FIVE THINGS THE SIMPSONS CORRECTLY PREDICTED ABOUT CARS
The Simpsons has predicted more than its fair share of motoring trends and tech years ahead of time with hilarious, and often eerie, accuracy...
Having been on our screens for more than 25 years, The Simpsons is the longest-running animated sitcom in history and during its time has predicted its fair share of future events.
Whether or not the show intended to or not, The Simpsons has been cited with predicting everything from the Ebola virus outbreak, to 9/11, the iPhone and even the mauling of Siegfried and Roy by a tiger.
The Simpsons has also predicted more than its fair share of automotive trends and advancements years ahead of time in typically hilarious fashion and, at times, with borderline spooky levels of accuracy…
1. The rise of the SUV
Can you name the truck with four-wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty five? Yep, it’s the Canyoneroooo-woah-ooo, which predicted the rise of the SUV more than a decade before they started to take over the roadways here in the UK.
The Canyonero’s first appearance on The Simpsons was all the way back in February 1998, as a small segment in the Season Nine episode ‘The Last Temptation of Krust’. Marketed as a large and roomy four-wheel drive car, it perfectly sent up the rugged styling and capability that now attracts buyers in their millions worldwide.
Based on the design of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and the classic first-generation Range Rover, the Canyonero was described in-episode as combining “the smooth handling of a European sports car with the rugged drivability of a sturdy 4x4”.
Sounds an awful like one of those crossovers that have become so popular in recent years, doesn’t it? Whether The Simpsons also hit the nail on the head when the car brought out Marge’s aggressive tendencies on the road, well, we’ll let you decide that for yourself.
2. Ridiculous personalisation options
Also known as The Car Built For Homer, The Homer was a daft dream car designed by Homer after his half-brother Herb tasked him with designing a new vehicle to appeal to the “average” American.
Factory-fitted customisation options didn’t really catch on until the early to mid-2000s, meaning that the episode that The Homer starred in, 1991’s ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?’ was already pushing 15 years old by that stage.
Although Homer’s car comes outfitted with an array of weird additions that we doubt you’d see on any dealership spec sheet, like muzzles for unruly children, bubble domes and three horns that play ‘La Cucaracha’, it’s hard to deny the foreshadowing.
Nowadays, many cars come with a range of crazy options you can choose to personalise your car to your taste with the Fiat 500 alone having more than half a million different customisation options between colours and trim choices.
If you wish, you can even specify your car with stone inserts if you think rare wood panelling is a little too pedestrian, or any kind of crazy paint scheme or optional extras. One unique feature of the car built for Homer was its extra-large cupholders, but 25 years on and that’s exactly what carmakers like Rolls-Royce are offering…
3. Cars that can communicate and call for help
Back in 1999, the electric car was still seen as something of a joke to the general public, and though it’s come a long way since, it still served as the butt of a punchline for the Season 11 episode ‘Beyond Blunderdome’.
In the episode, Homer agrees to test-drive an electric car called the Elec-Taurus in exchange for a free gift, before later crashing it off a cliff, setting it on fire and returning it to the dealership. It’s revealed that the car has a voice chip, and calls out “Help, help, it burns!” when returned to the dealer’s lot.
Although the episode didn’t predict quite how popular electric and hybrid vehicles would become, it did get one thing right in the form of the car’s ability to communicate with its driver and to send out a distress call.
Services like Vauxhall’s OnStar system or BMW Assist can send information to emergency services in the event that the car is involved in an incident, or if the driver presses an SOS button mounted in the car’s roof.
Allowing paramedics, fire and police services to reach the scene of accidents more quickly than ever before, it’s hoped that technology like this could go a long way to saving the lives of drivers.
While car’s can’t exactly hold a conversation with their drivers yet, features like Ford’s SYNC infotainment system with voice recognition and Apple CarPlay, which supports Siri voice control, are becoming more and more common. Not a bad prediction for a late-90s animated sitcom!
4. The return of the DeLorean
In the Season 7 episode ‘A Fish Called Selma’ from way back in 1996, Troy McClure’s waning career is given a significant boost when he’s spotted in public with Selma Bouvier.
In the episode, Troy’s car is an old DeLorean DMC-12, with which he accidentally hits Chief Wiggum with the gull-wing doors as a direct reference to the scene in Back to the Future Part II where Doc Brown does the same thing to Biff Tannen.
Here’s where things get perhaps slightly tenuous, but also slightly spooky… In the episode, Troy’s career was revived with the help of Selma, and 19 years later the DeLorean Motor Company announced that it would officially revive production of the iconic DMC-12.
5. Driverless cars
Ask anybody what the single most controversial piece of automotive technology in recent years is, and the odds are they’ll tell you that it’s driverless car technology.
They’d be right, too. Depending on who you ask, driverless cars will be programmed to be everything from shuttle buses for schoolchildren and the elderly, to machines that are fully capable of independent thought and potentially even the premeditated killing of human beings.
Yet nearly two decades before they hit the headlines, driverless cars hit our television screens in the 1999 episode of The Simpsons ‘Maximum Homerdrive’.
In the episode, Homer and Bart end up taking responsibility for delivering a shipment of artichokes and migrant workers to Atlanta after the truck’s original driver, Red Barclay, was killed during a steak eating contest.
After falling asleep at the wheel, Homer wakes up to find that the truck had driven itself down a cliff and parked up at a nearby fuel station. It turned out to be the work of a device called the Navitron Autodrive, a system secretly installed by the truckers so their vehicles can drive themselves while the driver can simply “sit back and feel your ass grow”, as Homer put it.
Skip forward 17 years and driverless cars are the talk of every motoring and technology publication on the earth, with new developments in revolutionary self-driving technology seemingly made every single day.
Everyone from Jaguar Land Rover to Audi and even Google are now part of the race to bring the first truly driverless vehicle to market, but if The Simpsons taught us anything, maybe they should just stop to ask some truckers…