instructional video from 1937 shows how differential steering works
YouTube: US Auto Industry

Vintage Video Shows How They Explained Differential Steering in the Late '30s

Now, this video starts out with some old school motorcycle choreography stuff, and if you're into that kind of thing (and we are), feel free to watch some vintage footage of old-timey motorcycle drill team stunts. And absolutely do not try any of these at home, because these are clearly trained professionals who have undergone "long hours of intensive drilling and careful judgement."

But, even if motorcycle drills aren't your thing, pay attention around the two-minute mark, because we swear this video is actually about differential steering.

In fact, this might be the world's easiest-to-understand description of wheel speed, axles, torque, and the challenges involved in turning a car around corners. It's physics, without lots of triangles and weird formulas.

Amazingly, this video dates all the way back to 1937. They hadn't even thought of electronic stability control back then. Heck, in 1937, not every American had electricity in their home. The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 was barely a year old. Kiichiro Toyoda was just putting the final touches on the Toyota Motor Company. This was long, long ago.

Despite its age, this video outlines exactly how differential steering works to keep your car under control while you're taking a corner. It works the same way today as it did then, though today's vehicles have a little more flair than the 1937 Fords and Lincolns featured in this short film.

It's a fairly simple concept that's just more interesting when it's explained by an excited old-timey newscaster. And, for some of us, there might be a sense of nostalgia. After all, it wasn't too long ago that some of us were forced to take shop class in high school. Somewhere, some unlucky kids might still be watching this video!

The demonstration is pretty cool, too. You can't help but wonder how many times the poor guy operating the gears by hand got his fingers pinched, though.

This post was originally published on August 21, 2017.

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