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Learn How a Transmission Works – A Smart-Looking Mystery Car

Recently reader Phil Cohen of New South Wales, Australia, sent in an email and explained: “Looking for an illustration of how an engine works for my learner-driver daughter, I ran across this You Tube piece on how a transmission works. The film dates to the mid-1930’s, but it’s still a remarkably clear explanation. I thought your readers might like a look.”

Don’t be fooled by the modern illustration at the start of the video above; it is a circa 1936 film by the Jam Handy production company, and is one of a series created for Chevrolet at the time. Starting with the principals of leverage, it continues with an explanation and examples of gearing and finishes off with a complete accounting of how a manual automobile transmission operates.

Mystery 1920s Center Door Sedan

Contributor Alden Jewell sent in this postcard image of a center-door sedan by an unknown automaker equipped with removable front door posts for fair weather motoring. The photograph of this circa early-1920s automobile also shows a woman and three children, possibly on Memoral Day. Based only on the car’s general appearance it appears to have been built in the US. The photo was printed from a negative which apparently had been reversed. Can any of our readers identify the maker of this sedan?

9 responses to “Learn How a Transmission Works – A Smart-Looking Mystery Car

  1. Loved the trans video! In 1955, I was a kid w/my dad in a Pontiac dealer’s showroom. They were promoting the as yet unpopular automatic transmissions. I was enthralled by a full sized working cutaway of one. (My memory is that the display was the size of and looked like a juke box.) As the gears turned, little Indians were watching gages and pulling levers, making the gears shift. Too cool! As an adult learning to be an “Ace Mechanic”, I went to my first automatic transmission training. In the classroom, we disassembled our transmissions. Imagine my disappointment – no Indians inside! Ha ha! (Tho I did encounter my share of “Gremlins” in them over the years!)
    Thanks for a great blog!

  2. The centerdoor pictured is built very similar to my ’18 Dodge Brothers. On a DB the rear door posts are also removable giving the car the appearance of being a touring car with the top up.

    • There were a few manufacturers from this time period who offered a center door sedan with removable pillars on either side of the door. There was also a 2dr coupe which had a single removable pillar at the rear of each door opening. Dodge called their cars “Convertible” in the sense that they converted from sedans to open cars, albeit with fixed roofs.

      I will stand to be corrected on this, but I believe these removable pillar bodies were built by Fisher.

  3. Really enjoy these old documentaries. Can’t hardly believe the driver managed to downshift to 2nd gear going downhill at 50 MPH without double clutching. With the ratios in the drive axles in those days, the synchro cone must have got a beating. Remember how that clutch sleeve gave Chevys that unique sound in first gear? They kept that sleeve design until the late 60s, when first gear got a synchro.

  4. Way to go, Alden, with the wonderful ‘mystery’ car. It reminds me of a Renault, but it is not. The wheels are intriguing, too, by so many spokes. I’ll be interested in learning about this one . . . . .

  5. The mystery car looks a lot like a circa 1917 Paige . The shape of the radiator and the way it protrudes forward ( it is not flat), the headlights, fender shape including the ends of the fenders and the rear slanted hood louvers are features that were used by Paige.

  6. I am working on 1919 Hupmobile model R touring and the hood and louvers look identical Wire wheels were available too as well as body modification Could have been a touring

  7. I think the mystery car is a Minerva………………….I’m just looking at the radiaror surround……….start checking the archives I’m right till proven wrong. I can’t wait to see some reactions. There sure are a lot of laces on those wheels for an American car.

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