THE GOOD OL' DAYS
The 1934 Cars
NINETEEN THIRTY-FOUR will be known in automotive history as a year of important developments. Heading the list are independently sprung front wheels, which are used on the Plymouth and De Soto and on all General Motors cars. They are also optional equipment on Hudson and Terraplane.
Also at the top of the list of innovations must be placed the highly streamlined De Soto and Chrysler models.
For the first time, also, a super-charger has been made standard equipment on a production eight--the de luxe Graham.
There are numerous other improvements. Most cars now have an automatic choke. The majority of cars have a simplified method of starting although the details vary greatly. Some use Startix. On others the engine is cranked by depressing the accelerator pedal while Nash closes the starter circuit by pushing out the clutch pedal.
A vacuum-operated clutch is fitted to the Auburn, Chrysler, De Soto, Dodge, Hudson, Plymouth, Stutz and Terraplane and vacuum-operated brakes are used on Auburn Custom Eight, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler Imperials, Duesenberg, De Soto, Lincoln, Packard, Stutz, Studebaker President and Commander.
Larger tires and less inflation are features of several cars and steel-spoked wheels are more popular. Nearly all the new models have built-in radios as optional equipment, usually with the controls neatly and conveniently incorporated in the instrument panel.
To return to the subject of independently sprung wheels, it is desirable, first of all, to define the expression. An independently sprung wheel is one which follows the surface of the road without (appreciably) affecting its companion wheel, whereas with conventional springs and axles, a jolt received by one wheel has more or less effect on the companion wheel. Particularly is this true at the front. Usually independent springing eliminates the axle but not always.
Either front or rear wheels or both may be independently sprung. Dozens of different schemes for independent springing have been developed -- mostly in Europe where this new spring suspension system has been used on some cars for a long time.
It would be difficult to say who built the first vehicle with independent wheel suspension, but the idea must be almost as old as the automobile itself. Certainly it was an old story 25 years ago.
Even before that there were sulkys for trotting races, which had independently sprung wheels. And for that matter, the spring fork which cushions the front end of a motorcycle bears a strong resemblance in principle to the parallel lever arm arrangement seen on several of this year's cars -- even to the coil spring.
While the majority of European cars have conventional springing, there are nevertheless numerous makes with independent springing, and some have had it for years. As to why the idea caught on in Europe so much sooner than it did here, the main answer is that during and since the war, roads have generally been allowed to deteriorate to an objectionable degree of roughness. Therefore some designers, to obtain a satisfactory ride, turned to the independently sprung wheel.
Shimmy, tramp and other front end difficulties naturally were aggravated by these rough roads and designers saw the opportunity of eliminating or reducing these problems by divorcing the front wheels.