1937 Studebaker - With new stay-shut doors!

It's always interesting to see companies back in yore trumpeting features that we now take for granted. Like, there must have been great ads for the first one-hundred-minute cassette tape shouting about "over three albums of music in your pocket!" You know... quaint. Apparently, back in '37, it was a feat to keep the doors on a car from flopping open on rough pavement.

Since it's 1937, the car is dripping in art deco dignity. And, of course, it's over twelve Yarises long, because "'Merica, goddammit." However, There are some funny-ish things like "beats lowest priced cars in oil economy". So, burning less oil was new and exciting, it seems.

It also made parking the car a snap, because the steering rack had differential gearing or something, so the steering wheel was easy to turn. Nothing is mentioned of the sheer length of the car, probably because that was a definite selling point, not a drawback. My garage was built in 1954, and with my car in it, I still have room between my bumper and the back wall for my lawnmower and a decent-sized grill, with enough room left over to riverdance with my a-frame ladder. Cars were longer in the past.

The real eye-opener is when the ad mentions how easy it is to open and shut the doors, requiring only a "gentle push or pull". Fair enough, but the last line of that paragraph shows how good we have it here in The Future:

Say what? Ladies and gentlemen, we are truly spoilt. I get annoyed when my car momentarily loses bluetooth connectivity with my library-of-congress-storing pocket supercomputer slash communications miracle, but in 1937, it was something to brag about if your car's doors didn't jiggle open when you drive over some broken tarmac. Also remember that this was before the time of seatbelts, so if your car couldn't keep it's doors shut, there wasn't much between you and an eleven-foot drop to the pavement from the seat in your giant American luxo-barge. Maybe you could grab ahold of the running board as you fell past it, but that would only dislocate your shoulder because you had, by then, achieved terminal velocity.

See those pants the ranger is wearing? Those are called "jodhpurs", (pronounced "jahd-pers" with the accent on the first syllable). So what's up with those goofy pants? Well, they get their name from a city in India where they were invented. Long story short, in the 1800s, they didn't have stretchy fabrics yet, and the giant balloon butt on these pants allowed for better maneuvering in the saddle when playing polo.

Since horses were - and are - a bit of a luxury item, any pants associated with The Horsey Set became a status symbol, regardless of how stupid they look when you're not on a horsey. So, the fashion  world being an arbitrary and frivolous idiot, jodhpurs found a place in the wardrobes of any poser who wanted to look like a rich person who owns horses, but not the kind of rich person who'd own two pair of pants. You've GOT to wear your jodhpurs aorund town. Otherwise, how would everyone know you're rich enuogh to have horses? Guh!

They can still be found today, unfortunately, see?My ex girlfriend had a pair of these. Why would a woman worry constantly about the size of her butt and then wear pants that make her look like a deflated Nell Carter? The first time I saw her in them, I wanted to invite her to change her diaper before we went to dinner. But we all know that  only women can play that role... the role of "You're not leaving the house like that." because guys are always wrong about everything. So instead, I said something like "Hi! Ready to go? I like your earrings." I am a hero.

Now that we do have stretchy fabrics, riding pants don't have to look like that. Modern riding pants have completely reversed the trend of "least flattering thing in the world" and are now pretty much the greatest thing ever. A way long time ago, I knew a totally different girl who lived in the country and had horses, and she wore these. Hel-looooooo nurse! I have no idea where she is now. Probably something horsey. Horses get all the breaks.

So, thank you, stretchy fabric, and thank you stay-shut doors. But really, thank you stretchy fabric. We live in an age of wonders.

Click for big.


Mat Black said...

"You seldom need to change the oil...except when the seasons change!" What a time saver! Remember when we had to change the oil every day? Thanks Fram and Studebaker: You were "green" before it was cool.

Ace said...

The hill-holder mechanism was a real innovation. If you pushed extra hard on the brakes while the vehicle was on a hill, a gadget locked the brakes until you subsequently let out the clutch. This was a real boon to drivers of standard transmissions (virtually everybody at the time of the car's release) who had to feather the clutch while releasing their foot from the brake. With the hill-holder, one didn't need to a) stand on the brake, b) monkey the gas pedal and c) release the clutch with your third foot. It was such a good idea Subaru swiped it after the patent expired.

Not to mention the defroster ....

Michelle_Randy said...

There was always the suicide door on the back that would help break your fall should the door pop open. Very gangsta.

"You'll never take me alive, coppers!"

Anonymous said...

Hammer Time!

Steve Miller said...

Well, after all the hoopla in 1937, Studebaker must have lost its enthusiasm for latching doors. I remember mention in our Studebaker club of doors that might pop open on hard turns... and the discussion wasn't limited to Studebaker, neither!

Side note: when the Avanti was released the door latches were sourced from Mercedes' supplier.

Richard Mahler said...

In earlier models, Stude and other cars had front doors that acted liked human torpedo ports, opening toward the front of the vehicle. They were great for ease of getting in ... and ease of getting out in a real hurry - involuntarily - in an accident! They weren't called suicide doors for nothing. In the days before seat belts, airbags and other frippery, driving was pretty much synonymous with suicide. Nobody thought much about driving fatalities. Driving was a sport! But wouldn't you know, nanny gov got involved and spoiled all the fun. Those were the good old days - when body bags were cheaper than airbags!

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Man. Thanks for the supplemental car lore, everybody!

[ -Mgmt.]

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