For Gay Talese, staple in New York's glitterati and author most notably of Thy Neighbor's Wife, cars are personal--even human. Needless to say, they can be as important as a marriage partner.

Such is the case for his jaunty 1957 Triumph TR3.

"That car is probably most important to me as my wife," he said. "I've been married for 52 years to the same woman, but the car is 54 years old."

His wife, publishing doyenne Nan Talese, may take something of a backseat to his vehicle, whose honor he'll defend to the death.

"One time I parked it outside of Elaine's," he explained. "Somebody bumped the damn thing. I was so angry. I came out of Elaine's--I saw that car ruined. I had a scissor jack in the back of my little car. I opened the trunk, got the scissor jack and I banged the fender of the damn station wagon."

There's obviously an emotional bond that grows between man and car.

"A car is like a person," he said. "If you have a car that's as old as you are it's part of you."

But for the author of Thy Neighbor's Wife, a tome for which he spent the 1970s exploring free love colonies and the American sexual revolution, the car-love may be a tad more visceral.

"It's my baby car. It's my love affair," he said.

That still wouldn't necessarily encourage him to engage in any ill behavior in the backseat.

"Not in the backseat of a TR3 unless you're with a midget," he said. "Now there are midgets that are attractive. But I never met one."