A mechanic friend just sent me an email full of pictures and descriptions of a Dodge sedan that had been lovingly owned by a veterinarian who died about 8 years after buying the car new — in 1940. The car was safely put up in a garage, where it remained until it was discovered some 60 years later. I was hoping he was telling me he’d acquired this vehicle, but just being able to see the pictures is both moving and educating.
It was truly spacious and elegant. The highly detailed interior was made to blend harmoniously throughout. In short, the car was magnificent, a very comfortably functional piece of art… one of 87,000 such cars built in Detroit in 1939. Suspension was apparently already capable of making for a very comfortable ride, even on dirt roads. The car came with a 217 cubic inch 87 HP engine, a radio and an ashtray, floating hydraulic brakes, electric start, and much attention was paid to the little details that make such a car so wonderful.
So all those features were already available in 1940. What have we REALLY invented to improve it since? Heat & refrig? Big deal. The STRUCTURAL, functional part of the automobile was already largely done. And look at how simple and clean the motor is!
All of that was accomplished between the Model-A Fords of 1903 and 1927, and the Dodge of 1940?
THE TIMELINE TRANSITION: Museum Restorations of a 1903 Ford Model-A, and a 1928 Ford Model-A (first row)
an unrestored 1940 Dodge Deluxe Sedan, and that Deluxe Sedan’s Dashboard (second row)
In comparison, we haven’t done anything since, really. The only real differences are found in plastic cosmetics (that most certainly wouldn’t have survived 60 or more years as these cars have done.)
Now let’s put it into perspective. In 1929, the U.S. stock market crashed. In 1937, the first wave of that depression ended, only to resurface in 1938 and continue until the beginning of our involvement in WWII in 1941. The government’s war spending signaled the official end of the Depression years. So the changes between the 1903 Model A and the 1928 Model A happened during the inflationary times just before the market crashed… and the beautiful Dodge was built during the years of the Great Depression itself!
What this demonstrates is that we can make huge strides, innovate, towards alternative energy cars, when and if we want to. A weak economy won’t stop creative, innovative minds from developing these technologies. Rather, Necessity may bring about many Inventions.
Now is the time for us to put on the thinking caps and tool kits. Now is the time for us to create the technologies that will carry us out of the fossil fuel era and into the far greater things we can do, and better ways we can be.