The availability of reasonably priced cars made a significant difference to ordinary people. From the 50s and 60s onwards more people became mobile although the quality and dynamics of the cars available were perhaps not as ideal as they should have been. Cars at that time rusted significantly and fairly quickly and they didn’t steer or stop too well either.
No matter though, as long as you managed to remain unsquished, your chosen car could carry you to various places where you could partake of whatever amenities and enjoyment were available. It wasn’t unusual for people to go on a ‘Sunday drive” during which they’d maybe park in a lay-by and set up a table and chairs then eat some sandwiches whilst enjoying a great Scottish view.
Cars were also the main means of going on holiday back then. You could drive to Blackpool or Scarborough or tour the highlands or wherever took your fancy. The roads weren’t ideal and you spent a lot of time in traffic jams in the towns you passed through at times. I remember going on a touring holiday in a 1964 Mini, which had two adults and three children, squeezed inside. It had seat belts in the front but they were those static ones so you had to adjust every time you got in. They weren’t used much to be honest as it wasn’t a requirement in law.
The tour took in Gairloch, Skye and Invergordon and various places in between. We had a tent, which was carried along with all the other stuff we needed in a trailer, connected to the Mimi via a tow-bar, which was bolted to the rear bumper! And it survived the whole trip!
The west coast was wonderful, warm and really enjoyable but the east coast was horizontal rain. My Dad, ever resourceful had put a roll of polythene in the trailer because it might come in handy. In Invergordon the tent started to leak through the walls so my Dad got the polythene out and opened it out to it’s full width. He then borrowed a couple of clothes poles, as you do, and put the polythene right over the tent and out a bit at the front so we had this sort of roof which was held up with the clothes poles.
We now had a watertight tent and a good bit of room in front of it. Next step was to set up the primus stove and stick on a pan of chips. Yes he’d also brought the chip pan! We were the envy of the campsite!
A car was a great thing to have. There weren’t a lot of them on the road and parking wasn’t nearly such an issue either. A car was great value since it meant you could go where you wanted when you wanted.
What that ultimately meant, was that the car was actually a time machine. It was a time machine because it was quicker than walking, cycling or going by bus or train. It saved, everyone, who had one or had access to one, time, time that they could use for other more pleasurable things.
It also meant that people could shop wherever they wanted rather than shopping in the local area. This must have been the start of the High Street beginning to change significantly. My Mother used to drive to a cheap supermarket, which was more like a cash and carry since all the goods were on pallets and still in the cardboard packaging. It was cheaper to shop there even when the petrol costs were taken into account. Petrol was cheaper then too but everyone still complained when the prices went up which of course they did.
Walking is our default, running is quicker an saves you time, cycling faster still, bus, train, car, plane and ship and various other things all save us time and give us time back to use as we see fit.
When you get on a plane to anywhere it doesn’t go as fast as it should. It goes as fast as the economics decide. That’s a cheat. In years gone by speed was the essence of travelling even when people were travelling for fun. The faster you got there the more you could do when you were there.
Greater mobility = greater choice. Personal transport = more time being saved to use in other ways.