Straight Dope Message Board

Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   General Questions (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=3)
-   -   Why were touring cars so long? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=797171)

Sampiro 06-29-2016 01:51 PM

Why were touring cars so long?
 
I've seen lots of pictures of 1910s/1920s touring cars but I don't know that I've seen one in person- maybe that would answer the question. They seem long enough to easily have three rows of seats, but they generally just have the front and rear seats. Why were they so long? The people in the back must have had enough room to sit on the floor and have a picnic or a poker game.
(I do know from my grandmother that her father used a modified touring car as an ambulance in the 1920s and 1930s, but I'm guessing that was the exception and, as mentioned, it was modified.)

Pics of the type of car I'm talking about.

Tired and Cranky 06-29-2016 01:56 PM

Long wheelbases (the distance between the axles) made for a smoother ride on the rough roads of the day and you got a longer car to accommodate the longer wheelbase. Most engines of the time were also inline engines with at least four or sometimes six or eight cylinders in a row. This meant that you needed a longer hood to cover the engine. Finally, style probably paid a big role.

Richard Pearse 06-29-2016 03:35 PM

The styling may make them look bigger than they are.

For comparison an Austin 20 has a length of 5100 mm while a Subaru Outback, a modern four door station wagon, is 4800 mm. A difference of a bit over one foot. The Austin is certainly a big car, but maybe not as big as it looks. The wheelbases are very long as well, helped by the front wheels being set a long way forward.

scr4 06-29-2016 03:55 PM

They don't seem to have much storage area behind the rear seat. So I'm guessing they carried the luggage inside the passenger compartment, behind the driver's seat?

Tom Tildrum 06-29-2016 04:24 PM

Perhaps the seats reclined quite a ways? :cool:

Also, ladies' hats back then would have required a great deal of space.

AskNott 06-29-2016 05:36 PM

It was important to some folks to show everyone their wealth and power. The same thing happens today, but they buy impossibly expensive supercars, such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bugatti Veyrons.

Magiver 06-29-2016 06:32 PM

The long hood was for straight eights and other monstrously huge engines. Seriously, some of those engines looked like they were built for tug boats.

And I've seen old Buicks with a fold down 3rd seat behind the driver's seat. Not sure if that is representative of other cars of that era.

Sampiro 06-30-2016 12:48 PM

Thanks all.

Northern Piper 07-02-2016 10:05 AM

Wiki article on Straight-eight engines:

Quote:

The smooth running characteristics of the straight-8 made it popular in luxury and racing cars of the past. However, the engine's length demanded the use of a long engine compartment, making the basic design unacceptable in modern vehicles. Also, due to the length of the engine, torsional vibration in both crankshaft and camshaft can adversely affect reliability and performance at high speeds. In particular, a phenomenon referred to as "crankshaft whip," caused by the effects of centrifugal force on the crank throws at high engine rpm, could cause physical contact between the connecting rods and crankcase walls, leading to the engine's destruction. As a result, the design has been displaced almost completely by the shorter V8 engine configuration.

usedtobe 07-02-2016 03:48 PM

Early auto bodies were simply copies of horse-drawn carriages.

If you were rich, you flaunted it (at least many did).

Here is Wiki on the "Phaeton" body style, which was the original name for what became "Touring Car" style.


Actually, until the 1930's, many auto bodies were carriage bodies - wood frames with sheet metal tacked on.

UncaStuart 07-02-2016 06:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 19443027)
They don't seem to have much storage area behind the rear seat. So I'm guessing they carried the luggage inside the passenger compartment, behind the driver's seat?

They had a fold-out rack at the rear of the car, above the bumper, that when folded down could have a truck (hence "trunk") strapped to it.
As far as the interior, there were often jump seats tucked up behind the front seats that could be pulled out and would face the rear seats.

silenus 07-02-2016 06:38 PM

They have to be long. Otherwise you might accidentally breathe the same air as your chauffeur, who, as a working class schlub, was almost subhuman. :p

usedtobe 07-02-2016 07:14 PM

You are thinking if the "Town Car" body style.

