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