Cheryl Hoffer leaves the world behind when she climbs into Breezy — her Volkswagen GTI — and drives the 31 miles of winding roads through California's Santa Cruz mountains to visit her daughter.
Like many in an AP-AOL Autos poll, her car is more than a machine and her relationship with it is intensely personal. "I love my car, I like everything about it," said the 61-year-old nurse.
The VW has all the sporty features and she came up with the nickname because it has a sunroof. Almost four in 10 of those polled said their car has a personality of its own.
Two in 10 have a nickname for their car. Most often it is a female nickname; popular choices include variations on Betsy, Nelly, Blue and Baby. When people talk about their strong feelings for their cars and trucks, they mention dependability, time spent maintaining them and the freedom that comes from cruising on the open road.
Women were more likely than men to attribute personal traits to their cars, more likely than men to give their car a nickname and more likely to see their cars as female.
For some, the loyalty comes from being able to count on a car such as ‘Myrtle the Turtle,’ the trusty Ford Escort of Erin Von Dollen, a 24-year-old college student and bank employee from Storrs, Connecticut.
"It's not the best looking car and not the fastest car, but it gets me there," she said. "The electrical system is a little funky. I think of it as temperamental. Sometimes I have to talk to it when it has problems with the cable connected to the battery."
That intense vehicle loyalty may be linked to the amount of effort an owner has put in keeping the car in good shape.
Three in 10 think of their car as having a gender, with 23 percent thinking of their cars as female, compared with just 7 percent male.
Four in five of those polled said they love to drive. Young adults and older people were more likely than those 30-39 to say they enjoy driving. '