This blog will expand on themes and topics first mentioned in my book, "The Automobile and American Life." I hope to comment on recent developments in the automobile industry, reviews of my readings on the history of the automobile, drafts of my new work, contributions from friends, descriptions of the museums and car shows I attend and anything else relevant. Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 , 2016, 2017, 2018, by the author.
to ICE technological advances were developments related to the bicycle that
took place in America
between 1880 and 1900. The bicycle created a widespread demand for flexible,
personal transportation, and it brought freedom to both women and young people.
While the nineteenth century railroads exposed Americans to rapid (for the day)
land transport, the very fact that tracks limited transverse spatial mobility
opened the door to possibilities for more adaptable movement on roadways.
Bicycles, despite their shortcomings associated with muscle power, difficult
terrain, and weather, put urban dwellers in motion. In particular, their
introduction and diffusion raised important questions concerning the quality of
roads, manufacturing techniques, social changes, and legislation. Without
exaggeration, the bicycle set the stage for the automobile that followed.
story began in Europe around 1819 with the
introduction of a hobbyhorse design. Its historical evolution is traced in
David Herlihy’s beautifully illustrated monograph.9 The first
mechanical bicycle is credited to the Scotsman Kirkpatrick MacMillian, who in
1839 constructed a home-built, treadle-driven device so that he could more
easily visit his sister who lived some 40 miles away. This invention was for
the most part ignored until the 1860s, when in France so-called pedal velocipedes
were manufactured by carriage maker Pierre Michaux and his son Ernest. These
designs were a cross between the modern bicycle and the wooden hobbyhorse. The
velocipede’s wheels consisted of wooden spokes and rims held together by a
steel band. The front wheel was larger than the rear, and pedals were attached
directly to the axle. With ivory handlebar grips, and a seat resembling an
animal’s spine, this awkward-looking device weighed sixty pounds. It quickly
earned itself an appropriate nickname – “the bone-shaker” – as it traversed the
rough roads of that era. In 1869 the velocipede made its way to American
shores, where a number of American firms improved its design. An American
version incorporated hollow instead of solid steel tubes, and a self-acting
brake. To stop, the rider pushed against the handlebars, thus compressing the
seat spring and causing a brake shoe to engage against the rear wheel. It was seat-of-the-pants
driving at its best, more a curiosity and sport than everyday technology.
velocipede craze followed in the late 1860s. At the same time, several social
clubs were organized. It was difficult to ride the velocipede on the bumpy roads
of the day, and one had to walk it uphill. But after 1871 interest in this
less-than-practical device waned, in part because so many of the machines built
were poorly designed. A radically new design was needed, and that would come as
a result of the efforts of Englishman James Starley, who, to this day the
British honor as the father of the bicycle industry.
Starley introduced his Ariel bicycle. Like its predecessors, the Ariel featured
front drive pedals. However, for greater efficiency Starley made the front
wheel as large as it could be, limited only by the length of the rider’s legs,
and thus increased the wheel circumference and relative efficiency.
Correspondingly, the rear wheel was reduced in size, making it just large
enough to maintain balance. Thus, the era of the bone-shaker had ended and that
of the “high wheeler” or “ordinary” began.
production techniques soon incorporated steel tubes, ball bearings, and solid
rubber tires. One riding a high-wheeler could reach 20 mph, but it was
dangerous and there was always the possibility of the rider “talking a header,”
and flying over the handlebars. It was awkward and precarious, but in Britain a wide
following soon emerged as clubs of cyclists were formed.
American ordinary craze was fueled by the efforts of manufacturer Colonel
Albert A. Pope, a Civil War veteran from Boston
who traveled to England,
began importing British models, took the lead in establishing the American
League of Wheel Men in 1880 and built his own models under the Columbia trademark. By 1884, Pope’s firm made
some 5,000 “Columbia” units, and the technological gap between the U.S. and the
British narrowed.10 The inherent problem with the ordinary, however,
was that its size was connected with the stature of its rider, and thus
standardization was impossible. Therefore, economies of scale in manufacturing
could not be truly achieved.
