Automotive Culture

It has been a hot minute since my last post on here. To those who do follow this blog, I apologize. However, a question has occurred to me since my last entry: has the obsession with the automobile vanished or has been slowly disappearing? 

I am a young person who surrounds himself with other young people. In the previous years, some of my peers usually had something to say about a car, a new automotive trend, etc. Recently, however, this has not been the case. Now, it is entirely possible that I have somehow managed to surround myself with people lately that do not find cars particularly interesting. However, I question whether the car culture or the enthusiasm for the automobile is slowly dying out in my young, millennial generation. Maybe the culture is changing to an unrecognizable state? I cannot tell as of yet.

It seems most people of my generation rather spend hours commenting on phone applications, the latest and greatest smartphone, a new tune that they heard, or some political commentary. While these are great and interesting things to talk about (tech and politics are always interesting), it seems most of my generation and the one being reared at the moment care more about the flash of new tech rather than the automobile. Is the automobile, then, becoming a dinosaur technologically? Are we not fascinated by the marvel of modern transportation? Of course, the car is changing rapidly. EVs, hybrids, and new car technology is exciting (it truly is when looking at it), but it is not garnering the press nor the attention spans, at least in my experiences, that other technologies such as smartphones and smartwatches do with the young crowds of today. My hunch is that whatever is the latest and greatest tech of the day influences and shapes the culture of conversation, desire, and economy of a particular time period. Has the automobile been dethroned as the most innovative and interesting technology today? Is the automobile simply being pushed to the side by the swath of new tech emerging? This new tech is dominating conversation talking points where the automobile once existed more obviously. So, are people just not excited by automobiles anymore, and are automobiles becoming no longer desired as they are no longer seen as the pinnacle of technological wonder?

Except for a few examples, like Tesla and Apple Carplay, I would be hard-pressed to discuss anything car related to anyone my age or younger. Perhaps the automotive culture isn’t disappearing but evolving. However, I am of a certain belief that talking about the tech in cars isn’t actually talking about the car itself or the automobile. In a way, then, talking about Apple Carplay, for example, isn’t really talking about the car at all but rather the applications it can perform. That would be like talking about how interesting and beautiful a country mansion is because of one nice fountain in the gardens – it isn’t really about the house. No one discusses power figures, 0-60 times, or power-to-weight ratios anymore unless you read automotive magazines (which are slowly becoming extinct). What does this change in automotive culture mean to the automotive manufacturers and those industries and individuals, like automotive magazines and this blog? How will they change to this?

Undoubtedly, the means of personal transportation will always be in demand. I do not foresee the car becoming extinct. However, part of the excitement and wonder concerning the automobile seems to be disappearing. The culture is changing if not vanishing, and it is worth asking ourselves about what this means for the automotive industry and for the future of transportation.

What do you think? Please comment below!

 

-John R. Burrow

Car Technology – What do you want to see?

Technology in the automobile has been amazing the past few years. From Apple and Android creating easy-to-use, familiar interfaces that integrate from your mobile device to steering-in-lane controls that guide your car within the lines on a road, the automobile is getting smarter to keep up with consumer technology and to keep us safer. Some cars even have mobile device wireless charging decks built into the vehicle’s center console! While nothing sounds better than charging your phone while also streaming music via Bluetooth to your speakers while also streaming your favorite navigation app on a long tip, where else do we need to go in regard to car technology? Is car tech just a mirror of consumer technology as in the case of smartphones and their various applications?

Some may say that autonomously driving vehicle is the next step in car technology, and that may be true. However, with consistent tragic wrecks taking place with self-driving technology, is this really the future? And what about engine technology? We don’t know what the future has in store, but I think we can all agree that maintaining the excitement of the automobile needs to remain a key factor in whatever technology emerges.

What are your thoughts? Please comment!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

The Spirited Drive Returns! – It’s Back!

And The Spirited Drive is back! Apologies for the hiatus, but life seems to have an interesting way of postponing the truly important things; like this blog. So, in order to speed up the omg-its-back process, highlights of what has happened this past year, what is happening now, and what is to happen in the world of automobiles that excite, make the heart race, and are easy on the eyes will be posted starting this coming Monday. There will be pieces including the return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S., the new BMW M4/M3, McLaren P1 amazingness, new things from Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG, and many other exciting pieces. Expect a steady release of news, opinions, and stories every week that involve all things automobile.

