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Watch this Chevrolet Knee’s in Action

Today’s lead image dated to November 6, 1934, by the source, shows either a 1934 or ’35 Chevrolet “Knee-Action” promotional car equipped with it parked in front of the St. Louis Monument located in Forest Park at St. Louis, Missouri.

This form of independent front suspension was developed by Andre DuBonnet, and Chevrolet’s version of it pictured (below) was offered on some 1934-’38 models. It was a very advanced system, although in use it required a considerable amount of maintenance and repair. Overall it was not a success, due to the automaker rushing its version of the system to market without enough development and testing. This in turn led to many of the cars equipped with it being converted to the standard Chevrolet I-beam axle with semi-elliptic springs as used on other models.

  • Cross section of Chevrolet’s “Knee Action” – “Automotive Industries” May, 1935.

View our earlier exclusive article “Andre Dubonnet Car and Prototype Chassis Images” that covers DuBonnet’s patented suspension system, prototype chassis, and a very unique one-off automobile he had constructed to demonstrate the system to automakers.

“Take it Easy” a video (below) covers this Chevrolet suspension system and also explores the interesting history of automotive suspension systems including springs, the pneumatic tire, and shock absorbers.

Share with us what you find of interest in this article and the lead photograph courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society.

15 responses to “Watch this Chevrolet Knee’s in Action

  1. These promotional films are delightful. You not only learn about the technology. You get a sense of the hope and faith that people placed in modern technology.

    Better living, through engineering!

  2. That was a big mistake. When you saw a 1935 Chevrolet coming down the road with front wheels splayed out, you knew that was the Dubonet system at work.

    • Jam is the nickname for Henry Jamison Handy, a film maker. Wikipedia does a nice biography of Jam Handy and his film making career including the training films produced for General Motors.

  3. Anyone catch the “PROVED BY A BILLION MILES” ?
    So they drove a thousand test cars a million miles each, or some other equivalent..
    At a test speed of 50 mph, a billion miles represents twenty million man-hours behind the wheel(s), or 2283 man-years.

  4. Some of those early IFS systems were really questionable.
    Hudson used something call Axleflex which was the same as Nash’s Flexaxle. By either name, it gave a car dubious handling. Railton kept a solid axle (albeit slightly lowered) on their Hudson-based sports cars rather than using it.
    GM put the Dubonnet set-up on their six cylinder Vauxhalls in Britain, where there wasn’t a comparable solid axle to swap over to when things went wrong.

  5. One of my cars during the high school years was a ’38 Chevy with knee action. Often the front end would get to bouncing so bad, I would have to stop and wait for the car to settle down. I sold it for $25 and got a ’37 Ford for $85, big improvement.

  6. As a college student in 1969, I owned a 1936 Chevrolet Master Deluxe with knee action front suspension. The mechanisms leaked fluid badly. Unfortunately, the leaks ran down directly over the front brakes. Obviously, this dramatically impaired the stopping ability of the car. I would have gladly replaced the knee action with the standard front axle if I could have afforded it. Instead I sold it for $100.

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