Believe it or not, Ford (homely little Ford) actually made a Town Car. It is among the very rarest of body styles for the Model A (1928-1931; 1932 in Brazil).

kaylasdad99 07-02-2016 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scr4 (Post 19443027)
They don't seem to have much storage area behind the rear seat. So I'm guessing they carried the luggage inside the passenger compartment, behind the driver's seat?

Unless I'm mistaken, the common storage solution was a steamer trunk strapped to the back of the car. on the outside.

I suspect that this is why we call the storage compartment in the rear of today's cars the "trunk."

Maybe someone could explain why those wacky Brits call it the "boot."

Melbourne 07-04-2016 06:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 (Post 19450415)
Unless I'm mistaken, the common storage solution was a steamer trunk strapped to the back of the car. on the outside.

I suspect that this is why we call the storage compartment in the rear of today's cars the "trunk."

Maybe someone could explain why those wacky Brits call it the "boot."

It's at the other end of the car from the "bonnet".

(We all know that American cars only went from the "hood" to the "trunks". The legs of the people pushing go out to the boots.)

Bookkeeper 07-04-2016 10:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 (Post 19450415)
Unless I'm mistaken, the common storage solution was a steamer trunk strapped to the back of the car. on the outside.

I suspect that this is why we call the storage compartment in the rear of today's cars the "trunk."

Maybe someone could explain why those wacky Brits call it the "boot."

The "boot" was the covered area on a stagecoach where passengers' luggage was stored. See the leather-covered back end of this example.

UDS 07-04-2016 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 (Post 19450415)
Maybe someone could explain why those wacky Brits call it the "boot."

This one passes through a few steps to get to its modern sense. We start with:

Boot, the (usually leather) garment that cover the foot and lower leg, which gives us:

Boot, a piece of armour which cover the foot or lower leg or both, which gives us:

Boot, protective metal gear attached to stirrups or stirrup harnesses to protect the rider's foot or lower leg but which was also useful in mounting and demounting, which gives us:

Boot, a metal bracket or (later) step on the outside of a coach, used when getting in and out, which give us:

Boot, a larger platform on the (out)side of a coach or carriage where an attendant would sit, usually facing outwards (i.e. sideways). When the coach stopped the attendant would jump down, open the door and assist his social betters out of the coach. This gives us:

Boot, a platform at the front or back of a coach or carriage where attendants sat or (more usually) luggage was strapped, which when enclosed gives us:

Boot, the compartment at the back of a car where luggage is carried.

The Niply Elder 07-05-2016 01:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tired and Cranky (Post 19442678)
Long wheelbases (the distance between the axles) made for a smoother ride on the rough roads of the day and you got a longer car to accommodate the longer wheelbase. Most engines of the time were also inline engines with at least four or sometimes six or eight cylinders in a row. This meant that you needed a longer hood to cover the engine. Finally, style probably paid a big role.

Winningest thread topic and username combo ever.

clairobscur 07-05-2016 05:22 AM

I don't know why you think that these cars have too much sitting space. I think it's the contrary : we've become accustomed to have a too small sitting space. Sitting in a modern car isn't easy and straighforward (you don't sit in the back of a car the way you would, say, sit on your couch). You have to bend your legs, possibly push away the front seat, you can't move naturally your legs while sitted nor extend them....The sitting space isn't spacious at all. It's as narrow as it can be without sitting becoming plainly uncomfortable.

I find pretty normal that people back them wanted a sitting space where they would feel at ease.

Sam Spayed PI 07-08-2016 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UncaStuart (Post 19450297)
As far as the interior, there were often jump seats tucked up behind the front seats that could be pulled out and would face the rear seats.

I remember these! Checker cabs in New York used to have them; we loved pulling them down to sit on them when we were little (even if there was plenty of room on the regular seat).


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:59 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.