!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Alfred Sloan's Memoir V: Autos in the Olden Days

Monday, February 22, 2010

Alfred Sloan's Memoir V: Autos in the Olden Days

There are precious few people with firsthand experience of driving cars from the early years of the automobile era. In Chapter 12 of My Years with General Motors, Alfred Sloan reminds his readers of what mass-produced autos c. 1920 were like:

1920 Chevrolet 490 Touring Car

Today's driver, of course, would find the typical car of 1920 completely unsatisfactory. It had a four-cylinder engine whose crankshaft and associated connecting rods and pistons were inherently unbalanced. Ordinarily this car had two-wheel brakes with braking confined to the rear wheels; it had no independent springing of the front wheels; it had a sliding-gear transmission, and an engine of low power. It vibrated and often shimmied; it veered and sometimes skidded when the brakes were applied; it rode hard and rough; the clutch grabbed; the gears often clashed in the shifting, and, owing to the low power available, they always had to be shifted on hills of substantial gradient. But the car usually got somewhere and back; fortunately it was unable to go fast or far enough for many of its deficiencies to become serious drawbacks. It was roughly adapted to its environment — and its major parts were reasonably adapted to each other, at however low a level of integration and efficiency.

[p. 220, 1990 edition]


Labels: ,