Life in the 21st Century

Written by larry on August 5th, 2013

I’d known about Heritage GardensDriving Our Dreams exhibit for a few months, but it wasn’t until yesterday that a house guest provided the excuse to head over for a look.

I’ve always had a weak spot for examining what the future looked like from the past. Give me a 1950’s Popular Mechanics magazine with an article about life in the 21stcentury and you’ll keep me busy for hours. So an opportunity to wander among spaceships like these

spaceship

was not to be missed.

Doubtlessly these were built to attract attention. And they do. Whether that transforms into a desire to buy is less certain, at least to me. There is a claim that when Chevrolet sells a handful of $100,000+ Corvette ZR1 coupes, it drives sales of Cavaliers and Cruzes. Maybe. Or maybe not.

But as I walked among these glimpses of the past’s future, I couldn’t help but think that at that time we enjoyed a sense of optimism that somehow dissipated over the last two generations. These cars broadcast the idea that we’d be going faster, and in more comfort, and (possibly this last one is just me) to more interesting places.

Contrast that with the Toyota Prius. And without in any way diminishing the technical and business achievement of commercializing that drive system (and dominating that market segment), I don’t think anyone would look at one and think in terms of grandeur. Efficiency, sure. But not grandeur.

Ignore for a moment the question of which is more practical, or has a smaller environmental footprint, or would be easier to park. Think instead of which is more likely to quicken your pulse. This?

it_rear

Or this?

prius+rear

This?

it_panel

Or this?

prius_panel

In general, our present direction may be inevitable, given the vagarities of the economy, fuel prices, highway congestion, and so forth. ┬áBut when the dust settles, I don’t mind paying a few bucks more to make the experience of getting from point A to point B more than, well, just getting from point A to point B. And I wonder whether, as this century unfolds, the auto makers, regulators, and so forth will share that desire.

And then I see something like this, from Scion, of all places, and realize there’s hope.

frs

 

 

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