THE HORSELESS CARRIAGE GROWS UP

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Part 1

ONE of the standard jokes in the early da ys of the automobile was about the driver who asked his wife to look at the rear tire on her side and see if it was flat.
     “No,” she reported, “only on the bottom.”   Flat tires were, in fact, no joke.  They happened too often.  Right into the second decade of the twentieth century one manufacturer boastfully advertised a “10,000-mile tire.”  fifty years later a tire that wouldn’t last four times that long wouldn’t pass muster. 
     Yet the horseless carriage persisted.  It survived miserable roads.   It survived cut-and-try engineering.  It survived prospective famines in fuel. It survived critics.  “The ordinary ‘horseless carriage,'” said the prestigious Literary Digest in 1899, “… will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle,”  Woodrow Wilson, later the twenty-eighth President of the United States, said in 1906 that “nothing has spread socialistic feeling more than the use of the automobile . . . a picture of the arrogance of wealth.”  U.S. Senator Joseph W. Bailey of Texas in 1909 stated:  “If I had my way I would make it a crime to use automobiles on the public highways because no man has a right to use a vehicle . . . that is dangerous. 
     The horseless carriage survived ever-mounting taxes, endless restrictive legislation, appalling casualties from it’s operation stylists who shaped it into caricature, designs that were outright bloopers, and NO PARKING signs by the millions.  It survived because it was useful.  It supplied personal mobility to hundreds of million of people.  It was a status symbol.  It satisfied man’s lust for power.
Often it was beautiful and always, as it matured, a marvel of ingenuity. At the threshold of it’s invention, nothing in the archives of humankind had approached it as a transportation device.

 
  The horseless carriage survived because men fell hopelessly in love with it.
    Now, after eighty years as of the publication of this article, it stands charged with being the chief contributor to pollution of the ir in the great centers of population of the planet earth.
     To take a charitable view of history and invention, the “automobile” first appeared in 1769.  A French army officer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, built a military “steam-car-riage.”  It worked.  An American, Nathan Read, patented a stem carriage in 1790.  On the testimony of Popular Science in 1878, Oliver Evans, another American, inventor of a non-condensing, high-pressure steam engine, said early in the nineteenth century, “I have no doubt  that my engine will propel . . . wagons on turnpike roads.”  The magazine in 1897 made a pitch for “horseless [steam] locomotives.”  They had been tried abroad with limited success.  In England, Parliament finally killed them  off by law.
      All this was overture. In 1877 a German inventor, Dr. N. A. Otto, received a patent for an internal-combustion engine he had built the year before.  Unlike the heavy, inefficient steam engine, which converted energy from a source outside it’s cylinders into mechanical movement, the light internal-combustion engine manufactured it’s own power.  It burned coal gas on a 4-stroke cycle-suction, compression, burning stroke, and exhaust.  This was fine for stationary engines fed with coal gas from mains, but it offered nothing as a peram-bulating power plant.
 
END OF PART 1
PART 2

World’s first auto was 1769 “steam-carriage” built by Nicolas Cugnot of France. He made this improved version in 1770. From this concept.

   Next self-
propelled road vehicle of record was this monstrosity built in 1804 by Oliver Evans for use at Philadelphia’s docks.  Another steamer, this one was amphibious.

The “road locomotive” was becoming quite the thing in England by 1810.  This one had a crewman at the rear blowing a horn. Such steam coaches had problems–great weight and the frequent need for water and fuel.
      Then, in 1886, two other Germans, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz,  independently put “petrol” engines in what were, in truth, only carriages without a nag in front.  The horse as a means of locomotion on roads began to number his days.

       
     Like horseless carriages for the next fifteen years, Daimler’s and Benz’s contraptions offered seats for driver and passengers on–not in–the vehicle.  Besides springs, they soon had some insulation from road shock–the pneumatic tire was invented in 1888.  Daimler’s company later produced the world-known Mercedes automobile and, still later, the Mercedes-Benz.  As a footnote to the times, Daimler’s success occurred only after Dr. Otto fired him as technical manager.  Otto found him “indescribably thickheaded.”
       The first automobile in America is credited to Gottfried Schloemer, who drove a “horseless buggy” of his own design and construction through the streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1889.
       Historians generally date the origin of today’s automobiles from 1892, when serious production of internal-combustion engines started.  The Germans and the French — Panhard, Renault, the Comte de Dion, Peugeot, Lepape, and Delahaye among them –were in the vanguard.  

    Fancy went unrestrained in the magnificence of design.  Three such vehicles were built to prowl the bumpy roads in the London area.
END OF PART 2

Part 3

That incredible conveyance, picture above, transported the British jet set in third decade of nineteenth century.  It took muscle to steer it.
First  mention of a U.S. gasoline car occured in 1879 when George Seldon, and engineer, applied for a patent on a “road engine” picture above.  Royalties made him  rich.  Ford refused to pay. Selden sued.  Later, Ford won.

 

America’s first automobile was built by Gottfried Schloemer in Milwaukee in 1889.  It’s internal-combustion engine  had one cylinder.

 

Below, First horseless carriage lending itself to “mass production” was made in 1893-94 by the Duryea brothers.  In 1896 they turned out 13 on their assembly line.

 


Henry Ford (above) produced his first car in 1896.

 


Elwood Haynes, another pioneer (below) was stopped in 1895 by Chicago bicycle cop for impeding traffic.

