This ground-breaking two-part documentary profiles extreme relationships that have never been portrayed on British TV before. The first episode follows two self-proclaimed ‘mechaphiles’ – men who have physical and emotional relationships with their cars. The pair talk candidly about the nature of their passion before embarking on a road trip to attend a car show in California. How will these two rather different men react when they meet each other for the first time?
For the last 26 years, Edward has taken care of his lover, a 1974-era VW Beetle named ‘Vanilla’. “The minute I saw this car, I fell in love with her,” he says. “Almost every inch of her body has a certain sense of beauty.” For Edward, this passionate love for cars has its roots deep in his childhood. Over time, his “innocent affection” for automobiles developed into a full-blown obsession. In a very real sense, Vanilla is the love of his life.
The celebration of cars as lustful, sexy machines is nothing new. Car designs have taken on ever more seductive and curvaceous forms, even adopting human characteristics. But a tiny subsection of car fanatics have taken their love of sleek automobile design to the ultimate extreme. Incredible as it seems, Edward is part of a small internet community of ‘mechaphiles’ – men who have sexual relationships with their cars.
In his remote home in Washington state, Edward dedicates his time to caring for Vanilla and composing car-themed love songs on his keyboard. He reveals that his taste for mechanical love extends to a fascination with aircraft – and even claims to have made love to Airwolf, the high-tech helicopter from the 1980s TV series of the same name.
Edward’s unusual proclivity remained secret until 2001, when he bought a computer and plugged himself into the mechaphile collective. He puts the number of declared mechaphiles at 12, and claims that he is one of the best known. His love for Vanilla is something that Edward wears on his sleeve. “I get carried away, I must admit,” he says. “But I love her, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Nearly two thousand miles away, in Missouri 20-year-old Jordan is another self-confessed mechaphile. Like Edward, Jordan developed his passion for cars in childhood. He too expresses his feelings through music and is in love with a classic VW Beetle. Jordan says that although he is not gay, he has never been attracted to women. “The only things I find attractive in the sexual fashion – or any fashion, really – is just cars and trucks and planes,” he says.
Edward and Jordan have agreed to meet each other for the first time at a huge car show in California. They embark on separate road trips in their vehicles; Edward drives his beloved Vanilla, while Jordan is in a 22-year-old Trans Am named ‘Todd’. Along the way, Edward wastes few opportunities to stop and admire cars that take his fancy – even expressing an interest in the filmmakers’ vehicle. When the unlikely duo finally meet at a motel in Los Angeles, Edward creeps out at night for a tryst with Todd – unaware he has been caught on film.
Once at the swap meet, Edward and Jordan show rather more interest in the vehicles than each other, with the former unable to keep his hands to himself. “I like to look at them,” says Jordan, “but unlike Edward, I’m not so prone to fondle them up and touch them because they’re not mine.” Where Edward displays a lascivious side to his nature, Jordan insists that his sexual desire for a car only blossoms once he gets to know it.
The young man seems unconcerned by the suggestion that, like Edward, his life may become very solitary as he grows older. He hopes that his involvement in the film will give heart to other people with unusual desires. “I just want to make it more comfortable for other people with similar strangeness in their love life,” Jordan concludes. “Maybe it’ll make them feel more comfortable with themselves.”