I picked this image for today’s Cold Start because, as a turn indicator fetishist, images that truly capture and glorify the dazzling wonder and numinousness of a turn properly and dramatically indicated are vanishingly rare. At least one person understood the value of a truly dramatic indicated turn image, though: a photographer named Weitmann, who took this (significantly colorized and enhanced) photograph of a Volkswagen indicating a turn with a semaphore indicator for the December 1956 issue of das Auto Motor und Sport. Look at that illuminated trafficator describing a determined arc as it swings fearlessly out of its protected recess, into the rain and cold, amber light shining boldly as it declares for all the world to see that a left turn is about to be undertaken in the near future, damn the weather! It’s a manifesto of light and motion, defiant of the inclement weather!
Enjoy this GIF of a trafficator trafficating, pulled from the Holy Grail Garage video I previously shared here:
Inspiring, is it not? It seems I’m not the only one to be inspired by the glory of those funny pop-out trafficator indicators; there’s a UK architect/artist named Adrian Baynes who builds and sells these little kinetic semaphore/trafficator sculptures that pop up based on a motion sensor:
I bet you could retrofit them to your car, just to make things nice and cyclic, if you wanted.
Of course, if you did, then you’d have to undertake more turn indicator maintenance than you’re likely used to, since all you likely do now is make sure the blinker fluid is topped off. Look what one had to do for mechanical trafficators:
You had to make sure they were lubricated! I mean, I guess that makes sense, it’s just still odd to think about. I suppose there has to be some cost for the joys of trafficators.
Something I really like about graphic art & design from that era is that it seems like they had all these nifty new typefaces to play around with, and they used them in ways that seem surprising and unexpected to us now. I think that the connotations of all these different text styles had not yet become firmly established. Look at the words “Motor und Sport” — you can’t imagine that style of lettering being used in such a context today.
Sorry that picture looks like a penis at full mast saluting his partner after quick withdrawal to prevent fertilization
I’m thinking some custom Autopian merch.
Maybe a little handheld trafficator that turns out to be a cigarette lighter when deployed.
Tee shirts with trafficators printed on the sleeves and tail lights on the back?
Somewhere out there is a slack jawed yokel who wants a trafficator that looks like a middle finger. A fine compliment to the truck balls.
I wish that semaphore/trafficator sculpture was a little more affordable. I’d love to modify something like that to use at my desk to indicate to my co-workers when I’m in a Teams/Zoom meeting.
Where do you find these demented looking driver photos? This reminds me of Ted Bundy’s crazy uncle out on the prowl.
Coming this summer, Nicholas Cage is “The Trafficator”.
Uncle Al Bundy?
I love trafficators because they are such a ridiculously complex solution to warning your fellow travelers. Some early implementations were simply mechanical semaphores that did not light up. Still, think of the linkage required to make them work on both sides of the car. Then, in 1908 a genius got the idea of adding lights, making them even more complex. They could have just put the light on the car but making it blink was complicated. Eventually, there were pneumatic (needing air pressure and hoses), motorized, and solenoid versions.
To be fair, in the early 1900s they didn’t have solid state electronics, packaged resistors and capacitors, or relays using electromagnets but they did have electric motors. A motor turning slowly making contacts on alternating sides of a circular ring would make a light flash and this seems to me like a viable solution that was not tried.
Since the earliest cars and wagons used human arm signals, the trafficator was just a mechanical version and was more easily accepted. Perhaps there were some legal requirements precluding the simple flashing light signal that eventually won out, reaching its pinnacle with the 1967 Mercury Cougar sequential rear flasher.
yea or nay? numinousness for the slithery sibilance, or numinosity::numinous as luminosity::luminous?
So, blinker fluid is real then?
It’s just 3-in-one oil.
Always liked these. But where does the blinker fluid go?
Are you turning left, or are you just happy to see me?
A long-ago ex gf of mine had an Austin K9 radio truck with trafficators on it. They only worked about one time in three, but if you’re driving a K9, especially 30 years ago, when most all other vehicles were malaise era biscuit tins, indicating was something you didn’t really need to do; they just got out of your way as you lumbered slowly towards them using a gallon of fuel every four miles. I loved that truck
Had to Google what an Austin K9 was. Turns out that’s a seriously cool truck!
I just see a pink, cyberpunk goose in that picture.
Pecking at the side of the car?
It looks like it is staring at the driver over his shoulder, and probably nagging him about his driving habits.
Exactly – that goose looks annoyed.
So we know it is female ?
If it is pink it is a flamingo or elephant. In this case its a weiner.
I have a set of Trafficators I’ll be installing in my 1959 Morris Minor Tourer.
They weren’t offered in the American Export models, I believe due to laws, but rather there were blank plates screwed in place over the Trafficator pockets.
I will, though, also be using traditional flashing signals because I don’t want to die.
Today I shall go to AutoZone and ask for some trafficator oil.
When they ask for the make and model to try to look it up, be sure to have something sufficiently obscure, too. When they try to look it up, the make shouldn’t even pull anything up.
I believe the JAM 808 had aftermarket trafficators installed on vehicles destined for Australian roads…
I think my 2012 FIAT 500 would look amazing with a semaphore.
I believe you are correct. That is an ideal car for it.
If we all had trafficators, then maybe the motorcyclists would stop “lane sharing” and passing everyone, entirely unseen until it is too late.
Would I be out-pedanting even Jason to point out that VWs never had Trafficators (leaving aside the possibilities of CKD assembled cars in what then was still the pink parts of the map for a few more years) as that was a trademark of Joseph Lucas Ltd. and German cars all used either Bosch or Hella for lighting?
It’s okay, you can! I know VW just called them semaphores, but I sorta genericize Trafficator, like Kleenex or Hoover or Fleet (for enema)
At the time that AMS cover ran, VW was already installing solid-state flashing indicators front and rear for certain export markets including the US. I wonder why they didn’t make the change until 1960 on home-market models – plenty of other cars had blinkers in Germany by then.
Trafficator sounds like someone self pleasuring while driving.