The automotive industry began as a highly diversified group of people and companies exploring a new direction in thought. There were bicycle mechanics, airplane manufacturers, and steam engine experts, among others all taking a stab at creating a unique product. There were electrics, steam engines, internal combustions motors; there were steering wheels, tillers, and handle bars; there were rear engine, front engine, and mid engine layouts. Horseless carriages began as largely open air experiences which likely left people gasping for air from the excitement. Think Mr. Toad and his wild rides. Boop, boop.
But relatively uniform advances in automotive technologies have left us with a very common blueprint with exceptions to the rules only. An enclosed cockpit with an engine up front, four wheels, about six to eight inches of ground clearance, two headlights, licence plates centered front and rear, etc. Kudos to the companies that still seek excitement, and unique layouts.
I received a fix-it ticket one time for having a headlight out. I still had one good lamp, and it was on during the day for safety. Who decided that a car has to have two headlights, when a motorcycle only has one? A person can also receive a ticket for not having a windshield. Do perhaps as many as half, or more, of motorcycles legally licenced not have windshields. Definitions have become so rigid for what an automobile is that departments for licencing motor vehicles have found it appropriate to make laws that restrict them from being anything else. When the Can Am Spyder began production, it was strange to get them licenced. Most states required you to learn to drive a two wheeled motorcycle well enough to pass their skills courses, and qualify to have a motorcycle licence, when in fact, driving the three wheeled Spyder required no leaning of your body or the bike, and no real balance issues exist other than sitting with body between your legs with no seat back. Few other three wheeled vehicles are produced for U. S. sales that are not one off customs. Few that are truly open air vehicles either, not including convertibles that only open the roof.
Perhaps in an age that calls for alternative vehicles, for the sake of the environment, or national security, the public will get the chance to consider more alternatives for performance, excitement, and aesthetics as well. Most people might consider vehicles like an open air Ariel Atom to be third cars, more for recreation than everyday driving, but alternative life styles can free up choices as well, with public transportation options, less practacle cars could be second cars or even first. By expanding the variety in the market, people could experience more freedom from unnecessarily restrictive laws as well. Like laws that require automotive styling to conform to large licence plates front and rear, when smaller plates are available for motorcycles, and perhaps technology could relieve us of needing plates in the first place.
Imagine more excitement in the industry, besides just unnessary hood bulges painted to look like they scoop air. What if more cars that the Jeep Wrangler allowed you to view the pavement rushing past your seat. Can cars that lean into turns become more mainstream. The public would have to reward more innovation than the Vanilla Toyota Camry. Do car shows need to become more mainstream like the old Autorama's in the 1950's.
This is a call to consumers to loosen up and demand more of your comfort zone, and to demand more innovation of auto manufacturers. The free market system will provide excitement if the market shows a demand or tolerance for it. This is also a call to manufacturers to temper the market for more excitement by creating more interest, more attention grabbing ideas in car shows perhaps exploring more ways of reaching the public with their ideas. More freedom and alternatives in everyday items like our transportation will inspire the public to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.