When you think of growing up, you probably think about where you lived, what school you attended, what your neighbourhood looked like. And you probably think about what car your parents drove and the places you visited in that car. Memories are made in cars. They don’t just get us from point A to point B: they are a statement of who we are, what we do, what we like, and where we are going in life. When we think about culture, we often forget about the cars we drive and the impact those cars have on our culture. You can trace the evolution of culture by looking back through the evolution of cars. Let’s look at how cars have shaped our culture.
What’s your favorite car? Quick. Say the first thing that comes to your mind. Is it the car you drive now? Is it the car you had prior to this car? It’s the Batmobile, isn’t it… no? That’s just me? Okay, fine. So, what’s your favorite car? Why is that car your favorite car? It’s probably because it evokes a memory for you that is special in some way. My favorite car is the one I currently drive. It is the car I always wanted but never thought I would be able to afford. It’s not anything special for anyone else, but it is special to me because I worked hard to earn the money to be able to afford it.
What was your favorite celebrity car? What’s a celebrity car, you ask? It’s a car that has been made famous because of television or movies. We’ve all got one…the Batmobile? Still, no? Okay, moving on. But the Batmobile is a good example of a celebrity car. What about the Starsky and Hutch car? What about the Back to the Future car? What about James Bond’s cars? They are sweet cars, those James Bond cars. We love these kinds of cars because they bring up feelings of wealth and adventure and success, something most of us want.
When you look back at how cars have changed over the years, you’ll notice a few trends: 30 years ago, cars were bigger and clunkier. They were built for main street, not highways. 20 years ago, cars were starting to become smaller and more compact: people were having less children and didn’t need big boat cars anymore. 10 years ago, cars are breaking away from the fastlane and becoming more economical and streetwise: gas milage is king now. But there are still those car enthusiasts who buy bigger and fancier because that is what they like. While a Mini Cooper is probably good on gas, you can’t load a family into it. The rise of the SUV and CUV has become unstoppable: everyone’s got a big rig again, whether they need it or not.
Cars will continue to evolve and be defined by our wants, needs and interests. We’ll continue to be intrigued by days-gone-by cars and the cars of the future, because cars are a huge part of our culture, and culture all over the world.