. Is it well styled, is it trouble-free and does it have good handling? If the answer to all of these is ‘yes’ then the car is deeply suspect.

Of course a true Hairdresser’s Car would come with a clip for a 2000 watt rechargeable dryer, a fold down tray with a selection of scissors, combs and brushes, and a coffee dispenser. And it certainly wouldn’t be a convertible. My hairdresser, I mean barber, would be furious if, after all their attention, I climbed into a white Nissan 350Z Roadster and let the wind ruin my coiffure. So, unless it’s fitted with Mercedes’ Aircap system, it’s not that likely that many hairdressers would actually buy a Hairdresser’s Car for their own use, or even recommend one to a client.

So, who does compile this substantial list of such cars, and which cars do we find on it? The BMW Z3 was definitely a Hairdresser’s Car, its Z4 successor arguably not, but the current Z4 certainly is. The Audi TT is in all its forms. In fact most small-engined sports cars that drive well are HCs – every generation of Mazda MX5 is, and the MG TF was. All Peugeot and Renault convertibles are, as is the Mercedes SLK. In fact, any saloon or hatchback derived convertible, from the notorious white XR3 cabriolet of Essex Girl fame onwards, is an HC, and some hard roofed cars too – all MINIS probably. If not actually Hairdresser’s Cars, then all those Japanese kei type roadsters are at least Junior Stylist’s Assistant’s Cars.

Frankly I like most Hairdresser’s Cars, a good job since I’m pretty sure I own one, maybe even two. The term suggests something that is half civilised and would be fine to drive in under a wide range of real-world conditions, not some track-day fantasy special. The use of the term is Topgearspeak at its most lazy – at worst it’s homophobic or, put generously, coiffophobic. It also suggests that the cars that the particular speaker, or writer, of the term prefers are the antithesis – manly and involving cars that require skill and bravery to conduct. Well, tell that to, say, the ghosts of Bernd Rosemeyer or Tazio Nuvolari. They’d take one look at the meanest Ferrari, Porsche or Pagani and tell us that we’re all hairdresser’s now.

Tazio Nuvolari
Buona Pasqua

7 thoughts on ““Are You Going Somewhere Nice This Easter?””

  1. But the Californiargh is ugly… No self-respecting hair stylist with a sense of good taste and a vague understanding of Ferrari history would buy one instead of a 488 Spyder. A two-seat cruiser for someone who doesn’t want a hardcore sports car or four-seater GT is a Mercedes SL.

    1. I can’t argue with you on aesthetics Mark. I’ve questioned my liking for the California. I guess it mirrors my liking for the Fiat Multipla – I’ve always found the functional attractive and, although a practical sports car is probably an oxymoron, that’s what I like about the California.. Yes, of course a 488 makes a better poster, but I just think the California would be more pleasurable in the real-world than its siblings.

  2. Well done. Best putdown of the hairdresser meme I’ve read, In North America, manly men also have a special disdain for Subarus as the choice of lesbians. Once again, Subaru stands alone!

    1. Subaru sold 582,675 cars in the USA last year. What does this tell us?

      (For comparison, BMW managed 346,023, Mercedes Benz 372,977, and the VW and Audi combined figure was 551,602)

    2. Robertas, it appears as though “quite a lo’ of women is in’o feminism” (to semi-quote Ali G). Lucky Subaru.

  3. The first time I ever heard the aforementioned expression, it applied to the difference between an MGB and an MGBGT. I remember thinking it was a bit unfair, and still do. The California is a bit of A Ladies’ Ferrari, but only compared the rest of the model line-up. I’d still have one, if only because I’ve found the most unloved Ferraris so lovable over the years. The 365 / 412 series, the 308GT4, even the Mondial, all have their own appeal.

  4. I don’t now if anyone else noticed, but Ferrari have recently announced an additional version of the California, the ‘Handling Speciale‘, which one assumes means ‘Special Handling’. Only it doesn’t, since the word ‘handling‘ doesn’t exist in the Italian language, as far as I know. But what does special handling mean? It clearly means more of something, but is it much, much better or immeasurably worse?

    Two things immediately jump out at me here. First is the fact that as rubbish Ferrari names go, it’s right up there with ‘La’. Second is the implicit suggestion that the standard model’s handling is a bit pants. Presumably they’ll do the decent thing and rename that the ‘Handling parrucchiere’ or something along those lines. At least for the sake of clarity…

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