Are automobile sizes determined by external or internal forces? I posed the question a couple of years ago after visiting England. I happened to notice how many of the automobiles there remained much smaller than the American counterparts. I simply asked “Why?” After contemplating this question while on the airplane-ride home as well as over the following days and weeks, I determined that the difference in sizes of American and British automobiles may be due to the differences in the size of the land. While I am sure government regulation and safety standards play a heavy-handed role in determining the shape and size of our beloved means of transportation, surely geography and the the amount of vast space here in the US translated to the availability of larger automobiles. In this way, external or environmental forces become an important factor in determining the size and design of the automobile. Surely F-250s can’t possibly be sensible in downtown London.
Another point of consideration into figuring out why automobiles are the size they are would be that the people themselves are larger. Does this mean that Americans are larger, heavier, and unhealthy compared to Britain’s citizenry? And do car companies take national size averages into consideration when designing a vehicle? While I am sure the average citizen of Britain consumes less hamburgers than Joe or Sarah from Kentucky, the idea of average weight by nationality determining the size of the automobile in the respective nations may seem like a stretch. If it were the case, the sizes in cars are at least influenced slightly by internal forces: namely, Joe’s sizable gut inside the automobile.
Mustangs. Camaros. Model-Ts. Jaguar XK120s. Every vintage Corvette known to man. Local auto-shows will soon be taking place with spring in the air in small towns across the United States. If you ever happen to stroll into such a town in late March, April, May, and June, chances are you will hear about, read about, or see a local auto-show taking place. While some car snobs may raise their nose at such events and shun them like the plague, these shows can be bursting with automotive surprises and gems. Being from a small, rural town myself, I always enjoyed the auto-show we held in town. People displayed typical Americana from the muscle car era. And while I am not exactly a muscle car enthusiast, the camaraderie and friendly smiles were always present. Most of these folks take great pride and enjoyment in their automobile, and you always hear an interesting story behind not just the car but also about the owner. While overalls and boots may be the attire of choice at these events and be a turn-off to some, the love of the automobile present at these local auto-shows is undeniable. I encourage anyone who is truly an automobile enthusiast to support their local auto-show by attending or participating in the event. Drive Spiritedly.
So, you are an environmental warrior? Great. The environment does need some help, especially today. Perhaps you aren’t, and that is your business. However, for those who do care about the environment, yet love cars, maybe purchasing a used or classic vehicle is an easy way to help out as well as help out your wallet. Why? Because you will not be purchasing something that is, at present, creating a massive carbon foot-print to manufacture and create. The used and/or classic car has already made its mark on the environment in some way, and there is no taking that back. Sure, the older cars may not have the fancy bells and whistles. And it may get around 17 miles to the gallon. But, you will not be contributing to any more environmental impact at the present from manufacturing which is where a lot of the issues come from. This is just an idea, and in no way has it been proven. But, it is something to think about. So go ahead, buy that awesome 1990s Porsche or Ford Bronco. You will not only be rolling in style and driving a car that puts a giant grin on your face, but you may be helping out the environment today to enjoy it tomorrow.
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 gives a car “soul?” What is a “personality” in a car? When does a car not have a soul and personality? If you read a lot of automotive journalism, whether in the newspaper, on a blog, on a video online, or in a magazine, you sometimes notice that the phrase “the car has soul” or something similar appears. Can soul or personality even be engineered? And if yes, what does that mean? While some may claim that these questions are merely based on semantics or are too far into the weeds of philosophy, reviewers, writers, and journalists all seem, at one point of another, to make a decisive claim on this question. What becomes interesting is what determines or defines “soul” in a car. Is it the exhaust note that makes a car “souldful?” Is it the precise engineering that gives a car soul or take it away? Some claim a car has soul and personality due to the numerable flaws, break-downs, and “temperaments” of the car and claim “Oh look! Personality! It makes a fuss; it has a soul!” But do cars only have souls if they break or fall apart?
While philosophical arguments can be made on either side of the question “Do cars have souls?”and take us into left field, I see that cars do in fact have souls and distinct personalities. This view isn’t based on the fact that cars break, have an exquisite exhaust note, or philosophical arguments. No. I believe that despite what engineering and physics may tell us about why a car does not have a soul, I remain and maintain optimistic belief that owners and drivers lend their own passion, zest, enthusiasm, and “soul” into their cars because of their love for them. Cars become more than machines at this point; they become extensions and mirrors of ourselves.
Do you ever invent errands just so you have an excuse to drive? Perhaps you still have half a gallon milk left in the fridge or you may have a whole gallon, but something tells you that you may need one more. Honestly, you never know when you may need to make a large cake or two for company even though you only ever really make a cake for your mother’s birthday. Actually, you may just want an excuse to grab your set of keys and blitz around town! Despite cake’s delicious qualities, something about your car is even more tantalizing. I suspect many of us car enthusiasts do this more often than we would admit to our friends and families. It is okay! You aren’t alone.
And even if we do invent errands in order to quench our thirst for our cars, don’t we take the curvy, scenic, or less-traveled route to the shops? Of course! Who doesn’t? And don’t we always hope for little to no traffic on these long routes in order to unleash the car’s potential on the twisty or scenic sections of road? Absolutely. And it’s not like your mother needs her cake this afternoon on her actual birthday. If you simply explain the need to drive your car, surely she will understand. After all, she is your mother.