Home » This May Be One Of The Most Minor Things I’ve Ever Seen Bragged About In A Car Brochure: Cold Start

This May Be One Of The Most Minor Things I’ve Ever Seen Bragged About In A Car Brochure: Cold Start

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You know one of the things I love most about old car brochures? It when there’s some incredibly minor feature – perhaps even so minor that describing it as a “feature” at all is an act of wild hyperbole – is called out in the text and it’s clear some poor copywriter had to strain to describe it in ways that makes it seem important, or at least interesting. There’s a great example of just this sort of thing in this 1956 Renault 4CV brochure. Hold still, I’ll show you what I mean.

It’s this bit here:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

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It’s the description of the spare wheel being placed “skillfully.” Skillfully! It’s just shoved there, vertically, in the front! I mean, it’s absolutely fine, but “skillfully?” I think perhaps someone was actually proud of the placement, because the year before it was placed here:

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See, they used to have it clamped to the underside of the hood. That must have made the hood feel pretty heavy, and made that support spring really earn its keep there, lest that triangular hood klonk you on the head, but good. Is that less skillful than shoving the tire down in the nose? Is the space more usable with it up there? Maybe not. Maybe it was a better place to shove it up front. But I’m still not sold on “skillful.”

Oh you know what else is fun in that brochure? See the disembodied gloves? They were used to, I guess, show where one’s hand could go, in case you were confused about how your hands work. I also think of that sort of visual language as a predecessor to this, which we all know so well:

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The hand cursor! If you had a modern interactive 4CV manual on your computer, you’d be moving around a little hand/glove just like what was painted in there 70-ish years ago! Renault was a UX pioneer! Eat it, Xerox!

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Those gloves are seriously creepy/freaky…like they are chopped off or are a ghost where you can only see it’s hand…or it’s Thing from Addam’s Family wearing a glove
Talk to the hand! Ha ha
Whoever thought of putting a spare hooked under the hood is a complete moron

ScottyB
ScottyB
10 months ago

As a former copywriter, sometimes the process is just like getting water out of a rock. There might not be anything there, but you just have to keep hammering away until you’ve found an eloquent new way to say it’s the most exciting thing since sliced bread. The scary part is by the time you get there, you actually believe what you wrote.

The disembodied hand looks more sinister to me, like a warning as to what happened when Pierre stupidly laid a hand on the hot engine. Did only the glove get stuck, or Pierre’s entire hand? Only the 4CV’s shadow knows!

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
10 months ago
Reply to  ScottyB

sometimes the process is just like getting water out of a rock

I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes it’s like we’re making up the rock in the first place.

Unimaginative Username
Unimaginative Username
10 months ago
Reply to  ScottyB

For over ten years I’ve been writing a real estate blog that’s basically “look at this rich asshole’s house” every other week. Trying to find a new way to say the same thing over and over got old about 9 years ago…

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago

I wonder what the original French word was.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
10 months ago

My money is on “habilement”.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
10 months ago

Skilful was when VW put it vertically under the carpet in the Super Beetle, any other frunk spare tire placement is just irritating.
Or place it on top of the engine, like the Fiat Panda or Citroën Dyane!

I hate the frunk tire placement in my 356.
Not even liking the one in my Citroën DS. Though it looks cool with the front open..
In my Figaro the space saver takes up a lot of the low boot, leaving 5 inches (!) above it for luggage.
In my W111 Coupé it sticks out from the side of the trunk in a weird angle.

But in my Super Beetle convertible: Yes, skilful 🙂

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago

That’s quite the car collection!

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
10 months ago

Better yet: why not leave the frunk just for luggage, and get the spare behind the bumper and the have licence plate assembly fold down for access?

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
10 months ago

Life was hard for the Addams’ after ABC dropped their wildly successful TV show in the 60s.

Morticia had to work a double-shift at Hooters every Friday, Cousin It hit the road as a groupie forZZ Top, and Gomez went back to selling used cars. Thing found work at the garage, where his limbless hands were able to reach all the nuts and bolts that fellow mechanics couldn’t reach. It made replacing the fuel lines on old Citroëns a piece of cake, but he longed to be back on the silver screen.

