History of the Steering Wheel
Although drivers usually take it for granted, the steering wheel of a vehicle is a very interesting contraption. Not many people have heard of a car without a steering wheel, however, and not that many people find steering wheels' specific features to be important in the car-buying process. For many decades, a car's steering wheel was only a wooden circle that the driver used to control the direction in which the vehicle moved. Other than that, a steering wheel didn't do anything. However, throughout the years steering wheels have evolved to be more than that. Keep reading to learn more about their evolution process to include the tiller, early power steering and technology on steering wheels!
The Tiller: A Flop
Perhaps the designers of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, built in 1886, thought it would be a great idea to steer a car like one steers a boat. A tiller was put in cars to allow a driver to face their passengers while driving. However, in a matter of decades people had better ideas.
Early Attempts at Bringing Power Steering About
None of these power steering systems made it into production, but they are worth mentioning: In 1896, G.W. Fitts obtained a patent for power steering gear. In 1902 Frederick W. Lanchester patented a hydraulic power system. In 1904 a vacuum-based system was patented.
The Experiments of Francis W. Davis
Then in 1920 things got very serious with steering, but on accident. An engineer with the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company, Francis W. Davis, conducted some experiments. He was trying to make steering easier for truck drivers, but he actually invented the first power steering system that was good for a passenger car. Between 1931 and 1943 Davis obtained five different patents for his inventions. GM acknowledged his accomplishment, and they agreed to put his invention into future models of the Cadillac. However, the economic crisis of the 1930s made it so that this was never carried out.
But then came 1936, and Davis' ideas came back with the Bendix Corporation noticing them. Davis signed a deal with the Corporation to build and promote one of his products. GM came back and bought two of Davis' systems to fit them into experimental Buicks, but then World War II happened.
Steering Wheel Technology
Technology is abundant on today's steering wheels, but many people don't seem to give that kind of thing a second thought. You have likely driven a vehicle with cruise control, and the controls were probably on the steering wheel. It was in the 1960s that some vehicle manufacturers began putting cruise controls on the steering wheel, however, it wasn't until the early 1990s that the majority of manufacturers thought it was important to put gadgets on their steering wheels. Besides cruise controls, we've also got controls for the car's computer, the car's audio system and a host of other things.
Next time you head out to your car take a look at your steering wheel and consider all the work that has gone into its present existence. Ask the sales team at Hyundai of White Plains, NY, a local car dealer, about the features that steering wheels offer when you are looking for your next vehicle! They very much look forward to speaking with you about them!
Image Source: Google