At CNET Car Tech, we usually look for the most cutting edge automotive technology, but at the 2008 New York auto show, we found a hall full of cars that, when they were built, represented the pinnacle of tech. These cars represent automotive technology from the last century.
The oldest car in the hall, it predates the 20th century by millennium. It has two feet worth of torque and one manpower (horses not being domesticated when it was built). Unfortunately, lack of stability control meant it could tip over when a reasonably large plate of ribs was placed on a window tray.
Toyota didn't invent the Land Cruiser name, as it was applied to this prewar Studebaker. The Commander Land Cruiser is powered by an inline eight cylinder engine and has innovative features for the time such as a spare tire integrated into the body and full skirts over the rear tires.
The Hudson Custom Eight is full of innovative tech features, such as four wheel hydraulic brakes, a radio antenna hidden under the running board, and fender-mounted parking lights. A cigar lighter and electric clock round out the cabin luxury. As its name suggests, it is powered by an inline eight cylinder engine making 113 horsepower.
Technically a concept car, the Thunderbolt was never put into production because of World War II. This car features a retractable hard-top, a technology that has come around again. Its aluminum body, aerodynamic shape, and 140 horsepower inline eight cylinder engine all contribute to give it a top speed of 100 mph.
Harlow Curtice became head of GM in 1953 and had this limousine built as his company car. It featured such technical innovations as power steering, power brakes, power windows, and a radio with a scan function. Its inline eight cylinder engine uses overhead valves and produces 200 horsepower.
Coming up to present day technology, the Ford GT is a supercar with a hand-built aluminum body and a 5.4-liter 32 valve V-8. This engine produces 550 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque. Toggle switches in the cabin are a retro touch, acknowledging the Ford GTs of the 1960s.
Coming right up to the present, this Subaru Legacy spec.B has been outfitted by the Subaru Road Racing Team for competition. Most of its tech, such as the all-wheel-drive system and 2.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder boxer engine, come standard on the production version of the car.