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Women find a need for speed

London, July 25: Sports cars were once the preserve of men seeking a rush of adrenalin, the ultimate boys’ toys for wealthy professionals.

But an increasing number of women are now developing a passion for speed, with many trading in their more practical vehicles for stylish, high-powered models, according to a study published today.

Research suggests that, with more women in the workforce, manufacturers are starting to recognise the spending power of female drivers who wince at the thought of owning a car dedicated to driving children to and from school. Since 1998 Mercedes has recorded a 63 per cent increase in the number of women owning their cars, with a total of 95,375 vehicles registered to women by the end of March.

Similarly, traditionally male-dominated models, including TVR, Porsche and Lotus, have witnessed a rise in women demanding more powerful engines. While in 1998 there were no recorded women TVR owners, by March there were 533. In the same period Porsche doubled the number of female owners from 1,910 to 3,877.

The growing popularity of fast cars among women has led 21 per cent of those who own them to put off having a lavish wedding and 11 per cent to postpone having children in order to pay for them. Eighteen per cent of the 1,014 women questioned admitted to reading the motoring sections in newspapers and 66 per cent said they watched specialist programmes such as BBC’s Top Gear. Catherine Alty, business manager at Privilege, the car insurer that commissioned the survey, said more and more women were also gaining racing licences to satisfy their appetite for speed.

Claire Williams, a racing instructor, said: “Thirty years ago, women in motor racing would have been an incredibly rare occurrence, but it has definitely become more acceptable and affordable.” One such racing champion is Sara Fisher, who was the youngest woman to race in an Indy Racing league event in the US and achieved the distinction of being the fastest woman in the league last year.

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