These women dream big. This is why.
Driving supercars evokes pure joy. I learned that with the first supercar I ever reviewed, a Ferrari F430. And I was hooked. Since then I have driven a number of luxury sports cars including the Lamborghini Aventador S and the McLaren 570S. There’s definitely something magical about getting behind the wheel of an expensive, purring beast. It’s empowering, too.
This all-woman club is worth the wait
Women of the Arabian Gazelles are touted as the first all-female supercar club. Established in the Middle East in 2016, the Arabian Gazelles have a waiting list to join their club and they’re on the move. They are women of all sorts of professions from all over the world. Currently, they are over 50 members strong and they’re changing the conversation about women, supercars, and power.
“I always had a passion for driving high-performance cars,” says the Gazelles’ founder, Dubai-based Hana Mazouzi. As a member of this exclusive club, she and her car-loving sisters often participate in manufacturer test drives and track days. Before the Gazelles, Mazouzi was struck by the sparse numbers of women in attendance at such events.
“Why are women overlooked by this male-dominated industry?” she says. “Everyone just seems to accept that and no one does anything about it.”
It’s NOT her husband’s car – it’s all hers
Too often, when you see a woman driving an expensive high-performance car you might assume that it’s her husband’s. In the case of the Gazelles, more than 80 percent of the members are business owners in their own right. Each woman handles her own supercar. And they want to push it to its limits, not amble down the road on a leisurely drive. Thus, as a group they often participate in track drives, media driving events, and experiences like zip-lining or taking new supercars for a spin at a test drive. They push themselves, too. While they don’t race against each other, they time themselves on the track to break their own records.
Cars that qualify for the club include Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe, McLaren, Aston Martin, Maserati, and Bugattis. They also allow select luxury SUVs, including Bentley Bentayga and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.
“What constitutes a supercar is often a matter of opinion,” Mazouzi says, “but I consider a combination of design, acceleration, top speed, handling, style, rarity and price – all of these must be ‘super’ in a supercar.”
Forging community from aluminum, carbon, and steel
Aston Martin’s president of the Americas Laura Schwab says that it feels to her as though more women are driving these ultra-luxury vehicles and supercars.
“There’s an opportunity to create a network amongst these women,” Schwab says. “We’re seeing that with Aston Martin. As we’ve made a conscious effort to engage with female owners, we’ve given them an opportunity to bring their friends along. Women have responded positively to seeing more female buyers.”
In Texas, Diane Caplan founded Heels and Horsepower in 2018, which now has over 100 members. Heels and Horsepower is an exclusive ultra luxury and supercar club for women; when it started, Diane thought it would be an annual event. Then she discovered that women from all over Texas wanted to get involved, and they found support from several dealers around Texas. With Rolls-Royce and Bentley Houston to Lamborghini Austin and Ferrari of Houston, the organization hosts driving events for women.
“Having been in the luxury automotive industry for over 20 years, I was always the oddball out when going to local car meets. I remember being one of only a handful of women in Houston that drove a sports car like a Porsche 911 20 years ago,” Diane says. “Every year that passed, I noticed more and more women behind the wheels of Porsche, Ferrari, and other supercar brands. It has been truly inspiring to see so many women around the world gain exposure for their love of cars. But the best thing about it all is the amazing women I have met and the friendships that we all have gained all because of cars.”
Related: The SUV/Sedan/Performance Car You Didn’t Know You needed: 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43 Coupe Review
What’s the market opportunity for brands?
Brands are seeing the potential in the female buying market, with companies like Lamborghini and Aston Martin forming female advisory boards to tap into the mindshare. Aston Martin set up its female advisory board in 2015, with the goal of learning more about what drives women at an emotional level and understand how to better understand and engage that growing segment.
McLaren says an SUV, typically favored by the female market, is not in their foreseeable plan for the future. However, the brand is clearly looking to connect with a female audience through its latest generation of advertising and marketing. Other supercars did go the SUV route, including the high-tech Lamborghini Urus and muscular Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Manufacturers are using more women in advertising, showing women at the wheel enjoying the drive. That’s a way of acknowledging women and encouraging them to come into the showroom. Even in the mainstream automotive market, manufacturers are beginning to see what is possible by understanding the women who influence and purchase cars. Bloomberg says that women make more than 85% of consumer purchases overall and influence 95% of purchases.
Market trends show a huge uptick in smaller SUV sales, which explains why companies like Maserati, Lamborghini, and even Ferrari have created a vehicle in this category. They also understand the significant opportunity to sell to women in this segment.
Related: Step on the Accelerator and Free Your Soul: How an All Girls Driving School with Cadillac V-Performance Academy Changed Me Forever
When women buy cars they know what they want
Historically, women are less than enthusiastic about buying cars and dealerships from the most inexpensive brands to the most élite cater to men.
“As women, we are often stereotyped as impulse shoppers with shoes and purses,” says Amie Lindaas of Cars.com. “When it comes to car shopping, women are more practical and budget minded. On the flip side, men tend to approach vehicle selection and salesperson selection from a more emotional perspective, looking for a connection. Understanding those differences is key.”
Find that juxtaposition of luxury and approachability can be a challenge. In the case of Aston Martin, where the executives are known to exhibit a pure love for the cars themselves in an almost childlike way, the brand sees that finding new buyers is partly about ensuring the door is open for them to walk in, both literally and figuratively.
“When people see a luxury sports car, they tend to view those brands as very serious,” says Schwab. “Some people think those cars are beyond reproach. Part of our success comes from feeling as though people can approach the brand, and enjoy the fun side of it.”
“We are all supercar enthusiasts and bona-fide drivers who share the same passion.”
That approach to the market works well for women, and they respond in kind. Like the Gazelles, connecting to women in their own spaces rather than through – literally – a middle man, supercar brands can picture just what could be. As newly-licensed female drivers in Saudi Arabia (allowed since 2018) will attest, a car means freedom. And that freedom opens the door to economic and social empowerment.
Mazouzi is happy to see the advancement of women in this market and she embraces the opportunity to take a sharp curve in the conversation about women and cars.
“Men on the track are taking notice. Some of them respect and support us; others are still skeptical, and to them I want to say that’s it’s no longer a male privilege,” she says. “We’re all supercar enthusiasts and bona-fide drivers. And we share the same passion and we too feel the same rush behind the wheel; we refuse to just sit pretty on the passenger seat or cheerlead from the pits. We want to live and exude this passion just like they do.”
You can live the supercar life vicariously on Instagram by following the Arabian Gazelles (@arabiangazelles), women who drive Aston Martins (#AlltheAstonLadies) and my own supercar dreams (@drivemodeshow).