Author Topic: Two extinct old car features that made sense  (Read 469 times)

smallengineshop

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Two extinct old car features that made sense
« on: February 08, 2024, 07:38:55 PM »
I think there is still an argument to be made for using two features found on old cars and light trucks that disappeared 40 some years ago. These two features are the foot operated high/low beam switch and wing windows.

On modern cars and light trucks when you switch from low beam to high beam or vise versa, the manual switch is located on the steering column and is operated by the drivers left hand using the traditional turn signal switch. Not too long ago the high/low beam switch was located on the left side of the drivers floor area, and operated using the drivers left foot, which made a satisfying clicking sound each time it was activated. Having this switch on the drivers floor area was a nice feature because it was easier to operate with your left foot. A lot of drivers in America like to drive with their right hand on the steering wheel and left arm resting on the drivers door arm rest, or on their lap. Operating the high/low beam switch on a modern car or light truck means lifting your left arm up each time to reach the switch. It was a shorter distance and less effort to use your left foot to operate the high/low beam switch located right next to your foot on the drivers floor area. I realize it's not a big deal, but it is a true difference.   

Supposedly, the floor switch was relocated to the steering column due to a decrease in driver floor area caused by an increase in popularity of front wheel drive vehicles. I'm not sure if this is the only reason why it disappeared. I have a feeling it might also have something to do with appearance. It's a cleaner nicer look to hide the high/low beam switch in the steering column and cleans up the drivers floor area. Also, having the switch hidden in the steering column compliments a high tech image. Interesting note, there are still commercial vehicle in use today, like transit buses, that still use a floor operated high/low beam switch.

Another feature found on older cars and light trucks that has completely disappear are wing windows. Driver and passenger windows on older vehicles were often times a two piece design with a large rectangle window in back and a smaller triangle shaped window in front. The triangle window in front rotated when it was opened and closed, and allowed the driver to either create a vacuum in the interior of the car or blow outside air in. The triangle window is called a wing window. The wing window was great because you could easily control the interior comfort of the car or light truck without using the HVAC system. The air flow could also be directed away from the driver making it a nice feature for women concerned about their hair.

Supposedly, wing windows disappeared because window manufacturing improved and it was cheaper for auto makers to make a one piece window. I posted about wing windows once before on this forum, and you can read it here: http://www.thesmallengineshop.net/smallengineforum/index.php?topic=2597.msg2984#msg2984

Here is what a wing window looks like:


A floor mounted high/low beam switch:
« Last Edit: February 09, 2024, 06:00:09 PM by adminjoe »
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