Something Old Something New

My neighbor had a 1978 Ford Bronco when I was growing up. He drove his kids and I around to various events, and I loved that car. The look, the removable back, the spacious interior. It was a car I’ve always wanted to own. As I’ve gotten older, however, the rough ride and lack of modern amenities have made me rethink buying an older version. I’ve become spoiled in my older age

Ford just announced a modern version of the Bronco, bringing back the iconic truck after over two decades. What is interesting to me is that they appear to be trying to take a page from software design and customized websites by allowing lots of custom options. It appears in this look at the truck that much of the truck body can be removed and replaced with custom sections. I’m sure plenty of third party companies will offer new colors, shapes, lights, and even accessories that might truly make this car your own.

Of course, car manufacturers want to make money, too. There are some mechanical differences with engines, transmissions, and suspension, but also a variety of settings for the drivetrain. However, different trim levels have different numbers of drivetrain settings. I wonder if there is a difference in the models or this is a software limitation (with a different physical switch). I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the case.

I had hoped years ago that we would start seeing more customization in cars with manufacturers building a flat chassis and custom bodies, having features into software, providing interfaces, allowing for more plugins from their own and partner suppliers. Instead, it seems like we’ve gotten more and more proprietary designs, trying to lock in users rather than selling the flexibility of design. I guess that’s the way of capitalism, doing what’s best for the company rather than creating an ecosystem that might excite the consumer.

While I know modern vehicles are built for efficiency and airflow, I think many of them start to look alike. I would hate to see every car look the same, as they have in some movies. I miss the different designs and details from the past. I would like to think that at some point we’ll see modern electric engines, controls, and features available in customized, 3D printed bodies and better software interfaces that allow us to bring back the look of the past with the best of today.

Steve Jones

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