An Ode to Progress

Remember the good ol’ days. The days of speed freaks and adrenaline. Ah, it’s so romantic that you can barely contain yourself, right?
The music was swinging, the rubber was burning away to the sound of leaded fuel and you had no restrictions, no inhibitions. There weren’t even as many STDs as there are these days. Surely, Greenpeace with their blue whales and polar bears, as well as the safety-first guys have killed the joy.

That’s not true! It’s way to easy to blame and point fingers, but the truth of the matter is we’ve made a lot of progress.

Sure, the interior from an old Rolls or Mercedes 600 Grosser is a thing of beauty, with its thin steering wheel and masses of tinted wood. The body seems to be made from tank steel beaten into shape by the gods themselves.

But are they good cars in reality? No, because lamenting that today’s cars aren’t as emotional as they used to be is equivalent to saying that it would be better if we still lived in caves.

I love the idea that if I have a crash, the steering column will not go through my neck or my chest. I love the idea that if the airbag doesn’t open properly and I die, my relatives can sue somebody for damages.

I also like that inside the car, I can breath the air, even though the summer is melting the world around me like marshmallows in an oven. There’s a microchip in my radio that allows me to listen to the latest music.

The car has proven just how cunning we humans can be when faced with a very difficult problem. I am Stephan Hawking, and this is autoevolution… at its best.

A car has airbags, it has catalytic convertors and it has stability control. It’s what we evolved apes were able to invent in just aver 100 years of our history.

Think about this while you hate the fact that airbags burden your car! Airbags are made from nylon on a weaving loom by a machine that can operate thousands of individual strands at a time. It’s then coated with liquid silicone and cut with a laser. That’s the sort of invention that could save your life one day.

Modern technology is amazing, and in my opinion, cars still need to be a lot safer than they are now, because at highway speeds you’re still susceptible to injury or death. And what about you’re grandpa’s car? Well, that’s a veritable death sentence.

If you want to make a case against environmental standards, don’t even dare to do it. I’m not convinced cars are creating a hole in our atmosphere, but I can't dispute the fact that these gasses are affecting our young. What if we didn’t take care of our young, what future would we have as a species. The switch to unleaded fuel probably saved millions of lives. A catalytic converter has within it a gigantic absorbing surface that captures noxious chemicals.

Wonderful, but we need more! What if there was a way to trap particles in a bag which you empty, like a vacuum cleaner. Imagine how good you’d feel about yourself if you didn’t pollute!

Rumor has it the next Mercedes S-Class will have a camera that sees bumps in the road and preemptively softens the suspension. Traction control is almost an art-form today, so we don’t need to worry about crashing on a slippery road as much as we used to. Fantastic!

That’s why, I think we should have faith in those boring German engineers. They will eventually get everything right so we’ll be able to enjoy doing what we love the most: driving!
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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