by Doris Donnerman
(last updated May 25, 2010)
What is it about cars? There is something about them that touches us on a very personal level. Mankind has felt this from the introduction of the very first automobile. From Henry Ford's Model T, to the Ferraris and Porsches of today, to the concept cars of tomorrow, we love our cars. Why do we feel this way? How does it affect us personally and socially? What is this feeling that is shared by so many generations?
I remember once talking with my great-grandfather about his first car. Even though his first car was a Model T, the way he described his feelings reminded me of my first car (which was not a Model T). He said that when his eyes were first laid on that old Model T, his heart was going about a mile a minute. His palms got sweaty and his knees were weak. He was excited beyond anything he had ever known before. This is how I felt when I got behind the wheel of my first car.
How does this affect us socially and personally? As I learned from my great-grandfather, the car experience can affect us pretty deeply on a personal level. Because of this, is it any surprise that the automobile can affect us in profound ways socially, as well? For example, look at the age when most of us start dating. The age of sixteen years old is when we both start dating and start to drive. We, as a society, typically don't consider it a "real" date unless we were able to pick up our date in a car that we drive. Because of shared experiences such as these, as a society we are pretty protective of our cars.
But what is this feeling that has affected the generations? What is the single emotion that my great-grandfather, myself, and my son all share just from looking at a car? I believe the answer to this question is hope. When we look at a car, especially a beautifully designed one, we once again feel the same surge of hope we did when we first got behind the wheel—the hope of a new date, the hope of exploring the next horizon, the hope of things and experiences yet to come.
In short, when we see a car that we particularly like, we often feel young and hopeful again. We can all use a little more of this in our lives: the unfettered promise of our youthful hopes. So if you'll excuse me, I am going to get another dose of that hope. My son and I are going to drive down to the car lot and look at some cool cars.
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