Car Trivia – 5 Weird Facts About Vehicles

We all need a bit of fun. Right? The summer months lead to a brief reprieve from the day-to-day work life. Whether you are camping, traveling, or swimming, you are attempting to enjoy a brief moment. Unfortunately, the adult world often makes this process difficult. Prices are rising, tensions are high and the future is uncertain. At times like these, it’s important to take a moment to forget the troubles surrounding our world like a dense fog. Let’s do it together with some car trivia.

I know it may sound ridiculous to attempt to reduce your stress with weird facts about vehicles, but I am too full of whirling thoughts to dive deeply into something auto-glass-related. Let’s take a break. Let’s talk about some crazy information.

Who knows? Maybe it will result in you nabbing a trophy at your local trivia night.

1. The Inventor of Cruise Control Was Blind

Credit: Hemmings

Let’s start with car trivia that may seem nightmare-esque. The idea of a blind driver using cruise control is concerning. Relax. Cruise control was invented by a blind man, but it was not used by him (hopefully).

In 1935, Ralph Teetor, an inventor from Indiana, was traveling with his lawyer. As Teetor family history notes, Ralph was beginning to notice a difference in speed when the lawyer was talking. Consequently, every time the lawyer would speak, the vehicle would slow down. This unsteadiness bothered Teetor. He then began to do what any great inventor does. He began working on a solution to the problem.

After 10 years of inventing, Teetor created and patented the first speed-control device, aptly titled the Speedostat. Chrysler first implemented it in their luxury model in 1958. The company titled it Cruise Control, and the rest was history.

For those wondering: Teetor blinded his eye when he was a child. He was playing with a knife (this is why your parents tell you not to run with scissors). Sympathetic ophthalmia, a condition where eye trauma causes blindness in the other, took his entire sight by age six.

2. The First Speeding Ticket Was Given in 1904

Harry Myers was going too fast. Too, too fast.

West Third Street. Dayton, Ohio. 1904.

Harry Myers was flying down the road in his automobile. He was then clocked at an alarming 12 miles per hour. That’s nearly enough to blow wind through someone’s hair! A police officer pulled him over and gave him the first written speeding ticket. Rumor has it that the cop that pulled him over was on a bicycle, proving just how fast Myers was flying.

Secondly, something even more wild: the first speed limit was introduced in Connecticut in 1901. The law pushed drivers to stay under 12 miles per hour in cities and 15 mph on country roads. Therefore, it took three years for someone to break these laws. Hitting 12 mph must have been a challenging dilemma for early rebels.

3. The Highest Vehicle Mileage Recorded Is Over 3 Million

Irv Gordon and his everlasting Volvo. Credit: AxleAdvisor

If you have ever owned a vehicle, you know the ins and outs of dealing with odometers. Ultimately, a car with over 200,000 miles driven is considered a potential money pit. A car with just over 100,000 is often seen as iffy and significantly used. Henceforth, any odometer within the six-digit range is considered driven and a veteran of the roads.

Hold on to your hats. Here’s some car trivia that’s sure to make your envy green.

The Guinness World Record for the highest mileage of a vehicle is held by Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800. This country cruiser has clocked over 3.25 million miles.

To put this into perspective, the world is only about 24,901 miles around. So, let’s do some math (ferociously typing at my calculator).

This Volvo has technically driven around the world 130.52 times!

Unfortunately, Gordon did not drive the P1800 around the world because that’s impossible. But, he did use it to drive across the United States (obviously fairly often). Gordon passed away at the age of 77 and the car has been put to rest.

We all know you are clamoring to hear Gordon’s secret for long-term car success. Here it is. Gordon claimed that the key to his Volvo’s longevity was regular oil changes. So… Yeah. Get your oil changed.

4. Car Horns Are in the Key of F

car trivia horn - slp auto glass
Do I hear F# or unbridled rage?

Think of songs like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”. What do they have in common? They are in the key of F Major. For those not musically inclined, that means that a song is centered around the F Major chord.

What do these songs have in common with your car’s horn? Nothing really. Sorry. But they are in the same key!

Most American car horns emit an F or F-sharp note when they are beeped. This does not mean all cars emit this note, but it’s the most common among automobiles. Unfortunately, there is no further explanation as to why this has become the common tuning of cars. It’s theorized that it stems back to Delco Remy, a company that produced the horns in all early GM cars.

Henceforth, Delco Remy horns were in the F key. They were extremely common, causing them to become the standard. There are no psychological factors behind the key.

Furthermore, it’s noted  (pun intended) that cars used C notes in the 1960s and 70s, but the pitch was raised to make sure drivers could hear horns through their windows.

5. Windshield Wipers Were Invented By Mary Anderson

It was a little like this. Credit: Cheezburger

Finally, our top car trivia fact. Consequently, it has to do with windshields. That’s a two-for-two!

Firstly, imagine the world without windshield wipers. What would you do on a rainy day? Cover your eyes and pray that rain drops don’t inhibit your ability to drive safely? When Harry Myers was driving his car 12 miles per hour, the thought of treacherous storms didn’t cause much fright. But now, with speed being the norm, windshield wipers are a necessity.

We owe it all to Mary Anderson, an Alabama inventor that grew tired of having to wipe off her windshield with her hands. Henceforth, before the wipers were invented, drivers had to stop and clear their windshields with their hands. In 1903, Anderson patented the rubber blade. This early design involved an arm, rubber and a lever that drivers could pull from within the car.

Overall, it was a manually-operated windshield wiper.

Furthermore, Anderson was ridiculed for her invention. Firstly, there was obviously misogyny involved. Women were not seen as potential creators. Secondly, drivers believed that it would be too distracting (as if driving with rain on your windshield isn’t). But this did not stop the modern hero, who went on to continue improving the invention.

By 1913, mechanical windshield wipers were standard for all vehicles. Therefore, Anderson got the last laugh.

That is our top car trivia facts! Thank you for listening. I feel much better.