The first 10 years after World War Two saw a large number of designs that have become iconic. Not only did design and production techniques develop at a faster-than-normal pace during the war, but many engineers found enough free time to dream. Some models, like the Citroën 2CV, were due to be launched in the early ‘40s, but production had to be postponed. The trend towards more efficient valve gear and independent uspension that started in the ‘30s continued at a faster pace. Some readers may complain that Land Rover is not mentioned. This is deliberate because, before 1970, its vehicles were still fitted with leaf springs and were unbelievably uncomfortable. In the last part of this survey, I’ll include a coil-sprung version because it is one of my favourites.
This is part two of a five-part feature on the 125 most significant and influential car designs as chosen by former technical editor, Jake Venter. This period can be divided into two distinct phases. Up to 1930, the lessons learned during the First World War, combined with design details taken from aero-engine practice, resulted in very exciting cars. However, once the effect of the Wall Street share crash in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression became apparent, many designers curbed their technical expertise and returned to side-valve engines that were inexpensive to produce and maintain. For example, Mercedes-Benz went from overhead camshafts in the early ‘20s to side valves for its smaller cars. Even the 320 series chassis that featured some glamorous bodies was fitted with side-valve engines until the start of the Second World War.
CAR recently ran a five-part feature on the 125 most significant and influential car designs as chosen by former technical editor, Jake Venter. In case you missed it or you want a quick refresher, here’s part one.