Environmental Engineering Reference
The move to a standardized automobile that everyone could afford
was more than an economic goal. In Europe it was also political. The
creation of a car for the people was a symbol of the masses promoted by
fascist and liberal governments. These people's cars included the British
Morris Eight and the Italian Fiat Topolino.
In the United States Ford and Chrysler tried to emulate the luxury cars
of Cadillac and Packard. The difference between the automobiles aimed
at the rich and the poor in Europe remained more distinct. Luxurious,
chauffeur-driven cars were produced by Rolls-Royce and Hispano Suiza
and contrasted with tiny cars produced for the low end of the market.
Cars for the masses tended to be as small as possible. Low fuel
consumption was also a key requirement of these vehicles. During the
postwar years many workers in Europe exchanged their bicycles and
motorcycles for cars. The postwar European people's car also became a
mark of national identity. The small cars of the 1950s had some features
in common but they were all distinctive and created for the roads that
had to carry them, such as the efficient autobahns of Germany or the less
developed rural roads of France. Few cars moved across national borders
in these years. A number of low-priced bubble cars appeared but many of
these were less than stable. There was some risk in driving these unstable
three-wheelers, but a number of Japanese microcars reappeared in the
1990s as the need to lower fuel consumption made them appealing once
The Japanese people's car was a product of the late 1950s and 1960s.
By the 1980s Japan had expanded its auto manufacturing and was the
world's second largest manufacturer of automobiles, after the U.S.
The auto was a major factor in the expansion of the suburbs in the
1950s. America had a corresponding need for increased mobility. A car was
needed to do the shopping and increased affluence made the purchase of a
car possible for many who had never owned one before.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s new kinds of automobiles appeared;
compacts, personal luxury cars and pony cars. These competed with the
sedans that had dominated in an earlier time. Cars in America from the late
1940s to the early 1960s were reproduced on an annual basis, like fashion
goods, in their attempts to outdo each other. They featured incremental
improvements which led to bigger and better cars for the consumer and
the age of fins. New colors such as pink, pale green and lemon yellow
tried to seduce consumers. Labor-saving devices, such as power steering
and electric windows also became popular. Lush interiors were directed