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The Real Torque Blues: Cars, Imperialism, and the Forgotten Dream

Written by Brian Brawley

It’s a funny thing when you think about it. Not long ago, America was a new frontier, fresh and new, ripe for exploration. Americans literally threw their lives in the wind to entice their romantic, and frantic hunger for adventure. After America became one from coast to coast, we went to the sea, and even into space. It was an ever long endeavor to push humanity forward. After the invention of the automobile, adventure became more accessible to more people, and once again Americans took to fresh pavement to entertain their curiosity and drive to find meaning in life. Throughout the 20th century the Automobile was produced with many purposes and many flavors, but it always existed to adventure. To adventure form one place to another, carrying amazement and wonder. Time, unfortunately, is a cruel mistress and as we settled in our communities our boats stopped leaving port, spaceships never returned to the moon, and our cars never left our cities.

At some point in history, our cars changed. Once they were machines of amazement, machines of soul, and more importantly machines of adventure. As time moves on, styles became soulless and excitement exchanged for safety. MPG’s became more important than miles and driving went from a pastime to a chore. Our parents talk of how they got their license as soon as they could and left the house as often as possible. They went places, they drove cars with tail fins, and lasers, and big V8 monstrosities. They had nothing more than a paper map on a good day and a sense of adventure. Breakdowns only made for good stories and were only minor details, if anything at all. Today, nobody goes out. A few keystrokes in the Google machine will show and tell anyone all they ever wanted to know about the world. Smartphones and Facebook statuses crave our short attention span, and the most exciting option a vehicle can offer today is the multi-function Bluetooth-Nav-Twitter-interface, not the swooping curves. So where did we go wrong? Where it happen that cars became dated gizmos opposed to glorious analog driving machines, and better yet how?

Let’s face it, no good story begins with “I was out in the Camry when…” unless it begins with Rallycross and ends with a failed rod and a window the size of a cathedral through the block. As enthusiasts we complain about how new cars are boring, big, bloated, too safe, and hard to see out of even if it is just me sometimes. Is it really the car’s fault though? Is it the auto-makers who are simply meeting the demands of consumers? Maybe it really is our fault. Enthusiasts love cars, but we buy older cars not new ones.  People who do buy new cars don’t have time for adventure anymore. We work in a world that traded adventure for a desk job. The average work week is 50+ hours, and cars are more expensive. We are too tired to adventure, and too busy to enjoy good lines. Kids today would rather get rides than drive. The notion scares them, or they simply cannot afford to drive. Plenty of young adults are well into their twenties and never spent a minute behind the wheel. Imperialism died after we stretched from sea to sea, adventure died after we went to the moon, and the car died after we began the commute. Take a break, get your license, and drive somewhere for the sake of seeing something new and enjoy the freedom a car truly can give.

Photo  courtesy of the Google machine.

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