Driving our new Prius is like driving a computer. All of the instruments are replaced by a display screen. Turn on the ignition (if that’s still the proper term) and it flashes “Welcome to Prius.” It displays the instantaneous gas mileage and even calculates how far we can go on the gasoline remaining in the tank. (The Prius has replaced the Buick as today’s senior’s car of choice.)
Years ago, we relied on the vacuum gauge to tell us our gas mileage. When we stomped down on the gas pedal, the carburetor throat opened wide to suck in the gasoline mist and the vacuum dropped to almost nothing. When the vacuum fell, we didn’t precisely know the mileage we were getting, but we knew it was low.
I remember the windshield wipers on my parent’s cars worked off of the vacuum line, and how fast they worked depended on the strength of the vacuum. Struggling up the 69th Street hill would bring the wipers to a stop, no small problem in a heavy rainstorm. We learned to momentarily take our foot off the gas pedal to get a swipe or two so we could catch a glimpse of the bus looming in front of us. It had to be quick or we would stall out and coast backwards, also no small problem.
Three cheers for electric windshield wipers!