Monday

Auto History Trivia


It's good to read Good. The magazine. Not only is it always interesting but your small subscription cost is donated by the company to your choice from a list of charities. So you too can do good just by subscribing to Good magazine.

This month's issue had an interesting graphically illustrated "century of motoring" history. Here's some of the highlights of the auto industry and motoring in America.

1908 Ford's Model T was introduced and achieved 21 miles per gallon. No computers. Big, heavy engine. A crank start. And 21 miles per gallon. Amazingly, the average car nowadays gets less than that per gallon.


1911 The first Indy 500 race takes place in Indianapolis. Built in 1909, its owner decided from Day 1 that there would only be one race a year on the track and the winner would take home the largest winner's award in racing. It worked. That first winner averaged just over 74 mph.

1912 Traffic signals were invented and put in use. In a bare 4 years, folks, traffic got that bad.

1920 The first Rv was built and sold, ushering in an industry that today numbers in the millions. The quality of that first travel trailer was so bad that no known photos exist of it or its remains.

1926 The cigarette lighter introduced.

1930 The first car radio installed. The Motorola radio retailed for $110 on up but buyers thought it was well worth it. After all, it drowned out all that motor noise.

1933 The first drive in theater opened. Now you could smoke, listen to the radio, and go to the movies without ever leaving the comfort of your own car. Ahhh, modern times.

1940 Air conditioning put in the first car. Now drivers could be comfortable on long drives too.

1945 Cruise control invented ... but it would be decades before they would become common place.

1948 Power windows invented. And we're not talking Red 'n Green's cordless drill power windows either.

1956 First car phone created in Sweden. It weighed 90 pounds. Not exactly portable. See all those guys leaning under the hood? They're probably installing it.

1965 Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed, launching the consumer protection movement.

1968 Air bag invented ... again it would be years before they would become common. In the meantime, countless thousands of lives would be lost while car makers said they were so expensive that they were just not worth it.

1975 Catalytic converters became standard to cut back emissions.

1984 First seat belt laws passed.

1992 Humvee released for civilian ownership. Gas was cheaper then too.

1997 GM creates and leases to consumers the EV 1 electric car, saying the cars show the way to the future and pledging that everything about the car will last and be recycled for years into the future. Owners love the fact that you just plug it in and it goes right on by every gas station on the road. Oil changes are gone. So is that loud noise under the hood. But within 6 years GM would take them all back and crush them, while consumers begged GM to sell them the cars and not crush them. GM ignores the pleas. A black mark on GM that still hasn't been erased.

Cars are part of America's culture. They drive the economy. They are the reason our society is mobile. More importantly, they are the reason that parents and children, grandparents and grandkids can easily spend time together.

For a generation, the auto industry has convinced us we can rely on the cars and trucks they build to get us to work and to get us home safely. But when your new car breaks down, they break their promise. If America is to become a manufacturing giant in the world again (and that won't be easy), manufacturers have to learn to step up and accept responsibility for what they build and sell.

So how do we get them to do that? Believe it or not, big business listens to only one thing. The almighty dollar. Air bags languished for years while Detroit fought installing them for one reason or another. It was only when lawsuits starting claiming that a good design had to include air bags that manufacturers listened. When it costs too much to do something the wrong way, big business will do things the right way.

So don't put up with a bad car or a bad truck. If you want to make America strong again, do something about it.

Burdge Law Office
www.BurdgeLaw.com
Helping Consumers Get Their Money's Worth Since 1978


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