The greatest advantage of British
bicycle manufacturers during the 1880s lay in superior metallurgical
techniques. Birmingham’s W.C. Stiff (an appropriate name given the technology
he developed!) perfected a method of weld-less tube manufacture that permitted
the brazing of light tubing to solid forging. By limiting the use of heavy
gauge metal to stress points, a considerably lighter bicycle could be made
without any loss of strength. Throughout the 1880s, American manufacturers were
forced to use English tubes if they aspired to build first-class products. The
British also modified the ordinary’s design by introducing gearing in the front
of the vehicle, thus allowing the rider to pedal easier. These geared bicycles
were called Dwarfs or Kangaroos, but most bicyclists saw them as no safer than
the conventional design. If safety was an issue, and it certainly was for many
women, they moved to a tricycle. American designers also attempted to reverse
the large and small wheels of the ordinary, putting the large wheel in the back
and gearing it, thus reducing the possibility of a rider going over the
handlebars due to a sudden stop or maneuver.
made valuable technical contributions to bicycle design, particularly during
the 1880s and 1890s. Just as the Americans seemed to be taking a lead in
bicycle technology, in the mid-1880s John Kemp Starley, nephew of the creator
of the Ariel, came up with the concept of the safety bicycle. This design
featured a triangular frame, two wheels of about 2 feet in diameter, and a rear
wheel driven by a sprocket connected to a chain. While the idea was not totally
new, it was the industrial commitment to this design that was so important.
Indeed, what emerged was the notion that safety was important, so much so that
high wheelers became market curiosities by 1890.
impact of the safety bicycle was enormous, particularly after 1888 when the
design was coupled with John Boyd Dunlop’s pneumatic tires. The cycling
population expanded greatly, and women, who had shunned the earlier models,
embraced the dropped frame safety bicycle design. The dropped frame was
introduced in 1888, and shortly thereafter women bicyclists’ skirts were
shortened and their ankles exposed. Women began wearing bloomers, leading
Elizabeth Cady Stanton to remark, “Many a woman is riding to the suffrage on a
bicycle.”11 Further, young men and women could now go for rides
without third party supervision. Patriarchal and matriarchal controls were
increasingly being challenged by a machine, and as machines would become more
complex with the coming of the automobile, so would the resulting social
leaped forward in the 1890s, and an acetylene flame lamp was introduced in 1895
so that cyclist could travel safely at twilight and in the dark. For several
years during the trend-driven Gay 90s, bicycling became a full-fledged boom.
Bicycle racing became a popular sport, and many colleges established bicycling
teams. Further, the bicycle inspired sheet music, trading cards, and board
games. Undoubtedly the most famous of all songs inspired by the bicycle was
Harry Dacre’s “Daisy Bell,” composed in 1892 with its chorus:
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage,
But you'll look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!12
some 300 firms made more than a million bicycles in the U.S., making it a world
leader. Innovations that followed included the coaster brake, a springed fork
in the front, and cushioned tires. The cost of the bicycle halved from $100 to
$50 during the 1890s, and thus American industry liberated the bicycle from its
status as a plaything for wealthy sportsmen to a far more popular tool for
travel. In doing so, the bicycle literally paved the way for the automobile,
including the innovations of Henry Ford that would follow in the first decade
of the twentieth century.
raising consciousness concerning flexible travel and its impact on road
improvements in the United States, no preceding technological innovation – not
even the internal combustion engine – was as important to the development of
the automobile as the bicycle. The bicycle was the object of scorn by horsemen
and teamsters long before the appearance of the horseless carriage. Further,
bicyclists gained the legislative right to use public roads in Massachusetts as
early as 1879. Key elements of automotive technology that were first employed
in the bicycle industry and then subsequently made their way into early
automobiles included steel-tube framing, ball bearings, chain drive, and
differential gearing. The bicycle industry also developed the techniques of
quantity production using specialized machine tools, sheet metal, stamping, and
electric resistance welding that would become essential elements in the volume
production of motor vehicles.
innovation of particular note is the pneumatic bicycle tire, invented by Dr.
