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OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    these past couple days, now that I've got it running well. You really do have to re-learn how to drive an old car once you get used to a newer one.

    Things like standing on those manual brakes to make the car stop, at the same time not putting so much pressure as to lock 'em up! Wider turning radiuses, etc.

    Still, I'd imagine a late 60's car is a lot closer to a modern car in handling characteristics than a 30's car!

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...on tv the other night. On the History Channel, or whichever one shows those "Modern Marvels" programs. Well, this episode was about the evolution of the truck and its contribution to society.

    They showed alot of old footage from the 20's and 30's of just how bad the roads were, deeply rutted, washed out, muddy, nonexistent, etc. Kind of interesting that, while cars have improved so much over the years, I don't think a modern car would have lasted more than 5 minutes back then!
  • fowler3fowler3 Posts: 1,919
    drainole, we are about the same age. I've been driving since 1944. Learned in a cow pasture before getting on the road. Having all that space a narrow strip of pavement seemed impossible. ;)

    C13, I know what you mean about non-collapsable steering columns. Had a friend killed in a wreck, the steering column penetrated his chest like a big spear.

    I was in a wreck in 1992, a new Buick Roadmaster rearended my '86 Accord at a stoplight. His airbag didn't deploy! I hit the steering wheel and bounced off, chest injury and whiplash. Belts do not hold you if rearended. My car was totaled, the fuel tank was pushed down and under the car, the spare was pushed all the way into the passenger compartment against the front seatbacks. No fire, the tank was almost empty. I got out, staggered around smiling, thinking, 'I'm going to get a new car out of this.'

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Did you know that power steering was originally developed for trucks? The idea was to help drivers from serious wrist injuries. On those rough roads, with those primitive heavy trucks, you could easily break your wrist hitting a bump or rut. It was apparently a common injury.

    Great truck movie is : "They Drive By Night"....with George Raft and Humphrey Bogart. Highly recommended!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    Shifty, nope, I didn't know that, about power steering being developed first for big trucks. Makes sense, though! I'm sure driving a heavy truck without power steering is much more difficult than my Dart was when the steering pump was broken! I do remember awhile back, when we had to do an office move, the movers had an old Mack cabover that must've been from the late 50's or early 60's. No power steering. They had an old guy driving it, and you could tell he was getting a workout!

    As for non-collapsible steering columns, I remember reading in some old magazines, like Consumer Reports, that they actually looked for the placement of the steering box under the hood, and took that into their safety considerations. Some cars had the box ahead of the front axle, so the slightest impact could sent the steering column back into the driver. My '57 DeSoto has the steering box just aft of the front suspension, so I guess it would be somewhat safer. I don't want to test it, though!
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    Anyone know just when that first truck power steering appeared, and on what make? I'm curious. I was reading an article about an old Fageol log truck from the twenties, and a guy was talking about what it was like to steer [and control] the thing on rough logging roads.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I believe that on an experimental basis power steering was fitted to trucks, based on a Chrysler unit, as early as around 1934 or so. But p/s really wasn't commercially available until after World War II. Perhaps it does appear on a car or truck prior to that, but I've never personally seen that.
  • A US patent filed in 1927! The inventor tried to sell it to GM, but Alfred Sloan wasn't interested. Man, steering those 1930's cars with balloon tires must have been a drag. I believe that the first GM cars to have PS came out in 1952-that's a lag of 25 years. I remember that it was many years before GM had power-assisted Rack and pinion steering-before this all the cars had recirculating ball steering, which provided very little in the way of road feel.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I think they were also first offered in 1952 or 53 (Buick), as was air conditioning. Imagine trying to stop a 5000 lb Cadillac with manual brakes. Fun.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    Does anybody know how big the drums would've been on those big, old 50's cars? The biggest car I ever had with manual brakes was a '67 Newport, which probably weighed around 4,000 lb. It really wasn't that bad. And the scary thing is, a little old lady who could barely see over the dashboard owned it before me!

    I think my '57 DeSoto has 12" drums all around, but I'm not sure. At least they're power-assisted. Chrysler products that year had something called "Total Contact" braking, but I'm not sure what that means.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Corvair's drum brakes were excellent, and some well designed older cars weren't too bad at all. Mostly it was the heavier cars that suffered from the ills of drum brakes....well, there was the VW bug, none too swift in the braking department.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I saw an old Stutz Bearcat once, and was surprised to notice the thing had drum brakes in the front! I started talking to the owner, and it turns out the car was "modernized" back in the '50's for an old TV show, with parts from a Ford truck. Front brakes got added at that time, along with a Ford engine, and a few other goodies. Appearantly, a stock Bearcat wasn't tough enough to handle the stunt driving for the TV show. Gorgeous car, but the open cabin and no seat belts would scare me. The man said he'd been up to 70 mph in the thing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Funny thing, in the old days four wheel brakes were thought to be dangerous. It was rumored that front brakes would cause the car to swerve out of control.

    First car to use 4-wheel brakes was the 1923 Packard, and first car to use hydraulics was the 1920 Duesenberg.

