How Cars Reflect the Times

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How Cars Reflect the Times
How Cars Reflect the Times

Submitted by Matt McIntyre on 4/5/2019

We live in an incredible world of artistic talent. We no longer have to spend our time foraging and hunting for food, trying to sustain ourselves from day today. People now have time to be creative. They have the ability to take their art, apply it towards something, and make that thing better. I believe this is evident in the automobile industry. Vehicles have been around for approximately a century.

Starting at the first gas powered combustion engine tied to a wagon, to Henry Ford revolutionizing the automobile industry, to the modern cars with backup cameras now standard in all new makes and models, we can see cars reflecting the times.

Look at the cars created from the 1920s-1940s. They were bare bones, without safety features, and all looked exactly alike! The cars were simple but tough. Just like the people who built them. They had to be tough, because the jobs each person did was tough. They reflected a simple time. A time when people were simple and our lives were not as busy and fast paced as now. They also reflected a time of ignorance. The cars did not have many of the safety features our cars have now because we were ignorant of the potential dangers that operating a vehicle has. Alas, like everything else in human history, we learned, we developed, and we moved on.

The 50s and 60s had class. The music was smooth, the talk was smooth, the attitudes were smooth. Consequently, the cars at that time were smooth too. They were bright shades of blue, pink, red, and even yellow. They had high fenders, high sides, and were as big as a boat. Their appeal did not just remain in those decades but has stayed with them and the many classic car collectors around the world.

Enter the 70s, 80s. Things started moving fast. Fast talk, fast music, and fast people. Major highspeed NASCAR races like the Daytona 500 began being shown on television in the entirety. In the early 80’s, Sammy Hagar released his song, “I Can’t Drive 55”. A few years later, the band ZZ Top entertain many with their music videos featuring the red hotrod, “the Eliminator”. The style of cars also changed. Replacing the large, smooth cars of the sixties were shorter, choppier cars designed to outrun the car beside you. A few cars were even designed with the engines sticking out of the hood and completely visible.

The cars of the 90s and 2000s reflected a new time for the public’s perception of cars. Cars became more than just a piece of metal. While “Scooby-Doo”, with the Mystery Machine and “Speed Buggy” with the talking dune buggy both aired in the seventies, they merely marked the start of a new relationship between cars and people. Leading the nineties is the land cruiser transporting touring guests in Stephen Spielberg’s movie, “Jurassic Park”.

Throughout the nineties, several shows and movies in the “Scooby Doo” series continued on the screen. In 2005, Batman fans are introduced to “the tumbler” in “Batman Begins”, showing a modern spin put on the goofy bat mobile ages before. One year later, Disney and Pixar join forces to introduce audiences to the loveable, animated characters of “Cars”. In 2007, one year after “Cars”, a reboot

titled, “Transformers” hit the stage, with the main cast consisting almost entirely of cars, yet not in a cartoon style. These films showed people were viewing cars with character and originality, as shown in the original characters that have graced cinema in the form of vehicles.

Cars reflecting the times is not just limited to times past. Look at the design of modern cars. The gas tank is filled with ethanol and not pure fossil fuels show mankind’s newfound concern for protecting the earth. The efficiency of the modern engine maximizing the use of fuel in the car helps to slow down our use of fossil fuels. However, the engine is not the only place where cars reflect the times.

The creation of “smart cars” demonstrates this. Never before in history have cars powered themselves without the use of a combustion engine. These smart cars also show the changing attitudes of some people. In the past, humans have been characterized as only interested in getting bigger and better things. Big paychecks, big houses, and yes, big cars. However, these small smart cars may demonstrate a new belief in the upcoming generation that bigger is not always better.

While looking at the past view of cars is fun, to me looking at the future is even more exciting. Imagine one day we have flying cars. They will literally, and metaphorically signify a time of mankind rising above his past believed limitations. What could be after that? Flying buses, flying subways, or flying cargo boats? And that is just staying within the atmosphere. What about in space? Could future cars have built in programs and controls allowing them to leave the atmosphere and journey into the galaxy on a space highway? That feat would reflect a new era in time. The time when mankind has outgrown planet and is ready to leave the nest.

Could cars in the future have organic parts to them? Such as plants that thrive on exhaust fumes, living inside a filter attached to the exhaust pipe. Could cars in the future be amphibious? Allowing for the invention of underwater highways, effectively removing our need for bridges. This would show a period in time where mankind has firm control over nature, by no longer needing to fear it.

He would no longer need great bridges because he fears the ocean or the stream. If seeing animals cross the road is a peculiar sight, imagine the wonder in a child’s eyes when, while driving down the underwater highway, he looks out his window and sees a blue whale swimming past. I believe the future will be an incredible time, and I know our cars will certainly reflect it.

Submitted by Matt McIntyre on 4/5/2019

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