John B. Dunlop in Ireland in 1888.13 Dunlop was far from working in
a vacuum, however, as numerous inventors patented similar designs during the
late 1880s and early 1890s. Also, the rubber tire had a long history that
Dunlop undoubtedly built upon. Solid rubber tires were first introduced around
1835, and in 1845 Robert William Thompson, a civil engineer from Middlesex,
England, patented a pneumatic tire similar to Dunlop’s design. An important
issue was how to keep the tire on the rim, and it was not until the early part
of the twentieth century before a system employing a wire-reinforced bead was
widely adopted. Bicycle tires were the basis of automobile tires in France by
1895 and in the United States in 1896 when the B. F. Goodrich Company
scaled up a single-tube bicycle tire for one of Alexander Winton’s early
greatest contribution of the bicycle, however, was that it provided its owner
with the ability to go when and where one wanted to. Sunday trips to
out-of-the-way scenic places were now within the reach of the common man and
his family. As one commentator of the period poignantly remarked, “Walking is
on its last legs.”14 Thus, the bike was the first freedom machine,
as it remains to this day for younger children who want to travel beyond the
pale of an observing and controlling parent. It demanded, however, muscle power
and a willingness to be exposed to the weather. To this day in many European
cities the bicycle is an environmentally-friendly alternative to the
An apt but worn-out cliché
concerning the early history of the automobile is that “the automobile was
European by birth, American by adoption.” Indeed, the visionary idea of the
automobile – in the words of James Flink, “the combination of a light, sprung,
wheeled vehicle; a compact, efficient power unit; and hard surfaced roads”
gradually became a reality during the last half of the nineteenth century,
primarily in Europe and to a lesser degree in America.2
Carl Benz and the first automobile, 1886.
Bertha Benz -- she demonstrated the effectiveness of Carl's vehicle with a round trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim in 1887.
Gottlieb Daimler, working in Cannstadt, Swabia, Germany -- independent of Benz.
A Daimler Motorcycle.
The idea was
transformed into a complex artifact, one that quickly hardened in fundamental
design. For example, the basic configuration of the modern automobile with the
radiator and engine in the front, followed by the clutch, transmission and rear
axle drive, the système Panhard, was
devised in France in 1891.3
An early Panhard.
A decade later, the 1903 De Dion-Bouton
followed this scheme with a honeycomb radiator, sliding design four-speed
transmission, and a steel frame, clearly distinct form the horseless carriage.
Most importantly, the De Dion used an ingenious rear axle that replaced the
cumbersome chain drive with half shafts transmitting power to the drive wheels.
And finally, the 1903 “Sixty” Mercedes, despite its chain drive, had a magneto
ignition, six-cylinder engine, and speeds capable of 60 miles per hour.4
In fundamental terms, the modern automobile crystallized technologically very
quickly, and thus its origins are a most important object for study.
idea and pioneering artifact came the commonly-used term automobile. Tracing its introduction (a semantic history) tells us
much about the early history of the automobile
As Patricia Lipski skillfully pointed out, the word was French, but key to its
adoption in America was its acceptance by New York City’s high society.5
A French term first used in America in 1895 and fully adopted in the U.S. by
1899, other words were proposed and debated during this time – horseless carriage, motocycle, motor
vehicle, automation, mocle, autom, polycycle. Members of high society in New York City owned the
first cars, including William Rockefeller, George Gould, Edwin Gould, John
Jacob Astor, Jacob Ruppert, C. P. Huntington, and Claus Spreckels. This
Gilded Age aristocracy paraded their vehicles at Newport, Rhode Island
in the summer of 1899, and influenced the newly-published editorial writers of
the magazines The Automobile and The Automobile Magazine to endorse automobile as a universally accepted
term. In sum, while the beginnings of the automobile are often attributed to a
group of visionary tinkerers, engineers, inventors, and mechanical geniuses,
the upper classes were the consumers of this product, and they cast a lasting
imprint on its place in culture in ways perhaps more complex than just the
choice of a term.
innovations associated with this new transportation technology, its gradual
diffusion and acceptance, first public impressions, and initial cultural
responses are the most significant areas of research. These topics have
received considerable scholarly attention.6 While my own interests
tend to focus on a later period, coverage must begin here, at the critical
moment of creation.
