In the automotive democracy of the 1950s, the family man followed in the footsteps of the emperor and statesmen: as a customer he was king and as a driver he was the patriarch. The underprivileged status of the chauffeur morphed into the high esteem of the helmsman, representing the social elevation of the common man to democratic sovereign. This political context spurred on the new passion for driving, which had not been possible before the emergence of engines capable of sporty driving, easy-to-operate instruments and a protected and comfortable interior. The image of the vehicle interior was no longer shaped by social hierarchies, but family hierarchies. Slowly but surely women advanced in their battle to get in the driver’s seat.
The concept of being driven survived in the niche market of top-end vehicles, but only expressed in the form of enhanced size, comfort and fittings, while leaving the structure of the solidly forward-facing family car untouched. From the 1980s onward, the back seat of luxury sedans underwent a cultural recoding: it was no longer seen as a monstrance of the idle rich. Far from it – for the new top managers the luxury sedan became a symbol of hard work, capability and success. The rear compartment became an office, the back seat now had to act as a permanent display of those work ethics, which – for the first time – legitimized these expensive cars in the eyes of the general public.
... thanks to the mechanical signal system