steady-with-studie-1964-female-car-booklet-01

While browsing the web about automotive marketing to women, I stumbled upon this splendid women’s car guide - put out by Studebaker no less! Entitled Going Steady with Studie, it was geared at making women owners of new 1964 Studebakers more comfortable with their cars (evidently I’m not the only one who calls her Studebaker “Studie!). It’s not only chock-full of fabulous illustrations, but it has some hilarious words to go along with them.  Here are 7 of my favorites:

1. Women Aren’t Mechanically Minded

details

“It’s a rare woman among us who understands all the “nuts and bolts” and technicalities about a car. We’re just not mechanically minded! Many of us, bless our hearts, think a ‘distributor’ is a door-to-door brush salesmen, a ‘condenser’ has something to do with contented cows, and ‘transmission’ is something we go through in psychoanalysis.” – Pg.2

While the arching belief that women aren’t “mechanically minded” is gone, they’re still often taken advantage of when taking their cars in for repairs. I highly recommend both women and men to educate themselves on the basics under the hood, if only  to know how to talk to a mechanic.

2. Always Look Attentive, Even If the Person Talking to You is a Doofus

steady-with-studie-1964-female-car-booklet-03

“You’re likely to get all kinds of off-beat, low-key, mixed-up and conflicting suggestions about how to take care of your  new darling…The thing to do is smile, look attentive (but turn a deaf ear) and follow these 5 simple rules [on caring for your new car].” – Pg. 9

The ’60s cultural rules of being a “lady” were sure reinforced throughout this booklet! Not only did it seem to advertise the notion that housework, laundry, and keeping oneself looking good were the only matters in life, but its instruction to “look attentive” just made me laugh! I’m so thankful I’m not expected to smile and look attentive whenever someone is talking to me!

3. Your Car is Your Living-Room-On-Wheels

steady-with-studie-1964-female-car-booklet-04

“No grooves or wells in the floors to accumulate flotsam, jetsam, loose dimes and bobbie pins. A few flicks of a whisk broom and your living-room-on-wheels is neat and clean as a pin.” – Pg.11

Loose dimes and bobbie pins still clutter the floor of my Studebaker… but I sure don’t know what flotsam and jetsam are ! While I’ve actually compared my front seat to a couch… this “living-room-on-wheels” seems like another reference to a woman’s place being in the home.

4. Women’s Mysteries Consist of Running a Household and Looking Nice

wiggle-and-wave

“Some of the little details of running the household smoothly, keeping yourself looking beautiful, are little mysteries only you know. Your Studebaker, like a woman, has a few of these girl-type secrets.” -Pg.12

Secrets indeed! But I’m afraid they’re about  much more than running a household ;)

5. Use Sex Appeal When Stranded on the Road

Helpless-and-feminine

“Every woman knows that if there was ever a time when plain unvarnished feminine charm and good old-fashioned ‘girl appeal’ comes in handy, it’s that unhappy moment when a tire problem develops on the road.” – Pg. 15

How very ’60s of them to say “girl appeal” when what they really meant was “sex appeal!” We all know this is still in play, but the fact that an automotive manufacturer’s suggestion was to first use “girl appeal”, then walk to the nearest phone to call for help, and only as a last resort turn to the owner’s manual and fix it yourself after which you may, “Feel a wonderful rewarding surge of self-reliance that you never felt before!” Oh my!

6. Ladies Don’t Like to Go Fast

No-Mad-Urge

“Men may think of their cars as gleaming demons of surging horsepower roaring vertically to the pinnacle of Pike’s Peak. But not us! We want plenty of power and performance, but we don’t feel any mad, irresistible urge to push the pedal flat and zoom around the track at Indianapolis. To us, a car is a beautiful, functional way to accomplish all kinds of pleasant things – gracefully, stylishly and safely!” – Pg. 17

I’ve certainly never felt that mad, irresistible urge! Haha! It’s bewildering to me that there were numerous women stunt drivers and daredevils in the early days of the automobile (look up Helle Nice), but examples seem to disappear from the ’40s through the ’60s. It would be 1978 before Janet Guthrie would be the first woman to pilot a car at the Indianapolis 500.

7. Happiness is a Thing Called Studebaker

new-studebaker-1964

“With your car you’re on your own, free as a bird. You’ve suddenly discovered that parking is a pleasure, traffic is a breeze, turning’s no trick at all, and happiness is a thing called Studebaker!” – Pg. 22

They do have to fit in that marketing message after all! Although, on this one I would have to agree – my Studebaker does bring me much happiness!

steady-with-studie-1964-female-car-booklet-08

So… Give a Girl a Wrench!!!

