How Has The Automobile Shaped American Culture
How Has The Automobile Shaped American Culture
Vehicles of all sorts have dominated the roads of America in all phases of history. From its early invention till further sophistication, it has been the most convenient means of transport for the common man. With the passage of time this invention made life easier and augmented to bring freedom to all Americans making it a liberal country. The objective of writing this paper is to provide a comprehensive sketch of the automotive history in America. What advancements and upheavals were faced by the American automotive industry and how with deep thought, deliberation and insight, all the problems were resolved.
The paper discusses how in different phases of various social and economic ups and downs influenced automotive history the luxury and prestige turned to be a necessity for ordinary Americans. History of American automobile: The first car: The foremost car on American boulevards was a horse buggy with a lone cylinder engine manufactured by Charles and Frank Duryea in 1923.
Within few years autos came out of the typical vehicular animal autos and gradually took the form of modern vehicles we see today. o be exact, with a multi cylinder engine in obverse, clutch and transmission on the bottom floor, shaft drive, leaf springs, brakes, wheel & gear connections, tires etc. (Michael, 146). Despite these advancements there were some unsettled challenges, as in tires would blow on speed every now and then. Petrol was more like kerosene oil, and lubricant akin to adhesives. Driving in cold weather was virtually impractical. Other spare parts made of steel would repeatedly break and distract journey. The electric cars which were recommended for ladies had heavy clutches making the drive very difficult.
Engine protection needed constant care. A lot of parts required regular replacements making automobiles like playthings for the rich in that era, making it a luxury to the common man. Henry’s T model: In 1920s, Henry Ford’s T model revolutionalized and added a milestone in the whole automobile industry. He did not invent the motor car however, but used an assembly line technique which was affordable to all. During mid 1990s his Ford Company manufactured more than fifteen million model T cars. Thus, Henry altered the social and economic outlook of not only US but of the whole world.
Here was a car that merged the pits motorized blunders of its manufacturers and yet it was a breakthrough in the history of automobiles. It was amazing to see garbage piles filled with endless filthy lot of interchangeable pieces which anyone could bolt together to upkeep his T model onto the streets indefinitely. Literally, Ford brought America on its steering helm (Brown, 55). Engineers can’t forget 1930s when two major improvements were brought in the ride quality of American cars. Engines were brought between the front two wheels.
This helped the car to be spacious for more passengers and engine weight was put forward making the drive easier. As a result the car could bounce less and kept floating instead. Thus, it turned out to act like an American family car also as a result of changes in structure and style. Another boost came in automobile industry in the form of first fully automatic transmission in 1939. All that the driver had to do was leave the shift lever in drive and keep going. After world war two such automatic cars burgeoned everywhere on streets.
Gradually these cars were ordered by majority of families since it became much easier to drive for every member of the family. Consequently, people of all ages were seen driving due to the automatic system in cars. People turned more independent and entertainment seeking since they started owning personal cars which became symbols of prestige during those days. As they say that nothing is constant except change, things keep evolving and advancements pave their way with some wild developments. Family automobiles kept evolving with additional amenities such as air-conditioning, power windows, and power seats, automatic headlight dimmers etc.
Ride turned to be smoother and silence thus bringing more convenience for those availing the facility. All of a sudden, the federal government intervened in car manufacturing and the circumstances changed from 1970s. they ordered companies how to make cars in order to curb exhaust emissions affecting the environment causing pollution, and new safety measures were introduced to contain highway crashes which were occurring as a result of new cars on streets etc. these regulations came so fast that engineers hadn’t yet kept a track of them and new issues started popping up (Michael, 123).
Effects of Arab Oil Embargo in 1973: With this trend came other unforeseen concerns like Arab Oil Embargo in 1973. The entire structure of auto fabric changed overnight. Long run planning was not viable. Petrol prices were increasing manifolds & gripped the whole nation in a mode of inflation worst after the great depression of 1930. This embargo was declared by Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC (comprising the Arab members of OPEC, including Egypt, Syria and Tunisia). This was due to America’s decision to resupply forces to Israeli military during Yum Kipur war.
The stocks were crashing, people were in panic but there was no way out. Until next year in 1974 when the embargo was lifted when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had reached a deal to withdraw Israeli forces from parts of Sinai & Golan Heights in Middle East (Richard). In addition, to meet federal standards engine modifications were taking place hurting people’s purposes like anything deteriorating the economy. In the upcoming years during 1970s American automotive designs were in total unruliness and bedlam.
On the other hand, Detroit has incorporated conventional American luxury and gadgetry into undersized and lighter cars meeting governmental regulations & promotion pre-requisites. Effects of automobile on American lives: Automobiles have brought more independence and freedom to the lives of people. With further advancements cars are no more a luxury but a necessity. Almost every other household in America holds a car. People are availing less, the facility of mass transit system. Additionally, families can go on outings and stay late night outside home for recreation and entertainment.
Thus, it has given reality to the concept of family vacation. Automatic cars have brought a surge in the number of drivers belonging to different age groups as a result under aged enthusiasts have come onto roads. They go with friends for fun and distances between relations have shrunk. The modern autos have brought people closer and increased personal bonds. Americans are also becoming fond of car racing and love to see speed competitions on shores which have impelled companies to invest on auto racers who are capitalizing on this profession (Brain). Apart from convenience & comfort, auto craze has led to accidents, social isolation, environmental and noise pollution. Free parking spaces are installed around d restaurant, shopping centers, commercial buildings etc, which encourages people to drive even for shorter distances. Thus, it resulted in reduction of sidewalks near crowded places endangering the common pedestrians. Moreover, estimates report that an ordinary American car emits approx 3. 4 grams per mile of carbon monoxide which is really dangerous for environment and its habitat. The annexure of roads has produced a cutback of forest areas disturbing ecological balance (Brain).
This is augmenting to global climate change and endangering wildlife. Excessive construction of roads has resulted in surface runoff alteration, which in turn increases the risk of flooding. Social scientists say that automotives have also disconnected communities and increased individualism. Many people don’t even labor to walk or exercise up to their neighbors unless something very urgent occurs. In 1990s many songs were written with cars as their main subjects. Drive through and drive in facilities has made people fond of junk food. Eating without laboring to get out of the car helps breed laziness and obesity.
Therefore obesity is increasing in American culture which may lead to diabetes, heart attack and other fatal diseases. Conclusion: Not only Americans but entire world cannot imagine a life without automobiles or vehicles. Though autos are facilitating our lives in a number of ways, nevertheless its detriments outweigh the benefits. Accidents, environmental threats, pollution, individualism and other side effects are such which cannot be overlooked. So, let’s hope for further improvements which would contain these harms and bring more benefits to American citizens without restraining their idea of freedom.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 September 2016
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