Set of 12 automotive illustrations by the artist Robert M. Moyer
Special folio issue of the 12 prints that were also pictured in the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, Inc. calendar for 1985. This year's calendar features 12 autos with new designs and advanced technology, all contributing to automotive progress:
1. 1922 Rickenbacker
— Carburetor air cleaner, four-wheel brakes, balloon tires, positive system of oil filtration.
The reputation of the 1922 Rickenbacker, which featured a carburetor air cleaner, was surpassed only by that of its builder.
Initially, Eddie Rickenbacker earned a reputation as a champion race car driver. After the United States entered World War I, he became known as an ace fighter pilot.
When he came home in 1919, Rickenbacker found that America still had little interest in aviation. So in that year he founded his own company and used his racing and flying experience to make the 1922 Rickenbacker worthy of its name. In addition to the air cleaner, that first model had four-wheel brakes, a double flywheel to eliminate crankshaft whip, cradle spring suspension (which lowered the center of gravity, balloon tires and a positive system of oil filtration. The car bore the famous 'Hat in the Ring' insignia of the 94th Squadron, which Rickenbacker had commanded.
But as soon as Rickenbacker threw his hat into the ring, competitors took shots at it. They claimed that the Rickenbacker's four wheel brakes were unnecessary and unsafe. Rickenbacker's sales dropped, and the company folded in 1928.
Rickenbacker was more successful in the aviation business. He bought Eastern Air Lines in the late 1930s and turned the shaky company into a profitable business. He even paid creditors the $250,000 owed by his defunct motor company.
2. 1926 Stutz
— Safety Glass in windshield and all other windows plus other safety features
By the early and mid 1920s, passenger cars were moving fast enough to cause injuries in collisions. Many motorists who might otherwise have emerged from an accident unharmed were cut by jagged pieces of windshield glass.
Stutz Motor Car Company engineers solved the problem by embedding wires transversely, at 2.5 inch intervals, into the glass as it was being made. This 'safety glass' was used not only in the windshield, but also in every window of the 1926 model.
The 1926 Stutz had other features as well: a frame and spring arrangement eliminated side sway; the worm gear drive lowered the center of gravity and increased stability; and four wheel brakes increased the braking surface. Stutz's safety theme helped pull the company out of the red and into the black.
3. 1908 Christie
— Direct front wheel drive
After experiencing frequent blowouts during a 400 mile trip, John Walter Christie sought a way to reduce tire wear and other maintenance costs through simpler design. That search led to front wheel drive.
Christie reasoned that he could lighten a car and give it better balance by applying power to the front, rather than rear, wheels. Front wheel drive helped Christie post a respectable 42.2 second mile and to with a 50 mile race at Ormond Beach, Florida, in 1905. After spectators praised the car, Christie opened the Christie Direct Action Motor Car Company.
To enhance sales, he entered the Vanderbilt Cup Race of 1907. His new model was powered by a 19,891 cc V-4 - the largest engine ever to compete in a Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the car was insufficiently tested and broke down on its fifth lap.
Christie did well in several dirt track races that summer until he was injured in an accident. His efforts, however, attracted no new investors, and the Christie Direct Action Motor Car Company slid into receivership in 1908.
Using 'direct drive' once again, Christie built his last car in 1909. He posted a 57 second mile - a track record - at Grosse Pointe, Michigan, but received no orders. George Robertson drove the car for a 30.39 second mile before the engine failed. Thus ended Christie's racing career, but not his contributions to automotive progress.
4. 1937 Oldsmobile
— First automatic transmission
magazine described the first automatic transmission as "a radical departure from standard gear design." It used oil pressure to control two planetary units which provided the different gear ratios.
Oldsmobile offered the new transmission as optional equipment on its 1937 model. Vehicles so equipped yielded better performance: acceleration rose 12 percent; and by reducing the number of engine revolutions by 20 percent, the transmission saved fuel, reduced oil consumption and decreased wear on the engine, bearings and cylinder walls.
The new transmission, however, was not totally automatic. The driver had to use the clutch to put the transmission into first gear. It went into second gear automatically—at 10 miles an hour if the car accelerated at part throttle, at 22 miles an hour if the throttle was opened wide. To put the transmission into third or fourth gear, the driver had to move the shift lever from the "L" into the "H" shifting position.
By 1941 Oldsmobile had eliminated the clutch, making the transmission totally automatic.
5. 1932 Ford
— Single block V-8 engine
Henry Ford believed "the fewer the parts, the less the risk of trouble." That belief led to development of the Ford V8 engine.
Reducing the number of parts also reduced costs. Before 1932, V8 engines were made from two or three segments. America, in the middle of the depression, needed a less expensive eight cylinder engine.
So Henry Ford and his engineers built an engine out of a single, cast iron block. The team had some trouble in doing so: heads cracked, rings leaked and engine mounts vibrated loose. The result of all this testing was an extremely efficient, lightweight and powerful engine that out performed most of the larger, more powerful automobiles of the day.
The engine was ready for Ford's Model 18 when the car was unveiled on March 31, 1932. In 1933 seven Ford V8s were the first seven finishers in the Elgin Stock Car Races.
6. 1940 Packard
— First air conditioning called "Weather-Conditioner"
The summer of 1940 was a cool one for drivers of the new Packards. That year the company became the first manufacturer to offer an automobile with air conditioning, then called Weather Conditioner.