origins of a new technological system are undoubtedly important, historians
often work backwards in time to fully trace strands of seminal ideas and
techniques. That tendency can often prevent scholars from addressing more
recent pressing and relevant matters. With the passage of time, perspectives
become clearer, records are discovered and catalogued, and historical actors
with a penchant to refute one’s story die. Yet the recent past often has the
most relevance for the living, despite the many methodological and practical
obstacles in pursuing it.
the time frame under investigation, the tension between continuity and change
challenges the historian in a unique manner. What distinguishes the historian
from the sociologist or philosopher, however, is the scrupulous adherence to
chronology and time.
antecedents to the automobile included the work of Nicholas Joseph Cugnot
between 1765 and 1770 on a three-wheel steam tractor for pulling cannons;
Richard Trevithick and his experiments with a steam locomotive conducted during
the years 1801 and 1803; and Philadelphia inventor Oliver Evans and his
“Orukter Amphibolos” or “Amphibious Digger.” All of these early efforts have
been described in more extensive detail elsewhere, but are mentioned here to
provide a sense of the long sweep of history concerning this form of
carriages appeared on the scene primarily in England beginning in the 1820s,
although in 1865 horse-drawn transportation interests suppressed mechanical
road vehicles with the passage in Parliament of the so-called Red Flag Act.
This legislation limited the speed of “road locomotives” to 2 mph in towns and
4 mph on the open highway. It also required that an attendant walk 60 yards
ahead carrying a red flag by day and a red lantern by night. Until its repeal
in 1896 at the request of wealthy automobile pioneers, the act militated
against the development of the automobile idea in Great Britain, for by 1890 there
were light steam vehicles capable of speeds of 15 mph over long distances.
Steam carriage, circa 1870
David Beasley’s The Suppression of the Automobile: Skullduggery at the
Crossroads discusses this chapter in history, important in terms of British
developments, but tangential to mainstream developments in the emergence of the
internal combustion engine (ICE) that would prove key to the automobile’s
acceptance in Europe and America.8
Wildshoe Family members identified by Bob Bostwick (Coeur d'Alene tribe press secretary) and Bertha Swan (grandaughter of Phillip Wildshoe) as: front seat: Phillip Wildshoe, his wife Eugenia and baby Eugenia; middle seat: sons David (warbonnet) and Vincent: back seat: daughters Rosie and Anne (child) and unidentified woman, probably from the Kootenai-Salish tribe
[Eskimos, five adults and one infant, sitting in an automobile 1916
There's a storm across the
valley, clouds are rollin' in
The afternoon is heavy on your shoulders
There's a truck out on the four lane a mile or more away
The whinin' of his wheels just makes it colder
He's an hour away from ridin' on your prayers up in the sky
And ten days on the road are barely gone
There's a fire softly burnin', supper's on the stove
But it's the light in your eyes that makes him warm.]
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
I hear her voice
In the mornin' hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin' down the road I get a feelin'
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads.
Denwood: "Down the Road and Gone"
She's the light that leads
Well he tried to tell her late that night
But she was down the road and gone.
Denwood: "Only Just Begun"
End of the road
End of the line
End of everything I thought was mine
End of the story of sadness and laughter
Time to get down to the happy ever after
Been looking down the road where all my dreams have come undone
Feels like the end of something but it's only just begun.
Diamond: "Blue Highway"
Gonna take that blue highway
And leave this sorry town
Stayed too long, but now I'm gone
And I know where I'm bound
I don't wanna take the interstate
It represents all the things I hate
I'm rolling down that blue highway.
Straits: "Telegraph Road"
A long time ago came a man on
Walking thirty miles with a sac on his back
And he put down his load where he thought it was the best
And he made a home in the wilderness
He built a cabin and a winter store
And he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore
And the other travellers came riding down the track
And they never went further and they never went back
Then came the churches then came the schools
Then came the lawyers then came the rules
Then came the trains and trucks with their loads
And the dirty old track was the telegraph road
Brothers: "Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels"
I was trashed, ridin' on my
Goin' out to even the score
She pulled the top down on her convertible
I've got a lot of miles to cover
But if you think you need a lover
Climb on, hold tight, I got a long ride tonight.
"Blonde in the Blue T-Bird"
The moonlight night, the
A pair of beams approaches mine
And as she pulls up close we share a glance
My heart awoke
The blonde in the blue T-Bird
"Surfin' & Drivin'"
500 miles to L.A.
