Vintage Wheels #11: Deep Thoughts on Oil
My grandfather drove a gigantic Cadillac; a literal Leviathan of the road. The thing probably got 5 miles per gallon. He didn't care. Nobody cared until the oil crisis in the seventies. All of a sudden you saw economy cars littering the parking lots of America: AMC Pacers, VW Rabbits, Bugs, Chevettes and dare I speak its name.... Gremlins. Most were ugly as sin, but they were better on the pocketbook than those gas guzzling El Dorados.
Nowadays you find cars with names like Prius and hybrids like the Insight. It's all very "green" and Earth conscious, and less about saving dough. I mean, people in the 70's drove crap like the Mercury Bobcat because they were strapped for cash... not because they wanted to. Today, poor folks aren't buying the Prius', they're riding around in used and abused gas guzzlers.... the Cooper is out of their price range by a mile.
So, what's my point? My point is that I'm really curious about what's going to happen when this whole oil thing hits bottom again (which it inevitably will) in regards to our rides. Here's a few possibilities.
1. Prius' go for just under twenty grand. I'm sorry, but genuinely low income families will not be owning one of those. I can only assume truly economical cars will start hitting the market... Yugo equivalents, you could say.
2. Back in the seventies, an hour and a half commute was unheard of. No one spent anywhere near an hour in their car just to get to work! The urban sprawl has spread us out of the metropolitan areas and the adjacent 'burbs. Now people live in subdivisions and gated communities with rustic names like Deer Creek and Willow Brook far, far from the city center.
That type of everyday commute may not be practical anymore. Perhaps this will mean people will begin buying homes closer to work. This would be a win-win because of less gas consumption and a potential rejuvenation of downtown areas. This sort of thing is already happening where I live.
3. One thing that's undeniable is that there's a whole lot more people on the road today than ever before. Is it possible that public transit systems will begin to flourish? More people means more butts in seats paying money to ride.
We are at a critical point in our country's love-hate relationship with oil. We have three options:
(1) Continue being helpless junkies begging for more crude from our oil sheik pimps
(2) Drill, mother f#%*er! Drill!
(3) Come up with a fuel alternative. Maybe hydrogen bricks, maybe recycled waste, maybe pork chops and applesauce..... I don't care, just something for chrissake.
Anyone old enough to remember 1973 will recall the helpless feeling of the "great superpower" America being at the whim of OPEC. When we ditched the gold standard our dollar basically deflated. The Arabs decided to compensate for this by jacking up the price. Hence the Pacer, Gremlin, etc.
Surely we are not stupid enough to remain OPEC hoes much longer. And surely we're not so short sighted as to destroy our environment to satiate our oil dependence. So, that leaves #3 - come up with something innovative. With Osama Bin Laden sleeping with the fishes, it seems like as good a point as any to start making this a priorty. Bottom line: In 2035, I want the Jetson's spaceship not the new '36 Prius. Ya dig?