On many fronts I think that Studebaker was actually being very forward-thinking making this booklet speaking to the ’60s female and informing them about their car. Part of me would like to merely laugh and be thankful for what a long way we’ve come  - but there’s another part of me that feels we’ve still got a ways to go.

A recent article on Speedhunters titled Banishing the Female Car Enthusiast drew over 400 comments! The article’s point is that one day we won’t need to be labeled “female”… just “enthusiasts.” Comments varied widely – ranging from outrage to agreement. To me, they showed how, even with a young readership like Speedhunters, many people don’t see any need for progress to be made in this area – in fact bringing up the female card sent a number of readers into fury. Why are less than 2% of automotive mechanics and body workers female*? Some argue that surely it’s just because we’re not that into cars.

This is actually a big reason why I started GreaseGirl six years ago. After having so much fun getting to know the mechanics of my Studebaker, I looked around at the rockabilly/classic car shows I was attending (which had no shortage of women who dug cars) and wondered where all the other women car owners and girls with grease under their nails were. I just can’t bring myself to believe chromosomes have anything to do with liking cars.

I’ve come to learn that people get involved with what’s available to them. Sure, there are the exceptions, but for the most part people follow paths known. Nobody ever told me I couldn’t work on cars, but I don’t remember ever being told I could be a mechanic when I grew up either. My hope is that by writing this blog, other beginners can follow along on my journey and be inspired to begin their own automotive path. While we can laugh about what women were being told in 1964, let’s take some action and make sure that these aren’t still the messages being given to our daughters. Take a kid to a car show, ask your daughters into the garage to help you, give a girl a wrench and tell her about the automotive professions available to her. The world is so much funner when people can find their true passions and follow them!

Full booklet can be seen where I got all the original images from - thanks for posting it Raylin Restorations!

 *Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013.

7 Responses

  1. Arielle West

    I read an excerpt from this book before and it made me laugh then and even now. I too would love for the gender in many professions or areas to be omitted and just have a more genderless word for a discriptor.

    I think that the rockabilly scene is hella cool in it’s own way, but it’s just difficult to find that culture here in any significant size.

    Reply
    • Kristin Cline

      I actually really like being a car “girl”, heck… I named this site “GreaseGirl”! I like being girly, and into cars, and right now that isn’t the norm. I think since females are such a minority at this point, it’s going to be included… but I would love to see a time where it was more evened out and “car girl” wouldn’t really mean much… like saying woman doctor or woman accountant ;)

      Reply
  2. Lori

    Funny, I read the Speedhunters article and many of the comments, and felt the same thing. Why do we have to use labels? Not all men love cars, not all women love cooking. Passion is NOT a gender issue, and it’s frustrating when it’s made to be such! Thanks for the post, as always! The graphics are hysterical!

    Reply
  3. ADDvanced (@ADDvanced)

    Nice post, nice car, nice website! As for the female “enthusiasts”, well… as a guy I am kind of annoyed by them. It isn’t their fault, it’s all the losers without a girl that go WAY WAY WAY out of their way to help the female enthusiast. The female enthusiast will get deals on parts that no guy will ever get, they will get people willing to drive from quite a far away place to help them install something, and if they have a MILDLY built ride they get ALL KINDS OF PRAISE (if the same car was owned by a guy not many people would care) which really affects their ego, and makes them kind of convinced they’re way cooler than they really are. This is just my experience though.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Kristin Cline

      Thanks for the comment, and for the honesty too! I would agree with your experience understand your frustration – my husband has expressed his own dismay at me or my club getting parts/attention. While I’m not going to turn down free parts, I’m also not getting them for “free”… I put tons of work into this site and am reaching out to a market that is largely untapped. I certainly try my best to act with integrity – it’s one of the reasons I started working on my car and also started this website. I just fundamentally feel you should work for what you have. So if I want a cool classic or customized car, I’m not going to claim it as mine unless I’ve poured my own blood, sweat, and tears into it. So while I would hope that the car culture as a whole would do everything they can to welcome and help a newcomer, whether they’re male or female, I also hope that “female enthusiasts” act with integrity and don’t let the attention expand their egos. Working on and driving my car make me feel great, because it’s fun and I love the feeling of empowerment by doing things myself.
      Happy Trails!

      Reply
  4. DAVID LAMPE

    Cool page. I saw your picture working on the Stude on the Studebaker addicts Facebook page.Good luck with your site and Stude.

    Reply

Comment & Join the Conversation!