YE SHALL KNOW them by their bumper stickers. And by the car they drive. As with pets and wearing apparel, the car a person picks is a dead giveaway to his personality. Can you imagine Roger Staubach gunning a ’57 Chevy? Mary Kay Ash in a Trans Am? How about Iola Johnson blaring down the highway in an open air Jeep Cherokee?
Behind the wheel of every Rabbit is a driver who thinks like a rabbit. Knowing this, you’ll be in much better position to drive defensively. Here’s a rundown on what you may expect from the opposition this summer.
Hopes people will mistake it for a Seville. Just turned 40, fears the world may have passed him by. Wants to be sporty and “in,” but not quite sure how. Doesn’t get the point of “the wine remembers” commercial, but won’t ask. Thinks “Chimi-changa” is a Puerto Rican street word. Hates Volkswagens and pickups. Won’t signal right turns, makes him feel conspicuous. Feels signs saying “no right turn on red” are unreasonable, tempted to go on anyway, but won’t. Feels closed in by retaining walls on Dallas North Tollway, may react irrationally.
Nastier and more dangerous than ever since being shunted aside by the Rabbit. Resents the years he spent as the only small car, combating behemoth Buicks and Imperials. Will speed up to keep you from entering traffic or changing lanes. Appears out of nowhere to back into parking spaces at Prestonwood Town Center just before you get there. Does not hesitate to park in triangles at the end of the rows. Avoids eye contact. Constantly jockeys for position in morning freeway traffic; at times appears to drive sideways.
’5 7 CHEVY
Belair Sports Coupe, fuel-injected, has clocked 128 mph. Personalized license plate reads, “TUF N UF.” Valvoline sticker on window. Vehicle painted red with black flames on sides. Dropped out of school in the ninth grade, but later graduated from Tulsa School of Welding through correspondence. Has twin sons named Bubba and Coy. Can handle the wheel with the best of them, but is confused by complex traffic instructions. Thinks 1/4 mile is twice as far as 1/2 mile; may swerve off freeways at the last minute.
Idaho license plates, travel stickers from Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Chippewa River Trailer Camp. Can’t see where he is on the right side, so drives on white line on the left to play it safe. Bought the “Minnie Winnie” to save fuel, disappointed that he needs to stop again after filling up in Sherman. Though experts agree that a good defensive driver will watch what’s happening well ahead, followers of this vehicle can see nothing but the decal of a pale green fish.
Brown, with standard transmission and special-ordered black tires. Bumper sticker reads, don’t get mad, eddie; get even. Laments demise of black autos. The only letter he ever sent to a politician was to Senator John Tower demanding the repeal of the law requiring autos to be designed to start only if the seat belts were locked. Volunteer fireman. Suffers occasional mental lapses, may not discern subtle distinctions in traffic light colors. Often misses freeway exits, has been known to back up a mile and a half to regain access to desired exit. Always uses center lane, activates turn signal several blocks in advance.
With optional T-Bar roof and rear window louvers. Divorced, stuck with heavy child support payments. Wanted a Jag or a Vette, but got caught by new bank loan policy requiring 25 per cent down. Restless and impatient, parks in fire lane at Tom Thumb with motor running. Aggressive, drives toward arrow points at NorthPark. Enthralled with Winning Through Intimidation on cassette deck, not always attentive to traffic matters. Parallel parks across head-in lines at Revco Drug. Bogs down on Greenville while sizing up parking lots. Wears limited edition Porsche sunglasses by Carrera, even when it’s raining. Formerly wore puka shell necklace.
’69 model, 400 cubic V-8. Remote-control Fuzzbuster hidden in grill. Does the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 99.0 miles per hour. The king. The last muscle car. Knows he can take you any time. Rear end sticks up in the air and the tires are as wide as washtubs. A fire-breathing, ground-shaking monster. Very disconcerting to see close up in your rear view mirror. May actually appear docile at times, driving with the flow of traffic, looking before changing lanes. Just when you think you may have misjudged him, you hear a terrifying roar and the Trans Am disappears over the horizon.
White, no optional equipment. Lurks in that narrow space between where the rear view mirror leaves off and the side view mirror begins. Parks in spaces at Valley View Center that appear to be unoccupied from the ends of the rows. Has worked 11 years for a major downtown accounting firm, where he is known as “that new fellow.” Suspected by neighbors of being a relocated witness against the syndicate.
’49 FORD PICKUP
Has a hog farm near Seagoville. Picks up slop from restaurants on Haskell, Fitzhugh, and East Grand. Does the quarter mile in four and a half minutes at 18 miles per hour. Spider web crack on windshield, driver’s side. Right rear wheel nearly severed from vehicle. Finger writing on dust reads “Please wash me!” Impatient drivers who crowd too close will likely have hog slop sloshed onto their hoods. Convertibles will be showered by ashes from King Edward cigar. Should be considered armed and dangerous.
Convertible. The last sport. Ruddy complexion, receding hairline, at 38 is the oldest player on company slow-pitch softball team. Wears bikini underwear. Bitter over being struck in the face by soiled Pampers flung from Plymouth Reliant station wagon. Rugged individualist, drives what suits him regardless of trends. Can’t help but notice, though, that pickup truck bumpers are at his eye level. Astute enough to realize that this could be a problem. Also fears city buses may not be equipped with catalytic converters. Not a serious threat, preoccupied with survival.
