Henry Ford’s First Ford ► Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Three

Henry Ford driving his Quadricycle in 1896
Dateline June 4, 1896 – Henry takes his 1st Ford through
streets of Detroit.
From that moment forward ‘Merkins have adapted to the automobile, as opposed to
the other way around. Had the automobile been adapted to ‘Merkins instead:
  • Today we’d have fuel efficient cars that do not pollute the
    environment. However, the Big Three fought that at every turn. Throughout the ‘60s,
    ‘70s, ’80, ‘90s, & ‘00s, had the car companies spent that lobbying money on
    R&D instead, we might have Jetsons cars by now. Yet, they still haven’t
    perfected the electric car, which have been around for 100 years.
  • Had Detroit
    not ignored innovation that came from overseas, until it had almost devoured
    them. In Detroit,
    innovation meant cool cup holders and automatic windows. The game was to make
    cosmetic changes from model year to the next, but add features no one asked for
    to jack up the price.
  • The automobile also mean that our cities and towns no longer
    had to grow up, they could grow out. That we built our suburbs as wide-open
    expanses easily reached by car means we do not now have the population densities
    needed to make rapid transit a viable option.
In just about every way we can name the car has changed ‘Merkin
life, and not always for the better. We pay a big price for cars, beyond the
sticker price. Yet, ‘Merkins seem to ignore all those other costs because their
cars can now talk to them.
These thoughts are a wild summation of two books I highly
recommend:
  • The Reckoning, by David Halberstam tells the story of how Detroit didn’t see Japan coming. It takes a deep look
    into both the ‘Merkin and Japanese auto industries and their parallel development.

Other Entries:

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part One
Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Two

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Four

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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