On a recent trip to England and the Isle of Man on a 1965 BSA 650 Thunderbolt, I saw the future--or at least the future American automotive landscape.
There were no outrageous concept cars brought to life (well, OK, a few Aston Martins, some Lotuses, numerous TVRs, and a Ferrari Owners Club parade through downtown London), but no flying cars--although a car that could also function as a boat, like the 1960s Amphicar, might have been useful considering the weather. The cars seen in the UK were much smaller than what we have here, and pickups and SUVs conspicuous by their absence. Vans, in sizes from truly micro to large, as exemplified by the Mercedes-Benz/Dodge Sprinter, took the place of our commercial pickups and utility vehicles.
Chrysler does have some market penetration with its Jeep Grand Cherokees, as both are sold in right-hand drive form. Land Rovers are used by farmers, not soccer moms. And most cars are what would be considered compact or smaller here, not midsize. Think Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit/Jetta, as medium-sized cars, with the smaller Polo being more numerous. A Toyota Camry is a big car on the other side of the Atlantic, and a Honda Accord is a much different and smaller automobile.
Why? Reason No. 1 is fuel cost. Signs on petrol (that's gasoline in British English) stations said anywhere from 1.12 to 1.26--that's in pounds Sterling (multiply dollars by two, more or less) and per liter. Multiply that almost two by almost four. That's over eight dollars a gallon for unleaded premium, and, as here, a bit more for diesel. Makes five bucks American seem like a deal. … Read more