In the last one hundred years, cars have shaped our lives. Other everyday cultural artifacts, such as watches, telephones, musical instruments, and televisions, have certainly had influence, but the car is by far the most significant. Now, change is coming for the car, as it is for so many other industrial artifacts. Once, cars were distinct machines. Now, they are evolving into multifunctional digital devices. New fuels, new modes of travel, and new technologies are disrupting the traditional role of the much-loved family car.
What is to become of this material legacy? Should we really let go of it? Without memory, personal and shared, we lose our way, our individuality, and our culture. This proposition is at the heart of The Archaeological Automobile.
Miles C. Collier’s landmark approach uses an “archaeological mindset” to interpret the automobile as a cultural artifact in six themes:
The Development of the Automobile describes how the car emerged from a pressing human need for mobility, tracing our relationship with horses, our invention of the bicycle, and how we turned our backs on both as daily transport for the allure of the car.
The Rise of the Collectible Automobile asks how and why ratty relics decaying in recycling yards can become valuable and treasured collectibles. It reveals the effect of cultural influences on our perception of cars and on the dynamics of the collector car market.
The Archaeological Mindset picks up a wrench, gets into the workshop, and tracks the restoration of a 1919 Ballot Indy car using hands-on experience and background research while deploying the “archaeological imagination.” The archaeological clues are in the detail.
Collecting and the Archaeological Automobile deals with the characteristics of collecting. Why do we accumulate “stuff”? Is it greed? Is it passion? Is it a desire for legacy? And what makes a “good” collection? Is it bling? Is it style? Is it material worth? The answer lies in connoisseurship.
Restoring the Archaeological Automobile debates the merits of diverse restoration strategies and the reasoning behind them, including the tricky question of how to repaint the tilt-front nose of a 1964 Alfa Romeo GTZ racing car and still preserve the evidence of forty years of accumulated sandblasting and chipping.
The Archaeological Automobile of the Future is a call to action. Cars as we know them are customarily trashed, government regulations encourage indifference, and the skills and knowledge associated with fixing them are slowly vanishing as we lose older generations of experienced craftsmen. How can we preserve humanity’s treasure trove of automotive knowledge for generations to come?
Filled with engaging stories and practical examples, this is a handbook of the most thoughtful practices, not just for automobile owners and the historical car industry, but for collectors, professionals, and users of all kinds of industrial era artifacts.
The Archaeological Automobile combines scholarship, pertinent anecdotes, style, and experience to provide a stimulating account of why we should all be archaeologists now.