500 Miles to my home
When I get back to L.A.
Never again will I roam
Surfin' and drivin' are the only things I know.
"When I Get My Wheels"
When I get my wheels
Won't see me around
When I get my wheel
Gonna be freeway bound.
and John Ford Coley: "New Jersey"
Black skies above me
And the concrete down below my feet
At night I'm blinded by the headlights
And the mountain roads are steep.
Two thousand more miles to bear
And I'll be there.
Burrito Brothers: "Wheels"
We've all got wheels to take
We've got telephones to say what we can't say
We've all got higher and higher every day
Come on wheels take this boy away
We're not afraid to ride
We're not afraid to die
So come on wheels take me home today.
"The Old Man Down the Road"
He got the voices speak in
riddles, he got the eye as black as coal,
He got a suitcase covered with rattlesnake hide, and he stands right in the
You got to hidey-hide, you got to jump up run away;
You got to hidey-hidey-hide, the old man is down the road.
Wayne: "Little Red Light"
Sitting in traffic on the
Fifty million people out in front of me
Trying to cross the water but it just might be a while
Rain's coming down I can't see a thing
Radio's broken so I'm whistling
New York to Nyack feels like a hundred miles.
Wayne: "Valley Winter Song"
Hey Sweet Annie
Don't take it so bad
You know the summer's coming soon
Though the interstate is choking under salt and dirty sand
And it seems the sun is hiding from the moon.
Franklin: "Freeway of Love"
Goin' ridin' on the freeway
Wind's against our back
Goin' ridin' on the freeway of love
In my pink Cadillac.
"The Highway Song"
It was a long was for this
It was a far way from here
So we walked along the road
Just telling stories as we go.
I picked these three vehicles because they stood out as I walked the lot yesterday at the cruise-in. The truck and rod are really different, but I would not want to own them. the 1954 Pontiac is overdone in my opinion for a Pontiac of that era. But to each his or her own!
As some of you know, I am working on a book on stolen cars. Very early on, insurance companies distributed information on stolen cars using the U.S. postal system. Note that in the above example specifics on a stolen team of horses and buggy is being sent out to police using the mail. Another example of continuity in history!
Hi folks -- Kevin Borg has written the book on the history of auto mechanics, but I can't remember what he said if anything, on black mechanics. Here is a photo of three mechanics, a late 1940s Oldsmobile, and late 1940s or early 1950s Ford.
Drivin' in a beat up car
The highway is long but we've come so far
Two thousand miles from home
We got to find someplace that we can belong
But, we know, the freeways in life
Are all pointing us home
Don't you know, nothing in this life means anymore
"Dickie" Betts: "Back On The Road Again"
Back on the road again
Right back where we really always been
Same old hotel rooms
Back on the road again.
"Dickie" Betts: "Highway Call"
Sometimes I feel so all alone
That ain't no place to be
I wish I had my feet under the table
A little child on my knee
There's something in your song
You keep me rollin' on.
Man, will you look at that sweet
Gotta keep moving on open road
Gotta keep moving on open road
All I see is open road
Miles and miles of open road
Keep moving on open road.
Gotta keep moving on open road
Shipley: "Blue Highway"
People don't pick you up on
the blue highway
Oh the blue highway is a road you travel alone
People sure ain't gonna look you up on the blue highway
On the blue highway just keeps leadin' you on.
Bromberg: "New Lee Highway Blues"
You know that goddam road
seemed like it went on forever
Exhaust fumes made our eyes turn red and swell.
With our clothes stuck to the seat and to our bodies
It was a stinking summer trip through southern hell.
Browne: "Nothing But Time"
Rolling down 295 out of
Still high from the people up there and feeling no pain
Gonna make it to New Jersey, gonna set it up and do it again.
Browne: "The Pretender"
I'm going to rent myself a
In the shade of the freeway.
I'm going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day.
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down.
Browne: "The Road"
Highways and dancehalls
A good song takes you far
You write about the moon
And you dream about the stars
Blues in old motel rooms
Girls in daddy's car
You sing about the nights
And you laugh about the scars.
Browne: "The Road and the Sky"
I'm just rolling away from
Behind the wheel of a stolen Chevrolet
I'm going to get a little higher
And see if I can hot-wire reality.
