NO MORE PLEASURE CARS?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
By "The Inspector."
ISUPPOSE IT would be a matter of considerable argument as to whether the motorcar was originally introduced with the object of filling a commercial need, or whether it was merely with the idea of pandering to the desires of sport-loving peoples. I am afraid that I have relatively only a hazy notion of the respective claims which figure in technico-historical text books as accounting for the fi-st motorcar types. Claims on behalf of those very early pioneers who produced road locomotives, which, from the line of drawings that are all we have to go by, appear to be a cross between a steam roundabout out for an airing and an ice-cream cart presided over by a crew of gentlemen in high hats, stocks, tail coats and spats, interest me only moderately. I imagine that these very early machines were intended to be pleasure cars. Some of them, I remember to have seen presented disguised as mail coaches, but I think none of them were primarily designed "for the carriage of goods or husbandry."
The pleasure car was certainly first in the field, and jumping ahead from those early pioneers over the period in which inventive progress was so effectually checked by lawyer-contrived obstacles, and arriving at the period when the red flag Act disappeared, a great many of us can recall the earliest real motorcars in all their fearful and wonderful shapes. We have then arrived at a period of very definite and practical development, but it was once again with a view to carrying passengers that new types were being contrived and designed. The early volumes of THE COMMER-CIAL Moron form an excellent historical record of the endeavours which thereafter were soon made to produce automobiles which would serve for purely commercial purposes. Such efforts, however, were spasmodic and a line of development could not be said to have been clearly indicated other than in respect of the steam wagon until the motorbus became a necessary successor to the horse-driven vehicle. It was undoubtedly public demonstration in Metropolitan carriage service which finally showed and proved that the motor vehicle was likely in the long nu to be an effective method of carrying goods. It must., of course, not be forgotten that one or two pioneer firms long ere this were striving to perfect a purely commercial model of petrol-engined chassis, and a certain number of them were sold, but several years slipped by before anything like general appreciation of their posSibilities became very noticeable.
It is not, perhaps, generally realized that we are rapidly approading a stage when the motor vehicle as used for purely pIeasuee purposes will be in the minority. We of the commescial-vehicle industry have, from the earliest days, enjoyed very clear definitions of our functions and, as time has gone on, industrial types in great numbers and varying to an extreme extent in the uses to which they are put have been added to the list of legitimate commercial vehicles. So far as the so-called pleas are-car trade is concerned, however, .a change had ben coming over the scene even before the commencement of the Great War, until, at the present time, with all but a little joy-riding effectively checked, we find that the ordinary touring ear has numberless tasks to perform which are very properly relegated in such use to commercial vehicle classification. Indeed, I am inclined altogether to quarrel quite seriously with the term "pleasure car," as applied generally to light pneumatic-tyred vehicles with accommodation for two or three passengers and a modicum of baggage. This
description has in recent years' done not a little harm to the trade in various curious ways, and now, in these days of super taxation, we find the .pleasure car pitch-forked into the category of "luxuries "—and very largely because of its name.
The touring ear is a type which for years past, has been increasingly employed for journeys of importance, journeys that matter. It is true that travel undertaken in this way in certain atmospheric conditions is more pleasurable than that taken by train or tram car, by bicycle or on foot. But, surely, unless such journey be taken solely for the joy of movement comfortably along the high-roads, it is incorrect to speak of a machine used for the purpose as a pleasure car. I have had many an enjoyable ride myself in a comfortable corridor car of a main line express, but I have never heard a train spoken of as a pleasure train. In my young and unregenerate days, I even pushed a bicycle through the countryside up hill and down dale, but I never bought a machine that was listed as a pleasure bicycle. Quite apart, however, from the unsuitability of the name as a generic description, it is a fact that increasingly the journeys taken by motor vehicles with passengers aboard are for some very definite purpose, and the fact that pleasure arises from such a means of progression is no excuse for belittling their commercial utility and lumping them all together in such a way that they are classified as mere luxuries and, therefore, as being of little practical use to anyone but the owner.
The joy-rider is, of course, no more, and we have excellent opportunity at the present time of observing the numberless journeys which have had to be undertaken by so-called pleasure cars for business purposes —all nowadays of national or quasi-national importance. It surely is incorrect to talk of anything in the nature of a closed ear as a pleasure car. Some effort to correct this particular misnaming has been made by certain makers who call them town carriages, but enough endeavour has not been made in that direction. The doctor's car is surely a utility vehicle. The car used by the director or manager of a works or business is as much part and parcel of industrial organization as is the typewriter, the telephone or the time recorder. There is no more justification for prefixing the adjective " pleasure" when referring to the car that takes a family or a party on a holiday to the seaside than to the train or the bicycles carrying them had the trip been taken thereby.
The pleasure car has earned its right to a change of title, and it will be better called by another name. A chassis called by any other name would run as well. The utility side of motoring has received a very great accession of strength in recent years, and we of the commercial vehicle industry would not be wrong, I trow, in regarding the pleasure side of motoring increasingly as of only collateral necessity. it has to be remembered that a boy can have a joy ride in a butcher's cart, but that the number of horse-drawn vehicles which are used merely for the pleasure of driving them has, for many. years, been quite negligible. The day has long since passedawhen the extravagant joy arising from the bolding of a steering wheel was admitted, at any rate by the more sober of us. Everyone will drive in the future and,' judging by the efforts the nation is now making to teach thousands of recruits of both saxes to drive, that part of the pleasure of it which'zdepended on novelty will soon have disappeared altogether.