InWayOverMyHead
InWayOverMyHead
10 months ago

I am not a Hooters guy, but I may have dropped by that one, you know, for research…

DaChicken
DaChicken
10 months ago

I’m more interested in how that spare tire attaches to the hub. I didn’t know they did that kinda thing on cars. I’ve only seen it on trailers or farm equipment.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
10 months ago

Best spare tire storage ever was on the Triumph TR series which had its very own tire cubby in the rear end of the car, compleate with its own little cover accessed with Torx locks.

Last edited 10 months ago by Opa Carriker
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago
Reply to  Opa Carriker

I had one. It was fine as long as you stuck with =<155 series tires which unfortunately got very hard to find after the mid 80's.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
10 months ago

It actually relies on a clever piccolo-and-troll-system. The driver must play a precise tune in order to appease the troll who lives in the trunk. If the song pleases him, he will release the mechanism which then allows said driver to install or remove the spare tire.

So yes, it requires skill.

Maymar
Maymar
10 months ago

So, did the disembodied hands of the Driving Ace always drive a 4CV?

https://www.geekyhobbies.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Mille-Bornes-Driving-Ace-Card-728×410.jpg.webp

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
10 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

That was a fun game growing up. Take your like!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Agree with Drive By Commenter! I have the ’80s/’90s version of the game…As du Volant! My version has a brown driving glove next to a sportscar-esq wheel.

I’m still annoyed there’s no app version of the game yet.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jack Trade
CandleCamper
CandleCamper
10 months ago

“ Eat it, Xerox!” – amazing, and nearly had coffee come out of my nose. Thank you, Torch. I award you 100,000 internet points.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

The best brag I’ve seen was the car’s “pneumatic tires”.

Fancy!

That was on the sticker, not the brochure. I’m surprised they didn’t add brag about the car’s glass windows and metal based exhaust system too.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

That’s probably a poor translation from the French (as is “skillfully,” I suspect.)

“Pneumatique” is just the French word for “tire.”

PitifulExcuse
PitifulExcuse
10 months ago

I think that “pneu” is the French for tyre.
“Pneumatique”, surprisingly, means “pneumatic”.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

So the brag would not be “it’s got air-filled tires!” but “it’s got tires!”.

Nice!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

Ah, so the hand is illustrative. I thought, perhaps, their mechanic was named Griffin.

Last edited 10 months ago by Canopysaurus
Ant
Ant
10 months ago

Whereas with the Beetle the spare migrated from vertically in front of the fuel tank and other bits, to a kind of horizontal layout like in my old 1303.

Peak spare tyre mounting for me though is still things like old Citroens where it’s just plonked on top of the engine bay, usually because the engine was so tiny there was loads of space above it anyway.

JumboG
JumboG
10 months ago
Reply to  Ant

Older Subarus had the spare tire above the engine.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
10 months ago

So much to unpack here, as it were.

First, that clamp holding the spare to the hood looks like some kind of skeletal elf sentenced to carry out this task for as long as the car roams the earth.

Also, imagine trying to calculate whether the spare will crush the contents of the frunk every time you close it. With the bar set that low, yes, the new placement was skillful.

And the hands! Imagine the co-branding opportunity if Volkswagen had thought of this for the Thing.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
10 months ago

We don’t know enough about what led up to the placement of that spare tire. If Renault handed their most skillful engineer that spare tire before he had to run through a mine field, swim through shark-infested waters, and climb a rock wall (all while still clutching the spare), then dodge live gunfire, artillery shelling, then choose from three boxes, two of which contained live, unfed tigers and one of which contained the key to the car, then tip-toe through the last room where every other floor tile would give way to a gaping bottomless chasm, finally concluding with slipping that spare tire into place without so much as smudging the paint on the car…

…then I would have to agree that the placement was, in fact, very skillful.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

Now THAT’S a great comment

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
10 months ago

When I read the title, I expected to see “cold starting” advertised as a feature. Believe me, back in Cleveland in the 50s, cold starting in winter was definitely not guaranteed. We’re really spoiled with computer controlled engines.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
10 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

Would you build a charcoal fire in an inverted garbage can lid and put it under the engine to get it warm enough to turn over like we did in Milwaukee?

