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Old 06-27-2021, 09:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Wheel base history (something to fall asleep with)

Oh Gurus of the "Off Topic Tech" subforum, a question:

The 1950s Nash Rambler helped define the post WW2 category "compact car" with its roughly 100 inch (2540mm) wheel base. However, lots of cars in the 1910s and 1920s had similar small wheel bases. The 1928-1932 Model A and the 1923 Tatra 11, for example.

Is that roughly 100" wheel base an industry standard inherited from wagon and coachmaking days in earlier centuries?

I have been searching and only finding general descriptions. Studebaker made wagons and coaches. "Coupe" and "cabriolet" were coach styles before they were car styles... what about the humble wheel base data point?

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Old 06-28-2021, 12:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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VW Beetle/Bus/Type III Wheelbase 2,400 mm (94.5 in)
VW Superbeetle Wheelbase : 95.3 in | 2421 mm.

I suspect it has more to do with the human factors, packaging two seats within the wheelbase. The Beetle is pretty tight. Increased wheelbase usually goes into the cowl for more front legroom.
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Old 06-28-2021, 10:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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100" inches is a 2x4 thickness over 8 ft which is kinda a house basic dimension and it works for all the other common house pieces like drywall, plywood, pipe. I suspect that that is the maximum size for the presses and shears of the time
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Maybe 96" on this one?

This western Concord coach from Wells Fargo shows about an eight foot wheel base, slighly less. freebeard, it might be almost exactly the VW spec you posted... about 94 or 95".



But I wish I could get some measurements for carriages like this coupé from the nineteenth century.

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See my car's mod & maintenance thread and my electric bicycle's thread for ongoing projects. I will rebuild Black and Green over decades as parts die, until it becomes a different car of roughly the same shape and color. My minimum fuel economy goal is 55 mpg while averaging posted speed limits. I generally top 60 mpg. See also my Honda manual transmission specs thread.




Last edited by California98Civic; 06-28-2021 at 06:49 PM..
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Old 06-28-2021, 06:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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1992-1995 Honda Civic was 101.2" wheelbase
1951 Nash Rambler had a 100" wheelbase
1923 Tatra 11 Cabriolet was 104.1" wheelbase

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Old 06-28-2021, 09:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Look what happens if you remove a seating row from a similar platform:

Porsche 356 Wheelbase : 210 cm or 82.68 inches
Meyers Manx Wheelbase: 80 inches
or
Austin 7 Wheelbase: 75 inches (1.905 m)
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Old 06-29-2021, 07:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Some heritage from the "horseless carriages" era shall not be disconsidered at all, yet many econoboxes designed outside the United States often still resort to smaller wheelbases. Not to mention the Jeep CJ-3A and the early Land Rover with lenght, width and wheelbase smaller than the majority of the subcompacts available in my country.


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Originally Posted by California98Civic View Post
I wish I could get some measurements for carriages like this coupé from the nineteenth century.

Reminds me of an open-body carriage I saw on the wild about 9 years ago, which seems to have similar dimensions to this coupé.
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Old 06-30-2021, 09:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I found an 1872 book called the Coachmaker's Handbook. It's purpose is to teach coachmaking and offer professionally scaled draftsman instructions and other craft details. Images of coaches are pretty carefully scaled. Free on the ever-fabulous archive.org: https://archive.org/details/coachmak...0ware/mode/2up

This "diagram 8" below is for a "Six Seat Rockaway." The rockaway was a common type in the period. Those eye-shaped springs over the wheels are exactly 12" high, suggesting a wheel base of possibly nine feet, maybe closer to ten. Diagram 7 is a "Six Seat Sociable" of between 7.5 and 8' wheelbase. And diagram 3 is a "Covered Buggy" with a wheelbase of exaclty 51.5"--the only time the book offers an actual measurement you can easily translate into "wheelbase."

Still, the book and my effort to find wheel base standards for these, kinda demonstrates there was no "standard" other than general proportions of the human body and how many one wanted to fit into a carriage. That's still true today, of course. The wheel base of "compact" cars does not have a strict standard.





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See my car's mod & maintenance thread and my electric bicycle's thread for ongoing projects. I will rebuild Black and Green over decades as parts die, until it becomes a different car of roughly the same shape and color. My minimum fuel economy goal is 55 mpg while averaging posted speed limits. I generally top 60 mpg. See also my Honda manual transmission specs thread.




Last edited by California98Civic; 06-30-2021 at 11:49 AM.. Reason: add two more photod with better estimates of wheelbase
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Old 07-01-2021, 09:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by California98Civic View Post
That's still true today, of course. The wheel base of "compact" cars does not have a strict standard.
In the US it's based on passenger volume (cars) or weight (trucks). A 2013 Prius (106.3" wheelbase) is classified as "midsize"--but so is a 2013 Audi A8 (117.8"). The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage (96.5") and 2021 Porsche Taycan (114.2") are both compacts.
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Old 07-01-2021, 11:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Vman455 View Post
In the US it's based on passenger volume (cars) or weight (trucks). A 2013 Prius (106.3" wheelbase) is classified as "midsize"--but so is a 2013 Audi A8 (117.8"). The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage (96.5") and 2021 Porsche Taycan (114.2") are both compacts.
Good point. But in the era of the early 50s, when the Nash Rambler was defining the compact segment, wasn't a wheel base of 100" an integral part of the standard?

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