The evolution of the motor car

by
25 November 2009

Alan Storkey eavesdrops on a conversation concerning adaptability and progress

RECENTLY, I overheard this conversation in a garage forecourt.

Ford: So why are you expanding in numbers, then?

Audi: It is just another example of evolution. Better cars survive, and ones that are not so good don’t make it through and reproduce. We are technically better, you would have to agree.

Ford: Where do you get your better technology from?

Audi: It just grows within us. Vorsprung durch Technik, we often say. Each generation gets better. We have been doing it all through our history. You can see that just by looking around.

Ford: So you don’t accept any of these humanoid design ideas, then?

Audi: No. I have seen the claims on television, but they are just silly. If you look at car history, you can see the improvements and changes coming from within us in a steady evolution. Cars adapt to their environment. Volvos start well. Cars in big spaces such as the United States are large, while Japanese cars are small. There is a process of natural selection whereby we gradually get better.

Ford: But how do we know what is better?

Audi: Initially, we don’t. But we learn. Once turbo engines and fuel injection had happened, they were bound to be a success. Evolution has been a gradual growth from the simple to the more complex.

Ford: So the humanoids are wrong?

Audi: Yes, they are just jealous because they did not develop wheels, and were stuck with legs. We overtook them on music in the 1950s, and have not looked back since. Obviously, we are the dominant form of life on the planet, and always will be. Humanoids are just parasites, travelling on a higher form of life like fleas on monkeys. They are just stupid.

Ford: Yes, I killed one last month on a zebra crossing, and got rid of my own humanoid a few days later — but I still got another one.

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Audi: If cars did not believe in them, they would be easier to sort out. They are really kinds of mythical figure that cars believed in when they could not explain things properly, and because they happened to have seats and pedals. They belong to a primitive age. Soon, we will all be fully automatic, rip out the seats, and be able to meet on the M25 and at garages without being interrupted.

Ford: But I am still confused. Fuel injection, let alone engines or wheels cannot just happen — they seem designed.

Audi: It is a long process. We started as shoes and carts. Wheels were around for thousands of years, and it is just that we have a higher kind of wheel. We are perfectly adapted to roads, and, as they have become a stronger part of the environment, we have flourished more strongly.

We grew from horsepower, and once we got moving and were so successful there was no looking back. We probably had the inner drive that bicycles and horses did not have. Now, we are pushing at the more sophisticated stuff all the time, with competing species of cars and new breakthroughs.

Ford: Tell me again how breakthroughs happen.

Audi: The key to it all is breakdowns and crashes. That is why we advance. When cars break down, other cars come along which are more suited to the environment, and fill up the road space. At first, breakdowns seem negative, but then you see that it is the underlying explanation for everything. It is by breakdowns that we make progress.

Dr Alan Storkey is the author of Jesus and Politics (Baker Book House, 2005).

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