A KISS in the car was more romantically memorable in the days of the Ford Cortina and the old Mini than in today’s more refined vehicles.
That’s the surprise finding from a survey of more than 1,300 British motorists who were quizzed about their earliest memories of in-car romantic encounters.
The online motor retail specialist BuyaCar.co.uk found that memories of in-car romantic moments are much more often recalled by those who enjoyed them in older models – like the original Mini, the Ford Escort and Cortina and even the Austin Allegro.
Despite enjoying the benefit of roomier, more comfortable and more reliable modern cars younger people are significantly less likely to remember their early in-car love lives than people over 55 in general.
Cuddling in the car has long been the romantic rite of passage that once provided one of the biggest motivations for many teenagers to save up for a car and pass their test in the first place.
But the signs are that not even Bluetooth music connectivity and heated seats can set the mood quite as well as and FM radio/cassette and a pop-up sunroof once did.
So while nearly 60% of people aged 55 and above remember their first romantic moment in a car the figure falls to just 43% for people under the age of 34.
And the cars they recall these encounters taking place in are much more often Austins and Hillmans or models like old versions of the Volkswagen Beetle and Mini than anything produced since the turn of the century.
It’s not the only sign that the romance surrounding the car may be waning.
The connection between older cars, love and romance is more often celebrated in popular songs about older cars than their modern counterparts. Think Mustang Sally and Little Red Corvette and even – from the heyday of punk rock – the Clash’s Brand New Cadillac.
It’s harder to imagine singers waxing lyrical about Kia Sorento Karen or Tom Robinson writing Blue Hyundai i40 as a follow up to Grey Cortina.
Austin Collins, Managing Director of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: “We were surprised that the much less comfortable cars of yesteryear compared with those of today are more fondly remembered – even decades longer ago – than today’s more refined and spacious models.
“Today it seems that not even climate control and much nicer upholstery than those old vinyl seats can help to arrest the decline of the car as a place to enjoy romantic moments.
“Our findings also go along with a general diminishing in the romantic perceptions of modern cars that we see throughout popular culture and music in particular.
“Of course, it could be less to do with the cars and more to do with older people being generally more romantic. But when Meatloaf sings about ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ you can bet he will never be referring to a head-up display.”