Monday, June 17, 2024
CarsCulture & Language

Top Douchemobiles, Rated

My recent experience renting a Dodge Challenger for a week led me to ponder the substance of the multitude of douchemobiles on the market. While there is no formal definition of a “douchemobile,” and I did indeed concede that there were parts of driving the Challenger that were actually pretty fun, the average person driving these cars drives them not to race, nor simply to get between Points A and B, but to display their wealth.  Such is also the case with similarly preposterous pejoratives, like wankpanzer (though this term refers only to larger cars). Thus are the Dodge Durango, Lincoln Aviator, Chevrolet Tahoe, and all other manner of giant vehicles, excluded from this list. We’re talking about smaller cars, no matter whether they’re ridiculously overpowered, too loud, and thoroughly fuel-inefficient.

Ownership of these cars is overwhelmingly male, especially the Corvette. Owning these cars is a way of saying, “look, bud, I don’t care about the planet. I don’t care about traffic laws. I don’t care about your safety. What I care about is revving my engine, early and often, because that’s what my addled brain and/or traumatic childhood convinced me was how I was going to impress women.”

So, here’s the full list, counting down from 10.

 

10. Corvette Stingray (2023 Model).

Yea, tho his hair may be greying, his foot on the gas pedal is as youthful as ever. Plus, with this modern model– notably the first one in decades that looks more like a Lamborghini than it does like plastic Hot Wheels- he can boast about the tech features, too. Just, uh, so long as he doesn’t have to open a PDF in the car. The driver of this vehicle is likely to be wearing a white synthetic golf shirt, wraparound Oakley sunglasses, and other things that might fit into the “I Feared For My Life” starter kit.

09. Vintage Ford Truck.

The driver of this car is not necessarily a douchebag, but definitely wants you to see his sweet ride. This guy is a cool dad or a cool grandpa, but he’s masked his age by being cool. Definitely does not have the original paint job but may have rally stripes, flames, or an exotic, iridescent paint job. Takes it to conventions but mostly just drives it around town on summer nights. Has a hot, ageless copilot who might be 30 years his junior, or might be the same age and just have really good genes.

08. The Mercedes G-Wagon.

The G-Wagon is for the man who’s suddenly taken an interest in off-roading, but only drives it in the city. His wilderness survival skills might be limited to grilling burgers in the backyard (a $3000 gas grill on an extremely high-end UNILOCK patio that he just spent $23,000 to have installed)– or having the help do it, for that matter- but he still looks the part. At an impressive 13-16mpg, there’s a substantial question of what you are doing driving this car in nature if you don’t mind destroying it.

07. Maserati Quattroporte.

The Maserati is a limited-production Italian douchemobile that, in the words of a colleague, you drive if you want a quiet cabin but want to make sure your neighbors and friends know that your car’s engine is really, really loud. I got this firsthand in a rare test drive in 2017. It’s a very quiet car– on the inside. When I lived in Chicago, my landlord, Mark Durakovic, once drove up to our building in a brand new Maserati after serving eviction notices to several longtime tenants in the building. That’s a perfect microcosm of the Maserati owner. Some models include a minibar or champagne cooler.

 

06. Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

This is for the man who’s convinced himself he’s the next James Bond, even if the closest he gets to being a spy is binge-watching Netflix series on Saturday night. But he’s binge watching it on a top-of-the-line, OLED home cinema display, because, miraculously, the Aston Martin hasn’t actually abolished old school controls in favor of the touchscreen like everyone else seems to have.

 

05. Dodge Challenger.

The Challenger I enjoyed as a rental car, mostly for its ability to get superb fuel economy on the highway at higher speeds. However, it’s still a vehicle that is designed for power and douchery rather than, say, for pedestrian or cyclist safety (it’s hard to see over the dashboard because the engine compartment is so high). But for the average Joe, driving this vehicle at 90mph on the highway and weaving between drivers sans turn signal, is all they really want.

 

04. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

The perfect vehicle for the man who’s traded in his briefcase for a camping backpack—sort of. He might not take it for rock crawling, and he certainly isn’t scrambling on his own hands and feet, but he sure does love driving over speed bumps at the mall.

03. Ferrari (any model).

Ferraris start at a couple hundred thousand dollars. So, if you happen to just have a couple hundred grand lying around, you might already be a douchebag. But it’s harder to judge a multi-millionaire driving a Prius, so we’re going to just judge him once he buys his Ferrari.

 

02. Tesla Model S Plaid.

For the man who wants to be on the cutting edge of technology while perhaps destroying the planet a bit less. Yes, it’s certainly a crisis. But it’s an eco-friendly crisis. Of course, then there’s the fact that the Model S Plaid drives faster than you can legally drive, well, basically anywhere. Probably going to be taking a lot of 25-45mph trips to the dealership for those recalls, I guess.

1. Lamborghini Aventador

Certainly, the douchiest of the douchemobiles. Nothing screams “mid-life crisis” like spending an outrageous sum of money on a supercar you can’t comfortably fit into. It’s loud, it’s fast, and it’ll make the neighbors jealous. Or, at least, so the owner thinks. Thankfully, the supercar is also a half million dollars, so there aren’t going to be that many people buying one anyway. If you’re like Tyrone Smith, the Northville, Michigan-based contractor who once sued the nonprofit I used to work for because we had taken more than 45 minutes to pay him his final draw for a construction job he hopelessly bungled, you can complain about how it cost $47,000 to fix the transmission in this car that you apparently aren’t that good at driving stick.

Runners-Up.

It would have been impossible to give adequate mention to all douchemobiles. The Rolls Royce, for example. Or the Bentley. The Jaguar came close to making this list, as did the Range Rover. I decided to omit the last one because the poor owners are stuck paying the maintenance costs of the vehicle, so we should give them a break for that, at least. The S-Class would seem an obvious pick, but the S-Class is more a rich person car rather than a characteristic douchemobile.Plenty more vehicles still are expensive but too rare to make a list like this one– the Lotus, perhaps, or the McLaren, or the Fisker.

 

Acceptable Douchemobiles

Vintage cars get more credibility here– not because they ameliorate the douchery of car culture, but because they are generally owned by people who at least care about the idea of preserving a car rather than just driving it as fast and noisily as possible. It’s also notable that you kinda have to know how to drive and work on a car from this age. There was no check engine light. The mid-1950s second generation Ford Truck, whose approximation is pictured above, weighs in at around 3,250 lb. (1,475 kg), which is more than 2,000 lb lighter than the fully-equipped F-150 Super Duty of today. Miraculously, the bed in the new truck isn’t any bigger. So, here are the top picks for acceptable douchemobiles:

Restored Porsche 911. This is for the man who prides himself on his wine-like aging process. He likes to brag about the rarity and authenticity of his ride, while conveniently forgetting to mention the maintenance costs that rival his mortgage. Of course, we’ll give him a break, because this at least saves us on the embodied carbon of building a new car, right? (…right?)

Well-Maintained, Vintage Corvette C3 Stingray. The perfect car for the man who insists on wearing aviator sunglasses and playing 70s rock on an endless loop. His mustache and denim jacket are optional but recommended for the full effect.

Chevrolet SS. This is a rare and mysterious car, similar to the SS SUV featured in the chase scene in the Barbie movie. It’s designed to be a douchemobile, but it’s not well-known outside of circles of performance car nerds. It looks like a Subaru from the front, but more like a Ford Five Hundred overall. Autopian said it might be the most underrated sports car of all time. Possibly because it’s not very attractive. But I wanted to give a hometown shoutout to this one.

Anyway, please be safe on those roads, folks! Cars are dangerous.

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

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