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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Truth About Cars Low Tech, No Tech

"visor1.jpgOne afternoon, while watching a radar-controlled German ubersedan drive itself, the fading sun struck my eyes. Surrounded by microprocessors, solenoids, relays, pumps, controllers, fans, sensors, circuit boards and endlessly coursing electrons, I did what every driver must do: I reached up for a vinyl-covered board and pivoted it down to cover a small patch of windshield through which I now could no longer see. Excuse me? The $105k four-door was crowded with technology, all of it entertaining, much of it only occasionally useful. Yet no one had thought to correct, improve, replace, redesign or reconceptualize a device as primitive as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ blinders. What’s that all about?

In an era when even ordinary sunglasses readily change their opacity, and upmarket carmakers play pointless electroluminescent tricks with sunroofs, we still lower plastic panels in front of our face to block the sun on the windshield. You can't see through sunvisors. They cover only limited areas of the windshield. And because they pivot on a mechanical device as sophisticated as a drawer-pull, you can move them through, at best, two axes. In short, the sunvisor is a low-tech nightmare that needs immediate attention. In this it is not alone.

My first car was a 1936 Ford Phaeton. The vehicle had rubber strips on metal sticks that flapped back and forth to sort of clear the water off the windshield. The aforementioned 2007 supersedan has rubber strips on metal sticks that flap back and forth to sort of clear the water off the windshield glass. I've piloted Learjets that didn't have windshield wipers; they use artfully directed hot air. On final approach in the rain– the only time you're bothering to clear the windshield in a jet– the Lear wasn't going any faster than any big Mercedes, BMW or Audi."
read the rest......
"The Truth About Cars Low Tech, No Tech:"


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