Public history

Maintaining the Mobility of Motor Cars: The Case of (West) Germany, 1918–1980

Stefan Krebs uses the case of Germany to investigate maintenance and repair as a central part of automobility. The chapter will look at two sides of car repair as the need to maintain the mobility function and the practice of a hobbyist consumer activity that promised status, community and identity. It highlights four aspects that framed repair as a necessary part of car consumption: the (un-)reliability of automobile technology; the emergence of a car repair infrastructure; repair costs, which determined to a large extent whether one could afford to drive a car; and DIY repair practices. The success and widespread adoption of automobiles as consumer products was closely tied to the availability of affordable repair services, and the emergence of a large-scale car repair infrastructure was a prerequisite for mass motorisation.

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