Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Uses of History at the LA Car Show

For the first time ever I attended the Los Angeles Car Show, a show I will discuss in a later post in more detail.

The car show provided me a useful example of why I believe that history is so important and why I think we make a mistake when we, specifically Los Angeles, pay so little attention to our own history. Many people tell me that this lack of history is what they like about Los Angeles, and of course I do not agree. One of these people happened to be my host at the car show, and was the most knowledgeable about what we were seeing.

Pretty much all exhibits at the Car Show, not every one but most of them, also had some sort of interesting example from the history of that manufacturer. If the exhibit had 20 new cars and models, it might have one car off on the side from the 1960s or some other period. One manufacturer might have several such cars, some might have none. Those who had such cars might not always explain its context enough for me, were I alone, but I was with someone who knew his cars and car history and so could explain the context.

This show was an excellent example of what I mean about how History can be used to help us understand our present and where we might go in the future. It is a homage to the successes of the past and where we came from. It helps us to remember who we are and why this company came into existence. It does not have to dominate the present or the future, but it can add color and reinforce loyalty. Its fun. I think its useful.

Off the top of my head, and without proper photographic documentation, I recall that we had a Mazda Cosmo, a very cute little sports car, we had several examples from Alfa Romeo in their classic period, we had a completely bizarre multiengine race car from that brief time period where apparently adding engines was the thing to do. And of course, in honor of the new James Bond movie we had a classic Aston Martin DB6 and I had my one moment of car history glory by explaining that one subtext of the performance cars of that period was that they were so damn hard to drive, you had to be James Bond or someone of that skill to be able to drive it at all.

So there it is, nothing too complicated.

History adds color. History memorializes where we came from and some of our better moments. It does not need to be a straight jacket on the present or the future, but I think it makes our present and our future all the more interesting because we remember who we are.

For me, it was the historical part of the show that was the most worthwhile.

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