Early and contemporary cars are simultaneously similar and different in certain ways. However, the differences are more substantial than similarities. There are few things Nicolas Cugnot’s first car and Nissan Altima have in common. In fact, the only substantial similarity between early and contemporary cars is that they fall under the same definition; at the same time, differences include speed, weight, design, source of power, equipment, demographics of ownership, and legal framework surrounding the issue of automobile traffic.
Both types of cars fall under the broad definition of an automobile, which is ‘a wheeled passenger vehicle that carries its own motor’ (SurfIndia, n/d. , ‘Facts & Figures’). Another minor similarity concerns the fact that some of early cars ran on electricity. Lately, in the light of massive preoccupation with environmental protection, there are certain car models that use electricity as fuel. Focusing on differences instead, the majority of early cars ran on steam instead of gasoline.
Gasoline being the most widespread type of fuel for modern cars, scientists also experiment with various kinds of renewable energy, like solar-powered cars or cars running on hydrogen. The first car that was created in 1769 by Nicolas Cugnot had only three wheels and wasn’t used for moving passengers but cannons for the French army. In fact, some definitions limit the usage of the term ‘automobile’ to four-wheeled engines; in this sense, Nicolas Cugnot’s car might not be considered an automobile.
Yet referring to the definition established earlier, it was the first car to be built, and it could attain speed of up to 6 kms/hour (Indiacar, 2007). Modern cars can attain tremendously high speed; land speed record is set at 766. 109 mph, which implies breaking the sound barrier on land (CNN, 1997). First cars were unreasonably large and heavy, while modern cars tend to be lighter and smaller, especially city cars. Early cars didn’t have tops to protect drivers and passengers from bad weather.
Early cars usually came in black color because it was considered practical and less vulnerable to dirt. Nowadays the color of a car is one of the voting issues for buyers. Early cars were simply equipped; on the contrary, modern cars have various kinds of equipment ranging from air conditioning to video systems. Furthermore, modern cars have safety equipment (e. g. seat belts and air bags) that was absent from early cars all together.
As for the demographics of car ownership, at the end of the 19th century only wealthy people could afford having a car. Apart from the rich who bought cars to demonstrate their status, some people owned them for professional considerations, like doctors in rural areas who had to travel longs distances to visit patients. Moreover, few females drove cars before the middle of the 20th century. When early cars arrived, traffic was almost unregulated by the government, since cars were few and far between.
The first automobile traffic regulation was passed in 1865 by the British government and was titled the ‘Locomotives on Highways Act’ (Red Flag Act). It mandated all the automobiles to have three attendants; one of them was steering, one was stoking, and one more was walking 50 metres ahead of the car with a red flag and signaled the driver when to stop (Indiacar, 2007). Nowadays traffic rules are more sophisticated, and people need to obtain a license to be able to drive.
Cars are also subject to registration and regular vehicle inspection. Therefore, it is possible to make the following conclusion: while early and modern cars are similar in essence, they are different in a variety of ways. While they fall under the same category of objects by virtue of definition, riding a car nowadays is a completely different experience due to automobiles ability to attain higher speed, provide passengers with safety and comfort, and their availability to the lay circles.
References Indiacar Pvt. Ltd. (2007). ‘Early Cars. ’ Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://www. cybersteering. com/trimain/history/ecars. html#1 CNN. (October 15, 1997). ‘British duo sets first supersonic land-speed record. ’ Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://edition. cnn. com/TECH/9710/15/brits. land. speed SurfIndia. (N/d). ‘Automobile India. ’ Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://www. surfindia. com/automobile/
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