Automobiles in the Vintage Era

Automobiles in the Vintage Era




Stretching between 1919 and 1930, this era, referred to as the Vintage Era in world of automobiles, was a period of transition.  The name ‘Vintage’ has stuck to the collectible cars of this golden era, in which a rare car which was introduced in 1919 ended up being a ubiquitous automobile in 1930!


Old Classic and Antique Automobiles

The automobile industry progressed so quickly and in the right direction that such development was not matched up until the late 1950’s. The cars of this period fall in to the category of Vintage Cars and are among the classic and antique cars treasured by car enthusiasts even today.


This period witnessed development of the nationwide road network in many countries of the world. Therefore the capability of an automobile to negotiate uneven terrains and unpaved paths were not a concern for the automobile designer.  Hence he could concentrate on other factors, like comfort, practicality, and convenience.


The car radio and car heating were introduced. Four wheel braking system which had taken the place of foot pedal earlier, was improved upon with the use of hydraulically operated brakes. Power steering was also introduced and towards the end of the era, octane rating system of fuels was pioneered, which aided in the comparison of various available fuels.


As a result of introduction of such good comfortable cars, drive-in restaurants were mushrooming across the United States of America. Suburban shopping centers similar to the modern day malls and motels were also being established.


The cars had front engines, with closed bodies and had various standardized controls for the vehicle. Just to compare; 90 per cent of the cars sold in 1919 were open whereas 90 per cent of the cars sold in 1929 were closed.  The internal combustion engine which was introduced earlier was developed on with overhead camshaft engines and multi valve systems, aimed at the high end market of the day. Cars with V8, V 12 and V 16 engines were aimed at the ultra wealthy customers.


Towards the end of this era the tempered glass now commonly found on the windows of every automobile, was invented in France.  The revolutionary ponton design for automobiles was introduced for small series cars. This did not have fully articulated fenders, non compact ledge elements and running boards. But this kind of cars went into mass production much later after the Second World War.


Walter P Chrysler and the officials of General Motors tried to capitalize on marketing a car’s role in the life of a consumer. But with the stock market crash in 1929, many new companies closed shop as they went bankrupt. Many automobile factory workers were laid off, but it is believed that two million cars were still manufactured between 1929 and 1930.


Some vintage vehicles include the Austin 7, Lancia Lambda, Bugatti Type 35, the Hanomag 2/10 PS, and the Ford Model A. The ultra luxury vintage cars of this era were Cadillac V – 16 and the Bugatti’s Royale.