EDITOR'S NOTE: Our regular contributor Wallace Wyss puts on his futurist hat. Wyss is writing a book on autonomous cars and has some thoughts on where auto themed art will be when the "Takeover" is completed.
The Future of Car Art (...in the Age of Autonomous)
Right now, there are still plenty of old car fans: just go to Pebble Beach, The Amelia Island Concours, Goodwood Revival... every one of them is chock-a-block with fans that want to see cars that are 30, 40, 50, 60 years old.
They relish the sounds, the flash of an exhaust, the squeal of tires scrambling for traction, the color, the four wheel ambiance.
All that won't end in the Age of the Autonomous Car
, let's just say it will be uh, restricted, much more so than is the case now.
Of course, the first thing that will happen, starting around 2020, is that autonomous cars, by virtue of proving by way of court battles that they are superior to human-driven cars, will take over specific lanes reserved for autonomous cars. That will push those still piloting their own to fight for the remaining lanes.
Enthusiast cars? Those pesky car lovers. When will they get over it? That era's done for. The autonomous cars will have many built in "governors" for their powertrains to prevent such wanton and gratuitous displays of speed as burning rubber, two wheel drifts (and horrors, four wheel drifts) or speeding over the posted speed limit. Once the car is in autonomous mode, such actions will simply not be permitted by the robot at the wheel.
If the driver shuts off the autonomous control, which he or she can do now on a Tesla, the robot won't take that insult lightly, it will (by revenge?) record every microsecond of the driver's actions and duly inform the authorities of the violations, i.e. "And on Woodward Ave., do you know we went 75 mph as he crossed 15-Mile road?" As well as self ticket the driver. As violations and unpaid tickets mount, the autonomous car, good citizen that it is, will revoke the car owner's driving privileges and the car will be impounded and sold to a more obedient citizen that will toe the line.
Now for car artists, the picture is not entirely bleak. As autonomous cars become more and more common, those remaining high performance cars will be celebrated by enthusiasts who will grow more passionate about these last great steeds of the highway and want paintings and sculpture of their finest moments . Automakers will make some last performance models with 12 cylinder, or 16 cylinder engines, cars able to top 200 mph with grandiose flamboyant styling. It will be like prewar Europe in the age of Delage and Delahaye — let's make hay while the town burns! Think of the 16-cyl. Prototype Cadillac GM made in recent years or the Chrysler Atlantic.
These kinds of cars are a sort of "take this" to the autonomous crowd.
But then, around 2025, the Huntdown
will occur as those remaining drivers of un-autonomous cars are hunted down and their cars confiscated and crushed as Enemies of the State
. The only high performance cars that will escape are those with some autonomous features but for the autonomous crowd, their high performance capability will still be viewed as threatening to orderly driving.
Oh, there will be a few examples remaining that are still allowed to run at dedicated race tracks, but even then the ecologists will insist they have ecology-oriented engines that are clean as a whistle and also silenced in sound, no louder than a bird chirping.
Then all we will have is the art...
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has authored 16 car books. He is currently working on a book on the autonomous car revolution and is in search of a publisher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org