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His car is part of her husband's self-image; her car is her dear friend and helper, her supermarket trolley, her baby-carriage.He would rather take the train than be seen at the wheel of her grubby hatch-back; she pilots his gleaming Range Rover through double-parked streets with her heart in her mouth.

Though no man will admit that he has bought the wrong car, he remains on the look-out for a better one.The already intense relationship between a man and his car is cemented by shared transgression.As car-and-driver run the gauntlet of speed limits, speed cameras and police stakeouts, and park on yellow lines and get away with it, they become partners in crime, bonded by their irrepressibility.The woman who drives a hundred miles with the handbrake on or the choke out, or leaves the lights on and flattens the battery, or crushes a wheelrim against a kerb, can feel nothing but guilt and embarrassment.Men who write off or blow up cars do so deliberately and glory in the deed, stupid and destructive though it clearly is. What love requires in the case of cars is that none but the car's owner gets to abuse it.Each one has some special attribute, some peculiarity of chassis or transmission, that makes it unique.

If my friend wins the lottery, the money will be spent giving the little cars a new lease of life and in that faint hope they remain, quietly rusting away. In this affair of the heart as in others, women are monogamous and men are polygamous.

The car is one female thing that a man can get inside of whenever he wants and it will provide unfailing evidence of his potency unless, that is, the two of them find themselves trapped in traffic.

Then the man can only yearn towards what he and the car would get up to if they had the world to themselves.

The newsagents carry nearly as many car magazines as they do soft porn and men read them in much the same way.

Just as they gaze at endless depictions of silicone breasts on what appear to the uninitiated to be identical blonde babes, they contemplate image after image of what seems to be the same car.

A man who cannot tell you what colour his wife's eyes are will be able to tell you all the specifications of his motor.