Three-quarter ton, with stepsider running board, Monro-Magnum shocks, and a Happy Horn that plays the first eleven notes of “Dixie.” Personalized license plate reads, “Jimbo-1.” CB handle is “Old Jimbo.” Sul Ross State University window sticker. Bumper sticker reads, cowboys stay in the saddle longer. Simulated wood gun rack. Plays Ernest Tubb songs on tape deck. Changes lanes on LBJ Freeway without looking or giving turn signal, then leans over, and looks up into rear view mirror to see if anyone is back there. Leans back, looks into side view mirror. Spits.
7 0 MERCURY COMET
Wavy purple, may have once been blue. Dangling seat belt bouncing on pavement on driver’s side, sparks could cause grass fire. Female driver with frizzy hair, strawberry malt in one hand, Jumbo Jack in the other. Cat lover. License plate issued by West Virginia, expired January 1. Bumper sticker reads, CURL UP WITH A BEAUTICIAN. Absentminded, will turn left at the last minute, a split second after you have finally mustered the courage to pass. Not familiar with Texas liability insurance requirements. Keeps punching the radio buttons, looking for a Neil Diamond song.
450 SL, four-door sedan. This driver is clever and cunning. Knows instinctively what lane to get in when traffic comes to a halt on North Central Expressway. Seemingly clairvoyant, anticipates trouble and avoids it with facility. Does not consider it an affront to be passed, knows where he stands in the Dallas hierarchy. In complete control at all times. No bumper stickers on this baby, of course.
Yellow diesel. Commercial real estate broker who must give the appearance of success to compete. Bought a demonstrator and had the mileage turned back. Fears slight wear on tires may be detected. Wire wheel covers have been stolen three times. Two wire covers left, both on driver’s side. Plain covers on passenger side. Figures no one could possibly tell. Relatively harmless. Not likely to gamble, too much at stake to jockey for position with a Dodge Omni. Could be dangerous, though, when distracted by diesel noise. Thought Cadillacs were supposed to purr.
Swivel seats, double bed in rear, Panasonic Quadro Boomer sound system. Mural on the side depicts two dolphins fighting a forest fire in the Galapagos Islands. Driver is shirtless, has what looks like cockleburs in long, sunburned hair. Sniffing something, does not appear to be Dristan. Keeps a roll of toilet paper on the dashboard. Bumper sticker reads, rude, crude, and gonna get nude. Varied assortment of activities taking place in the rear, with driver occasionally disappearing from view. Vehicle likely to stop suddenly on freeways to pick up hitchhikers. If hitchhiker is female, watch for U-turns.
CJ-7, with Blackjack headers, Rough Country shocks, Bandag retreads, and dash-mounted compass. Driver coaches junior high football in Rockwall. Normally docile, but takes on personality of a caged ocelot in heavy traffic. Has laid an intricate pattern of escape routes throughout the area. When freeway traffic slows below 20 miles per hour, will climb to freedom, often appearing to defy gravity. Doodles only squares and rectangles.
’5 9 BUICK ELECTRA
Left taillight dangling by cord. One rear fender coated with primer paint, the other blackened by leaking muffler. Inspection sticker expired in 1972. Faded bumper sticker reads, hang earl warren; new sticker warns, THIS VEHICLE WILL PULL OVER AT THE RAPTURE. If following this vehicle, leave an extra car space between you if driver is watching the sky. Driver likely to pull onto North Central Expressway at 25 miles per hour in the belief that Providence will cause there to be a gap sufficient unto the moment.
Silver, with dark red interior and cut-pile carpeting. Driver left husband and two children to find herself. Draws down 60 grand a year from ad agency, plus stock options. Wears nine rings. Has police whistle attached to key chain. Takes 24 Valium a day. Does not take turns at four-way stop signs. Takes full advantage of yellow caution lights, feels she has earned the extra edge it gives her against the opposition. Swings wide into left lane when turning right. Visible through back window are bank statements for the past six months, a copy of Nice Girls Do, by Irene Kassorla, and three cans of Libby’s Vienna Sausage.
A much underrated threat. Sells matchbook advertising. Paid on commission only. Releases tension by playing racquetball, deadly on the highway when he runs out of Cruex. Keeps a .357 magnum under the front seat, will make life miserable for you if he catches you in the fast lane of Stemmons Freeway going less than 75 miles per hour. Will get on your bumper, honk, flash his lights, consider passing on the inside shoulder, then all of a sudden whip into the center lane, dart past you, flash an obscene gesture, and lurch in front of you, barely averting hooking your bumper. Coaches girls’ soccer.
Virago, with V-Twin engine. Blackboots, $80 jeans, black leather jacket.Leather chaps and vest. Black helmetwith silver face-length glass shield thatcan be seen out of, but not into. Knownamong service station attendants onNorthwest Highway as “The MaskedPeacock.” Lives for red lights, loves topeer furtively out of silver shield to seewho’s admiring his rig and his body.Chronic bed-wetter. Becomes ecstaticwhen people point and whisper, may losecontrol and run out into traffic if adjacent motorist gives false start.