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Brooks Walker’s Fifth Wheel Parking Device Videos and Patents

It is likely that a number of our readers have watched a video or viewed photos of early-1950s Cadillac or Packard sedans fitted with one of California inventor Brooks Walker’s patented fifth wheel parking devices. Recently we discovered that his “Park Car” mechanism constructed and filmed in the fifties was not the first one he designed and built.

It turns out that Walker filed a patent on March 21, 1932, for the initial version that was installed on a 1929 Packard Sedan in the early-1930s. At some point later the luxury machine was filmed by a newsreel production company and in the short video (below) the vehicle is shown making a ninety-degree turn in a residential driveway. In another scene, the Packard is driven between two cars at an angle and the parking device effortlessly positions it next to the curb.

A video of the 1950s Cadillac (below) is followed by Walker’s 1930s and 1950s US patent application drawings.

  • Walker behind the wheel of the Packard is engaging the device to begin the turning operation.

  • Early-1930s newsreel footage of the parking device in action on the Packard.

  • Early-1950s newsreel footage demonstrating the “Park Car” installed on a Cadillac.

  • Patent application drawings for the 1930s device (above) and the refined version (below) filed twenty-five years later in 1957.

10 responses to “Brooks Walker’s Fifth Wheel Parking Device Videos and Patents

  1. I think the Cadillacs in the 1950’s video are ’51 models…the larger Dagmars on the front (vs a ’50 model) are mounted on angled bumper extensions in ’51 and ’52, but the ’52 had broad gold-tone winged insignia beneath the headlights that was absent on the ‘51s…as we see in the video.

    • And Will, the following year was Ford’s 50th anniversary… to my knowledge, they only noted that on the car in the center hub of the horn ring. I managed to pick one of those up at a flea market some years ago for a few bucks…still got it on the wall.

  2. A very interesting device. So much inventive thinking out there! I can definitely see the small arc turns working pretty well but the 180 in a driveway seems very ambitious. I don’t think its an accident that the video does not show the front of the car in that maneuver. Hard to imagine the front tires (and therefore the steering) would have reacted well to the pivot being demonstrated. Our “friend” friction would have had a-lot to say about that.

    • There wouldn’t be any issue, as the front wheels aren’t difflocked, and can turn independently. Just like during any other steering manoeuvre.
      You probably should take your foot off the brakes though, or it’ll tear up the grass.

  3. Thanks for posting these neat old patent drawings. Those done in the ’30’s had a unique style and font choice to them. I wonder if a certain style was required by the patent office.

  4. I am a little surprised that this never caught on. There is a market segment that pays for unusual things regardless of price. For example, I saw a Camaro that had Lambo doors. A certain doctor of my acquaintance bought one of the first DeLoreans to come out so as to have something that very few people had. I wonder – if one tried to market this today what government hurdles would be in the way? NHSTA? Would the EPA need an impact statement? I can only imagine! Dave, thanks for a very interesting blog. You’ve done it again!

    • Well, one drawback I can imagine would be someone deploying that fifth wheel then putting the car in third gear and letting it rip. Wonder when centrifugal force would’ve taken over. A video of that would be worthy of a Three Stooges movie.

  5. So you are able to park in a very tight space. What would the gut parked behind you think of your great invention when he realizes that he is now parked in.

  6. All,

    I have drawn some patent drawings and there were no font or drafting specs.

    There are numerous self parking cars and trucks available now. I don’t recall any EPA or government interference of any kind.

    Excellent piece. Thanks

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