As a young man I always drove a sports car. My car was always low, fast and provided seating for just two people.
One evening, after picking up a date from her apartment, I merged onto the freeway. Like most car guys, I checked the rear view, slowed and went wide open. This is why on-ramps were invented - legal acceleration testing.
Having remembered just how terrifying this might be for a passenger not used to going fast and without warning, I turned to my date expecting a look of anger. Instead her eyes were wide and watered. She had a smile on her face and was still griping the door handle. Breathing heavy she said, “That is such a turn on.”
Now I’m older, married to the woman above and living without a sports car. While I still love all things automotive, lately I’ve become more interested in the relationship between humans and vehicles. I decided to further explore the events of that date night. I wanted to know if fast cars can result in sexual arousal.
I’m not a medical professional nor have I done extensive research, so there is a chance I get a few things wrong here. Also, much of this is based on my intuition.
I’ll break this into two parts: visual triggers and physical triggers.
Fast cars are generally visually appealing. While you can make a 1986 Civic go fast, it isn’t what many think of when they think fast cars. Attractive is subjective, but we’ll assume most people agree; cars like the Ferrari 458 or Corvette C6 are attractive and illicit a pleasant visual experience. This visual pleasure can be transferred to the driver and play a factor in the physical attraction between two people. Your 911 is nothing more than a large plum of bright feathers.
Fast cars tend to be more expensive than their non-sporty counterparts. Wealth, or the perception of wealth (84-month loan for the win!) is seen as the ability to earn and thus provide financial security. It is assumed that because a person can afford an expensive car, they can provide food and lodging for a mate and any potential offspring. While societal structures have changed the evolutionary mating preferences, the need to provide is still a very strong one.
Conclusion: Having a car that looks expensive can increase your odds of attracting a mate who is seeking a provider....and can also attract gold diggers. Be warned.
Next we examine the physiological relationship between sexual arousal and acceleration. I was able to uncover ample data on sexual arousal, but none of it was specific to vehicle speed or acceleration. Academia has looked at many aspects of sexual arousal - from erection size during threat of shock while viewing pornographic material to vaginal pulse amplitudes of women during film-induced sexual arousal - I learned a great deal about sexual arousal.
The only scientific evidence to support a theory that going fast can increase arousal came in the form of a study conducted in 1974 by Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron. They found that there is:
“...heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety.”
The study determined that a fear-arousing event, such as sudden acceleration in our case, could arouse a person. The subject assumes that arousal was a desire for the other person and not the fear-arousing event.
Rapid pulse, heavy breathing, increased blood flow - all physical effects of a fear-arousing event. While the car is responsible for the physical effects, the passenger confuses this as desire for the driver resulting in an increased, albeit brief, sexual desire for the driver.
While a car may not be the the sole reason one person finds another desirable, it appears a sexy fast car can help tilt the odds in your favor. Now even non-enthusiasts and millennials have reason to consider a performance vehicle.