1920's cars were a vast improvement over automobiles from earlier decades due to the rapid pace of major advancements in 1920's automobile design and engineering. At the start of the 1920's motor cars were still relatively basic, although a huge improvement over earlier automobiles and prior transport modes, especially horse and buggy. By the late nineteen-twenties however, automobiles had rapidly progressed to become stylish, reliable, fast and beautiful machines with high levels of comfort, engineering and safety. Even by modern standards the styling of 1920's cars still looks attractive, particularly the long sweeping curves of the mudguards. However the new automotive technology they introduced has been developed further leaving the beautiful 1920's cars behind to be viewed as vintage technological and historical museum pieces.
Major automotive advances of the twenties included four-wheel brakes, safety glass for windows, and pneumatic air-filled tires - to mention just a few. Eighty years later it is easy to take for granted the major advances that took place in automobile engineering during the 1920's, as these are now everyday features on today's vehicles. However, many modern day car manufacturers are revisiting and implementing design and engineering features that were first invented and used on 1920's cars - hybrid petrol-electric engine systems are just one example!
At the beginning of the 1920's decade most cars were painted in dark colors - more often than not, black - due largely to the Ford influence and lack of suitable colored automobile paints. However, this situation changed in 1925 and 1926 when a whole rainbow of colors became available following the invention of pyroxylin finishes, as you can see in the beautiful illustrations below. The beautiful rich vibrant colors and complementary color schemes were borrowed from the proven livery schemes of horse-drawn carriages and coaches that had been developed by artisans over centuries of use.
This is a celebration of 1920's Automobiles, taken from actual advertisements of the era. The beautiful color illustrations in the Adverts are much more attractive to me than the color photo's which eventually replaced them. Many of the color advertisements show the cars in actual settings of the period, helping to bring the 1920's period back to life for modern readers by displaying cars in their original surroundings. If you weren't there, this is the next best thing!
1928 Chevrolet Sedan Advertisement
1920's Car Buying Advertisement Targeting Women Drivers
Chev Automobile Advert targeting Women Buyers
In this colorful Ad Chevrolet tries to tempt fashion conscious women drivers with stylish new car designs, fancy color schemes, and lower prices. They obviously recognized that women had a major say in the purchase of an automobile. Hey, nothing has changed!
1927 Cadillac Coupe - Colorful Cadillac Coupe advertisement from 1927
1927 Cadillac Coupe
AMERICA, by way of Cadillac, has proven that the finest does not always and of necessity cost the most. Everyone knows that the Cadillac is the one car regarded by everyone as the finest automobile in America. In the light of that fact, it is almost inevitable that the public should award to Cadillac a volume that amounts to more than half the nation's demand for fine cars. The result, of course, is plain to anyone who contrasts the first cost of the Cadillac with that of any other car which may properly be compared. The economies effected by the huge Cadillac production actually reverse the usual economic order and make this finest of all fine cars at the same time substantially lower in price. Priced from $2995 upward, f.o.b. Detroit.
Car Bonnet Ornaments and Symbols
Sculpted Car Bonnet Ornaments of 1920's Automobiles
Vintage Car Emblems from the Era of Style
Before car bonnet (hood) decorations were banned due to the potential danger they posed to pedestrians in accidents, they were a feature that adorned many automobiles, especially in the 1920's. Many of these beautiful icons were designed and created by famous sculptors under commission from the car manufacturers.
Diana, goddess of the chase, smiles at us from the cap of a speedy motor car of the twenties, the Moon.
Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, Minerva, Atalanta and the mythical Centaur also grace the caps of nineteen-twenties cars.
Deities - graceful, young, daring swooped down from the impressive front of a Rolls Royce, or gave an assured self-confident stare from the cap of the Safety Stutz.
These beautifully sculpted bonnet emblems of the 1920's are a thing of the past due to modern automotive regulations but you may be fortunate enough to see them in real life in a vintage car rally or in an automobile museum.
1930 Buick Four Passenger Coupe Interior
Excerpt from 1930 Buick advertising brochure
Interior of a 1930 Buick Coupe
The spacious, beautifully finished interior is an ideal setting for the pleasant intimacy that only this type of car affords. The adjustable drivers seat is very easy riding and provides untiring comfort even in the longest drives.
The folding seat is also exceptionally comfortable - an important improvement which will be thoroughly appreciated by the fourth passenger.
Upholstery is a specially developed mohair of fine luxurious weave with waterproofed backing - an extremely durable fabric; impervious to road dust. Its color harmonizes with the body color to produce an extremely pleasing effect. It does not mat down easily like ordinary mohair.
On the floor is a fine quality, durable, velvet pile carpet, specially designed to harmonize with the upholstery.
1922 12-Cylinder Engine - Rare color illustration of a 1920's V12 car engine and gearbox
I don't know what vehicle this V12 engine and gearbox are out of, but it's a beauty and not cluttered with anti-pollution gear like modern engines are.