The Weather Conditioner, however, wasn't without problems. The compressor operated continuously, and the car kept cooling as it went faster. The fan blew cooled air directly onto the necks of rear seat passengers. Even with the fan turned off, there was no thermostat to keep cool air from dropping to the floor.
Despite these and other problems, about 2.000 units were sold before the Weather Conditioner was dropped at the beginning of World War II. The air conditioner made a comeback in 1953.
7. 1952 Kaiser-Darrin
— First production car to have fiber-glass reinforced plastic body
A decade of research culminated in the first production car made of plastic reinforced with fiberglass - the 1952 Kaiser-Darrin. The plastic body was light - only 300 lbs., a fraction of the weight of an equivalent steel body. In fact, the sports model weighed 1500 lbs. less than what had been the lightest American convertible.
Instead of achieving stability through weight, designer Howard A. Darrin used a longer car length - 15.3 feet from bumper to bumper - and a low center of gravity. With the convertible top in place, the car's overall height was 54 inches, lower than any other US production car. The low silhouette added to the car's rakish European look and the sports styling lines were crisp and uninterrupted. The folding, three position top could be completely concealed under the rear deck and the doors slid into closed compartments.
Some 435 Darrin sports cars were produced before Kaiser Motors discontinued its passenger car business. The Kaiser-Darrin paved the way for the successful production of the Corvette in 1953.
8. 1921 Heine-Velox
— Four-wheel hydraulic brakes
In 1921 hydraulic brakes were not new, but only a few cars had them on all four wheels. The 1921 Heine-Velox was one of those cars.
Four-wheel hydraulic brakes dramatically reduced stopping distances. At 20 miles an hour, two-wheel brakes needed 37 feet to stop a car while four-wheel brakes needed only 8.5 feet.
The Heine-Velox Company was the first customer of the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Company, but only a few of the cars were ever built. Malcolm Lockheed had experimented with hydraulic brakes asa early as 1903. He and his brother Alan founded the Lockheed Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California, in 1916. In 1918 he installed his first experimental brakes on a Paige Roadster. Unlike manual brakes, Lockheed's hydraulic brakes needed no adjustments to achieve equal pressure.
Later in 1921, the Duesenberg Company became the first major manufacturer to offer four-wheel hydraulic brakes as standard equipment. By April 1 of that year, four-wheel hydraulic brakes could be purchased for most automobiles as optional equipment for about $250.
9. 1912 Cadillac
— Electric self-starter
'The car that has no crank' was Cadillac's description of the company's 1912 model. That car was the first to be equipped with an electric self-starter.
The Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, Charles F. Kettering's shop in Ohio, made the first starter for a Cadillac engine in 1910 by building a series motor into a flywheel. However, the one to one torque was not enough to turn over the crankshaft under certain temperatures.
Kettering finally abandoned the flywheel starter in favor of the motor starter. A license agreement with Clyde J. Coleman provided a two gear ration - one gear to allow the motor to crank the car an another to allow the motor to work as a generator after the engine was running.
By 1916 nearly 98 percent of American cars in production featured electric starters. In France 'Le Delco', the acronym for Kettering's company, became the name for any battery ignition.
10. 1951 Chrysler
— Hydraulic power steering
In the early 1920s, Francis W. Davis of the Truck Division of the Pierce Arrow Company tried to find a better way to handle heavy vehicles, but instead paved the way for passenger car power steering.
Chrysler bought Davis's patent but it wasn't until 1951 that the company offered hydraulic steering, called Hydraguide, as standard equipment in Imperials and New Yorkers and as optional equipment in Saratogas. Drivers found that they could steer with 80 percent less effort, and even the large models became easy to drive.
Although hydraulic steering was a significant innovation, it made little immediate impact in 1951, since Chrysler had introduced a V-8 engine, fluid torque drive and several other features that year.
11. 1908 Chadwick
— Supercharger (centrifugal blower)
Lee S. Chadwick believed the way to demonstrate the worth of a quality car was to race it against others in stock form. His problem in 1907 was how to turn an elegant six cylinder chain drive luxury car into a racer. The answer: a centrifugal blower, better known as a supercharger.
Chadwick and an engineering associate, J.T. Nichols, found that a single stage blower could increase the engine's output. Believing "if a little is good, more is better," they built a three stage blower that turned 22,500 rpm at a crankshaft speed of 2500 rpm. With an engine so supercharged, Willie Haupt set the fastest time at the Giant's Despair hill climb on May 30, 1908. Haupt went on to score victories in sprints events at Worcester, Cleveland and Norristown.
After Haupt lost the Vanderbilt Cup Race because of sabotage, Chadwick publicly revealed the details of his stock based racer. He announced that he had built replicas warranted to attain 100 miles an hour, one of which won the 200 mile Founder's Day Cup Race in Philadelphia in 1910.
12. 1886 Benz
— First vehicle powered by gasoline fuel
Karl Benz didn't invent the gasoline engine, but he did usher in the automotive era with his 1886 design of the first vehicle propelled by gasoline fuel.
Benz's four stroke engine had a maximum power output of 2/3 horsepower at 250-300 rpm. Although considered powerful at the time, it was not strong enough to move a heavy vehicle. So in 1885,86 Benz built a light three wheeled carriage, which reached a speed of 9 miles an hour the first time it was tested on public highways in Mannheim, Germany,on July 3, 1886.
Lightness wasn't the car's only feature. Benz combined a Ruhmkorff trembler coil, spark plugs, and a battery to build a better ignition system. His spark plug, in fact, became the basis of future spark plug technology.