Ruth Bradley, a petite brunette who works in the glamorous world of fashion, proves that appearances can be deceptive. As a former women's magazine editor and now the public relations manager of Louis Vuitton Middle East, she always surprises people when they discover she has eschewed a teeny two-door sporty number and instead drives around town in a muscle car. A Dubai resident since moving to the UAE from Britain in 2003, she learnt to drive in the UAE and now proudly sits behind the wheel of a 2008 Dodge Charger V6 in a colour evocatively named Inferno Red.
By her own admission, it is an unusual choice. "I haven't until now seen another woman driving one. I can't for the life of me figure out why, though." Ruth says. "Fair enough it is an American muscle car, but it is a beautiful looking ride also and that's what initially drew me to it." When she describes the car's appearance, it doesn't take long for her to wax lyrical. "Sleek lines, a very cat-like front fender, very fast, and leather upholstery; it also has a great deal of space, which suits my life as a fashion obsessed, LV- toting mum.
"For those that don't know me, it has the same reaction as when I say I am a mother of two children aged nine and three - a big 'wow, no way' tends to ensue. Also I'm only 5-foot-1-inch tall, and the Dodge is a mighty boosh of a big car, so when I get out I usually get a few stares, to say the least." As a mother of two as well as being a busy career woman, the Charger does double duty as a family car as well as a handy way to transport large quantities of French fashion items. Ruth says the DVD player is ideal for long journeys with her husband and children. "I seriously don't know what I would have done without this feature on a recent drive to south Oman," she laughs. "And the boot is absolutely massive, which in my job is a big plus when I am doing events or lugging around samples for shoots. Recently for a press day, we managed to get four gigantic suitcases full of Louis Vuitton samples from Paris into the trunk and back seat."
Ruth first learnt to drive in the UAE after being a non-driver in her native England and she feels she is confident on the roads here, but the Charger certainly helps with that: "Driving is driving, but I like to think that I have a lot more confidence than if I had learnt to drive in the UK as the Dubai and UAE roads can be very aggressive. I can be an aggressive driver, so can hold my own quite adequately and that's purely from having learnt here.
"I also learnt to drive in an automatic, so I passed in only eight days. I don't think I would have achieved the same results had this been in the UK somehow! Which isn't necessarily a good thing." Once she passed her driving test, Ruth quickly developed a passion for cars and driving. "Most people that know me are not surprised as I am a bit of a speed freak and a car aficionado - I love cars with a passion and used to write a car column in my previous incarnation as an editor."
Ruth's favourite car is a Bentley GT Continental, but when she was shopping around for her first car, she had to be more realistic in terms of price. She was looking at a BMW 320i but soon her head was turned by the Charger. "The specs of the BMW are very similar to the Dodge Charger but there's a whopping Dh80,000 difference in price and, frankly speaking, BMWs are everywhere here and very predictable. I am rarely predictable."
Once she had settled on the Charger, there was the all-important colour choice, a big consideration for someone as fashion-conscious as Ruth. She deemed white too commonplace in Dubai, she had seen too many black Chargers, the stylish metallic grey wasn't available but there was a red one left "sitting patiently waiting for me at Dubai Dry Docks." "It was the 'interesting looking' dog in the kennels that everyone else passed by, and it matched a new pair of Louis Vuitton show shoes I had just acquired, more importantly."
Three weeks after Ruth took possession of the Charger, her husband borrowed the car and crashed it, and this set off a chain of events that led to the couple sticking to driving their own cars for the most part. "I have since returned the favour by reversing his brand-new FJ Cruiser into a wall on one of its first outings," she says. "I had the super woofer stereo on so loud that I couldn't hear the parking sensors."
Adding a feminine touch to the muscle car is the Louis Vuitton keep-all that Ruth uses for weekends away and which she says she is "more than happy to lift in and out of the trunk myself!" "I hope I don't come across as a masculine woman!" she laughs when the car's boy-racer qualities are pointed out. With her glamorous wardrobe, flowing brown hair and sassy attitude, there is no danger of anyone entertaining such a notion.