A Puzzler for Old Timers


#1

I submitted this puzzler to CarTalk some years back but it wasn’t used. I think it my be a good puzzler for those of you about my age. Here it is:

Back in the 1930 through 1940 era, many cars had windshield wipers that came down from the top of the windshield rather than rising from the cowl at the bottom of the windshield. However, when the design changed so that the wipers came up from the bottom of the windshield rather than hanging down from above the windshield, one feature that cars had with the windshield wipers hanging down from the top had to be eliminated. What was that feature?



Hint: In Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman”, Linda suggests to her husband Willy that they could go for a ride in the country and use this feature. Willy thinks about it for a minute and says, “Modern cars don’t have this feature”.



I don’t have any prizes to give away. I just want to see if there are people around my age that use this board.


#2

With the older, “suspended” type of windshield wipers, the entire windshield could be tilted outward slightly from its top-mounted hinges. That provided some very nice air-cooling in the days before air-conditioning.

Once wipers became “bottom-mounted”, windshields were no longer hinged at the top.


#3

Some early wipers were manual – you turned and inside handle to move the wipers. They were first automated using intake manifold vacuum which necessitated the motors and wipers be bottom mounted. Electric motors followed suit with motors mounted in front of the firewall.


#4

What you say is true, but–Why would Willy Loman’s wife have had a desire to manually crank the windshield wipers on their car? Somehow, that doesn’t sound like something that most people would yearn for.


#5

You don’t have to be old to know that. It’s like a puzzler where the answer is “the car’s electrical system was positive ground” or explaining how the windshield washers worked when there no windshield washer pump.


#6

The answer is, as VDCdriver said, windshields could be tilted out with top mounted hinges. This wouldn’t work if the windshield wipers came up from the bottom of the windshield. Now for part 2:
When windshields couldn’t be tilted out from the bottom, car makers put in another feature to replace the windshield that opened. All cars had this feature until the recirculating heater (merely a box with a small radiator and fan) that hung down under the dashboard) was phased out. What was this feature that replaced the windshield that could be opened?


#7

fresh air vent(s) under the dash.


#8

You are correct that some early wipers were manual. However, there were top mounted wipers that ran from intake manifold vacuum. I rode in a 1937 Dodge that had vacuum operated wipers that were top mounted. I think it had a separate vacuum motor for each side of the windshield. I rode to school in a school bus with a Wayne body on a 1939 GMC chassis. It had vacuum wiper that came down from the top of the windshield and each wiper had a separate motor.


#9

Vent Windows? Hey just because I don’t know, what year did they put in cordless cigarette lighters?


#10

Most cars installed ventilators on the cowl in front of the windshield. There was a lever under the dashboard to open these ventilators. Studebaker had vents under the dashboard on either side of the car. Most manufacturers phased out these cowl ventilators with the 1949 models, although Chrysler corporation continued them through the 1952 model year. Studebaker had the side vents as late as 1958.

I know that my dad’s 1939 Chevrolet had a pop-out cigarette lighter and I think these lighters were in earlier models as well.


#11

I remember my 65 Chevelle having little knobs I could pull out that allowed air to circulate in from the floor board area. Not exactly sure what that was for, but it was kinda neat