How automobiles shaped American culture?

Of the many factors responsible for our lifestyle today, the influence of the automobile is hardly given any credit. There’s hardly any other invention in the world that has had an impact on so many lives like cars have had. The automobile wasn’t invented in the United States, yet the US was and continues to be one of the largest automobile markets in the world. And not just for new cars, the US also has the largest used car market in the world. Moreover, you would find all types of cars here; right from used electric cars to used hybrid cars for sale, this country has a vivid taste for its cars.

It all started after World War 2. Until then, even though the Ford Model T had got many Americans on wheels, the automobile was still just accessible for the well-off and the elite. Post War, Europe was devastated and was in a great financial depression. European and Asian automakers could only find good buyers and good roads where the cars could run only in the United States and they saw great potential for selling cars here in the US. The American governments too saw great potential in terms of employment generation and cash flow with the auto companies and thus invited automakers to the country. And that’s how today, cars have become an indispensable part of our lives and have literally transformed the way we live.

The first and biggest impact that the automobile had was on the country’s infrastructure. The car needed roads to run on and that led to the development of an extensive network of paved roads and highways. Also during the war, when most men were out of the country on duty, women took up jobs that traditionally only men were allowed to. Women were no longer just confined to the four walls of the home but had to travel to work. Cars enabled women to get out of their homes, explore and work. Thus, the automobile can be credited for empowering women during times of war and liberalizing society for the coming decades.

Cars in the United States gave birth to the concept of drive-in or drive-thru restaurants. Well, we’ve all been at one of these as kids and as adults and have spilled drinks and food in the car at least once. Now, drive-ins and drive-thrus are very common in our country but they aren’t quite so common in the other parts of the world. The concept of drive-ins and drive-thrus dates back about 100 years and such restaurants started growing back in the 1920s. Drive-thrus were very convenient for people as they could just pick up food quickly and be driving to their destination. Automobiles need to be given all the credit for transforming the restaurant industry.

Once, there was access to cars and when there were good roads and when there was food available easily, people found the idea of going on long trips with friends and family really exciting. And that’s how the culture of road tripping set in. Americans love traveling and exploring new places and it’s the popularization of the automobile that enables us to visit places and explore. People hit the roads every summer and set out on a trip to escape from the daily hustle and bustle. Road tripping is something that all Americans look forward to at least once a year and it has become a part of our lifestyle.

Out of many things that Americans consider to be of national pride, NASCAR is also one of them. NASCAR racing is different from all the famous racing events that are there around the world. While motorsports events like Formula One and WEC require purpose-built cars, NASCAR is about racing the cars that Americans drive on the streets. NASCAR is about racing the cars built on American soil with American metal. NASCAR is the most popular sport in the country and its viewership has at times been higher than American football. There is no doubt that we truly love watching our cars race.

Car manufacturers found huge potential for selling their cars to the youth of the country. The trend began back in the late 50s and 60s where teens and young adults were lured with cars and owning and driving one was deemed as cool. Suddenly, car ownership was a part of the teen culture in the United States and every teenager wanted to drive a cool car. Moreover, this trend led to many changes in clothing, fashion, movies, and music. Driving a car was the ultimate cool quotient back then and continues to be so even today amongst young adults.

Finally, the automobile ultimately reflects the core values of our country- liberty, and freedom. The automobile isn’t just a machine for transportation; it’s a medium for exploring everything that’s around us; it is a means for escaping from mundane life and finding new paths, new people, and new places. In a way, the automobile has played a very important role in enforcing the ideals that our country pledges to stand by. The automobile is all about freedom and independence and that’s what America truly stands for.

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