Car magazine puts women in the driving seat for first time

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The Independent Online
Britain's first motoring magazine for women is to be launched in the spring. Clare Garner gets a test drive.

In 1996, more women than men aged between 18 and 25 bought new cars. By 1999 the industry expects women between 18 and 40 to be the dominant consumers in the car market. Women buy cars, love their cars, but they do not read about cars. Nuts about Motoring, the forthcoming female-friendly motoring magazine, believes it has spotted a gap in the market.

Helen Mound, the editor, is planning to "stick two perfectly manicured fingers up at magazines which rave on about cars that snap knicker elastic at five paces and compare automotive curves with Daryl Hannah's curves". She says that she is catering for people who "enjoy motoring as motorists, not as testosterone-driven imbeciles".

Nuts about Motoring hopes to attract around 90,000 female readers who are alienated by the existing car press. "Unimaginative sexual innuendoes designed to insult, ridicule or merely dig at the fairer sex have been far too easy for the motoring press since the first car company stuck a dolly bird on its new car in the Fifties," said Ms Mound, whose husband edits the magazine Performance Car. "You know, a girl on the bonnet of a big, red sports car is erotic, but you know, a girl driving the same car is a damn sight more erotic."

The magazine is aimed at car-owning female drivers between 21 and 40. The average reader would own a one-year-old car worth pounds 8,000-pounds 12,000, but aspires to exchange it in due course for one worth pounds 15,000-30,000. She favours style and speed of cars, but is "smart with her money". She enjoys driving and sees herself as competent behind the wheel. She is likely to be independent - the number of single women aged 18 to 40 rose from 18 to 28 per cent from 1980 to 1990 - and successful - 45 per cent of female graduates find work within six months compared with 40 per cent of men.

Among the contributors will be Vicki Butler-Henderson, co-presenter of BBC2's motoring programme Top Gear, with a column "From lipstick to dipstick".

Angela Giveon, the magazine's managing editor, said: "We know the market. We make no apologies about being female. We intend to cover interesting topics and teach women the art of negotiation. It is not patronising. It will save them money.

"A car is the second biggest purchase a woman makes after her home. Men are expected to know about these things, but women haven't got the media to address them," Ms Giveon said.