Classic Cars: New and Useless – Automobiles of the Future

If you didn’t run out and buy a four-wheel drive vehicle this winter, you are my hero, because this was a test for all of us old-school drivers who grew up in a world without four-wheel drive. We are the tough ones who knew how to rock a car through the gears to get out of a snowbank. We are the experts in heating a car key with a match so it would slide into a frozen car’s door lock.

That was then, and this is now, so we “old schoolers” must accept all the new technology and not weep over the loss of vent windows, fat white-wall tires, three-on-the-tree stick shifts, plus the now defunct Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles. This article will enlighten you to some truly amazing new and useless stuff that is appearing in our new cars. The future is here.

Mercedes-Benz, the people who actually invented the automobile, have outdone themselves with their new S Class Panzer tank of a car. This model Mercedes has always been the Hamptons’ “Volkswagen,” or peoples’ car, a world leader in chic engineering. However, this new S Class machine has actually angered the COA (Chauffeurs of America Union), because the thing almost drives itself. There are more video cameras and sonar sensors mounted on this cars bodywork than in Studio B at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

When you back this baby up, the onboard video screen gives you an overhead live video shot of where you are heading. Truly amazing. Steven Spielberg should own this car. It creates special effects as you drive. The steering wheel will actually tug in your hands if it senses you are doing something wrong. The side mirrors will flash yellow and red triangles that warn of impending side danger. The breaking system will stop the car all by itself if you are about to have a collision.

While all this is going on, the front seat will give you a back massage and the rear seat will turn into an actual home recliner. Don’t think you can take a nap while driving this technical wonder. This bad boy Benz actually senses if you are getting drowsy and awakens you. There’s a lot more, but this is a short article and I refuse to go into detail about the perfume the new Mercedes S Class will spray in the cabin on command. Really!

A new Mini is out. But hold on, the Mini is getting bigger. Maybe BMW, the makers of the Mini, don’t get it. People like the Mini because it’s, well, er, mini, as compared to the average car. It seems some buyers have complained that the Mini is too small, which is absolutely absurd. After all, why did they think it was called a Mini? Why did they buy the thing in the first place? A big part of the appeal of the original 1959 Austin Mini, which was considerably smaller than the new BMW Mini, was its diminutive size and its very clever packaging. Small is cute, small is smart in today’s green world, and small is very European.

The original Mini had one of the longest production runs of any car ever made, and in 30 years never grew an inch. Like the Porsche 911, people loved the shape. BMW, you have a great little car. Learn from the past and keep your hands off its size. By the way, check out the new 1500cc thre-cylinder turbo motor in the new base Mini. It’s hot, very au courant and a bargain.

There’s an overabundance of technology being put into automobiles today. Some good, some bad, some that save lives and some that are actually dangerous. Of course, all of this razzmatazz comes at a price. More details in my next article.

Send your automotive questions and answers to bobgelber@aol.com.

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