It’s a rite of passage. Some folks change careers. Others draw up a bucket list. But for millions of Americans, there’s the midlife crisis car. But if that brings to mind a guy wearing gold chains and driving a flashy red sports car, think again.
According to a new survey, a full one in four American adults say they will at least consider buying a car to handle the inevitable midlife crisis. Notably, that includes both men and women, according to CarMax, the big automotive dealership chain that conducted the survey of 1,005 U.S. adults.
The study also found that the type of car they’d like to buy doesn’t necessarily fit the classic image often portrayed in movies and television shows.
What’s true, said Cliff Wood, CarMax executive vice president of stores, is that “people envision marking this new stage of their lives by buying the type of vehicle they’ve always wanted.”
Men are a bit more likely to buy a midlife crisis car, according to the poll, 30% of them compared to 21% of women.
And the cars they would choose are almost polar opposites. “For men, sports cars still reign supreme,” CarMax notes, while “Women went with SUVs.” Surprisingly, a nice sedan was the third choice.
Asked for their favorite makes and models, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette were the favorites. It’s unclear if that’s because both models have just undergone complete makeovers, something folks reaching midlife might be able to identify with.
Curiously, women want that flashy red paint job. For men, the color of choice is black. Silver, gray and blue came in close behind for both sexes, with yellow at the absolute bottom of the list.
Conducted by market research firm Ipsos, the survey also discovered there are some big regional differences when it comes to cars and the inevitable midlife crisis. Southerners were the most likely – at 30% — to want that hot new set of wheels.
By comparison, only 18% of Midwesterners said they’d consider buying a midlife crisis car. And perhaps considering the weather, an SUV was the region’s top choice – the only part of the country where a sports car didn’t come out on top. Incidentally, the term, “midlife crisis,” was coined by Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques back in 1965. He suggested it comes on between the ages of 40 and the early 60s. Despite the fact that the phenomenon has become a widely accepted part of popular culture, researchers contend it’s not a universal issue – and may not exist at all.
If so, it may just be a good excuse for buying that hot new car that you think you finally can afford.