How has car design evolved?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Alan Estrada, Aug 14, 2003.

  1. Alan Estrada

    Alan Estrada Guest

    How could you say that car design has evolved since the making of the
    Ford T model? what tendencies had existed each decade?

    I mean in general...what was the tendencie in the 90's, in the 80's,
    70's, etc....

    I dont know if it could be classified, thanks in advance.
    Alan Estrada, Aug 14, 2003

  2. '10s and '20s: Electric self-starter, pneumatic tires

    '30s: First protomodern suspensions, appearance of modern closed body
    styles (e.g. sedan), improved electrical systems, hydraulic brakes

    '40s: First modern lighting systems, safety glass. This was only a
    half-decade of car production due to the war.

    '50s: Body design as art, first modern engine, suspension, tire, wheel,
    brake, steering, transmission and electrical systems. First widespread
    installation of air conditioning.

    '60s: Enormous improvements in efficiency and reliability of virtually
    every mechanical system. First safety and emissions regulations. First
    radial tires. First widespread use of disc brakes. First halogen
    headlamps. First widespread use of alternators instead of generators.

    '70s: Heavy emphasis on safety and emissions, to the near exclusion of
    much else. First widespread production use of modern fuel injection

    '80s: First widespread computerized engine control. Transition to
    front-wheel drive. General downsizing.

    '90s: Additional (non-engine) functions computerized. First widespread use
    of airbags.

    '00: First widespread use of hybrid power sources.

    Daniel J. Stern, Aug 14, 2003
  3. Alan Estrada

    MoPar Man Guest

    Books and books have been written about this.

    Dan's list of technology introductions just scratches the surface.
    Other topics include:

    1) time-line of introductions of new vehicle types. change of
    attitude of auto-makers from "the customer will buy what we make" to
    "we'd better make every possible type of vehicle that the customer
    might want". increased recognition of how and where people live plays
    increasing role in vehicle concepts (suburbs vs inner city just one

    2) changes in how the gov't interacts with the auto industry.
    Emergence of competition and hand-outs, tax incentives to build new
    plants here instead of there. Taxation of vehicles based on engine
    size/bore and auto/manual transmission (Europe mainly, also Canada).
    Erosion of public transportation by the automakers themselves to
    bolster private auto ownership (mainly in north america). Taxation of
    gasoline (petrol) becomes entrenched by gov't (although no real reason
    to treat gas so inequitably compared to other commodities).

    3) changes in foreign political and military policy (mainly US)
    regarding world oil supplies and gov'ts in the middle east (goals to
    insure sufficient oil supply at stable if not acceptible price.
    volatility of supply is bad). emergence of EPA fleet milage targets
    means that the gov't plays increasing role in some aspects of vehicle
    performance by mandating increasing fuel efficiency in the name of
    reduced dependency on stability of oil supply.

    4) changes in how car companies interact with their workers.
    Evolution of unions. Labor contracts play increasing role in how cars
    are built, how they change from year to year, where the parts come
    from and who makes them. Emergence of contracting out and tier'd
    suppliers means some parts (interior panels, dashboard guages) are
    used in many car models.

    I could go on.

    The tendency was always to do whatever it takes to make money/sell
    MoPar Man, Aug 14, 2003
  4. "First widespread installation of air conditioning."

    Lucky Americans! (Certainly not widespread in Europe in the 50s -- we were
    only justing working our way round to widespread use of motorcars...

    "'60s: Enormous improvements in efficiency and reliability of virtually
    every mechanical system."

    In the US thanks to Vance Packard and Ralph Nader?

    Dori Schmetterling, Aug 14, 2003
  5. Nooo...thanks to talented engineers at most every auto and component

    Daniel J. Stern, Aug 14, 2003
  6. Alan Estrada

    Dave Gower Guest

    Far too long to list everything, but I'd say computerization and safety
    crush zones are probably the most significant fundamental changes. To that
    I'd have to add vastly improved tires and brakes. Oh yeah there's better
    window defrosting, increased interior safety (padding, air bags etc). Air
    drag has also been drastically decreased. The list could go on and on.
    Dave Gower, Aug 14, 2003
  7. For my info: what was the Nader/Corvair fiasco?

