The classic ticket magnet is thought to be a playboy-driven red convertible, a Corvette or Ferrari perhaps. Cops reportedly see red, anyway. It’s like a colored flag to a bull. So they hand over those speeding tickets.

But a new report from proves that our men in blue are more discerning, not going for the obvious. The most ticketed brand, believe it or not, is Scion, with 27.5 percent of owners reporting that they’ve been flagged down. Scion? Really? I didn’t think most of ‘em could exceed the speed limit.

Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX — seen here in STI Launch Edition form — is the single most-ticketed car. (Photo: Subaru)

You’d expect extroverts like the ‘Vette and the Dodge Viper to accrue tickets like a dog gets fleas, but instead they’re well below average. Managing Editor Des Toups attributes this to sports cars being expensive, so their older buyers tend to drive them more slowly and take fewer risks.

chart showing ticket magnets

The real trend, which is glaringly obvious from the stats, is that cops hate foreign cars. Of the 20 most ticketed, only four — Pontiac GTO (really an Australian import, at #2), Mercury Topaz (7), Pontiac G8 (15) and Saturn Aura (18) — are American-made.

Pontiac GTO

The much-ticketed Pontiac GTO looks American but is an Australian import. (Photo: Pontiac)

Driving German or Japanese really gets you tickets, apparently. The Subaru WRX — particularly in bespoilered STI Launch Edition format — is not only obvious to cops, it’s quite likely to be speeding. It’s the top-rated ticket magnet, with 33.6 percent of owners reporting tickets. Second is that GTO at 32.7 percent, followed by the fast-looking Scion FR-S (32.6 percent), Toyota Supra (30.8 percent), Subaru Tribeca (29.7 percent), Volkswagen Rabbit (29.6 percent) and the Mercury Topaz (28.8 percent).

I know a lot of those cars are unlikely ticket magnets. It makes sense for the gendarmes (that's French for cop) to go after the VW GTI, the Scion FR-S and the Mitsubishi 3000 GT, but the Toyota Prius C (27 percent, 20th on the list) and the Mazda2 (28.1 percent, 10th on the list)? Isn’t grandma likely to be at the wheel? But maybe she’s like the Little Old Lady from Pasadena. “Cars don't get tickets, drivers do,” Toups says.

Scion FR-S

The Scion FR-S shouts, "Ticket me!" (Photo: Scion)

A 2010 Quality Planning survey found a rather different group of frequently ticketed cars, suggesting class resentment rather than patriotism on the part of traffic cops. The most ticketed car then was the $102,600 Mercedes-Benz SL two-seater. It was four times more likely to gather a citation than an average car. The company’s CLS 63 AMG (twice the average) was also a big target. “Luxury coupes and sedans dominate our list,” Quality Planning said.

Mercedes SL roadster

The snazzy Mercedes SL roadster was a cop magnet back in the day. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz photo)

I don’t have a least-ticketed list, but I’d expect it to include such law-abiding vehicles as the Smart car, the Fiat 500 and the Chevy Spark. The amusing paradox is that the really fast cars, including the aforementioned Ferraris, are driven so infrequently that they're likely candidates for staying clean.

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Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Guess which cars are magnets for speeding tickets? (Hint: It's not the Ferraris)
Corvettes and Vipers aren't getting stopped by police. It's the much more mild-mannered cars that attract attention.