Brothers in Arms: The secret handshakes of different car makes and models

Brothers in Arms: The secret handshakes of different car makes and models
Computer nerds will recognize the term ‘hardware handshake,’ while most Canadians who were around in the 1990s are familiar with the ‘Shawinigan Handshake’ made popular by an irritated Prime Minister. The handshake you learned at that college party is best left unmentioned.

But there are secret handshakes for us gearheads, too.

You may or may not know it, but there are gestures, rites, and other fraternity-like acknowledgments owners of certain marques share with one another.

A Canadian Jeep owner recently started a trend by leaving a plastic yellow duck on the hood of a stranger’s Wrangler after being berated in a parking lot for her out-of-province license plate. The trend has taken off, with reports of .

This got us thinking — how many secret handshakes are there for specific makes and models? We surveyed friends and colleagues, them donned a hazmat suit and ventured into a few online forums to find out. As always, if we missed your favourite brand, feel free to yell at us in the comment section.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon FCA

We’ll start with the best-known and most obvious of all handshakes — the Jeep Wave . Ages ago, quickly flashing a peace sign either off the steering wheel rim or out the driver’s side during doors-off driving was the domain of CJ/YJ/TJ owners in the know. Now the Wrangler has grown into a habitable form of transportation and seen a massive sales increase, the trend has taken on a life of its own.

It’s so popular, in fact, the company has created an owner’s club called Jeep Wave, providing deals on maintenance and 24/7 owner support. As for the hand gesture itself, general convention seems to say it should be limited to owners of Wranglers, but there’s nothing stopping drivers of Cherokees and Gladiators from greeting each other on the road. We’ll take this opportunity to mention a different type of hand gesture people on the new Ford Bronco forums .

The first-generation Mazda Miata

You will recall the first-generation Mazda roadster had pop-up headlamps, capitalizing on styling trends of the day and working around limitations of 1990s lighting technology (or lack thereof). Drivers of first-gen Hiroshima fun-makers built with flip-up headlamps sometimes greet one another on the road with a quick burst of pop-up light zeal.

This is troublesome for those whose NA-generation Miata has peepers frozen in the ‘up’ position, the victim of dead headlight motors or immobile linkages. Donations are gratefully accepted in support of those affected by this disorder. Cures range from generous infusions of new parts; to strategically placed blocks of wood underneath the failed lamp to keep it from falling back into its socket.

Ages ago, Honda was marketing the Civic Nation tagline, meant to promote the idea that though many different types of Civics were available from base commuters to Si coupes, all hands were part of the same family. Did owners of tricked-out whips actually wave to staid workers on their way to the office? Well, at least the two in this advertisement did.

Bikers are a breed all their own, born of the freedom to hit the open road, and with just a touch of outlaw mystique. Those who climb aboard their hog for a day of two-wheel fun know there may be a couple of salutes thrown by their comrades, the simplest of which is a left arm dropped towards the road at a 45-degree angle with two fingers outstretched. Note this gesture can be construed as an, ahem, rude signal in some parts of the world.

How this got started and what it exactly means is of some debate. Your author likes the explanation that it indicates a wish for the other rider to ‘keep both wheels on the road’ in a quasi-suggestion that bike riders have each other’s backs if calamity strikes. This salute seems to be tossed largely by pilots of cruiser and touring bikes but there’s nothing to suggest sportbike riders can’t do the same unless they’re busy wrestling 998cc of Kawasaki Ninja into submission.

Jeep zealots fanatics will surely insist this gesture was stolen from them, given the Venn diagram of people interested in buying a Wrangler or FJ overlaps quite a bit. Both are off-road beasts with a lantern-jawed face that looks ready to take on the impending apocalypse. You’ll be in for a bit of a slog if you try to take the doors and roof off an FJ, though.

This one seems to be more of a camaraderie thing, since FJs were bought in relatively small numbers (fewer than 1,000 were sold annually between 2009 and its 2014 demise) but have an avid fan following today. While it may simply be a case of “Hey, you’ve got one too!” rather than an organized salute, chances are high you’ll receive an acknowledgement of some sort from other FJ drivers if you’re tooling around in Toyota’s off-road ute.

Like the FJ, Corvette drivers often acknowledge each other in some way; whether it’s a wave, nod, or shake of the mullet. Most folks don’t buy a Corvette by accident, choosing the thing for its performance value and (generally) good looks.

Plus, the vast majority of Corvette owners ain’t exactly wallflowers — notable alumni of the ‘Vette Club include Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen, and all the Apollo astronauts. Also there’s the bubblegum pink Corvette belonging to Paris Hilton, which most ‘Vette owners would rather ignore.
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