This weekend, I found an old magazine in a bookshelf in a friend's cabin. It was an issue of "LIFE" from 1959. Paging through this classic piece of journalism and advertizing, I stumbled across an ad by Mobil gas.
Now, my first surprise was to see that even in the hay day of gas guzzling cars the miles per gallon mattered. 3 out of 5 ads in this issue listed that as a selling point. Even more was I shocked when I found that Mobil says that in a recent test with a selection of average 1959 cars, its fuel achieved a whopping 19.44 mpg! We are talking 50 years ago, cars a big as a whale.
I can't quite believe that cars in 2008 are on average not really much better. By any stretch of imagination, cars half a decade later should consume a fraction of the fuel, shouldn't they? Car manufacturers today seem to have a hard time beating their own track record from the days of lucky strike and soda fountains.
Somewhere along the way, someone must have had an incentive to not improve too much over those good old days...