The history of automobiles is long and interesting, boasting many successes and significant advancements in technology. Unfortunately, that’s not true in all cases. Auto technology has had its fair share of costly mistakes and laughable blunders—some resulting in serious damage to a brand’s reputation, while others acting as silly mishaps easily swept under the rug.
If you have an interest in automotive technology, you might be all too familiar with the many successes of the car industry. Here’s a closer look at four times auto technology came up a little short, as well as some lessons students can learn from these unfortunate blunders.
The Gas and Turbine Powered Automobile: A Strange Experiment in Auto Technology
Cars and airplanes had both been reliable forms of transportation up until 1962. So Chrysler figured it was only natural to release a car called the Chrysler Turbine, which was the first and only car to be powered by gas and turbine. As graduates of an automotive technology program can guess, the experiment was a resounding flop. The car sounded like a loud vacuum cleaner and the start-up procedure had to be meticulously followed or the car would stall.
After a testing period, they were reclaimed by Chrysler and withheld from the market. In compliance with laws that state prototypes cannot be sold to the public, most of them were scrapped. Only 55 of these automobiles were ever manufactured and only nine of them still exist.
The Cadillac V8-6-4: A Major Mistake in Auto Technology
Another automotive technology mistake for the history books is the Cadillac V8-6-4. During your training you will learn about many different types of engines, however there’s a reason why the Cadillac V8-6-4 isn’t one of them. Originally advertised in the 1980s as the “ultimate American motor car,” it left plenty to be desired.
The car was supposedly able to turn its cylinders off and on as needed in order to remain highly efficient. For example, when the car was running on light loads it would use the V4 (forward facing four cylinder) engine, and as the loads got heavier it would go up to the V6 and V8. Due to the limited capabilities of computer technology back in the 80s, the technology malfunctioned and the car would constantly stall. Many owners had to turn to auto mechanics to de-active the cylinder system so that it ran as a simple V8 engine.
Biodegradable Wiring: a Lesson for Students in Automotive Technology Training
During the 1990s, Germany’s Green Party was well on its way to creating a greener world, passing a law that required a certain percentage of parts in an automobile to be biodegradable. At the time it seemed like a smart decision. However, when Mercedes-Benz decided to use biodegradable wiring insulation, everything started to fall apart, literally. The longer drivers drove, the more their vehicles deteriorated. One major problem drivers noticed was a decreasing voltage to the car’s electronic systems. This had a huge impact on the company as all of Mercedes’ vehicles manufactured between 1992 and 1996 had this wiring installed.
Students enrolled in an automotive technology training program might know that Mercedes-Benz would have been better off using biodegradable materials for car seats, door panels, or other components that wouldn’t affect the car’s performance.
Joystick Steering Wheels: a Wrong Turn in the History of Auto Technology
When video games grew in popularity in the 90s, it seems as if Saab Automobile took note. Looking to increase safety, Saab removed the steering wheel in their Saab 9000, and instead installed a joystick mounted on the center console. The joystick was very dysfunctional; it only turned 180 degrees and any tiny adjustment could completely reroute the vehicle. On top of that, joystick steering proved more tiring since drivers no longer had the support of a steering wheel to rest their hands on.
After these initial flaws were discovered, Saab determined perhaps two joysticks (one for each arm) would be more effective. Fortunately, this terrible steering experiment never make it out of the testing phase and joystick steering was quickly retired.
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