 

      The British lagged, hobbled by a law requiring that a horseless carriage be preceded by a man carrying a red flag by day and a red lantern by night.  The U.S. lagged, too, apparently because it’s inventors and manufacturers couldn’t take the horseless carriage seriously.
     Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea, brothers, of Springfield, Massachusetts, turned out the first American automobile that would lend itself to “mass production” in 1893-94, and 13 of the vehicles rolled off the Duryea Motor Wagon Company’s assembly line in 1896.  Elwood Haynes, a metallurgical engineer, was a contemporary.  His first car, built by Elmer and Edgar Apperson at Kokomo, Indiana, achieved a speed of 7 miles an hour on July 4, 1894.
     Between 1898 and 1903, the U.S. began making up for lost time.  Cars bearing the names Olds, Knox, Autocar, Pierce, Franklin, Cadillac, and Winton appeared on the market. In 1903 it became the first automobile to cross the American continent.  The elapsed time was 64 days, 44 of which were spent on the road.  Threescore years later the tiller-steered, “curved dash” Olds, designed by Ransom E. Olds, who subsequently fathered the Reo, was a prized museum piece.
     All these self-propelled machines had characteristics in common.  They had one lung or two.  Their wheels were chain-driven.  Their ignition was make-and-break.  Ten horsepower was enormous.  A 1900 car that could achieve 30 miles an hour for 100 years was a racer.  They were hard-starting.  Right into the second decade of the century some engines came with “either cups” atop each cylinder to encourage starts.  A petcock released the highly volatile ether into the combustion chamber.  The first of the Duryeas had a single control lever that took care of steering, gear changing, spark adjustment, the throttle, and braking.
      Headlights were flickering, oil-wick carreiage lamps.  Some manufacturers used camel’s hair for brake linings.  The “steering wheel”  was a tiller.  Except for electrics, closed bodies and windshields were unknown, and a trip into the countryside on dirt roads, with passengers arrayed in goggles and “dusters,” called for a bath afterward.  since inventors had only the past to guide them, running wheels were the  spoked military type or adaptations of bicycle wheels.  The entire chassis was borrowed from horse-drawn carriages, bowed leaf springs and all.  One car boasted an all-mahogany frame.
     The automobile was such a novelty that for a time Barnum & Bailey led it’s daily circus parade with a Duryea “runabout.”  Automobiling became a communicable fever.  A wealthy motoring enthusiast, Charles j. Glidden, organized trips, with a trophy as a prize, to demonstrate the reliability of the horseless carriage, and for ten years beginning in 1905, Glidden Yours were as much a fixture in the American scene as the Chautauqua Circuit.
    Then, in America, a man named Henry Ford began tinkering with a self-propelled vehicle, and for millions of people all over the world, the course of transportation history was changed.  A former farmer, now a machinist, Ford had  built a tiller-steered, 4-cycle, 2-cylinder “quadricycle” in a tiny shop in Detroit’s Bagley Avenue and exibited it in 1896.  No dunce at merchandising, He built a series of racing cars for publicity.  In 1903 the ford motor Company offered for public sale it’s first car, a 2-cylinder job, and three years later a 6-cylinder one that sold for $2,500.
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Part 4

     That was too costly.  It wasn’t what Henry wanted.  “The market for a low-priced car,” He said, “is unlimited.”  In 1908 He brought out the first–soon to be famous — Model T for $850.  That covered controls limited to a hand brake, 3 foot pedals, and an ignition switch. Standard equipment included a folding windshield, collapsible (2-man) top, bulb horn, and kerosene tail and side lamps.  It did not include a spare tire or even a speedometer. The suspension was transverse leaf springs, front and rear.
     The engine was a water-jacketed, 4-cylinder, 4-cycle L-head with a 3 3/4-inch bore and a 4-inch stroke, developing  22.5 horsepower at 1,600 revolutions.  The fuel was magneto-fired. A planetary transmission provided 2 speeds forward and a reverse.  The driver controlled the forward speeds with his left pedal, reverse with the center pedal, and a transmission brake with the right one.  A left-hand lever engaged low or high speed.  Under the steering wheel were spark-advance and throttle levers.  The car ran out of breath at 35 miles per hour. 
     The Model T came in one color.  To a convention of dealers clamoring for multi-hued Fords at the height of the model T’s popularity, Henry said jokingly, “You can have any color you want –so long as it’s black.”

Another nineteenth-century hopeful in the horseless carriage business was Alexander Winton.  This phaeton was the forerunner of the famous Winton Sex.
       Thus, the “flivver, ” the “tin Lizzie,” with it’s brass radiator, of legend.  Before production was closed out in 1927, 15 million  had been sold at prices that, steadily declining, reached a nadir in 1923 — $265 for the runabout. Ford’s volume was more than that of all other U.S. car manufacturers combined.  More than any other automobile of i’ts time, the Ford put city dweller and farmer alike on wheels. A secondary industry grew up around the Model T.  The engine often “kicked” when it was cranked–Henry supplied no self-starter–sometimes breaking a man’s wrist or arm.  So a brace of Wisconsin inventors came up with an automatic spark-retarder to prevent it.  Another inventor offered a cable-pull ratchet device to rotate the engine from the driver’s seat. (When the oil congealed in the winter, some owners jacked up one rear wheel, in gear and used it’s inertia to help stat the     balky engine.) Other after-market suppliers made tidy fortunes cashing in on the Ford’s primitiveness.  One offered a “1-man top,” others a rear-view mirror, shock absorbers,  rubber running boards, a gas-tank gauge (located, incidentally, under the front seat), and a choke coil for brighter lights when, finally, the Ford acquired electric lamps.
      Apart from popularizing the automobile, Henry Ford freed the industry from royalty payments exacted by George B. Selden, inventor of a “gasoline road engine.”
     It was ford who arbitrarily switched the driver’s seat to the left-hand side for better judgement of the distance of an approaching vehicle.  Th industry followed suit. 
     Ford’s competitors were not idle.  If they couldn’t compete on price, they could produce fancier cars.  As Early as 1903 they introduced shock absorbers and sliding-gear transmissions.  They replaced acetylene headlights with electric ones.  The Locomobile introduced the first electric generator for storage batteries.  Demountable rims came in, exorcising that horror of puncture repair, the pinched tube.

END OF PART 4

Part 5
     But interior heat for passengers in winter?  Buy a Clark Auto Warmer “made in 20 styles, $2 to $10.”  It used a carbon brick good for twelve to sixteen hours–an idea purloined from bed warmers.

