Using Hands and Feet: How the Car Bells and Whistles of the Past Worked

Today, the CD player in the car is already a throwback, but prior to it there even was the advanced, for its time, turntable. The ignition key is no longer a curve armature, as a hundred years ago, but a cool gadget with a display.

The electric starter is now put even on lawnmowers. But the question to fill in: when did the first vehicle GPS appear? Do you think not before the first satellite was launched, sometime in the 1970s? Logical, but wrong. The 1964 Ford Aurora concept already had GPS on its equipment list. However, the map represented a piece paper, and to be honest, the device did not work…

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The first GPS satellite was launched only 14 years after the Ford concept had appeared. However, this technical misunderstanding did not interfere with the wild imagination of the engineers. «See the red dot on the map? This is our location! Error? It's nothing more than a couple of miles.» Of course, the idea did not take root: the system was the size of a bedside table, so it is also unclear how the developers intended to move a paper map on the display. A full-fledged navigation system on a production car appeared only in the early 1990s.

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Forget about navigation: it is difficult and too expensive. Let's talk about something simpler, like turn signals. Today, flashing yellow light bulbs will not surprise anyone, but at the beginning of the last century, everything was different. There were lights, of course, but only the brake lights, which were not transformed into turn signals right away. At first, it was a funny device called semaphores. When it was turned on, a red plastic flag, the great-grandfather of modern blinkers, jumped out of the car side and immediately hid back by means of an electric motor, and this was done with the same frequency that the notorious light bulbs blink today. Moreover, in some markets, this thing was the same option as the wipers.

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Speaking of wipers. Today, wiper blades are in the basic equipment of the simplest car. They are driven by an electric motor and a so-called trapezoid. You will not think that the wipers earlier had a sophisticated device with some kind of wires, like a speedometer, and the speed of their work directly depended on the speed of the car. But that is how it used to be.

Okay, the wipers are clear, but what about the windshield washer? No less original option and device. The washer had a manual drive: a tank, tubes, injectors and the cherished rubber button. The harder it was pressed, the more it wet the windshield. Needless to say that the use of this engineering miracle was at least uncomfortable. A little later, the button gave way to a pedal, but it was all the same-damn inconvenient. Well, that is all in the past.

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But the other option was very much to the consumer's taste. The romantic name ‘Twilight Sentinel’ speaks for itself. This was the first mass-produced sunload sensor that was installed in the Cadillac Series 62, and later in other models of the company. Pay attention to the molding on the left fender above the headlights: a barely noticeable window — this is the very device. Yes, at first not everything was going so smooth: the photocell was buggy, the lights often turned on out of place, and the built-in timer could simply not work. In short, the first step is always the hardest. But the engineers were not discouraged: today the sunload sensor is quite a common device.

Cadillac Series 62 Cadillac Series 62
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