Browne: "Running on Empty"
Looking out at the road
rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on.
Browne: "Shaky Town"
And I've followed those
And I've run down those thin white lines
Like those drivers this old road is all I call my own
That's a big ten-four
From your back door
Just put that hammer down
This young man feels
Those eighteen wheels
That keep turning 'round to take me down to shaky town.
"B. B. Class Road"
We're driving down the
Seven days a week
Looking for a number 1
Looking rather bleak.
Well, I'm a roadie
What a job being a roadie.
"On The Road Again"
Take a hint from your mama,
please don't cry no more.
Cause it's soon one morning down the road I'm gone
But I ain't goin' down that long ol' lonesome road all by myself
If I can't carry you, baby, going to carry somebody else.
I had a wife, she wouldn't
Left a job, a living, and family
There was nothing to keep me, no reason to stay
Went looking for nothing down the blue highway.
Carpenter: "Down at the Twist and Shout"
Well I never have wandered
down to New Orleans
Never have drifted down a bayou stream
But I heard that music on the radio
And I swore some day I was gonna go
Down highway 10 past Lafayette
To Baton Rouge and I won't forget
To send you a card with my regrets
'cause I'm never gonna come back home.
Carpenter: "Read My Lips"
A few more cigarettes now
One more jolt of joe
A couple hours past New York City
A few more turnpike tolls
One more minute away from you
Is a minute that lasts too long.
Carpenter: "A Road is Just a Road"
A road is only dust and dirt.
On a lonely interchange
The signs all look the same
'cause a road is just a road
and a feeling's just a feeling.
No matter where you go,
from Waterloo to Wichita
A road is just a road
that the one you love is leaving on.
Carpenter: "Stones in the Road"
And the stones in the road
fly out from beneath our wheels
Another day, another deal, before we get back home
And the stones in the road leave a mark from whence they came
A thousand points of light or shame, baby, I don't know.
Chapman: "Leaving Loachapoka"
Going 90 miles an hour with
her hair on fire
Running on a tank full of burning desire
She's heading out on highway number 29
Leaving Loachapoka, Alabama, behind.
Kids: "Hot Rod"
I found a real cute baby
she's a real swinging baby
And she says we'll go steady
just as soon as I get me a hot rod.
I'm going to take her for a moonlight drive
Across Mulholland Drive
Man I will be really alive
As soon as I get me a hot rod.
Another highway, another
Traveling man routine eight days from home
And all alone in the whining time machine . . .
On this blue highway
Between love and me
Nothing but blue highway
As far as my heart can see
Drifters: "Highway of the Saints"
I'm driving down the Highway
of the Saints
Keepin' an eye on a friend of mine
Who wishes no complaints
When all her strength had left her
And hope it become thin.
Cooper: "Slick Black Limousine"
We're gonna fly ya ya yeah
Ninety miles an hour
Swervin' all over the road
Hundred miles an hour
My hand's on the radio
Baby's in the back seat
Bompin' all over the road.
Clearwater Revival: "Sweet Hitch-hiker"
Was ridin' along side the
Rollin' up the country side.
Thinkin' I'm the devil's heatwave,
What you burn in your crazy mind?
Saw a slight distraction standin' by the road;
She was smilin' there, yellow in her hair;
Do you wanna, I was thinkin', would you care.
If you like sports cars from the 1950s and road racing, this film is for you! I ran across this film on Netfilx streaming, and despite its two star rating it did not disappoint -- actually it is a diamond in the rough. True, the plot is not the best, but the cars are the stars, and the highway and race scenes are simply as good as it gets. Further, the use of engine sounds really enhances the experience. After watching this film, I could not wait to get in my 1971 Porsche 911 and enjoy the open road. Don't miss this film -- the last 30 minutes of the film and racing scenes are priceless!
This car was also at the Friday night Cruise-In held in Beavercreek, OH last evening. It brought back some memories, going back to growing up in Kenmore, NY and a guy who rented an appointment in the house next to where my cousins lived. His Abarth was green, and all I can remember is this fellow in almost constant agony as he worked on the Abarth in the driveway. I wonder if he ever got it right. I doubt that he did..
