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6 Automotive Changes Since the Cubs Last Won the World Series

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2016

By now, you've probably heard that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night after 108 years of trying in vain. Given just how long 108 years really is, we decided to look back on some of the automotive advances that have occurred since the last time the Cubs won the championship. If you're looking for a quick summary, here it is: There have been a lot of them.

Windows

One of the biggest automotive advancements since 1908 was the proliferation of windows. No, we're not talking about power windows. Windows. Vehicles made in 1908 rarely had them -- and if they did, it was usually in the form of a single windshield, usually placed at a 90-degree angle to the vehicle itself. Indeed, many early-1900s vehicles were completely open to the elements, while some had a removable top -- but it would be at least a decade before windows were really integrated into automotive design. Of course, these days, many cars can open their windows -- and their convertible tops -- with the push of a little button.

Driving Procedure

By modern standards, driving an early-1900s car was tremendously difficult. For example: Most Ford Model T models were fitted with a hand crank rather than an electric starter -- and there was no key. There was also no traditional pedal setup. The Model T had a hand-operated throttle, a transmission you controlled solely with your left foot, a brake you controlled with your right foot and a reverse gear you controlled with ... a third foot? Worse, the driving procedure wasn't standardized back then -- so every automaker did it differently. That's a big change from push-button start and cruise control.

Tires

In today's world, we have radial tires that have been carefully designed and engineered for every possible road surface, and weather condition, and usage type. In 1908, cars had some rubber that happened to be made in the general shape of a circle. Tires have changed a lot, too: While a standard tire today would be roughly 16 inches in diameter and 10 inches across, early 1900s vehicles often used tires that were more like 30 inches in diameter and about three inches across -- only a little wider than modern bicycle tires.

Curb Weight

With the advent of safety equipment, and luxury amenities, and climate control systems, and sound systems, and additional bodywork, and larger, more powerful engines, cars have gotten heavier since the early 1900s. A lot heavier. Specifically, the typical 1908 vehicle weighed around 1,200 pounds, which is so low that it would be impossible for a modern car to meet it. Instead, most modern family sedans weigh around 3,500 pounds -- an increase of roughly threefold from the era of the Cubs' last championship.

Safety Features

The Chicago Cubs' 1908 World Series victory predates virtually every safety feature in existence, with one exception: brakes. Otherwise, every single advancement in automotive safety has come in the 108-year space in between -- including seat belts (which started to roll out in the 1950s), disc brakes (1970s), airbags (1980s), anti-lock brakes (1980s), side airbags (2000s), and today's modern safety gadgets like forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance. Of course, another major safety feature back in 1908 was top speed: Most vehicles of the era couldn't go over 40 miles per hour.

Design and Styling

If you find yourself having a very difficult time telling apart vehicles from the early 1900s, you're not alone. Part of the reason is that many early 1900s vehicles shared similar styling characteristics -- but another factor is the way cars were sold: While modern drivers purchase an entire vehicle from one automaker, drivers in the early 1900s often found themselves choosing a drivetrain from a drivetrain manufacturer and choosing a body from a coachbuilder. That meant there were many vehicles running around with no discernible branding -- and it wasn't uncommon for one body to be on many different chassis. It wasn't long, however, before automakers began producing all chassis and body components together -- and the coachbuilding industry largely died out.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
6 Automotive Changes Since the Cubs Last Won the World Series - Autotrader