The cars you're allowed to buy today are the cars government allows to be manufactured. But what kinds of cars might we be able to buy if the government (which, always keep in mind, is just a relative handful of other people who have somehow acquired the power to tell you what you're allowed to buy) got out of the car business and left the designing of cars to the car manufacturers and the buying of cars to customers . . . who could buy what they wanted and not buy what they didn't want to buy?
There would certainly be more variety - including very basic cars priced around $8,000 or even less that would be marketed at teens/first-time buyers or the frugal of all ages. Because there is a market for inexpensive cars - currently being filled, artificially, by used cars. Because new cars are too expensive for teens/first-time buyers - and of little interest to the frugal.
The average price paid for a new car is over $35,000 - and that's not counting the taxes and insurance that go with the car. Which is why many people buy used cars instead.
But imagine being able to buy a brand-new car with no miles on the engine, no worries about bald tires or bad brakes or rust - the whole thing under warranty - for around $8,000 or so.
Which would also cost you a fourth the taxes and insurance.
This is not speculative. It is actual - just not in the United States, where the government forbids the sale of such cars by making them impossible to sell because they cannot comply with the various regulations - most of them having to do with things that are properly none of the government's business in a free country, such as "safety."
Unless you believe in government-as-your-parent. And the parent of everyone else, too. (This affliction manifesting in the Face Diapering of the country; the Diaper Wearers are not content to wear their Diaper; they insist everyone wear a Diaper.)
Such cars could be made - are being made (and sold) in other countries where it is still allowed to make and sell new cars without six air bags and the physical structure necessary to "comply" with government impact-resistance fatwas. They are not primitive cars, either. Most come with AC and a stereo; powers windows, too.
For example, the Datsun Redi-Go. It's a Cadillac compared with a '70s-era VW Beetle but it costs less than a '70s-era Beetle cost when it was new. About $8,000. You get AC, power windows and a 67 horsepower three cylinder engine - plus heat!
For some other example of the cars you're not allowed to buy that are for sale elsewhere, have a look here.
In France, teens can buy low-speed microcars that cost half as much as those cars - and not even need a license to use them to get around. This gives them personal mobility at low cost American teens are denied.
There would also be extremely fuel-efficient cars - because it would be feasible to build extremely light cars. Which cars aren't allowed to be built (here) because saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.
Which isn't even about that, actually.
A light car isn't unsafe - i.e., prone to crash, unstable. It is merely less able to withstand impact forces if there is a crash. The distinction is important. Millions of people drove old VW Beetles and other such cars without receiving a scratch because they did not crash. Motorcycles are just as "safe" as an S-Class Benz, if you don't crash.
People used to be free to choose a light, very efficient car (and can still choose to ride a motorcycle) that is desirable for those reasons, at the theoretical cost of increased risk of injury in the event of a serious crash that will probably never happen.
Imagine what a 50 MPG-capable diesel engine in a 3,400 car could deliver in a car that weighed 1,000 lbs. less. Volkswagen was working on such a car - the XL1. It was an ultra-light diesel-hybrid powered commuter car capable of averaging more than 200 MPG. Which in addition to being almost twice as efficient as any car you're allowed to buy here would also have been extremely low emissions - by dint of being so efficient. The less fuel burned, the less gas emitted.
VW intended to offer it for sale around $20,000.
Such a car would have made electric cars even more absurd than they already are - which is why VW was curb stomped and the XL1 project kiboshed.
There would also be less homogeneity.
Designers would be able to experiment and see whether people liked what they came up with. They could offer up weird and strange and beautiful designs - as they once did but no longer can. It is currently not possible - because it is illegal - to manufacture and offer for sale car like a '59 Cadillac or a Lotus 7.

There are no Subaru Brats, no topless short-wheelbase Broncos, Amphicars or cab-forward Corvair vans. No more T-tops. No more rear-facing seats. And no what might-have-been, had designers been free to let their imaginations run wild - and let the market decide.
Instead, there is government-decreed sameness, from plastic-covered bumper to plastic-covered bumper.
And they all look just the same.
. . .
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