It is commonplace to assert that the civilization of our time has been, at least in what is generally called the western world, profoundly marked by the emergence and the spread of the private motor car. Its invention was first a technical achievement which the socio‐economic structure of the expiring 19th century was still unable to absorb; brilliant minds of that period wondered whether it represented a passing fad of the rich, a non‐viable gadget of tinkering mechanics or, at the best, a high‐speed instrument for working off accumulated aggressiveness that should be confined to an isolated race track rather than let loose on innocent road users. It took but a decade to discover that not only was the automobile here to stay, but that it represented a powerful force, destined to upset the existing economic and social order by the impact of its contribution to the mobility of the masses and to the equalization of their living habits. It is not an exaggeration to assert that tourism owes its universal appeal, as well as its broad availability, to the transformation of the motor car from an object of conspicuous consumption of a few privileged fanciers to an indispensable tool for work and recreation of the entire population.
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