The August 6, 2009, issue of the Edmonton Journal ran a story about the hormonal boost for young males provided by high end performance vehicles. A Concordia University study determined that endowing [yes, endowing] the men with a vehicle few people could afford tripped an endocrinological response-measured using saliva samples-mimicking the one elicited during competition for female mates. As a guy who used to be young, I could have saved the academics a few bucks. Of course hot cars raise testosterone levels. That's a fundamental part of a guy's reason for life. It's the selfish gene on wheels: hot cars > better babes > better babies. But all is not exactly as it seems . . .
The eggheads handed over a $150,000 Porsche to a study group of university students (median age 24.7 years) for an hour's worth of driving in two separate environments: urban and rural.
Now one would think that a young guy behind the wheel of a high end German legend would experience a significant hormonal overload in the city world where a bountiful crop of hot city women would fawn over the hot wheels. If you aren't responsible enough to own a cute little puppy, at least be rich enough to own a Porsche in the honorable pursuit of women. Both car and dog will attract female attention, thus an increase in testosterone would seem imminent.
Here's the kicker in the Concordia study: Even a drive in the country well out of range of available women made the subject males horny. The Porsche raised these guys' hormone levels well into the naked Jennifer Aniston range without a naked Jennifer Aniston. Now that's a car!
This aspect of the study intrigues. It suggests that male happiness is not a warm Colt Mark IV Series 70. Nor is it a toasty Marissa Miller. It's a smoking hot supercar. While you can't share a hot tub and margaritas with a Ferrari, the study suggests you'd be better off with a high-strung Italian car than a high-maintenance Italian babe.
That said, the Concordia study is full of holes. For one thing, it fails to take into account the exotic car's role vis à vis the average male's basic philosophy. He may have spent half of his time behind the wheel on a deserted road with no available women, but he was worked-up by the knowledge that the Porsche gave him the potential to meet hot women. Now that's a car!
The other half of the experiment involved an equal amount of time behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry with 180,000 miles on it. You guessed it: the net result was a slight deflation in testosterone.
This finding probably won't find its way into a new Toyota ad campaign, but it makes perfect sense. Toyota built the Camry's reputation upon reliability and practicality. Men with high testosterone levels tend to view the Camry as the kind of car guys own when they get married. When the supermodel dream is dead and buried.
Yes BUT-there are plenty of men who wouldn't want a supermodel. I've got five words for you: bulimia, cocaine, prima donna, money. Anyway, natural selection says that if all men wanted supermodels that much all women would be supermodels.
By the same token, there's an entire population of women who don't want a bad boy/show off/fast driver to father their children. Sensibly enough, they seek sensible men who can assure their progeny's long term safety, security and prosperity.
Bottom line: the Camry offers that driver access to a different class of genetic material. It's neither good nor bad. It just is.
The study assumes that high testosterone levels are inherently positive, when, clearly, they're not. From a Darwinian point-of-view, the chances that a Camry driver will take themselves out of the genetic pool by dangerous driving are far less than the those of the Porker pilot. In other words, the bad boy only gets the hot girl if he lives long enough to do so.
In any case, the choice of a Porsche for this study is a problem in and of itself. On one hand, Porsches keep the supermodel dream alive: $150,000 two-seaters capable of kissing 200 mph say, I want to get there insanely fast and in style, and, If I can afford this I can afford to put our [future] children through Yale.
On the other hand, Porsches are reliable (enough), easy to park and built to withstand massive accidents. It's not for nothing that the 911's known (at least amongst high testosterone males) as the practical supercar.
So a Porsche is a highly evolved supercar that sends a mixed message that appeals to both sides of a female's genetic needs: high achiever and high security. And succeeds.
Now that's a car!