Electric cars are becoming more and more commonplace
now that the world is pushing for an energy crisis situation. In the early
2000s, GM dismantled the EV1s giving a variety of excuses such as there would
be no interest in this type of automobile. A decade later, there are a hot
commodity and many are joining waiting lists for vehicles such as those offered
by Tesla Motors. Aside from the ability to function without a single drop of
gasoline, what else makes these vehicles practical for daily use?
1. Battery Life - Currently, some of the best batteries for
electric cars can allow a person to travel for 300 miles. To some, this simply
doesn't sound like enough driving time. To put it into perspective, the state
of Colorado is only 280 miles across. Unless you are planning a cross-country
trip, 300 miles is quite a bit of in-town driving per day. This is aside from
the fact that solar conversion kits can be adapted to constantly provide power
to electric cars as they are on the road as well.
2. Grid-Less - Solar panels can be used to charge your electric
cars while they are sitting at home. Instead of plugging them into the grid and
spinning your meter, you can adapt solar energy and deep cycle batteries to
keep your car energy-sufficient and charging throughout most of the day. With
renewable energy sources available, the possibilities are near endless.
3. Gas Prices vs. Power Prices - Unless you are using a
self-sustaining system such as solar arrays to power your vehicle, there will
be a cost of charging it up. However, the cost for power is far less than it
would be for the cost of ever-increasing gas prices. In fact, it would be
beneficial for more people to drive electric cars for those who don't. When the
demand for an item decreases, so does the price. If even 10-percent of people
in your neighborhood owned electric cars, the price of gas could steadily drop.
4. Clean Maintenance - Most mechanics who have worked on electric
cars commented on how it is a clean experience. As electric cars use very
little in the form of petroleum-based products for continued usage, the
undercarriage and engine compartment are virtually oil and grease free. No more
pouring Coca Cola on your drive way to remove the evidence of an oil leak.
5. Speed - Electric cars can handle to road as well as gasoline
powered ones can. In fact, the first generation of Tesla Roadsters can do 0 to
60 in just under four seconds. Unlike electric scooters that may have a top
speed of 60, electric cars can hit the road with as much speed as their
predecessors can. Using the same aerodynamics to promote gas mileage, these
same principles can save on power usage.
There are many who argue about the battery life of an electric car forcing the
issue of how impractical it may be. Could these merely be rants from those who
are afraid of change or those who have vested stock in oil companies? Or is
there any truth to electric cars being impractical? Currently, consumers have
the option of purchasing a wide range of vehicles consuming various amounts of
fuel. Will there come a day when the government steps in
and puts an end to carbon monoxide-emitting engines?
This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer
and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @
What a delight, but in today’s e-mail I received a photo from the hotel chain creative design woman in Missouri who is using the Garten Drive-In Theatre photo as a wall mural. But I was under the impression it was going to only be used in the lobbies of the Best Western hotel chain but – interestingly – it is being used in the “Romantic Get Away” rooms in each hotel. See the attached photo of grandfather’s drive-in and with a king sized bed in front of it and in front of the bed they have the rear clip from a 1959 pink Cadillac – tail fins and all J
Note that the creator of this “love nest” bedroom has somehow done a photo shop and inserted a frame from an Elvis movie on the theatre screen with co-star Ann-Margret. And, of course, there is the requisite hot tub over in the corner. This is too good to be true!
As compensation for the use of the photograph, she told me she was sending me a “package” next week that would include dinner and two nights at one of the Best Western’s that will feature this romantic get-away room. I showed the photo to the wife and she said: “You’ve got to be kidding?” I told my wife that we could “go all the way” in the back seat of a Cadillac.
When the woman sent me this today I looked at the photo and thought to myself “she is making this up.” But no its real.
Thanks to Ed Garten for the photos. according to Ed, the last Drive-In located in the Dayton, Ohio area. A popular venue for B grade films druing the 1950s and 1960s, the drive-in has been the victim of suburbanization, the growth of exurbs, and rising land values in once rural outlying locations. For a time it was one place you could take your date to "spark" away from community controls. That time has passed, as now community controls are lax, anything goes in teenagers bedrooms, and parents are often away from the house for extended periods of time.