List of 1920's Automobile Manufacturers - A Time of Car Manufacturing Expansion and Industry Consolidation
1920's cars were a vast improvement over their predecessors. Cars were just starting to be mass produced and enormous strides were being made in their engineering. But it wasn't just technological improvements. Major progress was also being made in appearance, quality and durability.
Here is a list of automobile brands manufactured in the USA during 1929.
Car manufacturers were consolidating or closing throughout the 1920's and during the depression that followed. Not many of these American car makers have survived to the present day, but even those who have survived are becoming increasingly uncompetitive and are now experiencing major problems that threaten their existence largely due to competition from foreign auto manufacturers.
Cadillac & La Salle
Hudson and Essex
S & S
Studebaker & Erskine
- 1920s Automobiles
Information on 1920's Automobiles and related topics
1928 Buick Silver Anniversary Sedan - Buick Advertisement from December 1928
The Silver Anniversary Buick
The Gift for all the family
Of all gifts, the one that will bring greatest happiness to the whole family is a fine motor car. And of all cars, the one that will win highest favor is a Silver Anniversary Buick with new Masterpiece Body by Fisher.
Supremely beautiful - endowed with lines, colors and upholsteries of unrivaled luxury - powered by the world-famous Buick Valve-in-Head engine - this thrilling car will give utmost pleasure, not only on Christmas Day, but for months and years to come.
When Better Automobiles are Built - Buick Will Build Them
1930 Oakland V8 Sedan
Oakland V8 Advertisement from 1930
Advertisement for the 1930 Oakland Eight Sedan
Like "first time up"... your first exhilarating ride in an Oakland Eight
First time up in a plane ... an entirely new experience. But up you go! And soon the preliminary tingle of excitement is transformed into a deeply satisfying and refreshing sensation. It is as if you had become somehow a superior being, leaving far behind you the swiftest vehicles on earth.
Be prepared for the same kind of exhilarating experience when you take your first ride in an Oakland Eight. From the moment you step on the gas, you part company with practically every other car on the road, no matter what its cost. Smooth as a ripple, quiet as a whisper, Oakland's 85-horsepower V-eight engine speeds you on without a semblance of effort for five miles or five hundred. Like a flash, you dart past one swiftly moving shape after another. In a twinkling, you sweep over the crest of a towering hill in high. And rarely can anyone stay abreast of you. For when you drive an Oakland Eight, you are driving the most powerful passenger car of its size and weight ever produced.
Arrange to have your first breath-taking ride in an Oakland Eight soon. Then you will understand why thousands of Oakland owners, many of them veterans of a dozen automobiles, have never been so enthusiastic about any other car. Each day reveals new reasons to praise it. Not only for its superior speed, pick-up and power but for its delightful Fisher Body comfort and its thorough dependability as well. A word to your local Oakland-Pontiac dealer and he will gladly see that you have an Oakland Eight to drive. No obligation, of course.
1927 Packard Eight Coupe Advertisement - Armchair luxury in a 1927 Packard 8
1927 Packard Coupe Advertisement
LUXURY The improved Packard Eight is the supremely luxurious car. It is designed and built for those favored few who may and do demand the comfort and ease of their own drawing rooms in motor travel.
Fast or slow, flashing through the maze of metropolitan congestion, or smoothly annihilating distance at almost aircraft speed in the open, Packard passengers know the luxury of truly restful transportation.
The graceful beauty of Packard lines, the roominess of the car's interior, the quiet good taste of its upholstery and appointments, the silent ease of motion, and the sense of security which comes with tremendous power under sure control-all contribute to the mental satisfaction and physical repose of the Packard Eight owner.
Here, the discriminating man or woman finds ideal performance, beauty, distinction and comfort perfectly combined.
P A C K A R D
ASK THE MAN WHO OWNS ONE
1927 Whippet Roadster - Smart as the Ritz Whippet Roadster
1927 Whippet Roadster Advertisement
YOUNG Americans under sixty insist upon the mode. Peg-top trousers and long skirts belong to other years. Style is progress. The mode in motor cars is no exception.
Today's motor car has four-wheel brakes. Speed dictates them. It's safer to be up-to-date-and smarter. The Whippet Collegiate is the season's best seller in Roadsters for these reasons:
Four-wheel brakes. If you were paying $2,000 you'd insist upon them.
Seats for four passengers. Take 'em or leave 'em.
Speed-Too fast. We admit 55 miles per hour.
Acceleration-Invariably first on the green light.
Economy-Whippet holds the Coast-to-Coast record for economy.
Oversize Tires-Another plus-value feature that speaks for itself.
Adjustable steering wheel-long or short, thin or stout, it fits you.
Force-feed lubrication-Like that of the Willys-Knight and other higher priced cars.
Silent timing chain-Extremely quiet engine operation.
