In the United States, it was not until after the Second World War that cars became an attainable goal for the vast majority of American families. However, soon after the idea of buying a car became a common idea, the idea of designing a car to fit a growing family began to take off amongst car manufacturers. Initially, the requirements for a family car were simply size, and making a car big enough to fit a Mom, a Dad and three children. However, as technology has improved, safety has become the most important feature in a family car. In addition, the improvements in materials have meant that sometimes smaller cars can offer more space, and no longer are family cars always the biggest on the market.
One of the first types of cars to be designed for families was the station wagon (known as an estate car in Europe). These cars were based on the pre-World War Two commercial vehicles, such as vans, although were able to use postwar steel technology to lower costs. This made them extremely popular with the parents of the baby boom generation. These were cars with a traditional layout of seats, although with an extended tailgate section, giving more room for storage. This allowed families to pack camping or skiing gear, or to take their dog with them on trips, meaning that they were specifically designed for the demands of the modern family.
The next stage in the evolution of family cars was the minivan. These became popular in the 1960s, when one-box production became common. The iconic Volkswagen minivan remains popular today, although it was in the 1960s, when their simple open spaces allowed large families to fit in that they became even more popular. Minivans maximise the space available by housing the cab over the axles, thus shifting the driver forward and opening up the space behind.
Compacts and SUVs
In the twenty-first century, the improvements in safety have made this the primary feature of a potential family car. In Europe, the most popular family cars are now compact cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf or Polo, or other hatchback cars. In the United States, however, ‘sports utility vehicles’ (SUVs) still dominate the road with their strong central body and high safety performance. Large SUVs have three row seating, which specifically aims them at the family market, and the relatively low cost per unit has made them popular with families.
If you are thinking about safety in your car, then there are lots of simple tips. Take your car in for a regular service to ensure that there are no underlying problems. Invest in auto glass replacement, which will prevent you from having a larger cost further down the line. Simplest of all- drive within the speed limit, particularly in adverse weather conditions.