Time travel is, perhaps unexpectedly, enlightening. Reading of the conditions and actors of the past provides only a dusty image, rendered in grayscale; dunking oneself fully in the scene teaches lessons that cannot otherwise be learned. Thus I recount for you my recent sojourn to the early 21st Century.
The cultures of that time, at least throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere, were widely divergent in ways a modern reader might not expect: language, dress, and even laws varied from place to place enough to make life unpredictable at best, and often deadly. If a unifying theme could be found amongst these disparate and combative peoples, however, it would be the use of a means of individual and small-group transport, familiar now only to archaeologists, known then as the car, or, more generically, the automobile.
Though primitive in conception and form, and wholly unlike the conveyances of our home age (aside from the use of seats for the occupants), the vehicle rather unimaginatively described as the 2014 Porsche Panamera nevertheless provided a uniquely satisfying experience, even to a citizen of an age as advanced and refined as ours. I chose my destination year of 2013 A.D. (modern calendar: -8442 NEE) carefully, that I might lay hands on this vehicle at what might be regarded its apogee--four years after its initial creation, and having been only just then re-engineered to include several key improvements.
Accustomed to traveling on a floating on a cushion of air as I am, the Panamera's use of wheels supporting it directly on the surface of the ground provided an unusual, but thrilling, sense of involvement with the journey, despite limiting routes to specific surfaces the temporals call roads. Likewise, having to pilot the machine personally, or at least to have a pilot among the crew (as many as four adults, including the pilot, might find comfort within its metal and glass enclosure) further enhanced this viscerality of travel.
2014 Porsche Panamera first driveEnlarge Photo
The joy of this sensation can't be understated, for even among the many and varied forms of automobile in this era, the Panamera provided a symphony of sounds, tactile responses, and maneuvering capabilities typically found only in much smaller--and therefore less practical--vehicles.
Propulsion comes not from our familiar static antimatter reactor, but from a variety of reciprocating and revolving mechanical processes, primarily requiring combustion of various distillations of ancient deposits of hydrocarbons long ago consumed to such scarcity as to constitute, practically, depletion from the Earth's crust.
These machines, or engines, positioned in a forward bay and connected such that they might supply motive traction to either the rear pair or all four of the wheels (wheels situated, as they were, near each corner of the car), are among the most interesting components of the ancient vehicle, if only because they are so unlike anything maintained today, relying not upon the (then undiscovered) actions of quantum particles and fundamental principles, but on gross chemical reactions converted to kinetic energy.
Several forms of engine were to be found in the 2014 Panamera, described primarily in the relative arrangement and displacement of their reciprocating parts, and the motive outputs resulting from their operation. In the contemporary notation of the then-dominant automotive culture, the three such systems, or powertrains when incorporated with their gear-based transmissive components, were: a 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque; a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine, rated at 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque; and a third which will require more in-depth explanation, powered by a combination of an engine and an electric motor. Each could be paired with power transmission systems driving either the rear two or all four wheels; all but the third engine using a dual-clutch transmission to scale torque with speed as appropriate to the limitations of each.
All three variants provided ample forward thrust when commanded, joining and departing the atomic and hectic flow of human-guided and seemingly random vehicular traffic of the roadways with ease.