ENGINEERING considerations leading to the former almost universal practice of steering with the front wheels and driving and braking with the rear wheels are reviewed, and the desire for bodies lower than can be made with conventional design is given as the main reason for the present interest in front drives. For early history, European development, racing practice and the closely related subject of four-wheel drives, the reader is referred to a previous paper by Herbert Chase.2
One major advantage to be secured with front-drive design is lower unsprung weight, which should promote easy riding and road-holding ability and reduce tire wear. An inherent disadvantage is that driving-torque reaction and hill climbing shift some weight from the front axle to the rear axle, thus slightly reducing the tractive effort possible; but this shift is not considered important, since the control of weight distribution is in the hands of the designer.
The chief difficulties of design have been in finding an arrangement that keeps down the hood length and in providing for the location of a sufficiently large radiator and the driving of the radiator fan.
Much of the discussion*, both at the Milwaukee and the New England Section meetings, was about the comparative danger from front-wheel and rear-wheel skidding and the difficulty of overcoming skidding. Universal-joints also were discussed. Among the other subjects discussed at Milwaukee were independent springing of front wheels and tire wear, while some early traction tests on electric vehicles were reported in Boston.