Selling the First Successful Automatic Transmission: GM’s Hydra-Matic
As we all know, manual transmissions in new cars have been lingering on the precipice of extinction for years now, rendering bread-and-butter used cars nearly impossible to sell. We say we like three-pedal cars, but then there’s that long stop-and-go highway commute with no free hands to work the phone or Big Gulp, because automatics are just easier.
The slushboxification of America began in the 1940 model year, when General Motors introduced the revolutionary new Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission in Oldsmobile models (be sure to read Aaron Severson’s definitive and thoroughly annotated history of the Hydra-Matic here). The Hydra-Matic wasn’t the first automatic transmission, but it was the first affordable one that worked properly, and it changed the automotive world immediately.
The original Hydra-Matic worked very well, and with such reliability that this 77-year-old example—in a 1941 Olds 98 that had sat abandoned in a Texas field for decades—held together for 607 brutal all-out race miles on a racetrack.
Here’s the 1941 Oldsmobile brochure touting the new transmission, thanks to our friends at Old Car Brochures, to whom you should upload scans of any unique car brochures in your collection.
Source: Read Full Article