Hooniverse Asks: ‘50s Edition- What’s the Greatest Future Tech from the 1950s?

Well we’ve finally come to the end of our salute to the ’50s here on Hooniverse Asks, and by now I bet half of you are walking around saying aye just like Fonzie, while the other half are furiously Googling just who in the hell this Fonzie character is.
Yeah, Henry Winkler’s Hood with a Heart of Gold will eventually fade from our collective consciousness, but for this final ’50s question, what I want to know is what technologies from the era have managed to stick around.
This was the decade when production car makers dabbled in electrics and even electronics in their products, as well as labor saving features like auto-dimming lights and the Necker’s Knob. Considering everything that survived while Fonzie didn’t, which do you think is the greatest future tech to get its big start in the ’50s?
Image: CaliforniaClassix

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  1. Kiefmo Avatar

    EFI! It barely squeaks into the late 50s, with the Bendix “Electrojector” system having been installed on a handful of Chrysler products.
    One could argue that Bosch did it more successfully with some of their Jetronic systems, but they weren’t first!

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      gah, you beat me by mere seconds! well done good sir.

    2. Jeep Jeff Avatar
      Jeep Jeff

      If I remember correctly, Bosch had to license Bendix’ patents to get into the EFI game.

    3. mzszsm Avatar

      Good answer but Bosch created an even earlier FI in the 300SL a bit earlier.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        Was direct injection, but mechanical. Good answer, but different category.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Electronic Fuel Injection – Bendix’s system was first shown on prototype ’57 Rambler Rebels and then production ’58 Chrysler 300Ds and Dodge D-500s.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Is this the second or fourth time we’ve posted the same answer within minutes?

      1. GTXcellent Avatar

        Great minds think alike

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    Production vehicles exceeding the 1HP/CID threshold.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      We now have race engines that can push beyond 1hp/cc, but I think we’ll have moved beyond internal combustion before you see a family sedan powered by a practical, reliable, efficient, and quiet 250cc IC engine.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        Some people might consider 250 cc an upgrade.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Other upgrades would include practicality, reliability, efficiency, and silence.

          1. 0A5599 Avatar

            That’s all relative. For example, silence means it isn’t running.

          2. cap'n fast Avatar
            cap’n fast

            so, if oil drips on the ground and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound??

          3. mdharrell Avatar

            If oil drips on the ground, something’s seriously wrong. The engine’s a two-stroke and the transmission is an exposed-belt CVT.

  4. Vavon Avatar

    Citroën’s self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension introduced in 1955.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I believe the Citroen DS is just generally the right answer to this question.

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      All the more puzzling is that just as they decide to go ‘design-led upmarket’ with the mediocre DS range, and ‘design-led’ with Citroens like the Cactus, that they are dropping this highly regarded, well developed superior suspension system. And, at the same time as other manufacturers bring in height adjustable suspension.
      Even odder is their inability to capitalise on the fact that other than Citroen, only three other manufacturers have used it, and did so by directly licensing the Citroen system. And that these other manufacturers are considered to be as ‘upmarket’ as is possible, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz and McLaren. Stupidity on this scale in marketing is rare these days that it’s worthy of discussion.

    3. Perc Avatar

      I came here to post this. But the hydraulic system not limited to only the suspension – it also ran the gearchanges, clutch and self-centering power steering.

  5. Citric Avatar

    I enjoy the complicated madness of the Skyliner. Now available on the Miata of all things.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I do, too, but we shouldn’t let the Skyliner’s success overshadow, or rather Éclipse, production from before the 1950s.

      1. Vavon Avatar

        I really liked Bonnie Tylers song about this Peugeot: A Total Eclipse Of The Car.

        1. dr zero Avatar
          dr zero

          Every now and then Peugeots fall apart?

          1. Vavon Avatar

            Turn around, bright lights!

  6. engineerd Avatar

    Not necessarily technology *on* a car, but the interstate highway system was authorized in 1956 with the first contracts being let later that year. The interstate system has been a boon to commerce. Nothing is perfect, though, and now entire generations have grown up only travelling on the interstate without getting off to discover what’s over the horizon.

  7. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    I am going to have to go with elastometric oil seals which started to be used by gm in the 1950s to replace leather and cork and rope. difficult to pinpoint exactly who/when/where but the why was self evident every time one pulled out of a parking spot. too bad the road tube crankcase ventilator waited until the 1960s to die a well deserved death. most people don’t even realize why highways had the black stripe down the middle of the traffic lane or why the first light rain made the road so slick but a heavy rain was actually yielded better traction,such as it was.
    speaking of which; radial tires from Michelin showed up when?

  8. Alff Avatar

    Air Conditioning

  9. StephaneDumas Avatar

    No one mentionned Chrysler’s Push Button Poweflite (and later Torqueflite) transmission yet.