“Hey look at Rob in his new Audi TT – thats definitely a hairdressers car.”
The British colloquialism “Hairdresser’s Car” has a certain anachronistic charm. However, it’s also faintly derogatory. It suggests that while the car may be good looking, it probably has the accelerative properties of snail that’s been feeding on the finest cannabis to grow in Humboldt County. It suggests also that the car handles like an inflatable raft in a suburban swimming pool. Furthermore the term is redolent of the insinuation that none of this matters because the limp wristed poof behind the wheel only cares about cutting a dash when they draw up at the salon to sling creme rinse. To wit: the Urban Dictionary definition of the word I cite above says “a car likely to be driven by a homosexual”. I’m a homosexual and I’ll drive anything. I once owned and loved a 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer. Four wheel drive, V8, and live axles on leaf springs all the way around. No one would call such a masculine truckbox a “Hairdresser’s Car”. Yet it was slow, blessed with elephantine handling and just to gratify your inner poseur the rear roof came off ! It wasn’t much good at hauling anything but three passengers and a driver either, so it couldn’t justify it’s existence as a workhorse in the same way its Suburban sibling can. The venerable K5 was built purely for fun and style. Yes, the butch boxy Blazer is a “Hairdresser’s Car” if ever there was one. I also like riding Harley-Davidsons. Does this make them a “hairdresser’s bike” ? No, I and the Hell’s Angels think not. But there’s an irresistible appeal gearing up in leather and straddling a primitive machine.
Then twisting the throttle to feel it shuddering powerfully between your legs as the slugs slide up and down in their bores. But again, a Harley is as much a lifestyle accessory and tool of personal expression as a motorcycle. But that matters not to the many who ride them and love them. It’s about how it makes you feel, not what a performance chart says. That’s the trump card of the hairdresser’s car, they are vehicles that invariable have smile factor by the skip load. They are in essence a motor vehicle that is short on practicality but long on good times. Weatherproofing is never a great priority, most hairdresser’s cars like to go topless. Below is my top 10 hairdresser’s cars that were available (though not necessarily introduced) between 1972-1995. They are listed in no particular order. Look them over, dollars to donuts you’ll be downloading disco tunes and making yourself a drink with an umbrella in it before you can say Donna Summer !
1: Geo Metro Convertible.
Cutting the roof off a plebeian machine to lend some panache isn’t a new trick, but it’s one that turned the strictly functional three cylinder Geo Metro into a veritable antidepressant on wheels
2: Jeep Wrangler.
Sure, it was born of war and can certainly hold its own off road. But I’ve seen many a Wrangler that doesn’t have to contend with any terrain rougher than Castro Street. Make it a four cylinder with an automatic gearbox. I can’t be bothered shifting, I might spill a Frappucino on my Armani jeans.
3: MG Midget. Sure, the MG Midget WAS a sports car in its younger days. But (British Leyland’s ad copy notwithstanding) by the time it had reached its dotage the old Midget had had its zip dezipped with smog equipment. Its reflexes dulled with the weight of federal impact bumpers and lifted suspension. Still looked cute
4: Triumph Spitfire.
The Spitfire was the Midget’s contemporary, and by the 70’s under the leaking corporate umbrella of British Leyland they even shared an engine. The Spit’ was a tad more upmarket though with its walnut dash and Italianate lines. It even had independent rear suspension courtesy of a transverse leaf spring. But really, it was better at motoring to the pub sedately than anything else.
5: Chrysler LeBaron
. Whether hard or soft top, any front wheel drive LeBaron with two doors has a faint whiff permanent wave chemicals about it. Indeed, I remember back in the late 90’s when my local gay pride parade consisted of almost nothing but LeBaron convertibles, red ones. That said, when I see a clean Lebaron today my thoughts invariably turn to acquiring one. Turbo 2.2 please, with the covered headlights.
6: Pontiac Fiero 2m4. Mid engined and with looks worthy of an Italian exotic and a name to match the Fiero promised much. However, it delivered the pushrod iron duke and Chevette suspension. Who cares ! Anything that looks like that and puts your ass that close to the ground has to be fun ! Hey, it was good enough for Hall & Oates !
7: Karmann Ghia
. Basically a Beetle in drag, but WHAT DRAG ! In the looks department the Karmann Ghia punches well above its weight and today enjoys deserved classic status.
8: Fiat X1/9. The first mass market car with its engine amidships, the little Fiat had a jewel of a chassis, however most reckoned it to be under powered. Maybe wringing its neck is why my mother succeeded in breaking hers with great regularity. But who wouldn’t put up with having Tony fix it again and again with those jaw dropping Bertone looks !
9: Mercury Capri.
What do you do when your marketing department wants a Miata beater (especially when you turned down the Miata in the first place) ? Ring up Mazda and have a front wheel drive convertible with a barely usable backseat built for you…In Australia…I get the feeling Mazda didn’t want to cut their own throats, so they cut Mercury’s instead. Still, they’re really pretty damned cute.
10: Suzuki Samurai.
Not a Jeep, emphatically not a Jeep…Well, ok, it’s very Jeep-like indeed. Except it seems to not take itself quite so seriously. What better vehicle for negotiating the wilds of the mall parking lot for a trip to Miller’s Outpost followed by a burger at Red Robin ?