     A lot of self-starters had been tried, using acetylene, compressed air, or electricity, but it was not until 1912 that a successful one was put on a car, a Cadillac.  It was developed by Charles F. Kettering (“Boss Ket,” the General Motors genius of later years), when a friend of the company’s president was killed cranking a car.   Decorative gadgetry such as the Boyce Moto-Meter, a radiator-mounted engine-water thermometer, was a must for the younger set.
     A few manufacturers, notably Franklin, introduced air-cooled engines to do away with radiators. One car, the Carter, carried a spare engine–if one failed, the other got you home.  Even Sears, Roebuck got into the act with a motorized delivery wagon in 1911.  It sold for $445.  (Forty years later Sears popped up again, selling, briefly, an Allstate passenger car made by Kaiser-Frazer.)
     Oldsmobile made a wooden-framed closed car, a novelty because right through the decade of the 1920s the label “touring car” clung to anything with a removable top.  Olds also brought out the first speedometer.  By 1907 the V8 engine had appeared, in both the U.S. and England.  The first effort to effect a fundamental change in the valving of the gasoline engine was made in 1911.  Charles Y. Knight developed a substitute for the poppet valve.  It consisted of a sleeve interposed between piston and cylinder wall that, riding up and down on cams exposed ports for intake and exhaust. Known as the “sleeve valve,” it appeared on the Stearns, Stoddard-Dayton, and Columbia; and , later, on the Willys. But it lacked the snap of the poppet valve. 

 

Abroad, the French firm of Panhard and Levassor produced an engine that took part in the world’s firs automobile race.

Louis Renault, whose name was to be famous, produce his first “voiturette” (light car) in 1898.  Unlike other cars of the period, it was driven by geared shafts, not chains.

First car to cross the U.S., in 1903, was a 2-cylinder Winton. The trip took 64 days, only 44 of them used in actual travel.


That’s Henry Ford behind the wheel of race car 999.

 

 


END OF PART 5

Part 6
   Advance styling?  A “wrap -around” windishield appeared on the Kissel Kar in 1913, and both Briscoe and Owen displayed convertibles in 1915.  The Packard Twin Six — 12 cylinders, mind you–was marketed in 1915.  Ford was not the only manufacturer reaching for the low-price octaves.  The Saxon sold that same year for $395 f.o.b. 
      Several, brands of cars offered hand-operated windshield wipers, rear-view mirrors, and even stoplights as standard equipment.  The first engine-source heaters appeared in the year the U.S. entered World War I: 1917.  And in 1018 Popular Science issued its firs “Motor manual” for do-it-yourself auto mechanics. 
  In 1920 4-wheel hydraulic brakes appeared.  They had external-contracting bands for shoes, and they were forever getting gummed up with oil and dirt.   
     Car makers were appealing to the sporty set with rakish cars like the Stutz Bearcat and the Jordan Playboy, the latter advertised in a romantic setting–SOMEWHERE WEST OF LARAMIE, said the headline above a winsome damsel and a cowboy galloping in the background.
     Unique among the French cars was Peugeot’s Decauville, designed by Ettore Bugatti.  It was the first European machine in what later would fall in the “mini-compact” category.  For sheer elegance the British Rolls-Royce surpassed anything abroad.  At the opposite end of the scale, the Morris was a rough counterpart of the Model T.  There were others: the Turner, Vauxhall, Napier, Humber, and Sunbeam among them. 
         Anything with velocity was bound to spawn races.  The first international race for horseless carriages was run between Paris and Rouen in 1894.  A French Gobron-Brillie as early as 1904 set a world record of more than 100 mph on 110 hp.  A Napier averaged more than 65 mph for 24 hours.  A Paris-Madrid race was marked by so many gory accidents that it was stopped at Bordeaux.
   In the U.S., the goggled gentry, chanting that a mile-a-minute was attainable, were rewarded when Barney Oldfield, most famous of America’s early racing drivers, in 1903 drove a Ford racer a mile in 55.8 seconds.  Henry Ford, himself, eclipsed that in the same racer, innards refurbished.  The next year he ripped off a mile in 39.4 seconds.  The most ambitious race was one from New York to Paris–the long way around–underwritten by the Paris newspaper, Le Matin, and the New York Times in 1908.  Starting at New York City’s Times Squire, 6 cars–3 French, 1 German, 1 Italian, 1 American–drove to San Francisco, went by boat to Alaska, drove to the Bering Sea, boated across the Bering Straits, and drove on across the Asian and European continents.  The American entry, a  Thomas Flyer, won in an elapsed time of 170 days. 
       
     In the beginning the best-publicized U.S. events were the Vanderbilt Cup races on Long Island, N.Y., originated by millionaire William K. Vanderbilt,  Jr. Vanderbilt one ran afoul of the constabulary and was charged with “speeding” down New York’s Broadway.  When he argued that his car could do no more than 15 miles an hour, said the judge: “You may not think that 15 miles an hour is very dangerous, but for the average man, 8 miles an hour is fast enough.”  That was the pace of a horse at a slow trot.   Indianapolis’ first closed-course race was held in 1909, and its speedway oval–the famous “Brick Yard”–was dedicated formally two years later.  The steam engine, the thing that started the mania for autolocomotion, refused to lie down and play dead in the presence of the internal-combustion engine.  Steam did have its advantages.  It was almost ghostly quiet and, unlike the IC engine–which had to turn at a smart clip to develop power and needed gears or a substitute therefor to get a vehicle moving–a steam engine produced maximum power right from a standstill.
     But its debits far outweighed its credits.  It was an anomaly.  One of the simplest of prime movers, it demanded a horrendous array of appurtenances to make it run.  The sheer weight of its component parts was against it.  It took time to generate enough steam to get going.  The water-supply tank froze in winter.  Boilers leaked, and until the day when a way was found to condense the used steam and recycle the water, steamers had to visit a horse trough too often.
      A steamer made by the White Sewing Machine Company in Cleveland was one of the best.  A product of two brothers, F.E. and F. O. Stanley–who sold out to Locomobile before the turn of the century–was the most famous.  As late as September 1923, Popular Science published details on a steam car designed by a San Franciscan, Abner Doble, that could get up an operating head of steam in a half-minute.  Alas for stem’s enthusiasts, it was love’s labor lost.  As the internal-combustion engine grew in sophistication, a requiem was read over steam.  Less than fifty years later it began to look as though the last rites had been premature.
Image result for 1912 bailey electric auto
Above, Thomas A. Edison stands besides the Bailey electric auto of 1912.  Powered by an Edison storage battery, the car passed endurance test by running 1,000 miles (with recharging) without trouble.

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Part 7
More “curved dash” Oldsmobiles were sold in 1904 than any other make.  The car got 7-hp from 1 cylinder.  Wheelbase was 66 inches, weight 1,100 pounds, price $650.

