Evolution is an incredible process. The survival of the fittest in the natural world has led to the development over time of animals specifically designed for certain tasks.
When you look at the evolution of the car going right back to the start of the 20th century, it is also easy to see the evolutionary process happening. Different types of cars have evolved for different purposes. Through the process of natural or should that be mechanical?) selection, car genres have emerged. Those that are deemed successful by the market pass on their design DNA to future vehicles, which continue down the evolutionary path towards perfection.
It’s easy to spot the different types of cars. We have the hatchback, the truck, the saloon, the sports car, the estate and, one of the most obvious evolutions, the 4x4. The 4x4 developed through our need for vehicles that were tough but also versatile. They have also satisfied out desire to have fun behind the wheel. These are cars that are just as at home on the trail as they are the mean city streets.
The origins of the 4x4
The 4x4 was really first used as a combat vehicle in the Second World War. It was a tough battlefield vehicle that could stand up to most kinds of terrain and punishment. It didn’t take long for car manufacturers to realise that this kind of car also had a place in the commercial market. Throughout the 50s and 60s, the 4x4 was adopted by farmers and other rugged sorts who needed a car that could handle their tough line of work. The evolution didn’t stop there, however.
Manufacturers started to see the potential of a 4x4 that also had more practical uses in everyday life. Rather than being simply utilitarian and functional, they started to add more style and comfort elements. Top producers like Mercedes combined the power of a 4WD with the élan and comfort of an executive vehicle. This kind of hybrid evolution quickly found a place in the car market and became very desirable. One look at a Mercedes 4x4 today and you can clearly see why.
So, while other types of cars go on searching for the elusive evolutionary secret, the 4x4 has already found its place. Like the crocodile, it is perfectly formed and built for the job at hand.