Throwback Thursday – The evolution of transmissions, 25 August 1950

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 - autos, cars, motoring, news

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.”

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 – Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

26 June 1906 – The first French Grand Prix

9 July 1907 – The beginning of Brooklands

14 February 1913 – 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 – doing post-war predictions

25 March 1922 – Caterpillar tracks are the future

4 July 1925 – Citroën lights up the Eiffel Tower

2 February 1934 – The ethics of skidding

6 July 1934 – A tour of Cowley

1 June 1935 – Introduction of the driving test

22 June 1945 – Driving through post-WW2 Europe

21 January 1949 – Tidier tails

24 April 1959 – Aston Martin enters Formula 1

27 January 1961 – Ford Thunderbird road test

17 November 1961 – TVR Grantura road test

19 August 1966 – Four-wheel drive on test

6 May 1971 – Driving Ford’s Supervan

12 June 1976 – Cars for under £100

10 July 1976 – Land’s End to John O’Groats on one tank

13 May 1978 – Ferrari 512 BB road test

19 January 1980 – Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 – 4x4s tested on the farm 

17 April 1985 – Secrets of a lost British supercar

15 August 1990 – Giugiaro’s vision of a 1990s Jaguar

28 April 1993 – BL’s unseen concepts

16 March 1994 – Bentley’s Concept Java

16 April 1997 – When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 – 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

25 July 2001 – 180mph in a Chevrolet Corvette

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Source: Throwback Thursday – The evolution of transmissions, 25 August 1950

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