I’ve talked about cars before in my blog, so the fact that I am doing it again indicates that I do find them interesting.
It is not just the actual machines that get me going – I enjoy the history, the social impact, the environmental implications, and find the economic outcomes all worthy of study.
“All of those cars were once just a dream in someone’s head”.
You may not have heard the term Autopia or be familiar with its origins. Autopia is a race car track attraction in Disneyland California, in which park visitors steer specially designed cars through a 60s enclosed track. It has been the scene of many family contests with the emphasis being on fun rather than speed or sophistication; indeed, its cranky old-fashioned feel is a throwback to a quieter age and in stark contrast to some of the high velocity rides.
“Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer”
Turning to Wikipedia for origins gives further insight into the term and why it gained traction. Autopia is a portmanteau (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others) of the words "automobile utopia." The term was later popularised in academic circles by British architecture critic Reyner Banham to describe Los Angeles in his 1971 book Los Angeles: ‘The Architecture of Four Ecologies.’
Having driven the Los Angeles 405 Freeway, at rush hour, fresh off an internationl flight, has me doubting that LA is actually a car utopia – but it certainly has automobiles in abundance! On the other hand, for me, the ‘Cars Land’ attraction at Disney could well be theme park utopia. But I digress…..
“I couldn’t repair your brakes so I made your horn louder’
The west coast of Scotland is certainly not like Los Angeles – and motoring is very different – but I am now in the process of co-organising our very own little Autopia for Helensburgh and the Rosneath Peninsula.
In a previous blog ‘Blessed are they that run around in circles for they shall be known as wheels’ #57, I told the story of our 2020 mid-pandemic ‘classic car drive-by’ where car club enthusiasts drove their cars to Helensburgh and then on round the Rosneath Peninsula. Helped by glorious sunshine it was a real ‘lift’ for the community before we all battened down the hatches for the long winter lockdown ahead. We had hoped to bring a more ambitious ‘Festival of Cars’ to our community this year, but continuing Covid uncertainty has made that impossible.
“There are no speed limits on the road to success”
So this year we are again hosting a drive-by but with the slight easing of restrictions there will be more time for people to look at the cars while the drivers take a well-earned lunch break. Being responsible for making sure the event actually happens has made me take a closer look at what vintage, classic, etc all mean.
To the enthusiast it is perfectly clear, but to the outsider it can all seem a bit bamboozling. However, what I did find is that interest in older cars is closely linked to nostalgia – and therefore as those in their 80s decline and lose the ability to take on the care and repair of pre-war cars then demand for these cars drops.
And guess what? The cars increasing in demand are those that the Boomers remember from their youthful years in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
So, all I can guarantee for our summer drive-through is that there will be a motley collection of cars and what appeals to one may leave another completely disinterested. But that surely is the joy of motoring – and watching the cars go by.
"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
E. L. Doctorow
Stay safe, lead well