They’re big, expensive, and breath-taking marvels of engineering, but to view automobiles purely as transportation is to miss their essence. Cars are the first true freedom of the adolescent, and throughout our adult years they continue to represent escape, the ability to speed away from responsibilities and cares. It’s no wonder Detroit constantly plays upon this theme in its advertising — they know it sells!
Automobiles are both a means of getting from one place to another and a place in themselves, making them both conveyance and cocoon. We sing along to the radio in them, something we’d likely not dare to do at home. Our first passionate encounters take place in them. And when all other resting places fail us, we sleep in them. Automobiles are as much about private inviolate space as they are about transportation.
The importance of automobiles in our lives secures their place in the lore of our times. They are both practical and whimsical, reliable and frightening, mundane and exciting, necessary and exotic, commonplace and mysterious. They are, in other words, the mechanical expression of humanity.