How cars have changed. Go to any auto meet or automotive buff vintage auto show and you can gander “real cars”. Cars of the 40, 50 and even 60’s had character, were definitely distinct as well as being made out of “real metal” not just plastic that crumbles on any impact leaving you staring at auto parts and components laden just under and around impact Styrofoam in the sides and behind the bumper. What ever happened to cars you might say? What am I paying for on top of that? A piece of plastic so to speak.
The joke about tinny Japanese automobiles used to be that if you were locked out “Where is the can opener”? Now the can opener would be overkill. Older cars had real metal solid chromed metal bumpers. Not any more.
It can be said that a “typical” standard family automobile product has more than 14,000 parts composed of an ever increasing and even exotic array of materials.
It used to be that cars were made up mainly of metal, rubber, upholstery materials as some electrical wires and components. Not any more. Who on earth knows what materials and type of material components are under your hood and in your car, truck or SUV?
The heart of any automobile product is a motor – gasoline powered strictly or a diesel engine or perhaps today a hybrid gas / electric energy efficient engine. With the development of computer modules in vehicles, cars more and more for sure and becoming have laden with all types of computers, computerized components and electronic control modules. Add in innovations along the way such as electronic fuel injection instead of carburetors and safety features such as antilock abs brakes, air bag systems and even emergency radio / satellite contact communications and you have an idea of ongoing innovations in your vehicle and the auto industry as a whole.
Despite such high tech electronic wizardry any car remains basically a source of transportation composed of mechanical parts that wear, brake down and go out of adjustment. It is a matter of attention to detail and ongoing upkeep whether you do the work yourself ( as is increasingly difficult with high tech modern vehicles) or having a professional – your local garage mechanic or auto dealership service department in charge of ongoing maintenance of the vehicle and the car, truck or SUVs care and maintenance schedule.
Sure economic and fuel concerns and influences have shaped the modern automotive products – both inside and out. Bodies have been made aerodynamically designed to reduce drag and increase fuel economies and miles per gallon mpg. Instead of the older rear wheel drive 8 cylinder metal behemoths most models now employ fuel and space saving transverse mounted front wheel drive 4 or perhaps 6 cylinder engines. Front wheel drive means no big drive shaft to the rear wheels, running under a hump in the middle of the car. Hence no hump and cars are roomier inside with the same wheel base. Less weight, more space – hence more miles per gallon. Some would also argue that since the engine is over the drive wheels in a front wheel drive vehicle better handling and certainly better wintertime snow driving handling and control in auto emergencies result. Others would point out that despite this there are even more and more costly motor vehicle accidents and collisions now and that is horrendously expensive to fix any vehicle that requires body work.
Lastly with the modern electronics and electronic ignition a lot more performance can be gleaned out of what were once relatively small engines.
Two points can be made about old versus new cars. There is nothing to get rid of the magic of vintage vehicles that you might see at classic car shows. But despite all the egos involved, for most people the car in many cases remains a reliable source of transportation, either for their family or to bring them to work and their work source.