1928-01-01

Front-Wheel Drives, Are They Coming or Going? 280036

AFTER listing the advantages and disadvantages of front-wheel drive the author says that, although most American engineers who have given him their opinions seem to believe that the advantages of front-wheel drive are outweighed by its disadvantages, he has grounds for venturing the opinion that this form of drive is likely to have extensive use in this Country within the next few years. He bases this view more upon commercial than upon strictly engineering considerations; but the latter are not lacking altogether, as is evident from his subsequent analysis.
The advantages and the disadvantages are specifically and separately discussed, existing designs of front-wheel drive being divided into three classes. Numerous illustrations of the different types of front-wheel-drive vehicle are presented, and their most important features are enumerated and explained.
In conclusion the author says that, although there is good ground for the view that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, it does not follow as a necessary corollary that front-drive cars will become the popular type or that they will be adopted soon by many manufacturers. Several companies are, however, greatly interested. Basically, nearly all American cars are very much alike in mechanical design and have undergone practically no major changes since the introduction of four-wheel brakes. We are about due for some radical changes in design, and it is not unlikely that one of these will be the front-wheel drive.
One of the discussers makes the point that, in the last 500-mile race, the troubles experienced with the front-wheel-drive racing cars could not be charged to the front-wheel drive itself. Another cites tests which disproved the claim that less power is required to propel a car by the front wheels than by the rear wheels. It is stated by another speaker that the failures of the supercharger drive-gears in the 500-mile race were mostly on cars having front-wheel drives. He says also that it is observable on the speedway that the front-wheel-drive cars spin their wheels much more than do the rear-wheel-drive cars at the same speed.
It is mentioned that front-wheel-drive cars follow the front wheels and have less tendency to skid on turns provided the driver has the courage to keep his foot on the throttle, but that this is a dangerous procedure. It is brought out also that the arrangements of independent wheel-springing and the reduction of unsprung weight can be applied equally well to front-wheel and to rear-wheel drives.
In conclusion, the author states the answers he received to the question: “What other major improvements do you consider more promising than front-wheel drives?”

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