The car below is the forefather of all Buicks  as  it  appeared  in  1904.  Already getting muscular,  it  had a 2-cylinder engine of 16.5-hp.
  Recognize this as an ancestor of anything today? It’s a  1904 Cadillac with 1-cylinder, 6.5-hp engine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steam cars had their champions.  Stanley produced “Gentlemen’s speedy Roadster” (below) in 1906 and set record of 127 mph.

 

END OF PART 7

Part 8       
STUTZ
Bearcat

Swankiest U.S. car on the road in 1915 was Stutz Bearcat, engineered by man whose name it bore, harry C. Stutz.  In mid-1920s, Stutz introduced one of first safety windshields.
Below, 1912 Stutz Bearcat

Below, 1922 Stutz Bearcat

 

Engine sophistication matched the incredible growth of automobile popularity.  Cars had to have at least 4 cylinders.  Cutaway of a 1915 Model T engine and its power transmission shows what had happened to engines since the carriage became horseless. Below diagram of a Ford self starter

END OF PART 8

Part 9
     Baker electric
First car used by a First Lady was an electric.  Acquired by the White House at close of the Taft administration, it was a favorite of Mrs. Wilson and was kept until 1928.  Above: a model of like vintage.       
      Another early entrant in autolocomotion was the electric car.  As early as 1888, vehicles propelled by motor and storage batteries were humming around the streets of Paris.  Electrics were even quieter than steamers (their audible approach a low, barely perceptible whine) and, mechanically, much less complex than gasoline buggies. They were cleaner and more dependable.  Ricker, Waverly, Columbia and Rauch & Lang electrics sold in the U.S. in modest numbers during the first fifteen years of the century, mostly to sedate elderly gentlemen and timid ladies (crowned by vast, imitation-flower hats) who were quite content with 20 mph.  A range of only 40 miles between battery charging was par for the times.
    The electrics did leave a legacy to Gasoline Alley.  They were the first closed cars.  Their coachwork was exquisite.  And, as with the steam car, the electric’s funeral may have been a bit premature.  That corpse, too, leaped up later.
     Still another type of vehicle–the cycle-car–appeared on U.S. streets and highways before the first two decades of the century were closed out.  Roughly the counterpart of the French Decauville, it was short-lived–succeeded by the Smith Flyer.
  The Flyer, made first by A. O. Smith in 1917 and later by Briggs & Stratton, was a buckboard with five wheels on the ground.  The fifth wheel supplied the power.  Mounted on the stern, it carried its own one-lung engine bolted directly to it.  The engine, the Smith Motor Wheel, had been invented five years before as a power unit for bicycles.  A “shift” lever up front raised the motorized wheel clear of the road.
     A Flyer driver cranked his engine into life, lowered the wheel, and was off and running.  To stop, he stomped on a pedal that pressed a brace of brake-lined fenders against  the rear wheels of the car.  That also stalled the engine if he had failed to use the sift lever.
     True motorcycles, their engines integral, were a boisterous improvement on the Smith Motor Wheel.   They were legitimate descendants of a steam velocipede made in the late 1860s by Sylvester H. Roper in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  Best-known were the Indian and the Harley-Davidson.
      A phenomenal growt in automobile output and ownership was matched by endless rhetoric on motoring in the press.  In 1914, P. G. Heinemann, a doctor of philosophy at the University of Chicago wrote in Popular Science that automobiles could contribute to the public health by: (1) bringing improvement of streets and roads  thus reducing the amount of germ-laden dust in the air, (2) eliminating horses and stables from neighborhoods of human habitation,  with a consequent reduction of germ-carrying flies.

END OF PART 9
Part 10
     Boss Ket thought it was not too much to predict that “some day we may have a carburetor that can start an engine smoothly and quickly in the coldest weather.”  That transpired, but he was far off target when he said we’e be getting 80 miles from a gallon of gas by 1939. 
     In 1900 the U.S. boasted 8,000 cars.  In 1919 this has grown to 6 million, a 750-fold increase.  Though the automobile had been born in Europe, America’s vast distances–and the fatter paychecks of its workers–soon made a U.S. the land of its development. 
     In the U.S. the specter of a gasoline shortage plagued motorist and industry.  As early as 1913 the car manufacturers offered through the International Association of Recognized Automobile Clubs a prize of $100,000 for a substitute for gasoline began appearing in the press: WHAT WILL WE DO FOR GAS?  One answer already was at hand –“cracking” crude oil to get more fuel palatable to a car engine. Simple distillation had been producing little gasoline and a great volume of heavier by-products. 
   Science had other tricks up its sleeve–the hydrogenation of coal to produce synthetic gasoline, polymerization of light gases to make refinable heavier hydrocarbons, and a catalytic process invented by Eugene Houdry of France to improve crude’s gasoline yield and its ignition point.
   In the end, refiners found rich new pools of oil. 
       A fuel fright of a more intimate nature swept the U.S.  in 1925.  Tetraethyl lead had been added to gasoline since 1923 to improve its anti-knock quality.  At a Standard Oil of New Jersey  refinery, 5 workmen exposed to the stuff died and 36 other were hospitalized, several “showing symptoms of insanity.”
     The U.S. Bureau of mines after 10 months of investigation, reported Popular Science, said the danger to the public of breathing exhaust gases from “ethyl” gasoline was seemingly remote.  In late spring of 1926 the U.S. Public Health Services annonunced that its own investigation showed the compound was dangerous only in concentrated form and could be used safely in automobiles.
 