While this past year has been a difficult separation from the duties of the blog, the auto world has been a buzz! It is such an exciting time to be into anything with a motor, wheels, and a steering-wheel: new models are being released; new concepts are being drawn; and new technologies are breaking ground in the automotive world. As well as a plethora of pieces coming out in The Spirited Drive blog, expect more pictures (eventually), new video content (to be debuted on the YouTube network and channel), and more social media updates. Remember to subscribe to this blog via email, but also remember to follow The Spirited Drive on Twitter @SpiritedDrive and to subscribe to the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/TheSpiritedDrive! We will also be opening up a Google+ account as well! Remember as always to have a spirited drive every now and then!

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief

Opinion – “What makes the best automobile for the summer?”

Here in the heartland of the South, as well as the rest of the northern hemisphere, the first day of summer was a few days ago. This has led to an interesting question: “If you could have any type of vehicle to drive until the first day of autumn, what would it be?” I know each reader will have his or her own idea of what this ideal vehicle would be, but I hope I can create a small list that we can all agree would make for fantastic summer vehicles. One assumption I must make is that all vehicles referenced are exactly as they were when they rolled off the assembly line.

Before I begin the details of this list, I would like to make a list of features I would or would not want on any vehicle in my list. The first item in the list of features is leather seats. Some may enjoy leather, but as someone who has had leather in the summer, I know how incredibly unpleasant it is to sit on when has been heated to 120ᐤF or above. For a summer only vehicle, I would choose cloth seats. The next item is air conditioning, for obvious reasons. I may want to enjoy summer, but sometimes I also just want to be cool. The final item is a sound system in good working order. When I drive, I need to listen to the radio. I prefer to have one that can be heard if I am driving with the windows down. Some may say most of the items in this list are standard features, but I include them because some of the vehicles I reference are not new, and may or may not have these features.

The first vehicle type I would like to mention is the Jeep Wrangler. I have considered this vehicle for two reasons. First of all, I categorize it  as a vehicle type because very few vehicles can be taken apart in the way a Wrangler can. With an older model Wrangler, the top, doors, and windshield can be taken down in about a half hour. Note I do not endorse driving without a windshield, but I included it because it is an option. Second of all, the Wrangler is the posterboy of the great outdoors. Jeep markets the Wrangler as a the great tamer of the wilderness, and the Wrangler has proven itself as a capable offroad vehicle. The Wrangler makes a great summer vehicle because a driver can easily remove the top. This allows the driver to be engulfed in the summer season. All Wranglers come with four seats, so there is ample room for friends. If you do not have an Unlimited, the cargo room can seem slightly cramped. Luckily the rear seats fold up for more space, but that presents a tradeoff between storage capacity and people capacity. The Wrangler’s offroad capabilities also allow you to navigate rough terrain to get to any certain point you wish, including a secluded beach or lake, for example.

summer drive

The next vehicle type is probably at the top of the list for most readers: the convertible sports car. Convertible sports cars come in two classes, full convertibles, and t-tops/targa tops. I personally favor t-tops, such as the Nissan 300zx had, but full convertibles, such as a Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda Miatta, or Porche 911, would also be fantastic. The convertible sports car allows one the experience the season, but differs from the Wrangler in that it also allows for ridiculous speeds and provides a symphony of noise from the exhaust. Convertible sports cars are best on twisting country roads at the height of summer. The speed provides an adrenaline boost, but is contradicted by the relaxing and scenic views of the countryside. One thing the sports car does not have is very large capacity for people or storage. They are typically two seaters, and most storage space is occupied with the vehicle top. This vehicle type is best for those with few friends, or a very special one.

The final vehicle type I would like to mention if the pseudo-SUV/hatchback.  This is a very large type of vehicle, so some examples I would like to give are the Honda Element and the Subaru Crosstrek. This type of vehicle has seating for 4+, and usually a good amount of storage. These vehicles also more often than not come with a sunroof, so the passengers are more insulated from the environment. This insulations can be a good thing, if driving in an area prone to frequent changes in the weather. This vehicle type is also usually pretty fun to drive. It may not be able to attain the speeds of the sports car, but it can still be driven aggressively, so as to get some of the adrenaline boost mentioned before. They are spunky, but without being the monsters that the sports cars are. This vehicle is best suited for long drives to camping grounds, concerts, etc. With these vehicles, drivers can bring friends on longer trips, thanks to the higher storage and people capacity.

These are three vehicle types I think are best for the summer months. They all provide the passengers with the ability to experience the summer in all its glory, though each has its strengths and weaknesses. I know everyone may not agree with this list, but I hope they can see how I came to the conclusions I did.

Please feel free to leave your own list in the comments.

– J. Potts, Autmotive Contributor

Edited by JRB, Editor-in-Chief