Cars – where would we be without them? 13



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Cars – half of the time we hate them – but where would we be without them? They do what every vehicle since the invention of the wheel has done, they get us from A to B, a simple task at first sight, but made much more complicated by our desire to also make the humble automobile our banner, denoting our success in the world, coming close in importance and expense, to our homes! The make of car has to be carefully chosen, not so much for its fuel economy or its power, but more for its value as a status symbol! Is it more expensive than the neighbours? Is it the right, fashionable colour, and does it stand out from the other vehicles outside the school, when the kids are dropped off?

Whoever it was who discovered that first wheel didn’t do us any favours in many ways! But it certainly and suddenly gave everyone who possessed it something that put them ahead of anyone who didn’t; it meant you could travel faster than anyone who was on foot (even if it was only a little faster!); in battle it gave you an elevated position over your wheelless enemy, enabling you to throw missiles down upon him from a position of comparative safety; it became, very soon after its discovery, an important status symbol, so that Egyptian Pharos travelled in decorated chariots while their armies marched, and it meant, once people thought of it, that much larger cargoes could be carried much greater distances, opening up a whole new world of trade to those adventurous enough to take advantage of the opportunity. Water had until the wheel, been the main means of transport, bringing exotic goods from across the sea, goods which could also be distributed inland, as long as there was a river. No river meant the goods were only available in any quantity, close to the sea, but with the wheel came roads and with roads came an enormous increase of inland trade.

Until the invention of the engine, vehicles were really no more than carts, trays with axles at each end and a wheel on each end of the axle. Even the glorious coaches of the rich and Royalty were in essence just carts with a lot of applied decoration. In fact, even after the development of early engines, the vehicles they powered still looked amazingly like the earlier, horse-drawn coaches, most of them without even the benefit of a roof! The car, as it came to be called was thought of for many years as some ‘flash-in-the-pan’ fad that would die out once people got fed up with the noise and the smoke.

But some engineers spotted the possibilities offered by this new wonder and it wasn’t long before engines got bigger and better, cars took on their distinctive shape, which, heavily disguised of course is actually still with us today, engine at the front driving rear wheels, passengers in between. And the place for the passengers became much more comfortable and sophisticated too, with leather seats and carpeted floors.

Then oil was discovered, in vast quantities, all over the world and the age of the car began in earnest! A myriad of companies sprang up, designing and building the new wonder vehicle, in an age when, by pure chance, the industrial age was coming into full swing, with the new-fangled factories knocking out products by the million that had previously been largely hand made before and therefore limited in their quantities! This led to Henry Ford’s idea for the ‘assembly-line’.

And just look at us now, ruled by the car, spending a large portion of our incomes on buying and servicing the brute; travelling, because there are now far too many of them, very little faster than the old horse-drawn coaches, especially in our grid-locked towns and cities and breathing in fumes so toxic that they can kill in minutes in an enclosed environment!

But as I said at the beginning – where would we be without them?


Do you love your car? Share your thoughts on what Brian has said below.

Brian Lee

  1. Cars are great, we would lost without them but it does not take Einstein to work out that must be contributing to tons of pollution around the world.

  2. time they invented something new, technology seems to have stopped with the car..where are those George Jetson flying cars we all thought we would have by now?

    1 REPLY
    • Trouble with that, anything that can fly tends to use more fuel than the car, so from a pollution point of view it would most likely be counter-productive. Then there’s safety! Look at the trouble some humans get into even when they have a road, and signs to guide and help them; imagine them up in the air, where they can fly anywhere they like! Hardly bears thinking about, does it.

  3. I love the way you can compress history and make it so interesting! I agree with Leanna,I think we are awfully stuck because of our dependence on oil and once we ditch that,I’m hoping there will be a whole new cleaner (and maybe more exciting)way of travel!

    1 REPLY
    • mike-here-the Governator, Arnold Schwartzenneger or Schwartzenegger, drove an Hummer whilst in office which was Hydrogen powered. The US first Lady Michelle Obama drove a hydrogen powered Ford Escape around Washington. The technology is there

  4. One must also understand that without the internal combustion engine we would have to rely on horses to pull us around. That said, if we used horses to pull us around and to do the same things as we do with cars and trucks. There would not be enough people in the big cities to clean up the horse dung. Better thr devil you know.

  5. Love the car it’s an incredible invention and opened the world and made it smaller. But we live in a very big country nothing like the smaller ones in Europe where push bikes are great. We just need to make them better for our environment.

  6. cars are good it’s all the 4 wheel drives that annoy the shit out of me….majority of them have no intention of going off road….can;t see in car parks around these things…tough on our roads…and so many think because they are in this big tank, others will stay out of their way…and then the damage that is done with these vehicles

    1 REPLY
    • They roll over much easier in an accident situation too, they’re somewhat top heavy!

  7. They are wonderful when they are running right.
    But Basil Fawlty has the answer when they are not.——– a dam good thrashing.

  8. I love cars all the time. Love driving and anything to do with cars. For me a good weekend is a long and winding road and a V8 Holden.

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