     Dr. Yandell Henderson of Yale, an authority on the action of gases on the human body, disagreed.  Breathing the  exhaust of ethyl gas, he claimed, was a public menace.  He called the turn, as events forty years later would prove. By the mid-1920s the elements that launched the Gasoline Age were well in mesh .  An incredible 17.5 million “pleasure cars” were under registration in the U.S. alone.  The legal speed limit in most states was 10 mph; Michigan allowed 25.
     The first transcontinental road, the Lincoln Highway, was finished in 1920.  In 1921 a Federal Highway Act integrated federal and state systems.
     Between 1900 and 1908 no less than 500 U.S. firms turned out automobiles.  By 1925 that mighty army of optimists, plus hundreds of others that had joined up, had shrunk to 50.  Some had been gobbled up b companies that were better-heeled, some had failed, some had just quit.  E. V. Rickenbacker, leading U.S. ace in World War I air combat, tried his hand at producing a car bearing his name.  It was short lived.  Where the stakes were astronomical, motor-making was a bruising business. 
      By the mid-1920s Henry Ford was in trouble.  Sole owner of his business, he was as rich as Croesus. He had put America on wheel, but he had clung to the Model T and the Model T had seen its day.  Technology was passing him by .  His business was being nibble away.  His dealers were being proselytized to sell machines with more sparkle, both in appearance and performance.  The Chevrolet in particular, by now a General Motors product, was making in roads on the Ford.  Named for Louis Chevrolet, a pioneer in racing and design, it had a respectable gearbox, not planetaries, a 4-cylinder engine of 26 horsepower, a self-starter, and a foot, instead of a hand, throttle.  It also looked classy and it cost only $25 more than a Ford.
     An upstart engineer, Walter P. Chrysler, had entered car manufacture to do battle with the giants.  His cars had a compression ratio of 4.5:1, sensational for their day.  This lent them sass when the throttle was opened.  They could top 70 mph.  All automobiles, Ford expected, had adopted 4-wheel brakes, and Chrysler added to their safety with Hydraulics.  He put ball joints on his front suspension.

 

END OF PART 10

Part 11
The automobile was becoming a marvelous piece of mobile machinery.  Synchromesh transmissions soon obviated the clashing in shifting gears.  Balloon tires, reducing the air pressure from 65 to 35 pounds, softened the ride.  Pumps had begun to replace gravity fuel feed to engines.  As early as 1918 Popular Science ran a contest for devices to improve automobile operation, and firs prize went to C. A. Butterworth of Newton Center, Massachusetts, for a gear-shift system actuated by solenoids.  A driver merely pushed some buttons on the steering column.  Second prize was won by P.C. Hass of Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a solenoid-assisted steering design.
     Streamlining was in vogue.  Body shells were shaped to imply speed.  On closed models, lifts straps on the windows were replaced by cranks.  The granddaddy of today’s power steering was invented. Francis W. Davis, a New England Yankee, toured  Detroit’s automobile plants in a Pierce-Areow roadster trying to interest the industry in his system for turning a steering wheel with a fingertip.  It was no sale.  Hypoid gears were adopted, lowering the drive shaft and permitting lower bodies.  One-shot lubrication, automatic windshield wipers, shatterproof windshield, internal-expanding brake, and vacuum-assisted braking all arrived in a space of four years. 
      A beleaguered Henry Ford sat down and took stock.  He closed down his production lines.It was six months later, in 1928,before a new Ford car was announced.  The Model A, it was an immediate hit.  Its 4 cylinders turned out 40 horsepower that could drove the car 65 mph.  Three synchromeshed forward speeds gave it snap at takeoff.  Hydraulic shock absorbers erased bumps. But the Model A was only a stopgap.  Henry had something else up his sleeve.  In 1932, smack in the Great Depression, he gambled with his first V8, a flathead of 65 hp.  For the first time it brought within reach of the stroe clerk, the dirt farmer, and the factory hand a car powered by an engine theretofore reserved to citizens who counted money by the yard.  Its lowest f.o.b. price was $500.  Ford again was off and running. In the decade before the U.S. was catapulted into World War II, sophistications in the automobile trod on one another’s heels.  Front wheels got independently sprung.  Steel tops for safety became universal–twenty-five years after Daimler introduced them in Europe.  “Overdrive provided a gear above “high” for the open road.  Engines acquired hydraulic tappet clearance adjusters.  They were mounted flexibly to insulate their vibration from the car body.     
Walter Chrysler interposed a fluid coupling in his drive train to soften the transmission of power to the wheels.  In an excess of zest Cadillac produced a car with 16 cylinders.  Vents on front windows supplied draft-free ventilation.

   


Above, at last, the “1-man Ford touring-car top in 1920!  Gone was the center post, gone the unsightly front bow sockets.  The conversion was not available from Ford Motor Co.

Below, the air-cooled engine began gaining favor at just about this time.  Withouth radiator, jackets for cylinders, and plumbing, it didn’t risk freezing in winter and steaming in summer.

  The car below, is Chevrolet’s 5-passenger routing car was only a mild threat to Ford’s dominance of low-cost field in 1923.  Ford’s cheapest, a runabout, was $265, and you could pa $5 a week toward a car for delivery in 53 weeks.By 1924 Detroit stylists began to soften boxy lines by streamlining cars.  Ford’s coupe  (below) had bigger rear window,deeper cushions.

Buick’s roadster (below), a rakish silhouette.

Dodge’s touring car (below) had a higher radiator. All had spoke wheels.

Below,Ford’s assembly line was wonder of the industrial  world.   For benefit of the Prince  of  Wales,  it  turned  out  a complete  automobile  in 26  minutes.  Other  companies  adopted  Henry’s  manufacturing  techniques. 


Below, Henry Ford, with, Edsell Ford, 1928


END OF PART 11

Part 12
     A good many stabs had been made at a fully automatic transmission.  Between 1907 and 1916, the Cartercar sported a clutch-less friction drive with an infinite number of gear ratios.  In 1917 the clutch-less Owen Magnetic used an electric generator to produce a magnetic field.  This acted on a shaft connected to the driving axle of the car.  Varying the intensity of the field controlled the car speed.
    In 1930, Studebaker ballyhooed “freewheeling”–gearshifting without clutching.  It was promptly adopted by 16 other brands.  In 1935, the Hudson and Terraplane had an “electric hand”–fingertip gearshifting–on the steering column.  Reo had a nominal success with an automatic transmission in 1934.
      Then, in 1939, General Motors bravely put a combination fluid coupling and planetary gears (shades of the model T!) into some production Oldsmobiles for its 1940 model.                
 

