Once I get to ranting on the subject, I'll fulminate that the true modern era of the automobile didn't start until about 1990, when carburetors and points ignitions finally disappeared from new cars sold in the United States. Before and after that point, however, a lot of progress— and backsliding— has taken place in the automotive industry. Which brings up the question: what ten-year period, starting with Karl Benz's Patent Motorwagen in 1886, saw the most improvement, innovation, whatever you want to call it, in the automotive world? You may choose to give most emphasis to advances in engineering and materials, in which case the advances made by GM and its rivals during the 1946-1956 period might be most important. Or maybe Mr. Ford's greatest hit and resulting huge lowering of the cost of a new car could give the win to 1909-1919. European cars sure looked beautiful from, say, 1958 through 1968, and you can't write off the bang-per-buck advances in build quality accomplished by Japanese automakers during the 1975-1985 period. But wait— how about electronic fuel injection and engine controls, which became standard equipment on even the lowliest econoboxes during the 1980s? And do we even consider any period containing 1939-45, a period during which the major carmaking countries were too busy blasting one another to crap to do much automotive innovation, but which produced a lot of engineering advances that went into cars later on? Or, what the heck, we're living in the Golden Age of Ridiculous Horsepower right now— could be that 2003-2013 gets your vote! Your thoughts?
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