The Alternative Car of the Year campaign, conducted in partnership with Road Angel Navigator, SA's premier in-car global positioning system (GPS), recorded over 16 000 votes during the period - a record response from the public for an online motoring campaign. So, what made this online poll such a runaway success among the South African public?
Wilmer Müller, editor of Wheels24 - 24.com's premier niche motoring portal and South Africa's most popular local online destination for automotive news - says that our car-crazy society is quick to judge people based on their choice of wheels. "So we decided it would be a fun exercise to let the public decide what type of person our vehicles represent. I imagine there are a few surprised Peugeot owners out there!"
Müller said that as a rule all vehicles selected for nomination had to be launched during 2006 and included models such as the BMW 3 series coupe, Jaguar XK, Honda Civic hatchback, Opel Astra GTC and Toyota Fortuner.
Exactly how does one judge a car to be 'gay' or 'straight'? Talking about the winner of the 'gayest' category, the Peugeot 207, Müller says, "There is no set criteria for judging a car's 'gayness' but factors such as stylishness, fashionable and eclectic - making it stand out from the crowd - certainly play a part."
Müller says that he was not surprised at the Audi RS4 being overwhelming voted as the 'straightest' car currently on SA's roads. "The RS4 is a masculine car which is all about power and performance. It was one of the most exciting cars to be launched in 2006 and get attention from the macho public. A 'straight' car is something practical, powerful and often a little bit showy."
And as for SA's favourite rear of the year? "Taken from behind it had to be perky, bubbly and unusual. The Alfa Romeo Brera is arguably one of most beautiful cars launched in 2006 and a lot of that can be credited to its 'booty'. It's rear design is the most striking and distinct feature, easily spotted a mile away," says Müller.
What is next for the Wheels24: Alternative Car of the Year Awards? "We always planned to make the awards an annual event and the overwhelming public response is affirmation enough for us. We will be expanding on the campaign, perhaps adding a physical element to the event next year. Ultimately, we've succeeded in our goal of stimulating a bit of national car-friendly debate. Now, for the next year at least, we have the official answers to those pressing car image questions!" says Müller.
to view the winners firsthand.