The device jerked in upshifting and downshifting but, wholly automatic, Hydra-Matic, as it was called, was a portent of developments to come. 
Other things were happening.  Sealed-beam headlights vowed in. Cord put out a front-wheel  drive.  While FWD  was no novelty in Europe, in the U.S. it had, among other drawbacks, too high a price tag, and in eight years the Cord was in limbo. Packard brought out a Twin Six.  It also introduced air conditioning, which promptly became a casualty of the war.  Davis’ power steering did come into use, but only on military vehicles.  Auto radios were a common option.
        Finally, the car manufacturers had hit on a gimmick to boost sales.  This was and annual model change,  putting the motorist in hock for a new bauble to park in his driveway almost before he had made the last payment on the old one.
       Hardly had the fires of Pearl Harbor been quenched before the soothsayers were in print with what was coming in cars after the war.  Their batting averages turned out to be surprisingly good.
(story continues in part 15)

END OF PART 12

 

 

Part 13

 

 

 Another car of transient fame: the sumptuous Peerless, with 6 cylinders, 61hp.  Pictured below, in 1929, it died in 1932.Streamlining had almost reached point of caricature when car makers exhibited their wares at 1934 National Automobile Show. This “Airflow”  Chrysler was a sales disaster; it turned customers away in droves.
Packard was first, in fall of 1941, with air conditioning, working on the same principle as a home refrigerator.  Car trunk housed the condenser (below); at right, and (below)  the schematics.


  Below, The Pierce-Arrow, born in 1901, was epitome of elegance in U.S. motordom, like Rolls-Royce in England.  It looked like this in 1919, nine years before factory folded.
General Motors took the plunge into fully automatic drive (below) with Hydra-Matic Olds in 1940 models, as announced in December 1939 ad. Cadillac adopted it in 1941.      END OF PART 13
Part 14

Running boards had begun to disappear– that is, when a car’s doors were closed– before W.W. II.   The sheet metal hid them.  This remnant o the iron step used to get in and out of the high-wheeled horseless carriage was abandoned entirely after the war.  In 1949 Nash offered a foretaste of disappearing fenders by shrouding the entire car, wheels included.  Only a narrow front-wheel track made it possible to negotiate a turn.
                                                                             END OF PART 14

Part 15

 

 

Tubeless tires, out in 1947, appeared on new cars in early fifties.  Suspect by car buyers at first, they soon proved themselves.  Tubed tire insulated from rim the heat buildup of driving, resulting in air expansion and a harder ride.  Tubeless shoe (above) exposed the heat to rim, which acted as a radiator, reducing its temperature.

 

Tail fins made their debut in 1948 on Cadillacs.  By 1957, just look at what had happened to them!

 

 

 

Power (above image) steering–invented in 1926–finally arrived in 1951 via the Chrysler Corp. Its two units: power package on steering axis and pump-reservoir.

In a “horsepower race” that Detroit piously disclaimed, top figure for passenger cars nearly doubled between 1953–when Lincoln led with 205 hp–and 1957.  Mercury brought out a 400 hp engine with three 2-barrel carburetors and high-performance camshaft.  Congress put automobile fatalities and horsepower together, began getting choleric. Below is a picture of a Ford FE ENGINE, 7litter. 428cu inch.

END OF PART 15

Part 16    
Meantime, an invasion of foreign cars was sneaking up on the U.S. auto industry.  West Germany’s homely little Volkswagen, with all of 25 horses, became more and more popular.

It took a business recession do do it, but in 1959 out popped 3 low-horsepower, shortened, lower-cost U.S. cars–Ford’s Falcon, Chevy’s Corvair, Plymouth’s Valiant.

1959 Ford’s Falcon 

1959 Chevy’s Corvair1959 Plymouth’s Valiant

 

     One list of forecasts in Popular Science saw synthetic cord fabrics for tire bodies, far stronger than the cotton then universally used (they were right), synthetic rubber casings (partly right), plastic car tops (wrong), frameless chassis (some), bydraulic drives (right), superchargers (an experimental sprinkling), lighter engines (not with all the garbage that Detroit would hang on them), revolutionary streamlining (wrong), small-car prices ranging from $500 to $1,000 (wrong), higher-octane fuels (right), 30 miles to the gallon (wrong), and highways to permit super-speeds (right–if, most states, a motorist didn’t mind a ticket).
     The automobile changed not one whit for more than two years after the war.  The car makers hauled their 1941-42 tools and jigs out of storage to hastily satisfy four years of pent-up demand.
     But in the decade 1948-58 the engineers turned out some sparkling achievements.  The first genuinely smooth automatic transmission, Dynaflow, was pioneered by Buick in 1948.  This was a torque converter and a gas-eater.  Not until it was backed up by gears could a car equipped with it be forced past a fuel pump.  Power braking and, at last, power steering–the need for the latter an open confession by designers that the were improperly distributing car weight by pushing the engine forward to boost the size of passenger compartments–were oft-bought options.  The V8 engine with overhead valves became the standard power plant.  Chrysler offered torsion-bar suspension.  Compression ratios crept upward, boosting miles-per-gallon, until 9:1 was a commonplace.
continues in part 18

END OF PART 16

Part 17
Fade out, fade in, eleven years later.  With 1 of every 6 cars sold in the U.S. an import, Detroit began selling its own midget: Chevy’s Vega, Ford’s Pinto, and Plymouth’s Cricket.  They weren’t much on performance, but were cheap to buy and run.

1971 Chevrolet Vega 1970 Ford’s Pinto 1971 Plymouth’s Cricket

                                                                              END OF PART 17

Part 18

     Air conditioning escaped the novelty class and, later, General motors developed their Climate Control, with sensors scattered about the interior of the car to maintain any fixed temperature selected, summer and winter.  Master brake cylinders were divided for front and rear wheels for fail-safe operation.  The rubber industry introduced tubeless tires.
           At their best, the  stylists captured lines that,  to a car buff, were sheer poetry.  The hardtop convertible was a case in point, though it didn’t convert.  It only lost its center pillars.  At their worst, stylists inflicted some pretty garish plumage on cars.  Sheet metal got “sculptured,” evoking the comment by one wag that Detroit was “pre-denting its fenders.”  Hoods steadily lengthened to impart an impression of power.  “Anyone for table tennis?”  asked another critic, eyeing the expanse of hood on a new model.
      Tail fins appeared, first on the Cadillac, and they grew and grew in acceptance and size until the Chrysler Corporation practically killed them off with an outrageous exercise in French curves.
      A “horsepower race” got under way.  Stock-car racing became a sales tool.  Cars kept growing in size. Chevrolets began looking like Cadillacs, Fords like Lincoln Continentals, and Plymouths like Chrysler Imperials.
     In the midst of this yeasty brew, events occurred that ultimately had a sobering effect on U.S. car manufacture.  In 1930 a British design, the Austin Bantam, was built here under license.  It went almost unloved.  Powell Crosley, who had made his money in radios, tried marketing a car of somewhat the same dimensions after World War II. It bombed.  So did a Kaiser-Frazer midget, the Henry J.  Nor did a smallish Nash Rambler and a tiny Nash Metropolitan cause much of a stir.

