U.S. “Dream Car” Survey Shows Americans Have Forgotten How to Dream

The idea of a "dream car" seems to have altered a little over the past few decades, and even though I'm not entirely sure why that is, it feels as though it's not something to be celebrated.
Ferrari Monza SP1 7 photos
Photo: Ferrari
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Back in the day, if you asked somebody what their dream car was, all they had to do was to point at one of the many posters mounted on the wall, and you'd get your answer. Sure, that would be a little more problematic now when human interaction is reduced to a minimum, but it's not something a Zoom conference couldn't handle. You just need to be careful not to get your pantless bottom half of the body in the shot as you pan the camera around.

OK, there aren't that many car magazines left around - and the ones that do still exist haven't featured posters for years - but everyone can use any image they want as background for their computer or phone, and while kids and cats are probably the top two picks, I'm pretty sure there's a certain demographic where cars manage to rank higher.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Photo: Chevrolet
Do you know what kind of demographic that is? It's young people (mostly male, but we're not allowed to say that anymore) who either don't yet drive at all or have just picked up their driver's license and are tearing up the streets in their father's old Corolla. As they do it, they're dreaming of the time when they'll grow up and make enough money to afford the supercar that currently proudly resides on the display of their phone. They are the people who are still excited about driving.

But then life happens, priorities change, and the way we relate to cars suffers dramatic modifications. First, there's the financial aspect that says you can only make a worse investment than buying a new car by throwing the money straight out an open window. The more expensive the vehicle, the worse a deal you get - and cool, fast cars don't tend to be cheap.

Then there are the personal aspects. The love of your life might not enjoy a blast down a bendy road at speed as much as you do, and while this would be a deal-breaker for some people, the vast majority tends to put personal relationships above this type of interest. And do you know what happens when you do that? Kids.

BMW X5 & X6 Vermilion
Photo: BMW
Once children come about, the automotive needs go through a drastic transformation. Suddenly, it's more about safety, comfort, and practicality than acceleration, top speed, and exterior design. "How quick does it do 0-60" changes to "how easily can you fit a pram in the trunk?" and, after struggling to lift and fit the baby carrier in a car that doesn't make it easy for you, one that promises unparalleled accessibility will quickly become your new dream car.

But can't one still dream of a quintessentially impractical but fun car, even if it doesn't fit their current needs? After all, it's a "dream" car, so not something you actually expect to own, but something you would definitely love to drive. Well, if this study from is anything to go by, it would seem Americans - at least when it comes to cars - have forgotten how to dream.

The survey questioned 1,172 people (56% male, 43% female, with the one percent remaining identifying as nonbinary or nonconforming) with ages ranging from 18 to 80 and an average of 39. It's definitely not the most scientific study you'll ever see, but it has a large enough population sample to make its findings worth investigating.

Ford F\-150 Raptor
Photo: Ford
So, from a body style point of view, it would seem that Americans gave the SUV and crossover segment the largest percentage of their votes, with nearly a third (30%) opting for one - and if it's black, all the better. We all know how well this type of vehicle sells at the moment, and the fact it also ranks highly in the "dream car" department suggests there is no reason to hope the trend might change in the future.

As far as brands are concerned, Americans don't find Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Bugatti the most desirable, but actually BMW. I'm honestly wondering if they have seen the latest designs coming from the Bavarian company but considering "handling" was the highest-ranking feature for a dream car (with "body styling" managing a mere seventh place), I guess it does make some sense since it's one of the defining traits for a Bimmer.

Audi e\-tron GT quattro
Photo: Audi
Another German brand, Audi, ranked third, flanked by two of America's greats - Ford in second and Chevrolet in fourth. However, BMW was the top choice for a quarter of respondents (25%), making it the clear winner. Tesla, on the other hand, probably deserves a mention, too, since it was the choice of more than one in ten Americans (11%).

So, next time you'll be cursing as you find yourself gridlocked and surrounded by black Suburbans, Expeditions, and X5s, you can at least take comfort in knowing there's a high chance those people are driving the cars of their dreams. Well, "driving" might be a bit of a stretch in the scenario I just mentioned, but you get what I mean.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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