There is much debate about when the first car was introduced to the world. From the early 1800s all the way up until the 1900s, numerous designs were patented and produced throughout the world. However, it was not until the early 1900s when the first full-scale automobile assembly lines were introduced that production of the car really ramped up. The introduction of the car helped shape and growing world economies and also shifted cultural mindsets. With the increased production, there was an increase in the need for skilled labourers and with that came the reinvestment of wages into the economy. Never before did people of all walks of life have access to a means of transportation that could take them to even the most remote places of the world in a much more compressed length of time. The wealthy were no longer the only ones who could afford to shape the cultural patterns of their countries since these workers also became a substantial wedge of the market share.
Car culture continued to grow over the years especially with the use of motorcycles and vehicles during World War I and II, but nothing screams quintessential car culture more than muscle cars. Interestingly enough, the need for speed developed early in the 1900s during prohibition times, but it wasn’t until 1949 that the first official muscle car, the Rocket 88, was debuted by Oldsmobile. It had a lightweight frame with a powerful V8 engine. After its introduction, the Rocket 88 became popular within the NASCAR world, which helped to elevate the muscle car amongst American car culture. By the mid-1950s, muscle cars had begun to dominate the market with American automakers Chrysler and Chevrolet contributing heavily. It was during this time that Chrysler first introduced the Hemi engine, which was a series of V8 engines that used a hemispherically shaped combustion chamber. It had advantages over the tradition reverse-flow cylinder combustion chambers and allowed muscle cars to reach much sought after speeds.
With the increased desire in speed, there came a larger concern for safety and regulation. Car manufacturers became increasingly aware of the need for such things as safety harnesses, reinforced framework, door locks, and even airbags. Throughout the late 1950s and into the 60s, these safety features became more standardized on vehicles, but it was until the late 60s when the first seat belt law was introduced in America.
Technological advancements have continued to dominate the car industry as the years have gone by. Every year cars get more and more upgraded features that not only incorporate safety but are user-friendly and meant to make the drive a pleasant experience for all. Some interesting new developments include the introduction of ADAS windshield technology and the self-driving car. ADAs technology assists drivers through a network of sensors and direct connections to the vehicle while promoting safe driving. The self-driving car has always been somewhat of a fantasy, but car companies such as Tesla have pushed to make it a mainstay in the car industry. They already produce cars capable of full autonomy but have yet to implement all the capabilities at this time.
However, car culture may be slowly coming to end outside of people’s personal hobbies. Studies have begun to show that the younger generations are moving away from buying and owning vehicles. With the introduction of companies like Uber and Lyft and the growing push for greener solutions, we may be seeing fewer vehicles on the road in the very near future.