       
     In 1950, unheralded, a tiny, funny-looking–aye, ugly–car of German manufacture began making its appearance in U.S. showrooms.          Born before the war as a military reconnaissance vehicle but propagandized by the Hitler regime as (the name said it) a “people’s car, ” the Volkswagen was cleverly merchandised in America.  It’s ugliness was made a virtue. Its numbers grew. 
     The VW, or any of its European counterparts, didn’t worry U.S. auto makers.  “Those things,” said a Ford official in 1952, “won’t claim more than two per cent of our market.  We can live with that.”
     By 1958 He was eating His words.  An economic recession had set in.  A surprisingly substantial portion of the buying public wanted less expensive automotive hardware.  The small foreign cars remorselessly munched into the U.S. market.  The imports had other things going for them  One was strict quality control.  And the imports didn’t change styling with the annual first frost.

Four-rotor engine in Mercedes-Benz C-111 Mark II in 1971 wighed only 396 pounds, delivered 400hp.  Wankels, as type is known, come in any size. Smallest is 1/2 hp.

 Below,  1971 Mercedes-Benz  ModelC-111 with rotary power engine


END OF PART 18

Part 19

 

Let’s not forget American Motors.  It, too, had a tiny car, the Gremlin, that the company said was aimed right at the VW market.

 

                      Europe adopted disk brake (below right) long before U.S., where it began appearing in quantity in ’67.  Instead of shoes and drums, (below left), it uses calipers acting like powerful fingers on a disk.

How they work: Fundamental differences between drum and disk brakes

Difference between two braking systems is seen above.  Conventional drum brake (left) has two stationary shoes anchored to backing plate fixed to hub.  The drum rotates around them.  Hydraulic pressure applied by a wheel cylinder forces shoes outward to make contact with drum.  Hydraulic pressure is low and the friction area quite large.  In the more effective disk, line pressure is high and the friction area small.  Brake pads are bonded to caliper held rigidly to wheel hub.  Hydraulic pressure forces the pads against the disk.

Nash, which became American Motors, had scoffed–as a sales ploy–for years against “gas-guzzling dinosaurs,” and suddenly the Big Three plucked some dustladen ideas off their shelves and the “compacts” appeared.  Chevrolet’s Corvair, Ford’s Falcon, and Plymouty’s Valiant turned up in showrooms in 1959.  Six other brands of compact quickly bolstered their number.  All were bigger than the imports and they cost more.    

 

     
     It was a transient victory for smaller-car enthusiasts.  As the economic pendulum swung back toward normal, the enthusiasm of U.S. factories for the things chilled.  They did remain on the production lines, but they tended to grow in dimension.  So German, French, Italian, and British small cars kept arriving in growing numbers at U.S. wharves.
       Detroit coppered its bets.  To its standard, compact, and luxury cars, it added “intermediates” and sport/specialty cars.
     Presently the Japanese discovered the bonanza of the American market for their own postwar automobiles and, for the U.S. industry, the fat was in the fire.  Faced with another economic recession, Detroit for 1971 responded with sub-compacts. Aptly enough, Ford’s offering, the 4-cylinder Pinto, was referred to in the company’s councils as “the Model T”.
     That was not all the industry had to worry about.  Washington’s Capitol Hill began grumbling about the automobile’s pollution of the air. 
      As early as 1960 Popular Science’s “Detroit Report” took cognizance of smog traceable to automobile emissions.  Southern California’s mountain-girt coastal plain suffered most from it, but it had begun to afflict other densely populated areas. 
      The Chrysler Corporation and Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge were working on an exhaust-manifold afterburner to meet part of the problem.  A more immediate and simpler fix for another part of it, quickly adopted industry-wide, was the elimination of the “road draft tube” on crankcases and plumbing to funnel their unburned gases, blown past the piston rings, into the intake cycle.  Work was being done on catalytic converters to mix fresh air with exhaust gases and filter them through chemicals to produce harmless carbon dioxide and water.
      A completely different attack on smog was mounted by Chrysler–experimentally–by substituting a gas turbine for the piston engine.  Boeing Aircraft in 1947 (and, later,  Ford and GM) had built turbine engines for trucks experimentally. Gas-turbine exhausts did contain oxides of nitrogen but they were almost free of other contaminants. Turbines were not finicky about their diets.  They needed no leaded fuels.

 

END OF PART 19

Part 20

The automobile reached a sort of zenith in fun cars, among them all-terrain vehicle, ski scooters, dune buggies, and campers appealing to sportsmen and vacationers.  ATV pictures, (below) with power on all 6 wheels, is typical of its breed. Some even swim.

 

They would burn  kerosene, or Chanel No. 5, or (almost) stove wood.
      Chrysler’s turbine test-bed car, Popular Science noted in July 1961, topped 60 miles an hour from a standing start in less than 10 seconds.  Its top speed was about 115 miles and hour.
       After more than ten years of research Chrysler in 1963 turned out 50 turbine-powered cars for selective consumer evaluation over the next two years.  They ran pretty well, but turbine cars had two seemingly insurmountable faults.  They were expensive to build and their engines lacked the flexibility of pistons.  The turbine essentially was a constant-speed engine, more suited to aircraft than to cars. By 1966 California was enacting some tough laws for smog control, and Congress had given the Department of Heath, Education, and Welfare authority to promulgate demands for cleaner engines.  The research was centered on the elimination of unburned portion of gasoline, though and attack on carbon monoxide was included for general heath reasons.
      In May 1967 Dr. John T. Middleton, director of the Natioanal Center for Air Pollution Control, let fly at the horseless carriage with both barrels Writing in Popular Science, he quoted Jon W. Gardner, then HEW secretary, as saying:  “The automobile internal-combustion engine and the interest of the American people are on a collision course.
     “Wrote Dr. Middleton: “We will drown in our polluted air unless we act fast to clean it up.  Automobiles account for roughly half of the noxious fumes that are poisoning the air we breathe.”