    As in modern times, usually the expensive cars pioneer the newest technology....possible exception to this hard rule was the Ford Model T, which was very advanced (in some ways) and very cheap.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I've never understood the T's transmission. It seems like it was sort of a continuously variable automatic. The proto-Dynaflow?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yeah, sort of...a planetary gear system, just like automatic transmissions used many years later. I think Dynaflow has some sort of turbine arrangement. I just don't recall anymore.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Nothing mysterious about the Model-T transmission. Mr. Ford took great pride in its simplicity. High gear was direct drive and low gear had a planetary gear-set to provide the speed reduction using a band to stop rotation of the internal gear. Depress the pedal for low gear and release it for high gear. Mid-travel of the pedal was neutral - and neutral could also be obtained by engaging the hand brake. Reverse utilized a second planetary gear set and band-clutch - and was engaged with a separate pedal. No turbines or continuously-variable technology involved here......
  • And if it started to slip in low, you could just lift up the floorboard and tighting band and off you would go.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Correct me if I am wrong, Badgerpaul, but the tightened low-band sometimes wasn't enough to get you up a steep hill. With no fuel pump and the under-seat gas tank, the carb would be starved. So you use reverse in order to elevate the tank higher than the carb and away you go up the hill in reverse. But thanks for the information; there are probably several of us who didn't know how to access the low-band to tighten it.
  • Thinking back on most of the cars I was around in the 50s and know, the usual Chevys and Fords, etc.

    Cons: clunky boats that needed tuning every six months and were used up at 60k or 80k if the rust didn't get them first.

    Pros: would run on an odd number of cylinders for years and you could fix 'em yourself when you could afford to. Another pro: you could sit on them, lean on them and in many cases walk on them without denting them. And they didn't get blown all over the highway by a stiff breeze.

    They had character, and sometimes big V-8 power, but the ride and handling were only somewhat better than a buckboard.

    Do I need to mention the Chevy 2-speed Powerglide transmission?

  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I was 16, and trying to get my Dad interested in anything other than the economy cars [Valiant 6, Rambler, etc,] cars he was looking at. At the time, we had a 57 Pontiac, with the 347/252hp V8 and hydramatic, and I had taken my drivers test, and learned how to burn rubber, with this car. There was no way I could let my Dad buy some kind of economy car, like those I mentioned! I knew at the time, that an efficient V8, [like the Chevy 327] could deliver good gas mileage, [especially with a manual transmission] and have some performance at the same time. Anyway, it turned out that my Dad and I stopped by a Chevy dealer in June '62 and saw a gordeous Impala SS with a 327/250 and stick in front of the showroom. One thing led to another and we made the deal and drove it home. Now, 39 years later, I own an identical 62 Impala SS 327, with 42,000 original miles, except it has a powerglide. I remember back then, thinking "if only Chevy had something, ANYTHING but the powerglide. Now, I own one, and you know, it's not all that bad! Except for the mid-speed ranges where you might want that extra passing spot, the torque and the power come in, when you put it down, and the car does okay! hey I can get around the manual steering and brakes. Actually, the manual steering is amazingly light, and I actually think I prefer it to the power steering my Dad's car had back in '62. The manual brakes, I don't know. My 55 Pontiac has manual brakes, and it stops pretty well. I prefer it to many of the oversensitive power brake cars I've driven from the 60's and 70's. The 62 Chev, though, overall, I really like. They just don't make interiors like that anymore. And, the looks of the car, to me, is much more apealling than any of the new cars I've seen the last few years. I can live with the shorcomings of the brakes and steering, in exchange for the unique style compared to the bland rounded plastic-bumpered camry/BMW look-alike clones of today. 60's cars have alot going for them, even today!
  • The gravity feed fuel system did leave a lot to be desired, when going up a long hill. I also think that reverse had a lower gearing that would help when going up a steep hill.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    It wasn't just by chance that the Model-A fuel tank was located in the cowl, was it?
  • I would guess not, by mounting it on the cowl it almost always was above the carburator. Other cars of that era had a vacuum fuel pump mounted on the cowl that included a small reservoir for those times (like climbing a hill) when not enough vacuum was being created to pull fuel from the tank in the back of the car.
    When I was in high school a couple of my Dad's toys were a 1925 Model T and a 1927 Pontiac. The difference between the two was really stark. It was easy to see why Henry had to replace the Model T. I one time drove the Model T across town to put it away and bring the Pontiac home, it was like day and night, the Pontiac seemed like a modern car, even though at the time it was almost 50 years old, with a three speed transmission, clutch, gas pedal and quiet.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Your Model-T comparison with the Pontiac is surely a good example of Ford's overdue need to step up from the '27 Model-T. The famed Ford V8 five years later was a bold step but wouldn't you agree that Mr. Ford's stubbornness continued in several areas, notably the use of the transverse "buggy" springs for both the front and rear suspension?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496 an all-GM car show. That sucker had an OHV engine in it, that actually didn't look too outdated. Must've been really advanced for the time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Mr. Ford was both a genius and a nutcase it seems. Certainly a man of many contradictions and virtues/vices. It seems he was in many ways totally ignorant yet in other ways certainly a visionary. Always interesting to think about Mr. Ford.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Ford held onto mechanical brakes long after everybody else had gone to hydraulics. Ford's transverse "buggy springs" lasted all the way through 1948!
  • Corvettes used a transverse spring.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Speaking of advanced, I saw a '30s Bugatti racer at a concours a few years ago. The owner fired it up and to me it sounded like a Cobra 289--a very crackly, cammy small block exhaust note--not at all what I expected a '30s straight eight to sound like.

    My wife knew the owner so I mentioned this to him. I don't think he was pleased.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    They really weren't all that bad. The 62's and newer had a habit of wearing out clutches which would cause them to slip between gears.

    I remember paying (in 1968) a whopping 200.00 to have mine overhauled. I remember the guy telling me he had put in heavy duty clutch plates and more of them. After that, I had a firmer shift and no more trouble.

    I loved that 62 Impala SS 300 HP 327.
This discussion has been closed.