A Brief History of Falling in Love With Our Automobiles
If a man’s home is truly his castle, then his garage door is the drawbridge. And his parking garage is the stable. That would make his automobile his mounted steed—his faithful companion on the trails of life.
It was 115 years ago that the first modern shock absorber was invented. A piston and cylinder were close fitted into a metal sleeve. With the movement of air or oil through a one-way valve, the piston moves freely in one direction and moves like frozen molasses in the other direction. The end result is a smooth ride. Goodbye wagon wheels and leaf springs! The crush was in full bloom!
First Car Crush
It was 105 years ago, in February of 1911, that the first electric self-start was installed in a Cadillac. No more bending in front of the car with a hand crank, a mean device that had a nasty habit of biting back at you when you least expected it! The cranking would spin the internal crankshaft which oscillated the pistons, and when the fuel ignited with a spark the firing engine would take over. But heaven help you if the engine kicked backward—throwing the crankshaft backward. You could break a wrist or an arm in a very nasty split second. And so the driving community breathed a sigh of relief when electric start motors were introduced more than a century ago. The roadside crush was graduating to infatuation!
Four years later, in 1919, the smart engineers at a Spanish engineering firm, Hispano-Suiza, got rid of the hand brake. Pretty much chucked it out the window. These folks manufactured a French luxury car, the H6B, using a single foot pedal to simultaneously operate four-wheel brakes. Now you could steer the new-fangled contraption with both hands on the steering wheel—avoiding Aunt May’s rose garden entirely! And up until 1926 you needed both hands on the steering wheel. Because that was the year when Francis Wright Davis came up the first power steering system, by coupling mechanical steering linkage with a pretty clever hydraulic system.
Of course, pedestrians still had to jump for cover, and oncoming drivers still had to steer clear as you approached, because flashing turn signals weren’t yet invented. That smart idea came from a Delaware company in 1935, with the development of a ‘primitive’ thermal interruption switch. And if that wasn’t enough reason to fall in love with your car, drivers only had to wait four more years for air conditioning in 1939. And then in 1940, Jeep brought us the first mass produced fully automatic transmission. Now your roadway romance could really heat up—without shifting gears, or breaking into a sweat!
It took a blind man in the 1950’s, Ralph Teeter, to develop cruise control. He could actually hear that cars on the Pennsylvania Turnpike were operating at uneven and irregular speeds. Ralph logically extrapolated that this was a road hazard. Thanks to Ralph, today 3 out of 4 drivers on the road can relax, enjoy the scenery—and entirely avoid photo-radar speeding tickets. What’s not to love about the car?
True Vehicle Love
In the 70’s decade our cars and trucks really started loving us back, with the introduction of airbags. Dozens of lives saved quickly became hundreds, and then thousands. The mid 1980’s saw the introduction of anti-lock brakes. Now our cars were truly looking after us. This was no passing romance. This was a match made in heaven. From that point our love affair with automobiles became sweeter by the model year.
And what more reason do you need to look after a car that offers you so much, and asks so little in return? Your automobile wants a sanctuary away from the hazards and madness of the modern road, your very own parking garage. And your garage door offers safe passage into that inner sanctum. Just like your car or truck, you need to maintain your garage door with regular service and preventive maintenance. And consider that a well maintained garage door delivers ready access to your automobile, your faithful companion on the trails of life.