Model cars

Google your favourite sports car, and the odds are you’ll be able to find a picture of it with a scantily clad woman draped over the bonnet. Former Hooters girl turned car show model, Amanda Lee, tells Globe Drive that she sees no harm in that.

’I bring excitement,’ she says. ‘I’m using my very best asset. What’s wrong with that?’

But while the car show model industry is certainly lucrative (top models earning $1500 a day), it poses serious questions about male/female relationships and the semiotics of cars. Do men really think that having a shiny sports car is going to help them bag the woman of their dreams?

Gender roles are of course in a constant state of flux and vary between cultures. For car shows in North America a minimal amount of models are used and most of them dress conservatively

’These days, you can’t get away with just putting pretty girls up on the stand,’ Porsche spokes person Laurance Yap says. ‘There has to be more to it. The game has changed.’

Some companies take a more ironic approach. Subaru for example once used sumo wrestlers instead of attractive female models for a series of adverts. For a long time Mini Canada presented its cars with no models at all – a decision based on the fact that half of Mini buyers are women. Then last year, while presenting the new Beachcomber model, it used both men and women with the male models dressed as sharks.

’What we do is fun, Mini Canada director John Capella says. ‘We want to make people laugh, and we don’t want to turn off women, or men, either. It can’t be sexist. A lot of couples buy cars together. It’s not a male decision, and it’s not a female decision. They have to agree.’

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