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Interesting Exhibits on Display at the New York National Auto Show

The first New York Auto Show was held in January of 1900 at the Madison Square Garden. In addition to the automobiles on display there were special exhibits by vehicle and accessory makers. Today we feature two interesting displays by automakers, and one by an aftermarket supplier at later New York Shows in 1935, and 1941.

The lead image contains a specially made machine constructed by or for the Ford Motor Company used to introduce its first transmission in 1935 which is silent in all three forward speeds. The ingenious display machine drove the gearbox, automatically depressed the clutch pedal, and shifted the box in sequence through first, second, and third (direct) gears and then continued to repeat the operation.

  • 1941″Built-in Cabinets for the traveling salesman” – Installed into the trunk of a 1941 Dodge “Luxury Liner” three-window business coupe is this sales aid consisting of a deluxe painted metal chest with six drawers and two doors used for the display of goods. Note the folding overhead light fixture using six volt bulbs.

  • 1935 Fisher Body Display – Craftsmen at Work: A die maker on the left carves and riffle files molds for exterior door handles cast in zinc (pot-metal.) A clay sculpture on the right shapes a hood ornament. Behind them are body fittings on display made by the Ternstedt Mfg. Co. once a division of GM.

20 responses to “Interesting Exhibits on Display at the New York National Auto Show

  1. I don’t see how Ford could use a helical gear for first in a three speed as it needs to mesh with the counter shaft and the reverse idler. As late as the early 1960s all first gears were straight cut on three speeds.

          • Once you get used to the vehicle, you don’t need the clutch.
            I used to drive an old Mack, one of the offset cab model (Thermodyne??), a highway tactor refitted with a dump body & needed the clutch only to start off in first. The clutch stop didn’t work, so there was no advantage using the clutch for upshifts.

        • There’s a second, corollary skill known as “no-clutching,” like when the hydraulic line blows out in your Saab or the cable breaks in your Scirocco. In the latter case, I was able to drive the 20 or so miles home without ever having to come to a complete stop. In the former, I was in downtown Chicago and… well, the starter motor got a real workout that day.

  2. Interesting that one of the gear-shifting spectators is clutching a folded newspaper with the headline “…W DEA…” That could mean “COW DEATHS RISE” or (more likely) “NEW DEAL…”

  3. Second photo: David, rather than “folding” it looks more like the light fixture “swivels” to allow the fixture to swing out of the way when the trunk closes. It’s a fascinating photo though, and an excellent choice. Thank you.

    You’d have to be a special type of salesman to be able to use such a specialized set up (and sacrifice the flexibility of your car trunk for most any other use). Probably why it didn’t catch on.

  4. I would like to know more about the Fisher Body craftsmen. I see them making parts (molds) with no checking fixtures or blueprints to refer to. How would they get what they are working on to match even something so simple as right and left door handles for example? Also it would seem that more than one die or mold would be needed to support production. How did they get them the same?

    Thanks for a reply. Great info and photos!

    • Or would they be working elbow to elbow in front of a display case of products just by chance? I suspect this was a publicity photo posed for the general public and not meant to be completely realistic.

  5. I will speculate that the transmission display device was initially built as a test lab machine to put a gazzillion shift cycles on prototype transmissions to test for durability. This machine could continuously shift through the gears 24 hours a day 7 days a week and put the equivalent of 100,000 miles of shifts in a relatively short time frame.
    Once ready for release to manufacturing and marketing likely someone in marketing came up with the idea to use the test machine for a display .

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