I have vivid memories of some adventurous trips in our family car: My father sat at the wheel of his dearly beloved Mercedes-Benz 190D, while my mother sat in the front passenger seat, where she struggled with the road map. The two debated whether it would be better to turn left or right. I vividly remember a scene in which they unsuccessfully tried to find the venue of a wedding. We were so frustrated that we almost turned around and drove 200 kilometers back home – without having seen the newly married couple. With regard to the 190D, I also vividly remember a two-hour ride in that car during which I spent almost the whole time watching the radio antenna sway in the wind with such force that I childishly feared it might snap off and fly away.
It didn’t fly away. It remained steadfastly on the old Mercedes until the car became a victim of the “Cash for Clunkers” program in 2009. Its successor had an onboard navigation system, of course. This made it harder to get lost. And if my father managed it somehow, it always started with him claiming to know a shortcut. Ten years later, Live Traffic Information enables my navigation system to predict fairly precisely where I will encounter stop-and-go traffic on my route and whether it would be worth it to take the supposed shortcut. Telescopic antennas are also long gone. Today’s Mercedes-Benz cars don’t have a visible antenna at all. Nothing should interfere with the design’s clear lines.