Sports Cars: The Ladies Like Them Too

by : Jim Harris

As a female child of the 60's, I grew up in New Hampshire when a sports car was just the thing for those super-cool young men or the balding, Aqua-Velva wearing, slightly paunchy, middle-aged Peter Pans out there. Women racecar drivers were practically unheard of, and my mother drove a nice, respectable Ford station wagon, while my older sister drove a rather nondescript, beige 1968 Chevy Nova, hardly anything to make my pre-teen peers stop and gaze in awestruck, open-mouthed wonder.

My older brother, however, drove a 1968 Rally Red Corvette with T-tops, which, according to my ten year old brain was the epitome of cool. He shopped around at the used car Dover dealers and used car nh dealers until he found the right one. The deep-throated rumble of that 327c1 350hp engine when he roared off down the street was music to my ears. I remember marveling at the hidden windshield wipers and the unmistakable smell of the black leather upholstery heated by the midday sun. I remember how that same black leather upholstery would sear the backs of my shorts-clad legs during the summer on the rare occasions when I did get to ride in that magnificent vehicle (which was only when my mother forced my brother to take me to swim lessons at the pool when she got too busy.) But I didn't care. The wide-eyed stares and envious remarks from my swim class more than made up for the pain when I got in with a flourish and shut the door I'd give my friends a lofty wave as we made our way out of the parking lot, that magnificent engine purring away. My brother knew what he was doing - he would back out of the space, then proceed slowly and nonchalantly to the stop sign at the corner, at which he would look both ways, then floor it. The engine would roar like a tiger as we peeled out into the road, and we would exit in high style, him smirking and glancing in the rear view mirror while my friends all stood stock-still, visibly impressed. The memory of that sweet slice of automotive heaven will stay with me for the rest of my days.

Fast forward 30 years later. I am now a married, professional businesswoman with a husband and three kids, one in college and two not far behind. I drive a minivan (only when I have to) and a 1997 slightly upscale red Eagle Talon ESI, which boasts a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder with 16 valves. It's only 140 horsepower, but it still looks good for its age (like me I hope) and it's paid for. Men and boys often stop me at the gas pump and ask if I want to sell it. I always say no.

But my real baby is garaged 9 months out of the year, isn't driven in the rain, and never except in summer. It's my 2003 garnet red Mazda MX5 convertible. It's a five-speed (let's admit it, an automatic transmission in a sports car is a travesty.) It has a 1,839 cc 1.8 liter 4 in-line front engine with DOHC, and at 142 HP, it's affordable (remember those three kids and the mortgage) and fun to drive. And, like any woman of good breeding, I tactfully ignore the neighbors' smiling tongue-in-cheek references to my "second youth" when I drive that baby down the street. And sometimes when nobody's around, I peel out, just for fun.

It seems I am not the only woman in love with the sports car. Times certainly have changed. According to recent statistics, some 25 percent of Corvettes are bought by women - not bad for a car that typically stickers at anywhere from $44,000 to $65,000. And I see more and more boomers like myself driving sexy retro-styled cars these days. Hmmm...I'm driving a Miata in my forties, will I be driving a '68 Corvette in my 60's? I sure hope so.