Can you recognize other people's cars?

For the first time in my life I own a car, and one thing that’s surprised me about car ownership is that people can recognize it. Several coworkers have made comments that show they know when I’m at work because they spotted my car when they came in (this in a parking lot that can probably hold 50 or 60 cars), and have even told me they recognized it when I was driving around or when it was in a parking lot at a store.

There is nothing distinctive about my car. It’s a 1997 gold 4-door Toyota, neither excessively clean or dirty, with no bumper stickers or other overt distinguishing marks. I’ve been shocked and a little creeped out by the fact that people can spot it so easily. What I’m learning, though, is that this is just a thing people do, and expect me to be able to do as well. Last week I was standing on a sidewalk and saw someone in a car waving at me, but because of the glare on the windshield I couldn’t make out who it was. When the car pulled up and a work acquaintance stepped out I mentioned that I hadn’t been able to see who he was. “How could you not know who it was?” he said, “You’ve seen my car before!” He genuinely sounded surprised and a little irritated that I couldn’t recognize him by his car.

What the hell? I would no more be able to recognize his car than I would be able to tell him what he’d worn to work the day before. I have no interest in cars and wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone’s car unless it was something hugely flashy like a red 1950s convertible or the Scooby Doo Mystery Van. And maybe not even then.

Is this a fluke I’m experiencing, or is this an actual thing? When you go to work in the morning can you scan the parking lot and tell who’s already there by which cars are in the parking lot? Would you notice if someone in your neighborhood had a new car in their driveway?

I don’t recognize other people’s cars unless they’re especially unusual-looking.

Yup and yup. I’m not especially interested in cars, and I don’t recognize everyone’s car, but I can recognize about thirty percent of my co-workers’ cars when I pull into the lot. However, aside from the few who drive cars with distinctive features, I doubt I’d recognize their cars away from work. As for my neighbors, I definitely notice when there’s a new car in someone’s driveway.

I can recognize people’s cars. But then I’m interested in cars and can tell the trivial differences in styling between the same model car but from different years.

I think I’d recognize the cars of 8 of my family and friends. But it’s context-dependent. In the parking lot where I work, I expect many of them, but if I was half an hour away I wouldn’t. It also depends on how common the car is and whether it’s got any distinguishing features. I was just discussing with one friend the stickers they put on their rear window, so I’m likely to recognize that one if I see it hundreds of miles away.

I’m doing good if I can recognize my own car. There have been at least two instances when I couldn’t figure out why my key wasn’t unlocking my car only to realize that I had approached the wrong car. They were similar in color and shape but that was it. I have no trouble remembering and recognizing my license plate so most times I do a quick check just to be sure. Like you I’m often amazed when others easily recognize my car.

Yes, I do, and that surprises me because I’m not a car person. But when I was working in an office, for example, I could take stock of who was already at work as I pulled into the parking lot.

Sometimes. Then again, some people are just way more observant than I am. Shortly after I got my new (to me!) car in October, I was driving to meet some friends at a local bar. I got a text from someone else (not in the party I was going to meet) asking when I got a BMW. Apparently they saw me drive by and noticed it. :eek:

Sometimes. It can be at least mildly useful or interesting to be able to tell “Oh, ____'s here” just by a glance at the parking lot.

I think it’s one of those things that some people are in the habit of noticing and others aren’t, kind of like some people notice what clothes or shoes other people are wearing.

I can say from personal experience that when I got my first car, it somehow made me more aware of the other types of cars out there; and that, when I was in the market for, or had just bought, another car, it heightened my awareness of cars in general. (Oh, there’s another car like mine; there’s a car like the one I test-drove but decided against buying; there’s a car I never would even consider buying; etc.)

I work alone, but share a parking lot with three other retail spots. I know whose car is whose. I also can recognize all the cars of the people I go to church with.

I don’t know my neighbors or recognize their cars.

If I know you and I’ve seen your car, I will recognize it. Not a “car guy.”

Heck, I can recognize peoples cars on my commute to work. As in…" there’s that guy with the Jesus bumper sticker on his car." And I’ve never even met those people!

Not only do I not know people’s cars, I am incredibly unaware of different car makers. One day I will be the only witness to a getaway. When they ask me what kind of car they drove, I will answer “Green.”

I’m not a “car person.” However, we have about 12 people working at my office. I’m not sure I could tell you what most of them drive,but I know who goes with which car. When I arrive in the morning, it’s pretty easy to say “Yep, Bob and Dorris are here early today”

I am like Ruby. I need to click my lights to find my own car. I can recognize my license plate more easily than my car, and I don’t have a vanity plate.

Knowing who’s at work is easy because we don’t have a lot of employees. Beyond that, for people ‘in my life’ I have a habit of looking at their plates and remembering the letter portion so I recognize them in traffic. I see plenty of Red Jeep Liberties in a given week, but if it ends in BYP I know it’s my cousin Jane. No reason for it, I’m not going to race up and wave to her, not going to mention it it next time I see her, I think it’s something I picked up back when I was a teen and smoked in my car and I got good at having to spot people that shouldn’t see me smoking before they saw me before I had a chance to hid the cigarette as I rolled up to a red light or flicked it as we went passed each other and now it’s just something I still do.

I can…but then I watch cars almost as much as I watch aircraft. If I have seen a co-worker in their vehicle at least twice I could recognize it if I was driving around town and they happen to drive past me going in the other direction.

While most of the it’s the color, the wheels or the model of car, I can occasionally do so simply by the make. I live near a former co-worker and I have seen him around town driving the same Kia that he had over 8 years ago when we worked together. I’m surprised that it has lasted that long. And we were not friends at work or away from there.

Yes. I’m not a car person, so I don’t always know the make and model of the cars that I recognize, though.

My son can, and could before he was 4, with amazing accuracy. I used to worry that he didn’t know his alphabet whereas my daughter was reading by his age, but then I realized that every time we were walking through a parking lot, he’d point out Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Ford, etc. So he obviously recognized symbols meaning cars just as my daughter recognized symbols meaning letters and sounds.

But what’s weird is that we’d be in the Target parking lot and he’d say “Miss Diane’s Car!” and I’d vaguely think, sure, she does drive a Toyota and I guess it’s that color… and then in Target we’d run into Miss Diane! He was right every time, all the time. It’s uncanny. I think some people are just like that. His first 5 words were: mom, dad, no, car and truck. :slight_smile:

When I was little I could not only identify every model of car on the road, but could identify the cars of friends and family by the sound they made coming up the driveway as well as the sight of them. My parents were amazed but I think this is just one of those examples of kids’ knowing more than they really need to because it might be important. (And if it were actually important I think I could still do it.) I could also identify the individual footsteps of people who meant a lot to me.

These days I’m lucky to be able to find my own car in a parking lot although I can still recognize the footsteps of, say, my sons. I can figure out which kid is visiting by seeing the car that pulls up in front of my house, but I was following my son somewhere and I started following a completely different white Prius at some point on the trip.