As a child, I had a strong affinity for 1960’s muscle cars.  My favorite was the late 1960’s Corvette Stingray.  I was completely taken by the hood curves and the oversized engine block of this unique car.  It really wasn’t like any other car I’d ever seen.

In a pre-internet world, I used to drive around with my father searching for these exotic looking muscle cars and taking pictures of them on a disposable camera.  For the majority of my childhood I had several dozen Corvette pictures, stuck to the wall in my bedroom.  At night I would gaze up at them and imagine the day I would have a chance to ride in one.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to ride in a few of these beautiful machines.  First was my father-in-law’s ’70 Corvette a few years back and this past weekend, in Denver, I had the chance to go for a ride in my uncle-in-law’s Corvette.  It was a perfectly maintained 1969 green t-top with the 350 cubic inch engine rated at 300 horsepower.

Riding down the highway in this beast of a car, I had an unexpected epiphany: the technology in this car didn’t really work quite right.

For instance:

  • There wasn’t much room in the car and it actually felt a bit cramped
  • There was no air conditioning
  • The engine got so hot that it actually started heating up the passenger compartment
  • There was no side mirror on the passengers side
  • There were only lab-belts (no shoulder seat-belts)
  • The windshield wipers were small and didn’t actually do a very good job of clearing the rain from the windshield.
  • The car needed an after-market electric fuel pump to start correctly
  • Originally the car took leaded gasoline, so stainless steel exhaust pipes had to be installed to accommodate the transition to unleaded gas
  • Around tight turns the entire chassis rocked back and forth like a boat on rough water

Also – in addition to technology that didn’t quite work right, the car also had extra experimental features that never caught on.

  • The windshield wipers are hidden below a vacuum powered cover that slid up and out of the way to expose the wipers
  • The headlights are hidden in the hood and appear to back-flip into position when turned on

The late 1960’s were really still developing days of automotive technology.  Like the developing days of any technology, some things didn’t work quite right and some things turned out to be superfluous.

After my joy ride was over, I climbed back into my 2014 Toyota Corolla rental car to drive back to my hotel.  As I turned the key, the car started instantly.  The air-conditioning automatically came on, adjusting to the heat outside to cool me off.  The smooth modern suspension glided easily over the same bumps that had caused the Corvette to rock violently.  Shifting the car into reverse, a rear mounted camera showed me what was behind me on the dashboard’s LCD screen.  And as I buckled my modern 3-point seatbelt I thought to myself: time solves all technology problems.

Developing Technology