How did the American car culture develop

American Cars

Cars are a universal product, but they are by no means the same everywhere. American cars are always too big, have far too powerful engines, and are considered impractical for city driving. The expanse of the American continent with its clear, wide streets and convenient parking options provide only a limited explanation, more of an excuse.

The car was invented in Europe, but mass production was established in America. In the 1920s and 1930s automobiles became a cornerstone of American society and began to develop a personality of their own. Not only was their function a selling point, but the most important thing was their design.

Even then, American cars were larger, more conspicuous and more affordable for the population than European cars. After the Second World War, this difference became even more pronounced. The size of America and the low energy prices at the time supported a development that made the car the most important means of transport.
"Sensible" cars were built in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, while America revered futuristic designs. The most important car feature of this time can be summed up in two words: the tail fin. The American Cars became the symbol of American way of life.

The heart of automobile manufacturing in the United States was in Detroit. There were more automobile manufacturers there than in France, England and Germany combined. The brands Cadillac, Pontiac, Ford, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Chevrolet, Dodge and Buick were the leading brands here. There was a bewildering variety of options and extras for each of these models.

Go ahead, go after or get out of the way!

American saying

The exciting thing was that America showed that for a few hundred dollars you can redesign any car so that you become distinctive.

They were legendary back then Muscle cars. The recipe for one Muscle cars was as simple as it was effective: big-block V8, rear-wheel drive, a crazy sound that does what it says on the tin. These types of cars are a peculiarity of US auto culture.
The first Muscle cars originated in 1964 and had nothing to do with road cruisers, tail fins and relaxed cruising. These cars, which were characterized by their unbelievable design - albeit without any bells and whistles (electric windows, electric seat adjustment, etc.) that were already common at the time - had great success. The telltale traces of nocturnal burn-outs were becoming increasingly apparent on the asphalt. It didn't even take them ten years Muscle cars to create an independent car culture. A culture that whistled for understatement, that was loud, rebellious and addicted to performance. They made it unmistakably clear to their astonished environment: I live in the fast lane! - Get out of my way!
These cars and their drivers quickly became the target of cops and insurance companies. They were the ideal cars for GIs returning from the Vietnam War. 1974 began the era of Muscle cars an abrupt end: new regulations, high insurance premiums and the oil crisis brutally ended their era.

I am fascinated by the sight of pure waste combined with this flair of a bygone era: a lot of glittering chrome, an incredible attention to detail, almost erotic shapes, infinite fuel consumption - anything but useful, but that makes sense again.
I really only like older cars that have a story, a character, are stubborn and headstrong, surprising and self-centered. Cars that keep imposing their will on me and turn every trip into an adventure.

Gerald Matt, US car fan

The American contradictions can also be well illustrated using the example of Henry Ford. Nobody had such a lasting influence on the development of the car and, later, on the development of modern industry as Henry Ford. His work as a car pioneer alone made him an impressive personality of his time. He was driven by the idea of ​​making a powerful and inexpensive vehicle accessible to every American.

Henry Ford was born June 30, 1863 to a farmer in Michigan. His technical talent was already very pronounced as a teenager. As a bad student he had to leave school at the age of 17. Then he began to work as an apprentice in a mechanical workshop. At that time he dreamed of a horseless carriage. Later he said himself: "My first wagon was like a farmer's wagon". The engine developed about four horsepower. The maximum speed was 30 km / h. He kept on experimenting, investing all his savings in his constructions and again and again found himself without an income. This step was all the more courageous as the automobile was largely viewed as a hobby in America and Europe. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company with three other men, but soon fell out with the other shareholders and went into business again. The Detroit Automobile Company was renamed Cadillac after he left.

Henry Ford rented a workshop and continued developing engines. In order to become known, he took part in car races with his self-developed cars. In 1903 he won his first race. A week later, the Ford Automobile Company was founded. Henry Ford was vice chairman, chief engineer, supervisor, draftsman and director all at the same time. In a rented carpentry workshop, the cars were basically just put together. The production of the individual parts took place according to his drawings and manufacturing specifications in various other factories.

Ford's advertisement was very simple:

The purpose of our work is to build and market an automobile specifically for everyday use and everyday use, for business, professional and recreational purposes for the family.
An automobile with sufficient speed to satisfy the average driver, which is admired by all men, women and children for its stability, simplicity, safety, practical convenience and, finally, its extremely cheap price.

In order to make his company known and expand it, races were held again and again. The Ford company flourished and grew. In 1911 he had sales of 18,000 cars. His breakthrough came with the T model. This model contained everything Henry Ford could muster in terms of ideas, skill and experience. He converted his entire production to this model. It was a resounding success. Now Henry Ford began a rationalization that had never been seen before in America.

He worked on an assembly line. For example, it took workers about 20 minutes each to assemble a flywheel magnet. This work was broken down into 29 individual tasks and the time for putting it together was reduced to 13 minutes. The assembly line production was optimized more and more hard, so that in the end the assembly time was only five minutes. The activities were divided into 48 individual tasks.

Henry Ford paid his workers well, but he prevented any participation and participation. He turned massively against unions in his company. In 1937, there was even a violent conflict between the Ford security department and the union United Auto Workers. Then there were court rulings against Ford, which forbade him to interfere with the plans of the unions. It was not until 1941 that a contractual agreement was reached between the entrepreneur Ford and the union.

The Ford Company participated in building up the German armed forces before World War II. In 1938 a production plant was opened in Berlin, the only task of which was to manufacture trucks for the Wehrmacht. Ford produced around 80,000 trucks and 15,000 tracked vehicles for the Wehrmacht. Forced laborers who were "borrowed" from the SS were also used in the Ford works. In July 1938 Henry Ford was honored with the highest distinction that the "German Reich" bestowed on foreigners during the Nazi era. The award was accompanied by a personal message of congratulations from Adolf Hitler.

Henry Ford, the ardent anti-union opponent and anti-Semite, found nothing in receiving congratulations from Adolf Hitler, but replied very appreciatively. When it came to profit, hatred of Jews, the cooperation with the dictator Adolf Hitler and the prevention of trade union rights were not a problem for the auto pioneer Henry Ford.