Can you imagine a greater contrast than that between vehicles from Ford Motors and those from Tesla, Inc.? With the dates of their respective foundings (1903 and 2003) separated by exactly 100 years, the two companies together in many respects encapsulate the full gamut of vehicle design and engineering evolution since the beginning of the automobile industry to the present day.
You may or may not know that Japanese car maker Honda also owns the Acura brand. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that, superficially at least, the Honda and Acura lineups bear some striking similarities. Indeed, some people say they are indistinguishable. Though Acura cars incorporate some of the same parts used in equivalent Honda models, and are manufactured to Honda levels of quality, the main difference is that Hondas are built for functionality whereas Acuras are built for luxurious comfort. Thus, Acura offers features not automatically available in Honda cars, such as more built-in entertainment options and power seats that can be heated or cooled.
Most automobile afficionados know that Hyundai and Kia are both South Korean car companies. They may also know that Hyundai is a part-owner of Kia, as a result of the latter’s 2007 bankruptcy. It should come as no surprise, then, that comparable models of each car maker share similar if not identical basic body structures. And while Kia does still operate independently and has a separate design workshop, marketing, and branding, both companies offer the same 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
Some car owners are loyal to the Nissan brand. Others swear by Infiniti. Yet, at first glance, the Nissan and Infiniti model lineups look very much alike. Aside from the fact that Infiniti vehicles cost somewhat more than equivalent Nissans, what’s the difference?
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
— Lao Tzu
Nostalgia is a funny thing. The distant, sepia-toned past, viewed through the lens filter of sentimental longing, resembles nothing so much as a kind of paradise lost, where life seemed somehow easier, simpler, more beautiful, less tragic—and much less expensive. If you remove the filter, however, and gaze at that past with detached objectivity, it quickly becomes apparent that the “good ol’ days” are almost never quite as good as they’re cracked up to be. The American automobile is a case in point.
If you think about it, U.S. cars made between the turn of the last century right up until the 1960s were really little more than horse buggies with internal combustion engines and an outer skin of painted steel, and maybe a little wood thrown in for old time’s sake. Sure, vintage cars are fun to look at; but does anyone really want to go back to a time when sporty tailfins meant “style” and a speedometer, tachometer, and analog clock in the dashboard were considered the cutting edge of creature comforts?