Oct 02 2008
America’s love affair with the automobile began earlier than you might think. Well before there was a network of American roadways, there were cars to be driven on them. The Olds “Curved Dash” model was released in 1901, and was the first car to be manufactured in any great quantity. Sale price? $650.00. Only a short 12 years later there were over 1 million cars registered in the U.S.
Today, somewhere around 135 million cars travel the nation’s roads and interstates on any given day, and next to a home, an automobile is one of the largest investments that consumers will make in a lifetime. Cars have risen from being a source of pride in ownership, and status symbols of wealth and prosperity, to a mainstay of suburban life. Eventually evolving into a necessity for many who depend upon their cars for their work and their livelihood.
A Strange History
Here are a few fun facts that you may not know related to our beloved cars.
The first auto racetrack was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which consisted of 3 million cobblestones.
The first electric traffic signal was installed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914
The first coin-operated parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1935
The first credit card accessible parking meters were installed in Beverly Hills, California.
In 2007 the City of Los Angeles unveiled the new meters that accept credit, debit, and cell phone payments.
The first tail fins on a Cadillac were on the 1948 model. This design element lasted for over a decade.
The decade of the 1950’s was filled with auto innovations including 1953’s Chevrolet Corvette and the 1954 Ford Thunderbird; two sporty coupes that were destined to become instant classics. The 1957 T-Bird was the last of the famous initial 2-seater design. However, both Corvettes and Thunderbirds continue to be manufactured into the present time.
Electric, adjustable mirrors, power door locks and windows, padded dashboards, and seat belts became standard equipment on most cars during the ’50’s.
1965’s Chevrolet Impala sold more than a million units in North America setting a record that stands to this day.
The Impala was a best seller throughout the 1960’s.
In the year 1972 in Los Angeles, CA, the average driver’s highway speed was 60 mph, in 1982, it was 17mph! I think it must have been around this time that they coined the term “gridlock” to refer to the LA freeway system.
The city with the greatest number of Rolls Royce automobiles per capita is Hong Kong.
Honda’s Insight is the first fuel efficient hybrid model to be made available in the U.S.
From 1992 -1996 the best selling car in all of America was the Ford Taurus.
In 2002, 30% of all cars sold in the U.S. were SUV’s.
Now the trend is for fuel efficiency. Hybrids and electric cars are being developed to run on gas and electricity. Kits are also being made available to convert diesel engines to bio-fuels at your local corner garage. What’s next for the auto industry remains to be seen as America struggles to reduce her independence on foreign oil imports. One thing is certain; Our love affair with our automobiles may change and evolve, but it will never come to an end.