Roominess-Holds four comfortably in two seats-not three in one.
The Whippet is available in six distinctive body styles. Collegiate Roadster $695; Touring $625; Coupe $625; Coach $625; Sedan $725; Landau $755. Prices f.o.b. factory. Prices and specifications subject to change without notice. Willys-Overland, Inc., Toledo, O.Willys-Overland Sales Co., Ltd., Toronto, Canada.
1920's Vintage Car Books - Buy Books on Vintage Cars at Amazon
Learn more about 1920's automobile history and car manufacturers of the period.
1920's Automobile Production and Registrations
Production and Registration Data for Motor Cars in the USA
1920's Automobile Statistics
The rapid growth in the number of automobiles being registered each year can be seen in the annual figures below. In 1895 there were only 4 cars in the whole of the U.S. but this had grown to 8,000 by 1900, and 458,500 by 1910. After 1920 car registrations really took off - see the stats below.
YEAR PRODUCTION REGISTRATION
1920 1,905,560 8,225,859
1921 1,529,165 9,346,195
1922 2,430,965 10,864,128
1923 3,759,704 13,479,608
1924 3,317,586 15,460,649
1925 3,896,032 17,512,638
1926 3,975,640 19,237,171
1927 3,086,018 20,230,429
1928 4,044,000 21,630,000
1920's Vintage Automobile Book Auctions - A cheap way to buy books on Vintage 1920's cars
Vintage Car Manuals and Books
You can find out-of-print vintage car books and repair manuals, often at very reasonable prices, on eBay.
1920's Automobile Videos - View videos of 1920's cars
1928 Dodge Sedan
What's it like driving a Vintage Dodge sedan today?
Driving a 1920's Car Today
My friend Graham loves old Dodges and he has a couple including a 1932 sedan, something like the 1928 model pictured.
Graham was kind enough to let me drive his 1932 Dodge from Victor Harbor to Seacliff, a 75km journey through both picturesque farming countryside and built up suburbia.
Having only three forward speeds meant I didn't have to change gears too often by double-clutching - which meant less opportunities to crash the gears and damage the gearbox. Fortunately the 6 cylinder engine had tremendous torque and would go up the steepest hills in top gear! This meant that once I got into top gear I could stay there without down-shifting.
Stopping the car was an interesting experience. Even though the car had 4 wheel brakes it required a massive sustained push on the brake pedal to bring the car to a halt, as there was no power assistance. You would build up strong leg muscles if you drove this car a lot! I found it quite hair-raising compared to a modern car. I made sure I kept plenty of distance between the Dodge and any cars in front of me.
The high driving position was great and the seats were comfortable for both driver and passengers - and there were no seatbelts.
Much as I enjoyed the drive and the stares of other drivers, I couldn't imagine driving the vintage Dodge around a modern city. I don't know how ladies used to drive these cars - but it certainly would have given them well toned leg muscles if they did!
I have to admit the old Dodge had style and was a beautiful car, more than you can say for many modern cars.
1932 Dodge Sedan - Graham with the 1932 Dodge he allowed me to drive.
1920's Car stuff on eBay - 1920's Automobile memorabilia from the Roaring Twenties
Great for decorating the home or office
1925 Hupmobile 8 Cylinder Engine and Gearbox - Hupmobile Engine Advertisement from 1925
EXTERNALLY, the Hupmobile engine exhibits a degree of clean simplicity that wins instant admiration.
Just as the engineers have reduced eight-cylinder mechanism to its simplest and most efficient form, so have they kept the exterior free from complicated assemblies.
On those infrequent occasions when the valve mechanism requires attention, it is easily and completely exposed by the removal of the single cover plate.
Air drawn into the carburetor is cleansed and heated by passing through louvres in the valve cover plate, and passes into the carburetor through a pipe connected with the cover plate.
The effect is that the air, passing through the louvres and making sharp turns in its path to the carburetor, is freed of the major portion of the dust it bears, and at the same time is warmed by its passage behind the valve cover.
The cooling water circulates through a thermostat placed at the forward end of the cylinder block, with a very short connection between radiator and cylinder block, in place of the usual long connection.
Engine, clutch and transmission are a unit-which has been Hupmobile practice for 16 years-short, rigid and compact.
HUPP MOTOR CAR CORPORATION . Detroit, Michigan
Introduction of Balloon Tires for Cars
Solid Rubber Tires were replaced by Pneumatic Balloon Tires
Major Change in 1920's Car and Truck Tire Types
In the mid twenties, pneumatic air-filled balloon tires for cars were invented and became an overnight sensation because of the increased driving comfort they provided when compared with the existing solid rubber tires. Most modern tire manufacturers started their businesses in the twenties when the demand for rubber tires for automobiles really took off.
Although suspension systems were steadily improving, the cushioning effect of air-filled tires contributed significantly to passenger comfort, while reducing wear and tear on the suspension and steering components.