Vintage Video: As The Wheels Turn (1950)

Think about the most recent trip in your modern car. Think of a trip you took in a classic car. Was the ride different? In today’s modern cars the engineers have nearly perfected the comfort of our ride. Back in 1950, things were a little different.

The video shows a husband and wife with their children with a 1950’s Chevrolet sedan. They are having a picnic and watching their kids play. The husband explains to the wife how things operate on their new car, from suspension to interior air vent systems.

1950’s Chevrolet Sedan

Unlike a lot of how-to videos from today, this video is not done with voice-over narration. Instead, it is done with actors and actresses along with animated designs. The husband explains how each function works and who it benefits in correlation to where they are in the vehicle.

Independent suspension creates challenges for the driver and passengers.

The husband begins by making models with items from their picnic to give a visual on the inner workings of the suspension. However, for the audience watching the video, the producer included animated visual aides to go along with the models. He explains that early models had straight axle front suspension that caused “jerky” steering.

This caused the ride of the passengers to be uncomfortable. Their new vehicle, however, has independent suspension in the front providing a smoother driving and riding experience.

To explain why their new car drives so smoothly, the husband describes the uses and benefits of how tie-rods operate.  He creates a model of the initial way the tie-rods were set up where one side was longer than the other. Unfortunately, this design caused greater effort for the driver. He introduces the center-point steering model that uses nearly equal tie-rod length and an idler arm, offering the driver less road feel and more comfort.

Center-Point Steering provides ease to the driver.

The kids are playing on a teeter-totter, prompting the husband to explain that their smallest child is in the best spot because she is in the center. With the advanced engineering knowledge of comfort and ride in their new Chevrolet, they have implemented something called center-point seating. By moving the rear seat from over the rear wheels to a more “centered” position in the car it creates a “front seat” feel for all passengers.

Center-point seating creates a more comfortable ride for the rear passengers.

Something else introduced into the car world during the ’50s is the front coil-over suspension and rear spring/shackle suspension. He explains how the shocks work with fluid creating a cushioned feeling as if they were in an airplane as it is landing.

The angled position of the rear shocks instead of being up and down, paired with the widening of the shackle angle, provides the best range of motion. This allows for the ride to be the same no matter how much of a load the car does or does not have.

Spring and Shackle rear suspension have come a long way!

The last part of the video explains how the new interior air vent system works. The husband adds straws to his model car to represent the air intake system bringing air from outside the front of the car, providing airflow to the passengers.

This new design allows cooler air into the vehicle without rolling down the windows. This also allowed for the defrost and heat to be introduced into the vehicle as well, via the heater core.

Defrost was a luxury!

So, what are your thoughts on this video? How much have things changed when comparing it to modern vehicles and how they work?

Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to check back with us for all things automotive.

About the author

Nichole Holzli

Now a resident of Denver, Nichole grew up on a ranch in Southern California and relocated to a small town in Northern California upon starting high school. There she became a member of the Future Farmers of America, cultivating leadership skills and putting them into practice. Nichole has a passion for reading, a talent for writing, and a lifelong love affair with cars. She is married with four children and provides content for Power Automedia as a freelance writer.
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