Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Evolution of an idea

As you are aware I'm fascinated by the fallibility of the human mind. I noted a new example the other day while struggling with one of the traffic circles in our retirement community. I'm not going to complain about the traffic circle itself. That's been done to death. Let's face it, at least about half of the people entering the circle don't know what they're doing. No, as I was struggling to maintain a view of the many hazards surrounding me, I jogged my head back and forth from one side of the window-roof pillar to the other. I recalled that this didn't used to be the case.

Back in the early '50's, you'll remember that we had "wrap-around" windshields. Here's a quote from a January 23, 1954 Christian Science Monitor news story titled, Cadillac Declares Top Power: "The wrap-around, panoramic windshield follows the trend in most General Motors cars this year, designed to move back the corner post blind spot from the driver's vision. These windshields add 186 square inches to the window area. A total of 55 square inches has been added to the over-all window space compared with 1953."

The problem of obstructed vision was solved by technology developed for WWII bombers. Bravo. Fast forward about twenty years and Lee Iacocca comes along to huckster "cab-forward design." Everyone signs on based upon a massive ad campaign. Besides, it's so stylish to move the windshield away from the driver and over the engine compartment!! It's more aerodynamic they assure us. (Actually the improvement is negligible.) The net result is that we all accept driving around with our view of the road obscured by a big fat post. Someday a class action lawyer is going to get smart and sue Chrysler for perpetrating this road hazard on the American people. With respect -Joel

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