Our Consultant Editor sets out his stall.
“May You Live In Interesting Times” is an apocryphal Chinese curse popularised by Bobby Kennedy and it would have to be said that, for the motor industry at least, these are indeed Interesting Times. For much of the World, the single, most relevant, life-changing invention of the late 19th Century was personal propelled transport. The freedom granted by the ability to move reasonable distances, affordably and independently, might be summed up crudely by the British politician, Norman Tebbit’s infamous, so-called ‘Get On Your Bike’ speech but, for Western Society, the vehicle for change was generally the motor car.
On 3 July 1886, Karl Benz unveiled his Motorwagen and, in 1908, the Ford Model T was released. In 1981, IBM produced the first PC and, in 1989, the first Internet Service Provider appeared so, although we can’t fix a single date, after about 100 years the car’s dominance as our most prominent and controversial life changer was usurped. Today, Sir Norman’s dad would go online to look for that job.
But still the car runs on. The economic situation in the West, combined with the opening up of other markets, notably China, has seen a huge shift in emphasis, both in terms of manufacturing and of demand. The established Western manufacturers have reacted to this in different ways, some that suggest reasonable foresight, others that suggest blind panic. However, to mention individual companies would be foolish since, by the time you read this, they may no longer exist, such is the swathe that is being cut through the status-quo.
Does the car have a future? That’s probably as sensible as asking if the fridge has a future, but that does then beg the question as to how many fridge websites you visit. Manufacturers try hard to retain our interest but, with a creaking road infrastructure and environmental concerns, will the car of tomorrow be anything more than just another radically prescribed appliance? Is that the case already? In some ways, was it always so?
Our intention is to feature original written contributions illustrating why the motor car, and indeed other related forms of wheeled transport, have held our fascination for so long. To have found your way here, it might be assumed that you are an enthusiast, petrolhead or whatever term you might choose, but that might not be so. In any case, you are welcome.
We have no firm agenda and only consider these pages worthwhile if they reflect as wide range of opinion as possible. So we welcome contributions from die-hard enthusiasts, from dissenters, from engineers, from lay people, from whoever feels they have something to say and is willing to spend a bit of time putting it into a considered form.
We hold the view that, in a world increasingly disinclined to take the time over anything longer than a few characters, there remains a place for something that has been more crafted – preferably with some passion.
We are Driven to Write – we hope you find something to interest you within these pages and that, perhaps, you may find yourself inspired to do likewise.
Simon A. Kearne