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Having given up long ago on resolutions concerning better diet and exercise habits, I like to focus my goals for the New Year to things that interest me. Specifically, that means cars. I have several perennial resolutions such as:
-Checking the tire pressures on my daily cars weekly
OK, we've talked about the old cars of our dreams and the new ones we aspire to. Now it's time to wish for car stuff. You know, things that have a chance of actually fitting under the tree. When I say car "stuff", a lot of people's thoughts immediately go to tools. Wrenches, ratchets, creepers, lights, etc. are all very cool but, due to my limited mechanical skills, are never high on my wish list.
Also, "stuff'" to me does not mean swag. NASCAR t-shirts, Ferrari driving shoes, Porsche fanny-packs and pre-frayed Ford Truck baseball caps all have their place but they don't qualify as "stuff".
It's that time of year and, for car guys*, there are endless lists of automotive related things to lust after. In trying to make my own personal wish list, I have tried to discipline myself into picking one thing from each category. Today's choice: an old car.
It was just announced by Toyota that they would be marketing a plug-in electric automobile in 2010, that is, a car that can be plugged into an electrical outlet for re-charging when not in use. Great ideabut it was done more than 100 years ago! At the turn of the century there were three types of horseless carriagescars powered by steam, electricity and the internal combustion engine. Steam was the proven power source. Electricity was all the rage, thanks, in part, to Thomas Edison. And while the internal combustion engine was getting better it was still smelly, erratic, noisy and hard to start. The electric car proved to be popular with women drivers in cities. They could drive the cars from their homes to downtown department stores or clubs, where charging stations had been installed; their cars' batteries could be charged while they did their business. Women loved electrics because they were easy to start, quiet and easy to operate. The last electric car was built in the U. S. in the early 1930's. Steam had proved to be too complicated. And the internal combustion engine jumped to number one with the invention of the self-starter. Several electric cars were manufactured in Cleveland for many years, including the Baker and the Rauch & Lang.