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Cubical-aka-Moltar

Turn signals as we know them today--when?

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When did cars start offering turn signals and when did they become standard on most cars? I've seen old cars with semaphores, but that's a different animal. I'm guessing late 40s, maybe? It seems cars had parking lights before turn signals..

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Good question. Without looking this up, I recall Buick offering turn signals in the rear circa '47. I believe this is the first, but undoubtedly there was someone doing it earlier at some point (an independant/ obscure make).

(Now referencing...) they were still optional on '55 Chevys & '56 Plymouths. '56 Studes had them optional, but they aren't listed as being so for '58. This has to be the heart of the end of optional directionals.

Industry-standardization would vary by Corp / make until federally mandated, I believe (and that didn't start until '66). But I would be hard-pressed to believe a '59 anything still had optional signals (cars; trucks were a different story. To that end: my '57 F-250 had only 1 factory taillight (2 lenses, but only wired/bulbed on the one side)).

Parking lights were common/ standard much earlier. This is a '30s thing - lots of late '30s cars with running/parking lights, and we can go back at least to Model As ('28) w/ cowl lights in addition to headlights. Everything from the '40s on had parking lights.

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When did cars start offering turn signals and when did they become standard on most cars? I've seen old cars with semaphores, but that's a different animal. I'm guessing late 40s, maybe? It seems cars had parking lights before turn signals..

From my understanding, they were optional in the early '40s and standardized in the mid 50s... but I've seen a lot of '40s and '50s cars with aftermarket kits... it can be hard for someone to tell a factory part from an aftermarket part when the part is old enough to drink before you are born. ;-)

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Buick in 1938 I believe.

My uncle insists that it was invented by somebody who lived in Shubenacadie, NS who presented his invention to GM in 1937 and was told that it was not something that would be useful on cars. The next model year they showed up on new Buicks a la that "Flash of Genius" movie.

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OK; looked it up.

"An industry first", Buick offered turn signals integrated with the trunk emblem, standard across the line, for the '39 MY... but interestingly there were no front turn signals.

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Buick in 1938 I believe.

My uncle insists that it was invented by somebody who lived in Shubenacadie, NS who presented his invention to GM in 1937 and was told that it was not something that would be useful on cars. The next model year they showed up on new Buicks a la that "Flash of Genius" movie.

Did he invent the question mark and turn cats against dogs as well? :smilewide:

In a similar vein I recall vaguely a flap concerning intermittent wiper blades. No one may ever know the ("real") truth.

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