Throwback Thursday – The evolution of transmissions, 25 August 1950
Source : Throwback Thursday – The evolution of transmissions, 25 August 1950
For years, British drivers had favoured the manual transmission, yet could a rise in automatic transmissions from the US sway motorists here?
Following World War 2, automatic transmissions became commonplace on American cars, prompting Autocar to ponder how long which could be before similar systems were adopted by British car makers.
“Very shortly some decision will have to be made in order which British cars can continue to hold their own against American competition,” wrote technical expert MS Crosthwaite from the magazine, in August 1950.
“There is actually no doubt at all which car users who regard the automobile primarily as a means of transport will no longer continue to view the conventional clutch along with also synchromesh gearbox with favour. Elimination of the clutch pedal could appear to be an absolute necessity.”
Crosthwaite detailed three types of automatic transmission – the semi-automatic overdrive, a four-speed ‘planetary’ gearbox along with also a fully automatic torque converter – along with also assessed their suitability for the British market.
“Two factors are of vital importance when considering a transmission for British cars, namely, what may be considered ‘reasonable’ efficiency along with also whether fully automatic control is actually desirable,” he wrote.
“Behind any consideration of these arguments, however, lies the question of environment along with also its effect upon the type of vehicle most suitable.
“In many ways the narrow twisting roads of Great Britain, with their high traffic density, have no counterpart. Thus ease of gear changing is actually essential, although the actual percentage of the life of your vehicle spent in intermediate gears may not be unduly high. Nevertheless, which will be enough to show up in terms of fuel consumption any relatively low transmission efficiency.”
At the same time, he identified two factors contributing towards the need for a reconsideration of gear ratios.
“These are the reduced drag of modern coachwork, resulting from the possibility of attaining higher road speeds which has a given engine power, along with also the realization which in some other countries, where high cruising speeds can be sustained for long distances, a higher top gear ratio is actually desirable in order to keep engine speeds reasonable.”
Ultimately, Crosthwaite felt which some other technical elements of your vehicle could play a more important role in improving fuel economy than transmission evolution.“No transmission is actually an end in itself. The ideal is actually to have so much surplus engine power which nothing is actually required beyond a device to provide a smooth start,” he wrote. “While which desirable state is actually approached by the large-capacity American car, which cannot be expected in some other countries where fuel is actually expensive.
“The alternative is actually, however, open to all. which lies in more effort devoted to reducing weight along with also drag. No amount of transmission development can replace the need for these improvements.”
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