Category: Motor vehicles

Orchard tractor


Image: McCormick-Deering image from .

To prevent damage to the low-hanging branches in citrus orchards, tractor manufacturers made “orchard” versions. The large rear fenders kept the tractors from damaging the trees. The McCormick-Deering shown above was only made in 1938 and 1939.


Acme traffic signal


Image: circa 1939 on Ventura Blvd. at Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

The Acme traffic signal was manufactured in Los Angeles beginning in the 1920s. See more of these kinds of signals at .

See a modern video of a restored Acme signal: . The bell rings, the semaphore blades move and the lights illuminate in sequence.


First U.S. turn signals


“Buick was the first U.S. automaker to offer factory-installed flashing turn signals. Introduced in 1939 as a safety feature, the new-fangled feature was advertised as the ‘Flash-Way Directional Signal’ operated from a switch on the new ‘Handi-shift’ column-mounted shifter. The flashing signals only operated on the rear lights.


“In 1940 Buick enhanced the directional indicators by extending the signals to front lights and adding a self-canceling mechanism.”

Excerpts from . Click on the link to learn about the history of turn signals.

Images: 1939 and 1940 Buick brochure from .

The 1940 Buick was available at dealers in autumn 1939.

Auto heating/ventilating breakthrough

17sep10nash“Nash continued to emphasize ‘travel features’ for 1939, especially its advanced heating/ventilation system. Introduced the previous year as ‘Conditioned Air,’ this now added a thermostatic control to become the Weather-Eye Conditioning System. ‘A Twist of a Dial Turns January into June,’ Nash boasted.

“Weather-Eye all but banished drafts, steamed-up windows, and stale interior odors by continually drawing in outside air through the heater. This also allowed the air to be warmed to a desired temperature and even partly dehumidifed en route to the cabin. The system even slightly pressurized the passenger compartment to keep out drafts.”

Before this development, auto heaters were merely an optional box under the instrument panel that radiated heat from the engine coolant. Most did not even have a fan to blow the warm air toward the passengers. Despite the “Conditioned Air” name, refrigerated air in cars was not to be found until it was introduced by Packard later in 1939 on its 1940 models.

Nash cars had another feature, too:


“Besides its enhanced climate system and excellent highway mileage, the Nash Ambassador encouraged four-wheel wanderlust with improved in-car sleeping accommodations: a ‘big, soft Convertible Bed — ready for you in five minutes.’

“Because parents with teenagers were appalled at the idea of a rolling ‘hotel room,’ Nash tactfully portrayed its Convertible Bed as promoting thrifty family togetherness.”
Excerpts from .


Images: 1939 brochure from . Click on the link to see the entire brochure.

Read a brief history of the company from this 2016 article on its 100th anniversary: .


Image: circa 1940 Nash dealer Walker Bros, 3260 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles from .

Dept. of Motor Vehicles


If it was time to renew your drivers license, you would probably be studying this.


Then you might have to stand in a line like this (although this is a 1940 photo of people waiting to purchase license plates before the annual deadline). The photo does not indicate the location apart from being in Los Angeles.

Image: Los Angeles Daily News photo from Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library via,1940.jpg .