Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Reason Not to Buy Toyota

The most reliable and useful car that I’ve owned is a 1990 Toyota Camry wagon. The Camry was free from major repairs until it was seventeen years old, the V6 engine still has plenty of power, and the flexibility of the wagon configuration allows us to cram more stuff in it than would first appear from its compact size. The cost back in 1990 wasn’t bad –about $16,000—and it gets 24 mpg overall. So what’s not to like?

My philosophy that a car is only transportation may have hurt me in the long run. Sure, I’ve saved lots of dough, but maybe my net worth would be higher today if I focused more on increasing income rather than worrying about expenses.

A university study found that driving a Porsche 911 Carrera produced an immediate spike in the testosterone of male college students. The control car was a 1990 Camry wagon (!). The researchers also measured how much of the effect was due to “lekking”—driving a status car in front of other people—versus the experience of just driving it on an uncrowded road. It turns out that the effect due to being seen by others was slight; driving a Porsche has an “intrinsic” benefit.
One was a clapped-out 1990 Camry wagon with almost 200,000 miles on the clock. The other was a 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. During their drives in each car, drivers had saliva samples taken to evaluate changes in testosterone levels while in the lek (city driving with lots of witnesses) and out of the lek (on the highway, with nobody there to witness their driving). To eliminate testosterone level variations due to individuals slaking their need for speed, each student promised not to burst posted speed limits. [snip]

While driving a Porsche certainly sends signals of conspicuous consumption to the world, a 911 literally makes a driver more potent from a biological standpoint, whether or not there are witnesses to your possession of the car. A Porsche driver, science says, no matter where or how they drive, have higher testosterone levels than if they were stuck in a sedan. By driving a Porsche they become more potent competitors in the game of life, presumably upping their ability to continue to do whatever they were doing to enable them to procure a Porsche in the first place. One might argue that, rather than costing more because marketers tell us they're worth it, Porsches are expensive because our genes value them so highly. In so far as they give us a reproductive advantage, their value is an intrinsic quality.
I think I’ll mosey down to the dealership today. The red one seems to have my name on it... © 2010 Stephen Yuen

1 comment:

Jo said...

I am one of the very (!!!) few people I know who does not own a car. If I did, I would own a red Mustang convertible.

You have a fun blog!