Already 1800 B.C, the Egyptians invented some kind of vehicle for their pharaoh. But it was not before 1885 that C. Benz built the first car, with the well known combustion engine, that was usable (1).
From then on the vehicles improved more and more, they motorized carriages and in 1923 Ford started the mass production of the Model T, which was a very cheap car everybody was able to afford. They built more than 15 millions without changing their design or anything else (2). So the era of the automobile had begun. Millions were spent in mass production and all over Europe and USA, car manufacturing factories were built very fast (3)
It was and still is a kind of status symbol to own the newest and fastest car which has got the best trimmings. In this book the car has a special function, it represents the reckless convictions of the flapper society.
Cars in these times were not bought for use as they are today. If you were rich enough you had 2 or 3 and went for a ride on Sundays just to show off.
Technology made it possible to improve the standard of a normal car a lot. During the 1920s the importance of the automobile grew a lot. In this decade there was some kind of a “revolution“, cars were built to emphasize the actual fashion instead of functions. A lot of knick-knack was installed for example a “three noted horn“ (51,35), as well as “hat-boxes, supper-boxes, and tool-boxes“ (52,15f.).
Cars like the typical Cadillac with extraordinary outline emerged. Cars were also often painted in, for this time, very strange colors to make it even more individual. For example, Tom had a very blue car.
As a consequence of improving cars to high-tech machines, the cities also improved their streets. A lot of gas stations were installed during that time and also many railroads were built. Moreover a garage - building spree began. In the 20s everybody who had a house also had a garage for his car. People did not care about how they drove, they just did it: “I know very little about driving - next to nothing“ (46,19). That is why cars were also an agent of catastrophe for example, Myrtle just dies because of an irrelevant car accident. Also, the car accident after the first party Nick went to, gives a hint for the bad things coming (p.46f.)
written by Vroni, Lena, Bene and Charlotte
(1): Meyers Neues Lexikon 4 "Kraftwagen"
(3): Microsoft Encarta