Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

1940 Oldsmobile

Believe it or not, GM’s extinct Oldsmobile division used to have a reputation for technological innovation. As shown, the brand was one of the first on the market with a powerful, overhead valve V8 engine as seen in the Rocket 88. It was also the first to deliver a commercially viable automatic transmission.

Automotive enthusiasts may loathe so-called “slushboxes,” which have basically taken over the market in North America, but everyday drivers have completely embraced them. More than 90 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. are equipped with automatic transmissions.

Oldsmobile sought to make driving easier 70 years ago when it introduced its Hydra-Matic gearbox. The clutchless, self-shifting transmission was a $57 option on any of its 1940 models. It featured a fluid-filled torque converter and four forward speeds, a mid-century technological tour de force.

Interestingly, Hydra-Matic is a name GM still uses today.

  • Tomst37

    I loved this. It was really interesting and informative.


  • Greenjeep1998

    Don’t know if you knew this Craig, but the Eagles and Cherokees were sold side by side for a short period of time since AMC owned Jeep for the last 20 years before being bought by Chrysler for the Jeep brand. IIRC, Chrysler’s Turbine program was started shortly after WW2 and died right around the time they went bankrupt the first time. Even though the turbine engine has yet to make it into a regular production vehicle, Chrysler had some ownership in the manufacturer of the Abrams tanks and I’ve often wondered how much of their turbine tech went into the Abrams instead.

    BTW, the Turbine Cars weren’t the only Mopars capable of burning whiskey……..their 2.7l and Pentastar V-6’s as well as the 4.7l V-8 are all built to be capable of burning corn whiskey. The Pentastar is quite fond of the stuff and my 4.0l I-6 Jeep don’t seem to mind a couple gallons being splash blended every once in a while too 😀

  • Craig Cole

    No, I had no idea!  That’s really interesting but not as interesting as Chrysler helping build tank engines.  That’s really cool.  You must be a Pentastar Historian.