|Early in the 1940s, cars were becoming a sensation, though they were not considered a necessity. Instead, they were luxury items and sought after status symbols. The 1940s cars had a lower, longer, broader, and more massive look, and some companies offered a combination automatic clutch with a semi-automatic transmission; the driver could select either the manual or semi-automatic shift with buttons on the dash. However, in 1942, with the advent of WWII, cars stopped being produced for a period of 3-4 years, and production for civilians did not resume until 1946.|
|As a result of WWII, many American car plants converted to making military vehicles. In addition to this conversion, some companies created safety features that were later implemented on civilian cars. During this wartime, “the department of war came up with a one-quarter ton four-wheel drive military vehicle called the Jeep,” which continues to be produced today. Additionally, “Chrysler, introduced a safety rim wheel that kept the tire on the rim in case of a blowout, and also offered two-speed electric windshield wipers.”|
Some of the major vehicles manufactured during the 1940s are the Ford, the Plymouth, and the Oldsmobile. The 1940 Plymouth had engineering far and above anything else offered in the low priced field. The Plymouth was built solid, handled smoothly, and had popular styling. It was advertised as “The Low Priced Beauty With the Luxury Ride," and delivered what it promised. The 1940 Plymouth came with the All Weather Air Control System. This system combined a heating and ventilation system provided fresh air, and circulated to all parts of the car. The Plymouth came with an option of the model Roadking and Deluxe.”
Along with the Plymouth, the Buick was also popular; though they had stopped production, once WWII was over innovations helped boast their sales when production resumed. In 1948, Buick introduced Dynaflow, the first torque converter-type automatic transmission offered in U.S. passenger 1940s cars. Following the war, Ford introduced the legendary Thunderbird. The Thunderbird offered performance and luxury features like power windows, which made this car a hit.
Some other trends set during this period were, by 1946 the first radio telephones were used in 1940s cars, and, as seen in the Thunderbird, the first power-operated windows were introduced. Other innovations to come out of the 40’s are the new method of starting the engine with an ignition key, and turn signals.