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
10 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

My mom used to light a candle and set it under the car to warm the engine block while she got ready for work. Rural Michigan, ftw!

Stefan Alexander
Stefan Alexander
10 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

Hell. It wasn’t guaranteed in 1980s Toronto, when my parents needed a block heater.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
10 months ago

I had a block heater in the 2000s in North Dakota. It’s fucking COLD up there.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
10 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

Dad purchased a ’67 Mercedes believing that since it was made in cold Germany, it should handle the cold of Lake Tahoe well. Oops. He had to place a lightbulb under the hood to provide enough warmth to allow the engine to start in the morning to go skiing.

CSRoad
CSRoad
10 months ago

The it takes skill to make “New Improved” each year.
As for the hand it was it was one of Thing’s early gigs before he finally landed the spot on Adamms Family.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago

Open question for discussion: What is the most “skillful” position for a spare tire?

  • Under a panel in the trunk seems common, but then you have to empty out anything you might be carrying in order to access it.
  • On a chain under the vehicle keeps it out of the way, but then it’s dirty and difficult to access when you need it.
  • Mounted right on the back like a Jeep or an old Continental makes it easy to access, but the aesthetics are not necessarily to everyone’s tastes.
  • Inside the engine bay seems like an ok location, but I’d rather that space be used by more engine rather than a spare part that I hope I never have to use.

Discuss!

(and anyone who says: “Just put a can of Fix-a-Flat in the glove box” is a monster)

Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Under the radiator in the front of my VW Vanagon. And apparently an integral part of the front impact protection.

- O S G O -
- O S G O -
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Subaru used to put the spare in front, on top of the screaming flat-4. Even with the extra tire, mine didn’t go faster?

Btw, my DatsunZ came with spare air, and they used nitrous! Yeah! Perfect for on-the-run dental work!

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
10 months ago
Reply to  - O S G O -

Yeahhh,… I’m pretty sure any “nitrous” [oxide (N2O)] canisters in your car were left there unintended by the vehicle’s previous owner and were not for tire inflation purposes. 😉

Maybe spare nitrogen (N2) canisters could be useful to someone who is particularly fussy about the purity of the air in the tires, but I’d rather just top off with a standard air pump.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

On an EV if its’ between having a frunk or putting the spare up there, put the spare there and give me the extra cargo space in back where it’s a contiguous part of the main cargo space. I recently hauled a full-size refrigerator to the dump in a Honda Fit and want similar space utilization going forward.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

I appreciate the under the trunk panel setup in my Mustang, even if it’s tiresome to use…every little bit of extra weight in the rear helps. I seem to recall the Shelby Mustangs, back in the day, relocated the battery back there.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Bristols had a locker in each front wing, the spare in the left one, battery and fuses in the right. The spare wheel locker also had a glove box, for actual gloves, not for all that stuff that everyone puts in the indoor glove box.

David Smith
David Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Under the floor in front of the second row in my Odyssey works well. Do all minivans do that or is it just Honda?

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Or you could just mount it on the running board……..

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
10 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

On a chain under the vehicle keeps it out of the way, but then it’s dirty and difficult to access when you need it.

And if you’re in the rust belt, the chain won’t unwind and you’ll have to crawl under in the slush and beat on it with the lug wrench. Then if your karma is good that day, it will crank down, slowly and creakily.

(and anyone who says: “Just put a can of Fix-a-Flat in the glove box” is a monster)

My Kia Soul came with a little electric pump and can of Kia-branded Fix-a-Flat. There was a recess for a toy spare, but I suspect this was cheaper and weighed less, for that extra 0.1MPG. This seems to be getting common. (“What? Nobody changes the tire, you’ll call road service.”)

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Under panel in trunk is basically the best- out of sight/weatherproof

“Having to empty out anything you’re carrying” is not even a argument- Get a life, whiner!
Oh no, like that’s so difficult (if anything, put it in backseat temporarily if you don’t want it getting dirty on the ground)

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
10 months ago

Maybe it took real skill to cram that tire in that small space. So much so, that once you take it out, you can’t get it back in! You Skill-less Hack!

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
10 months ago

Skill is skill, and must be respected.

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