Hydra-Matic Drive is highlight of Oldsmobile line for 1940
The conventional clutch assembly is eliminated. There are no clutch parts to wear out and replace. The clutch pedal itself is gone, leaving no work for the left foot to do. The price is $57.
The story appeared on Page 6, which is surprising because some auto people insist the automatic transmission and the electric starter are the two most important developments in the 100-plus-year history of the automobile.
Maybe the Page 6 placement stemmed from the fact that GM and Oldsmobile did not invent the automatic transmission. The principle had surfaced from time to time, but the makers lost interest and abandoned it.
GM developed the first successful automatic transmission - GM calls it the first completely automatic shift transmission. GM knew it had a winner. It produced automatics, it promoted automatics, it installed automatics and it sold automatics. By 1964, an automatic gearbox was installed in 81 percent of the cars built in the United States. The figure was 91 percent in 1970 and 87.5 percent in 1998.