Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars! This week’s question: What was the world’s first production car with four-wheel brakes? If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right. The latest safety feature to likely become a federal mandate here in the States is automatic braking. That’s a combination of existing technologies—proximity sensors, antilock brakes, and fuzzy logic computers—that when connected together may just keep the inattentive from running into the car ahead of them. The Government says that such systems, once widely deployed, could reduce accidents by as much as 20%. That’s a staggering amount, and is the reason that the Feds (and likely the Insurance companies) are targeting to get these automated nannies in new cars by 2022 at the latest. Even for those of us who are attentive, many take our brakes for granted, so well they generally work these days. ABS has taken much of the nuance of their application out of the driver’s hands, er, feet and their effectiveness has improved to the point that it has come to finally taking the weak link—the driver—out of the chain completely to gain any greater improvement. That hasn’t always been the case. Today we almost all have four-wheel disc or competent disc/drum brakes, most likely with ABS, which, when combined with modern tires can result in effective braking distances that halve those of cars just 50 years ago. Going back even further than that cars often didn’t even have brakes on both axles, often choosing a driveshaft brake or perhaps clampers on the back axle alone. That was seemingly all that was needed when most cars could barely top out at forty miles per hour and most roads were too rutted to allow anything even near that. Despite the apparent lack of demand however, four wheel brakes can trace their origin back almost to the start of the auto age. In fact, like many typical by today’s standards, four-wheel braking was a dalliance of that embryonic era. From CarHistory4U:

In 1903 four-wheel brakes were fitted to the Dutch Spiker 60/80 HP model.

That site may have misspelled Spyker, but they got the rest of the facts right. The company began auto production in 1899, having previously worked on coaches, including the “Golden Coach” still used to this day by the Dutch Monarchy. 1903-Spyker-60-HP-1280x960 The company was an innovator from the start, as not only did the 60/80 of 1903 offer four-wheel brakes, but it also offered four-wheel drive, powered by a single engine, and the option of the world’s first six cylinder engine in a production automobile. Financial problems plagued the company however, resulting in a bankruptcy in 1907 following the drowning death of co-founder Hendrik-Jan Spijker, and another in 1922. The concern was dissolved in 1926. Total production over its quarter-century of existance was about 2,000 cars. Image: SeriousWheels

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