Quarantine and Cars

Right now, everyone all over the world has a story to tell. Citizens everywhere have developed a coping mechanism and a schedule to deal with the pandemic.

Practicing social distancing and self-quarantine has managed to transform Americans from a gregarious society to cloistered people.

While stuck here at home, I like so many of my friends and neighbors have spent many hours pouring over old photos and reminiscing about the good old days. Many vintage photos depict my family and the family car.

As I continue to self-quarantine, I also continue to reminisce. I’m from Detroit and always have looked forward to the auto show that takes place every year; however, I get the feeling that today’s teenagers aren’t that interested.

Everybody is stressed about COVID-19, so I thought I’d share some thoughts that have absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic. 

Detroit cars

The Detroit 2020 Auto Show scheduled for June in downtown Detroit’s TCF Center is canceled due to the COVID-19 virus. And TCF, the 17th largest convention faculty in the United States, is now being converted into a hospital setting similar to the Javits Center in New York. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will maintain the TCF Center as a field hospital for at least the next six months. This Auto Show usually attracts over 800,000 paying visitors to experience all things automotive.

When I was about eight years old, I desperately wanted to drive a car. I remember my father buying a 1954 Mercury Sun Valley sedan. Only 9,761 models were assembled, and it came in only two color choices; Yosemite Yellow or Bloomfield Green Metallic. We had a yellow one. I recall being more excited about that car than my dad, because of the unique roof (it was super cool). It had a green-tinted acrylic roof that allowed star gazing and a view that as a passenger was more exciting than staring out the side window.

Sun valey clasic cars

Apparently, the ads for the Sun Valley in 1954 agreed.

“ You’ve seen pictures of dream cars of tomorrow, but you couldn’t buy them. Now Mercury presents America’s first transparent top car to be put into regular production.”

“You stop for a traffic light. You glance up through the top at the overhead signal. It turns green, and you continue your pleasant journey-completely, wonderfully at ease.”

It sounds so strange today when almost any model of automobile can be purchased with a sunroof. But this was 1954, the debut year for color tv and passenger jet travel.

This Mercury dream car was certainly innovative at the time, with a military-grade plexiglass roof and constructed on a strengthened convertible chassis. Oddly enough, Motor Trend Magazine had this to say about the new concept roof. The light inside was “kind of weird and may cause many a young lady to check her makeup. She might as well switch to green lipstick “ because of the green hue from the plexiglass.

I still have fond memories of this vintage car and wish I had it today (hopefully, my wife sees this 🙂

My father, on the other hand, often reminisced about his favorite mode of transportation. He drove, or more accurately rode as a teenager; (it only had one horsepower), his beloved horse. He explained to me that the scar he had over his eye was from a neighbor’s horse kicking him, and not from his treasured horse. My father grew up on a farm in an earlier generation, and he preferred horses over cars. He had a lifelong bond with farmland and farm animals, particularly horses. This was a special bond that was cemented with blood and soil.

Horse power car
Horse power

My own children look at a car as just another lease payment to make each month. They don’t care about the make or model; they lease the model that has the best deal available at the time.

And now, my grandchildren are exclusively interested in electric self-driving automobiles, like Tesla. YouTube had a video of a gentleman sleeping soundly in autopilot mode, while his Tesla S was barreling down the freeway. That’s what the kids want today.

With the airlines flying on a skeleton schedule and with the absolute need to practice social distancing, a self-driving car is sounding better and better.

Mercedes Benz introduced a vehicle at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in 2015, named the F015. This car is a visionary vehicle that has variable seating arrangements that could be configured to sleeping berths in lieu of seats. This zero-emissions vehicle can become an autonomous Schlaffenwagen or sleep vehicle.

Mercedes car
Mercedes-Benz F015 – Luxury in Motion

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, explained.

“The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.”

The Volvo 360c concept car asks on its website: “Why fly when you can be driven?” These concept cars has four unique interior themes, including a “Sleep” adaptation. This sleep adaptation would include lay-flat seats similar to a first-class airline seat. Dr. Mikael Ljung Aust, a researcher at Volvo Car Safety Centre in Sweden, stated: “ We don’t really know if people can actually sleep in moving cars,…They can sleep on trains and planes, and on ships …” Good question, since we all know at least one child who always got car-sick.

For now, during the COVID 19 pandemic, I can dream about the past and pray for a future. I need to keep safe and stay home in my very own “lay-flat bed.” I dream of getting back on the road and taking a long, long drive in my next new car because my lease is actually up.

Everything is on hold because saving my life, and those of others means that I do my part and stay at home!

Featured grant

Ford Fund Grant: Grants to USA nonprofits and government entities for programs and projects related to education, automotive safety, and community needs. Funding is intended for innovative solutions to community concerns that enhance opportunities for those who live in the areas where the Funding Source operates.