Things you need to know about owning a black car

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* Editor’s note: Debra’s taking the week off. This column first ran in 2014

Have you heard the news? Car sales in America are on the rise! The U.S. is back, baby, and nothin’ says American like a new ride.


I helped kickstart the automobile industry two years ago, and yes, I bought American made, because yes, I am just that secretly patriotic. Oh, how I wanted a cute little Mazda CX-5. Candy apple red, tiny zippy little thing. But, given the collapse of our economy, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I knew I’d see the faces of unemployed American autoworkers smooshed on the windshield every morning.

I’d never had a red car before (OK, I half take that back because when I was 16, I had a blazing red ’72 Firebird Formula 400 for all of two days before my father got rid of it because he was sure I’d kill myself in it, and he was probably right), and at midlife, nothin’ says “I’m not dead yet” like a zippy red cutie car.

But, I chickened out. Besides not being American made, I was wary about the push-button starter rather than a good old slot to stick a key in and turn. And, it was the first year the CX-5 was produced (not good) and also the first year Mazda had push-button technology (also not good), and even though my “I’m not dead yet” juices were simmering, my practical Cheapacabra nature kicked in and cooled those juices down to room temperature.

I bought another Impala. First reason: I loved my last Impala and would have driven it forever if it hadn’t pooped out. Second reason: Frankly, aside from the CX-5, no other car even remotely appealed to me. Am I just jaded, or are all the cars really boring these days?

Anyway. Although I got something familiar, I did make one racy choice. I got a black one. Which is another variation on the midlife “I’m not dead yet” vibe. Red cars are straight up sexy, spicy and hot. Black cars are sexy, sleek and badass. Yeah, OK. We can go in that direction too.

I’d never owned a black car before (not even for two days). How about you? Thinking about pumping up the economy and getting a new black car? Tempted by their sleek, sexy ways? Here’s what you need to know before you sign the papers:

1. There’s nothing sexier than a shiny, clean black car. Nothing.

2. There is nothing less sexy than a dirty black car.

3. When you’re looking for a new car, the black one will seduce you. You’ll look at that model in another color, think about being practical, but the black one will wink at you. Tip its chin. Purr, “Hey baby… I want you inside me.” Walk away now, or you’ll take it for a test drive.

4. When you get into a black car for the first time, you’ll feel dangerously sexier than you ever felt in your whole life. Your inner panther will roar. You’ll tingle in places you forgot you had.

You’ll like it.

5. And, you’ll buy it. The other cars just won’t make you tingle like that. Your only protection is to never get behind the wheel of a black car in the first place. Just walk away, get the brown one, and life will be uncomplicated and lived in shades of sepia. But … you’ll always wonder … driving your nice, safe brown car … what if. Especially at a stoplight, and there’s a hot guy or gal next to you, and you realize, with a sigh of resignation, that blasting Led Zeppelin from a brown car just isn’t the same. Sort of pathetic, really.

6. A thin film of Yolo County dust becomes luminescent on a black car. Every spot glows like a cheek zit on prom night. At first, it will disturb and upset you so much that you’ll wash your car immediately. And …

8. It’ll be dusty again before you finish drying it. Truth: A black car stays clean for only 45 seconds. But… they’re the sexiest 45 seconds you’ll ever know.

9. Because of that 45-second rush, you’ll wash your black baby faithfully every weekend. For the first year. And then, the futility will erode your resolve. You’ll start skipping. People will stare at your car in disgust, and make all sorts of judgments about your slovenliness. Know what, jerkwad? I just washed that car 15 minutes ago. If you’ve never owned a black car — don’t judge me.

10. A scratch on a black car means only one thing: sadness. You know what color the car is underneath that glossy black? White. You know what scratches black cars? Car washes. Yes, you must always wash it by hand, or that slick black paint will be gouged with zillions of little white arcs where the carwash spinners hit it. Not sexy, people. Don’t let your black car go like that.

11. You will park under a tree where birds are known to perch only once. “Appaloosa” is only sexy on horses. It only took me one time parked under the trees in the Trader Joe’s parking lot to learn this lesson the hard way. I was only there for an hour. It looked like a bloodbath in white.

12. Black cars aren’t just hot, they’re hot. Getting into a black car on an average California summer day is like getting inside a Weber barbecue with the coals at a perfect red glow. If you were fool enough to get black leather seats (because, let’s face it, cloth isn’t sexy. It doesn’t even sound sexy: Cloth. Cloth. Cloootttthhh. Meh.) and you like to wear shorts, get used to the smell of bacon frying.

13. (Of course 13 — what other number goes better with black?) As soon as your sexy black car’s paid off, you’ll trade it in on a white one. Blue. Green. Silver. Anything but black. You’ll have discovered that sexy is way overrated.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at; read more of her work at www.winters and

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