Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment by Tom McCarthy

By Tom McCarthy

The twentieth-century American event with the car has a lot to inform us in regards to the courting among client capitalism and the surroundings, Tom McCarthy contends. In Auto Mania he offers the 1st environmental background of the auto that indicates how patron wish (and producer judgements) created affects around the product lifecycle—from uncooked fabric extraction to production to patron use to disposal.


From the provocative public antics of younger millionaires who owned the 1st vehicles early within the 20th century to the SUV craze of the Nineteen Nineties, Auto Mania explores advancements that touched the surroundings. alongside the way in which McCarthy examines how Henry Ford’s fetish for waste aid tempered the environmental affects of version T mass construction; how Elvis Presley’s broadly shared postwar hope for Cadillacs made concerns worse; how the Nineteen Seventies strength trouble harm small vehicles; and why child boomers missed concerns approximately worldwide warming.


McCarthy indicates that difficulties have been well-known early. the trouble was once addressing them, a question much less of doing clinical examine and instructing the general public than imposing options via America’s marketplace economic system and democratic govt. client and manufacturer pursuits have hardly ever aligned in necessary methods, and automakers and shoppers have made strong rivals of law. the outcome has been a combined list of environmental reform with troubling customers for the future.

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The roads were open to all, it was true, but previously all had meant mostly oneself and one's neighbors, not wealthy male strangers from elsewhere. Rural landowners had a legitimate proprietary interest in their roads. They found it especially galling to The Arrogance of Wealth have wealthy drivers speeding up and down their roads, frightening their horses and raising dust, or to have affluent tourists come and gawk at them, flaunting their wealth and privilege. 29 Although acts of popular resistance to the automobile added further "adven­ ture" to driving, in fact they took the pleasure out of the experience because they robbed the driver of a sense of mastery, which hurt the early automobilists where it counted most.

The rural market of farmers and small townspeople, as intended, provided most buyers in the car's first decade. The urban and suburban white-collar middle class provided a second market, although somewhat later. Farmers found the practical appeal of the Model T, in­ deed of any car at all, overwhelming. Time was money on the farm as elsewhere, and owning a car meant the difference between an all-clay wagon ride to town and back and an hour's automobile trip instead. In the early twentieth century rural Americans lacked access to high-speed transportation.

While middle-class Americans in urban and suburban areas were certainly attracted by the low price of the Model T, they generally lived in areas with ready access to high-speed transportation that they already used to get to work and to shop. Car ownership improved their transportation options but not as dramatically as it did for rural Americans. For the urban middle class a car remained largely A Monstrously Big Thing a recreational possession used on Sundays, holidays, and vacations. Moreover, white-collar Americans on salary experienced lost purchasing power in 19161920 due to the inflation brought on by World War I.

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