 

      His estimate, as of then, was that cars and trucks each year released 66 million tons of carbon monoxide (a deadly gas), 12 million tons of unburned hydrocarbons, 6 million tons of nitrogen oxides, and smaller quantities of sulphur oxides and particulate matter, including lead compounds.
       “Carbon monoxide,” he said, “need not reach ‘suicide levels’ to be harmful.  Lesser amounts may reduce your ability to handle complex situations–such as driving.  Hydrocarbons in automobile emissions have been shown to produce cancer in animals.  Nitrogen oxides irritate the respiratory tract and weaken the body’s defenses against respiratory infection .  .  .  Hydrocarbons and nitrogen  oxides react in the presence of sunlight to produce photochemical smog, which causes eye irritation, obscures visibility, damages vegetation, and injures human lungs .  .  .  The damaging effects of smog on vegetation have been seen in at least 27 states.”
        The good doctor estimated that U.S. cars, trucks, and buses would number 103 million by 1971.  He was low by 9 million.
       Congress passed a Clean Air Act, and the National Academy of Sciences was called upon to conduct a comprehensive study of the technological feasibility of meeting the auto-emission standards prescribed by it.  These would be, as compared with 1970, a 90% reduction in five years in emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and in six years of oxides of nitrogen.
      The Academy’s National Research Council announced that the high concentration of lead in the air of central cities constituted a potential health hazard to young children and “certain” groups of workers but currently posed no identifiable threat to the general population.  “Due largely,” it said, “to the combustion and dispersal of lead additives in gasoline, the air in the largest American cities has a concentration of lead 20 times greater than air over rural areas .  .  .”

 

END OF PART 20

Part 21 

      A group of scientists at Sweden’s Wallenberg Laboratory announce that the lead additive in gasoline affected the distribution of chromosomes in lower animals under test and “may” cause human birth defects.
      The answers to the motor vehicle’s pollution of the air were elusive.  Electric cars?  In 1959 three independent manufacturers announced plans to produce them.  None did.  Both GM and Ford did have intensive research programs on electrics under way.  Ford actually produced a pollution-free piston engine, but warned that the moment it was fired up its virtues began a progressive deterioration.  In California, the Pacific Lighting company and the union Oil Company jointly proposed to sell compressed natural gas, 90% free of exhaust contaminants, for automotive use. 
   The steam automobile was disinterred, but its faults had not been mended.  A Florida inventor fiddled with a fluid other than water to make the idea work. (By 1972 Popular Science was reporting on DuPont’s brand-new organic-fluid external combustion engine.)
      More promising was a pistonless rotary engine, the German Wankel, burning jet fuel, with most of its dangerous emissions rendered benign by a catalytic converter.  The Wankel had a high mechanical efficiency (low friction losses) but a lower thermal efficiency (degree of fuel conversion to heat) than a piston engine.  It balanced that off with simplicity and compactness.  Under a Wankel hood was a world of room for components to tame noxious emissions.
       David Scott, Popular Science’s European editor, wrote the first definitive description of the Wankel for U.S. readers in March 1960.  The Germans, said Scott, had “blitzed the auto world.”  Detroit executives were less enchanted.  They accused Eugene Duffield, president of Popular Science Publishing Company, of promoting a joke.  But in May 1972, Popular Science’s 100th Anniversary issue was able to preview the first U.S.-built Wankel car, a rotary-engine model of Chevrolet’s 1974 Vega.

 

      To top the Motor City’s woes, a thing called “consumerism” began sweeping the country.  For years specialty automotive publications and a particular consumer magazine had been badgering the car manufacturers with criticism of their products.  So had Popular Science.  Safety was a  big item in the analyses.  A consumer advocate with a missionary zeal, Ralph Nader, wrote a book flaying Detroit.
       Discussion of safety was long overdue.  Multilane, limited-access roads had spread.  The 41,000-mile Interstate Highway System authorized by Congress in 1956 (incorporatting cloverleaf intersections that had been pictured in Popular Science in 1325 s the wave of the future) was built.  Still, deaths from car accidents were in excess of 55,000 a year.  So acute had the problem become in 1956 that the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory in Buffalo, N.Y.,  designed and built a car that could crash without hurting anyone inside.  But, in terms of current design and styling, it was a monstrosity.  Who would buy it?
      In November 1965 the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, writing in Popular Science, roposed the creation of a National Highway Safety Center.  “Why,” he asked, “can’t we make cars safer?”  The following month the magazine opened its pages to Henry Ford II, Ford’s board chairman, to discuss car safety.  He pointed out that Ford had been the first automobile company to undertake systematic research on safer design and that the U.S. fatality rate per 100 million motor-vehicle miles had been cut by four-fifth in forty years.
       It was, in fact , an abuse of the truth to say that the car industry had been remiss in its obligation to the public.  It had done much.  It adopted five of the Cornell safety car’s design increments,  most of which, even the laboratory conceded,  were somewhat bizarre.   As early as 1950 Nash offered seat belts to protect a car’s occupants against the “second collision”–being catapulted into parts of the interior (the windshield especially) capable of inflicting wounds in a crash.  Ford followed.


END OF PART 21

Part 22

Another idea is dumping the piston engine altogether and using the smog-free gas turbine, the motive power of most airliners.  As long ago as 1954 GM produced this Firebird experimental car attired in a racer’s sheet metal..Chrysler built 50 turbine cars.

END OF PART 22

Part 23
      By 1964 seat belts were standard on front seats, by 1966 on the rear ones, and, by government fiat, shoulder harness was mandatory two years later.
      Detroit installed energy-absorbing bumpers, safety door latches, seat-back locks, non-glare rear-view mirrors for night driving, side-frame impact bars, padded steering-wheel hubs and, in some instances, collapsible steer columns.  Selector patterns on automatic transmissions were standardized.  Because most stolen cars–600,000 a year–are nabbed by accident-prone teenagers, buzzers were installed to warn a departing car owner if his hey is left in the ignition.  Steering wheels were made to lock on withdrawal of the key.  Tires that sealed their own punctures were improved, almost doubling their life.

  Vega

END OF PART 23