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Log and Greger, I think, brought up the subject of American car culture in another thread, and it seemed large enough to overwhelm that original thread allowed, so I’m hijacking it here.

My cousin still pines for his first love - a white ‘68 T-bird. If he found one tomorrow he might hock the farm to get it.

Considering cars haven’t been around all that long, they’ve taken us (primarily USamericans) over like Godzilla in Tokyo. My question is where, and why. Did it start with the post-war behemoths? Was it as early as the Model T?

When did it become second nature to drive places that were walkable?

Or was the takeover by car just a natural outgrowth of (US) Americans to hit the road, look for a better place?



Julia
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I think it was your last suggestion. Many people enjoy road trips, I know I do.

Not a 55-56 or 57 T-Bird? To me those are the best and I always preferred the smaller Birds. I’m in a storytelling mood so I’ll tell you my tale regarding a 1955 T-Bird. When I was a teenager my next-door neighbor had one and he kept it in the garage in immaculate condition. At that time aerial fireworks were legal in Hawaii so of course I fired them off. Young guys like things that explode.

One time around New Year’s I was firing off 8 ounce rockets in the street. I don’t know if you know anything about rocket fireworks but an 8 ouncer is a pretty big one. So here comes Rick, owner of the T-Bird backing out of his driveway with the drivers window rolled down and the passenger window rolled up. At the same time I lit off the 8 ouncer in the street but somehow the bottle fell over purely accidentally.

The rocket proceeded to go straight through Rick‘s open drivers window (a one in a million shot) narrowly missing his head but was stopped by the passenger window and then proceeded to fly around wildly his car until the top exploded as it was suppose to. I didn’t wait around to see his reaction and went running into my house. Rick never pursued me surprisingly enough and we managed to get a good laugh out of it later. Later on aerials were made illegal on Oahu because every New Year’s one or two homes would burn down ignited by a smoldering rocket on the roof.

New Year’s in Hawaii was always more popular for fireworks than was Fourth of July due to the high Asian population percentage there.


Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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Cars may be fairly new but people have a long and arduous history with machines. And as soon as machines became efficient enough to address travel...well, it was only a matter of time.

It certainly wasn't a post-war phenomenon, consider this 1937 Delahaye. A company founded in 1894.

But after the Big War, we had revolutionized mass production to the point that everyone could afford a car! And once everybody could afford a car then cars became a necessity. And once travel became cheap stylish and popular travel became a necessity.

And here we are committing slow suicide by boat, by train, and by automobile


Good coffee, good weed, and time on my hands...
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Just thought I might mention that, before there were automobiles we were gifted with, literally, feet of horse s*** lining every street. Now add in the simple fact that most streets were also not paved. So, when it rained the stink, we are told, along with festering piles of horse s*** everywhere, was, if nothing else, offensive. All I am saying is that I suspect this might have also had something to do with the advance of the automobile.

I have a book, titled; "the Good Old Days - They were Terrible! by Otto L Bettmann Its pretty educational to read something like that just to keep things in perspective. Oh, and its also filled with a lot of old photos as well. I would recommend it to anybody who wants to see how the good old days really were. Back then they had Government by politicians, of politicians, for politicians. I know, we have serious problems right now but if you take a look at what we have overcome it kinda gives one the hope that if they cleaned up those messes we should be able to fix what we have going on now?

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I thought the “everybody can afford a car” thing started with Henry Ford and the Model T. I know my dad’s family had one when the kids didn’t have shoes worthy of the name.


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Cars happened because America had way more space than public transportation infrastructure. There were hundreds of miles between railroad lines, and the alternative was a horse and maybe a buggy. We also had much larger and far-flung farms and ranches than other parts of the world, where you could get everything you needed by walking. Most Mormons got to Salt Lake City pushing handcarts! That had to be one of the last American migrations on foot.


We're flying electric helicopters on Mars yet you can't turn on your clothes dryer in Texas. That's because scientists are in charge of Mars, and Republicans are in charge of Texas.
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Funny that you mentioned Mormons and handcarts.

Handcart Mormons spent the winter of (I think) 1867 in Omaha. Well over 800 of them died of scurvy. Strangely (to me) the use of handcarts was encouraged by the church higher-ups because the were faster than oxen and wagons, not needing grazing time.


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It's the Despair Quotient!
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Originally Posted by Mellowicious
I thought the “everybody can afford a car” thing started with Henry Ford and the Model T. I know my dad’s family had one when the kids didn’t have shoes worthy of the name.

Most people view it that way, yes.
It cost $850 in 1908, the year of its debut.
By 1927 Henry Ford had actually DROPPED the price to around 300 dollars, stating that any man who worked in one of his factories should be able to afford to buy one of his cars.

The average hourly factory worker made between $400 and $1000 per year, a competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a really good mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

So yes, even though the first cars came out over a decade earlier, most of them were really horse-drawn buggies without the horse and they were notoriously unreliable playthings for the wealthy.
The Model T boasted twenty horsepower the first year while the 1901 Mercedes posted figures north of 35 horsepower.
The Model T was lucky to hit 40 mph whereas the Mercedes, which cost more than most houses, could be coaxed to 55 mph, which was considered medically dangerous for women even when inside a train.😱

Early Trains Were Thought to Make Women's Uteruses Fly Out

Critics of early steam-spewing locomotives, for example, thought “that women’s bodies were not designed to go at 50 miles an hour,” and worried that “[female passengers’] uteruses would fly out of [their] bodies as they were accelerated to that speed.”

----which, of course, they did not.


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I thought all the hand carts were made in Helena Montana. You know……”I’m going to Helena Handcart”.


Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
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Originally Posted by Mellowicious
Funny that you mentioned Mormons and handcarts.

Handcart Mormons spent the winter of (I think) 1867 in Omaha. Well over 800 of them died of scurvy. Strangely (to me) the use of handcarts was encouraged by the church higher-ups because the were faster than oxen and wagons, not needing grazing time.

They may have wended their way to Salt Lake with handcarts but scarcely three decades later some of them were actually traveling by Mormon Meteor!

[Linked Image from img.hmn.com]


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