I think I am turning into my mum! The older I am getting the more I find myself looking back in time and comparing and contrasting events from the past and almost – but not quite- uttering those well rehearsed words which my mum often says – “eeeee – when I was younger!” Not wanting to let this blog post dissolve into things were better or worse when I was younger, I wanted focus not on myself but on something which has definitely, no matter how old you are, improved with time. Cars!
It is important to note right at the start of this post that I am not a car fanatic or a great follower of Top Gear. I came late to driving, spending the majority of my late teens and early twenties going everywhere on a bike, with carriers draped over the rack behind my seat. When I did eventually learn how to drive and pass my test, that’s a whole blog post in itself, I invested in my first car through the guidance of my sister’s boyfriend a Nissan Sunny Coupe! – that’s the name of the car, not my sister’s boyfriend. It was sleek, red and broke a lot and cost me a huge amount of money. The gearbox and the back windscreen wiper didn’t work properly, and it did not come with an in car stereo! When I left my first job, they actually bought me one! As I was driving for my coffee this morning I suddenly realised how much cars have progressed – not referring to their size, sleekness or economy, but to the gadgets and ‘frills’ that you now get. So, looking back, this is what I remember and what has changed.
I do remember travelling to my final teaching placement in what I called the jelly mould car
Windows and Air Con – I saw on Facebook the other day, an image of a handle which you used to use to wind down the window in a car. Yes that’s correct. You actually used to have to wind them down, no button to press or automatic closing procedures, you had to use a physical action. I do remember travelling to my final teaching placement in what I called the jelly mould car (I did warn you that I am no top gear expert!) when the windows actually flipped up and got caught with a dongle – so the window was either open or closed. Nothing in between. When it was hot during summer, and I was driving my Nissan, I used to have to decide whether I was going to open my window on the passenger side of the car before I left the car park or not. The advantage of opening it was the benefit of having a through draft on the drive home. The disadvantage was that if it started to rain, I used to have to pull over and shut it before I got soaking wet! Now we have air con which keeps the car super cool – perfect – through any of the hot weather we experience within the UK. There was a ‘gadget’ that I used inbetween winding windows and air con – the sun roof! I never had an automatic one, just one with a winding handle which lifted a small section of the roof up to provide some flow of air. I do remember often feeling a lot hotter with it open since it let direct sunlight straight into the car. Now I can control all the windows in my car with a touch of several buttons. Mines not a fancy car, but I’m sure there will be a time when these windows open and close automatically – especially when it starts to rain!
if the adverts are to be believed, with no button press at all!
Alarms and locks – I once had a car which was broken into three times within three weeks. The local community police officer came round three times and gave me three pieces of advice. One, leave nothing valuable in the car. Two, open everything so it is obvious there is nothing valuable in the car and, finally, get an alarm fitted. I did used to protect my car. I had a huge yellow device which used to click over the steering wheel which would prevent the thief driving away in the car. Unfortunately they didn’t actually want to steal the car they wanted to steal the contents within. Alarms worry me. Whenever I hear a rogue alarm going off, whether this be a car alarm or a house alarm, I stop what I am doing to go and check that it is not my car. It was only when I went to change my car for an upgrade and asked whether the new car would have an alarm was I informed that my previous car didn’t have one! I still wonder to this day what I thought I was turning on and off! My first car, I used to go around and physically lock either from the inside or the out, the two doors and boot. Now, with the event of centrally locking, everything is done which a press of a button or even, if the adverts are to be believed, with no button press at all! The car also appears to since the time delay between you pressing the button and opening the door since it will automatically lock it again if the delay is too long. I do like central locking, especially when it is raining and everyone is running to the car and you can press the button at a distance and let everyone in. Sometimes my mum still waits outside the passenger door for me to get in and ‘unlock’ it from the inside. This has probably led to the use of that well used phrase – “it’s open!”
Radios and extras – I mentioned in the opening section, that my first car didn’t have a radio. It is interesting how, as products evolve, they start to include more and more gadgets. Once a car was something which you used to get quickly from one location to another. Now they come equipped with sound systems, DVD players in the back of seats, navigational controls and even robotic text readers. You might not remember CDs but one ‘gadget’ I always wanted, but never got, was a multi CD changer which actually went in the boot of the car. This allowed for several CD to be ‘loaded’ up before the journey which you could then flick between as you drove, instead of having to manually change them. Now we can change tracks, adjust volume and even answer our phones from the steering wheel. As mobile phones have developed, these too have been integrated into the car. I used to have to attach a device which I affectionately called a ‘parrot’ to my sun visor which would connect to my phone and allow me to take calls – ‘hands free’. Now, I get into the car and after a while, the radio panel flashes confirmation that my contacts have been imported and, as I leave the car, it sends me a reminder to ‘Remember my mobile phone’. Surely it will be only a matter of time before we get into the car and it will ask – “please state your destination”.
I’m not a great driver at all. I’m so bad that I actually avoid doing it and worry about silly things like parking, navigating and crashing. Walking is a lot easier or being a passenger. In my perfect world, as mentioned in my millionaire blog post, I would have a chauffeur to drive me places – not because I am posh but just because I am so bad at driving. As cars evolve then they are becoming more and more automated. With parking sensors and cameras my worries about parking could be lessened – although I would need enough money to actually buy a car with these features. Until that time, I think I will probably stay with something which is semi modern and technical. My current car might not park itself or have an internal system which navigates to my destination so it might be seen as less advanced compared to the car you are currently driving or been driven in. But, as I look back over the years, the cars have come a long way from my Nissan Sunny with its winding windows, lack of sound system and doors which you actually had to use a key to lock. In another twenty years when I am due to hang up my spurs (license) I might not actually need to drive since the car might actually drive itself. Jonny cabs for ever!
So, what was your first car? Do you remember it? Do you give your cars names? Are you as bad as driving as I am? As always, it would be great to hear the answers to these questions, your thoughts on cars or any comments about the post. Please add them in the comments below or on any of the social media sites which I frequent.
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Have fun and I’ll catch you later and, until then, consider yourself waffled…