    Dori Schmetterling, Aug 14, 2003
  8. Alan Estrada

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Read "Unsafe at Any Speed" by Ralph Nader. This was an expository on the
    problems in the Corvair.
    Bob Shuman, Aug 14, 2003
  9. Just to set the record straight on this. Basically, the "Unsafe at Any
    was a device intended to help advance Ralph Nader's political aspirations,
    it was total baloney.

    What happened was that Nader originally asserted that the 1960-1963
    Corvair models would tip over. He based this claim on alleged inside
    GM test data, and on a film that showed a Corvair being towed at 50Mph
    behind another car, and when the tow line was dropped the car tipped over.
    Nader claimed later not to have a copy of this film, although many Corvair
    owners concerned with the dispute have said that it does exist, and they
    have seen it. I have read allegations that the test vehicle was doctored
    for this film, which wouldn't be surprising.

    GM understandably was furious about this, and committed a tactical blunder,
    they investigated Nader hoping to dig up dirt on him and run a smear
    In hindsight this was a grave mistake, because it was this action, plus GM's
    testimony about it in a subsequent Congressional hearing in 1966, which
    really put
    "Unsafe" on the map. If GM had simply ignored Nader, the thing would have
    blown over.

    Nader then proceeded to use the publicity from this to foster the impression
    that there must really have been substance to his allegations, otherwise GM
    wouldn't have attempted to investigate him. Remember too that all this was
    happening during a time of tremendous public distrust of both government
    and of Big Business. Nader then launched a campaign demanding GM recall
    ALL Corvairs ever produced as well as pressuring the Department of Justice
    to try to prosecute GM for lying during the 1966 Congressional
    (this later was rejected by Justice)

    The publicity over this basically destroyed Corvair's sales and in 1969
    GM stopped producing them. Nader of course used this as yet more
    vindication of his original bogus book. Ultimately, NHTSA investigated
    the Corvair and concluded the charges were baseless.

    The entire Corvair thing was a first class smear campaign that really
    showed Nader's talent for getting people signed on to these kinds of
    witchhunts. A number of US senators were more than happy to have
    this start up as they used it as an excuse to justify to the public that
    they were "protecting the consumer" etc. All great publicity for everyone
    concerned, except for GM of course. This by the way is Ralph Nader's
    usual Modus Operandi, and was used in the 2000 Presidential campaign
    during the smear campaigns against Al Gore and George Bush.

    Nader's career is really a beautiful textbook example of how to take
    someone like this down. It was the same thing with Senator McCarthy
    Newt Gringrich, and countless other politicians. In short, these types
    get popular through the use of dirty tricks, but eventually they out
    trick themselves. Nader today is completely discredited by the left,
    who were his strongest supporters, because his actions in 2000 put
    George Bush in office by siphoning off the vote that would have gone

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Aug 15, 2003
  10. Thanks for the background. You reminded me of that book title (Unsafe...)
    but I don't think I ever read it, though I have three Vance Packard books
    somewhere, acquired in my youth. IIRC, one is on obsolescent motorcars.

    Dori Schmetterling, Aug 15, 2003
  11. Alan Estrada

    Bill Putney Guest

    You mention computerization, by which I believe you mean of the engine
    controls, etc. I don't believe anyone has mentioned CADD and simulation
    which eliminates a lot of physical modeling and testing, and allows much
    more design optimization (for weight savings, performance, fuel usage,
    and cost) and integration (for better or worse, but it nets out overall
    to a plus IMO).

    Bill Putney
    (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with "x")
    Bill Putney, Aug 21, 2003
  12. Alan Estrada

    Bill Putney Guest

    That would put him in the category of a useful idiot in that case (was
    to the Gore in that election what Perot was to Bush Sr. in '92)?

    Bill Putney
    (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with "x")
    Bill Putney, Aug 22, 2003
  13. Precisely.

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Aug 22, 2003
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