Q&A: July 11, 2019 Edition - Old Cars Weekly

Q&A: July 11, 2019 Edition

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Q. Angelo was correct in identifying the Cadillac door lock knobs in the June 6 “Q&A.” I was surprised to see them. They brought back very fond memories of my 1958 Fleetwood Sixty Special, fully loaded including air suspension, with the most poorly placed switch location Cadillac could have picked. I had to reach across my body with my right arm or nearly dislocate my left shoulder to flip the switch. The lightning bolts on my car’s lock buttons and others I have seen were gold, but I have heard some were silver. Of the dozen-plus new and used Cadillacs I’ve owned over the past 54 years, it was the best. Unfortunately, I made the mistake in 1968 of falling prey to the then-current fad of my co-workers bragging about their tiny cars’ mileage, so feeling left out I traded the Cadillac in on a new four-speed Toyota Corona, which had to be an mpg derby winner, right? Wow, I went from 17-19 mpg to 14-15 mpg. Plus, the Cadillac AC/pw/ps/6-way/air suspension gave way to a physical exercise routine each time I drove the Toyota. Gosh, I miss the inconvenient door lock buttons! I really enjoy your “Q&A” column.
— Phil Guilhem, Alva, Okla.

A. Thanks for sharing your reminiscence. Power door locks have come a long way. Today, nearly all cars have them, enabled from a switch conveniently located in the driver’s armrest. Even my 24-year-old Suburban has this feature. My current daily driver, a seven-year-old BMW, activates everything from the fob I carry in my pocket; in fact there’s no ignition key, and only a backup emergency key in the fob, in case the fob battery goes dead.

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Q. Here is a photo of a new-old-stock radiator medallion that I got a swap meet. It is 4 inches in diameter, embossed like a license plate but stamped from thinner metal. It attaches to the radiator with two thin wires through the core. What exactly was a Safe Drivers’ Club? In the last 20 years or so I’ve seen four or five of these, all different, the most recent being the San Francisco Safe Drivers’ Club from 1933.

I contacted the National Safety Council, but they were unable to provide any information. If any of your readers can shed any light on these, I hope they will share it.
— Charles Seims, West Linn, Ore.

A. If the National Safety Council doesn’t know, they’re clearly not interested in their history. In fact, I was unable to find anything on their website (www.nsc.org) about their history. Wikipedia traces them back to the National Council for Industrial Safety, established in 1913 and arising from the Second Cooperative Safety Congress sponsored by the Association of Iron and Steel Electrical Engineers. The name was changed to National Safety Council the following year. In 1953, the U.S, Congress issued a charter to the Council to “arouse and maintain the interest of the people of the United States… in safety and in accident prevention, and to encourage the adoption and institution of safety methods by all persons, corporations, and other organizations.” Their current efforts in road safety include impaired driving, fatigue, child passenger safety, advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle recalls, motorcycle safety and fatality estimates. Industrial safety is now the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), while road safety comes under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both of which create and enforce regulations. NSC I believe is an advocacy organization.

Going further afield, I came across The Safe Drivers Club on Facebook, but there’s nothing linking it to NSC. Currently, 83 people follow it. Have any readers come across medallions of this type, or any mention of Safe Drivers’ Clubs in publications or documents?

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