Check out these interesting Indiana Auto Facts from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
In October 1926, the new Auburn line was equipped with the Lycoming Eight-in-Line, a very advanced engine. It was a 260 c.i.d., L-head straight-eight generating over 60 h.p. at 2600 r.p.m. The car was fully equipped with items that were still aftermarket options on less expensive cars, including bumpers, a rearview mirror, shock absorbers, a windshield wiper, and a stop light.
In August 1928, H.H. Brooks, general sales director of the Marmon Motor Car Company, pointed out that the automobile could hardly be considered a luxury when it only cost $1 per day to own one! He was using statistics released by the American Motorist’s Association, which cited the average cost of a passenger car as $953, the average annual upkeep as $229, and the average life of the vehicle as seven years.
In 1929, both Cord and Ruxton introduced front-wheel drive. Previously, Harry Miller teamed up with Preston Tucker to produce the first front-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension Indianapolis racer.
In 1931, Studebaker introduced helical-cut transmission gears that almost completely eliminating gear whine. They also introduced the hill-holder clutch, a device that kept the brakes applied if the clutch pedal was held down.
In 1935, during the depths of the Great Depression, luxury car-makers were competing to sell cars with the biggest, most powerful, smoothest running engines. Auburn all had V-12’s, Duesenberg and Stutz chose sophistication over cylinder count, making straight-eights with dual overhead cams, 32 valves and careful design of intake and exhaust manifolds. The Duesenberg could be ordered with a supercharger, good for 320 h.p! Probably the most powerful natually-asperated engine was the all-aluminum Marmon V-16, with 490 c.i.d., making 200 h.p. These cars were huge with a wheelbase somewhere between 130 and 145 inches. Mass-market cars made do with straight 6- and 8-cylinder engines.
Eighty years ago, the first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. The model was the first automobile in the United States to adopt unit body construction in its full sense. In their day, these Cords stirred the imagination of the motoring public. Their clean simplicity of line, exciting innovations, and luxurious appointments won much admiration and many awards.
Isn’t interesting how some Indiana auto manufacturers were so innovative in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and how they faded from the automotive scene?
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