Sex Sells

March 4, 2008
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You looked, didn’t you?

Let’s face it, it’s hard to ignore a sexy woman wearing a wet suit. James Bond couldn’t, and look at the trouble Ursula Undress, er, Andress got him into. Whether it’s TV spots, magazine ads, or show floor stands, the auto industry has long understood the relationship between pheromones and sales. And that applies when they’re pitching stories, as well.

The young lady pictured above is garnishing the latest in a long line of quirky offerings from Rinspeed. The eccentric Swiss automaker, this year, brought to the 2009 Geneva Motor Show its sQuba underwater sports car. But we could fill the pages of’s blog with cheesecake from the show – risking, of course, the sort of enraged letters some readers have sent us in the past when a bit too much cleavage has cleared our editors.

In fact, Geneva is relatively tame, compared to some other auto shows. At the 2006 Paris Motor Show, we were wondering about the long line of male journalists gathered around the out-of-the-way booth of a small French supplier – until, that is, we spotted the young lady sporting nothing but a fresh coat of body paint.

Several decades ago, nudity was not entirely uncommon. Legend has it a well-endowed model exhibited all at the London Motor Show, decades ago, vying for attention with the then-new Jaguar E-Type.

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So even while Italian automakers remain firmly committed to sheer and deeply cut evening wear, things are probably a lot tamer than they once were. More often, these days, manufacturers will roll out a bit of entertainment, like the acrobat/ballet dancers that awed the crowd at the Mercedes news conference.

But sexy women – and a few men – aren’t going to go away. They sell stories to journalists and, we’re betting, cars to some of our readers. Or have times really changed?

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